Young Folks

Marketing icks: ditch these cringey practises in 2023

Things that make you go ‘ick!!!’. People sneezing in public post-covid, Kim K wearing Marilyn Monroe’s iconic dress to the Met Gala and Megan Markle calling Prince Harry ‘H’ all the way through the doco. Yep, 2022 was a year full of plenty of ick moments for sure. 

For us marketers things that make us go ‘ick’ extends to marketing trends from the bad, the ugly and the just downright annoying.

I’ve asked the Young Folks team to share their biggest marketing icks so you’re not heading into 2023 using out dated (or cringey) marketing practises.

Let’s say ‘seeya’ to these tactics and practices in 2023 (and ‘hello’ to these marketing trends instead). Deal?

1. Lazy strategy

Our digital marketing strategist Taylah’s marketing ick coming in at number one is lazy strategy.

I hear of this frequently when we onboard new clients. It’s heartbreaking to hear that they have been burnt by a marketing agency in the past where despite consistently not achieving results, the agency sticks to their guns and doesn’t pivot or try anything new in their ad placements. Yuck. Marketing agencies in 2023 *must* be adaptive, transparent and fluid with a results-driven approach when it comes to digital advertising, and any marketing activities they manage in general. In such a rapidly changing landscape, marketers need to be agile, adaptive and flexible to help their clients not only survive but grow and thrive.

This is a large part of the reason Young Folks has introduced flexible retainers to our offering. Where our clients can easily test new platforms and tactics (think: Reddit ads, TikTok ads and Pinterest ads) for a few months and switch it up depending on results and their latest business goals. The world is rapidly changing, and your marketing efforts need to also.

2. Ignoring social media frame specs

Our content marketing coordinator Ami says the ultimate ick is not getting specs right on social media.

While some social media platforms like Instagram make it easy with guidelines showing where you should (and shouldn’t) put text overlays, I still see content getting lost behind logos and usernames and it’s an ick I really hope we’ve left in 2022 for good.

As an avid content consumer, there is nothing more annoying than when vital information like a Black Friday discount code is covered by a caption because the brand neglected to account for the specs of the platform. Not all platforms will do it for you, so in 2023, let’s take the time to work out where those pesky spots are and avoid having content blocked (literally).

3. Timely content that is no longer timely

Another ick from Ami? Out of date content. So cringe.

She says: I was recently targeted with an ad from one of my favourite brands promoting  ‘Christmas is right around the corner’ messaging…in the third week of Jan. Getting the ick from a brand you really love stings, so in 2023 can we agree to give the flick to out of date campaigns and have BAU ads on standby? Pretty please and thank you.

4. ‘Green Friday’ sales

Rebranding consumerism as green is never it.

In 2022, I saw lots of brands spruiking Black Friday discounts under the guise of a ‘Green Friday’ sale. On the ‘gram, on Facebook, via email, this funky green sale cloud seemed to be following me everywhere. I found this uncool and I think these companies kinda missed the point of Green Friday. Green Friday is about shifting the focus away from consumerism and excessive spending, and instead promoting sustainable and eco-friendly practises, raising awareness about environmental issues, and encouraging customers to think more critically about their purchasing habits.

So in 2023, I’d like to say ‘goodbye forever’ to Green Friday Black Friday sales. I’d suggest brands either lean in to the consumerism frenzy that is Black Friday (if that is important for your business goals and aligns with your mission) or to run a Green Friday campaign about mindful shopping, buying less this Black Friday/ Cyber Monday weekend and spreading the word about your amazing purpose-driven brand values and sustainable practices.

See inspo from sustainable sneaker brand Veja and ethical fashion designer Citizen Wolf’s @BlackFridye initiative.

5. SMS marketing overload

Our operations manager, Kali, has called SMS marketing overload the ultimate tacky marketing tactic from 2022.

Being bombarded with annoying SMS marketing messages from brands that I love throughout the peak end-of-year sales period was a massive put-off for me in 2022. From Black Friday, Buy Nothing Day, Cyber Monday, Green Monday, Christmas sales and Boxing Day sales my phone turned into a constant stream of unnecessary messages, deals, promotions and downright spam.

As a working parent, phone calls and text messages are especially important in managing the juggle of life, not only that but with personal and financial security being put at risk the need to be vigilant and not click on unknown links is a high prio. 

In 2023, brands can we please leave SMS marketing to a once every few times a year kinda thing, sent only with a sense of purpose and when your brand has something really important to say (i.e. reducing your carbon footprint and packaging. Fab I’ll take a look!), and make opting out easy for consumers.

6. Stretching an image over multiple tiles on your grid

Digital marketing assistant, Steph says stretching images over multiple tiles on your grid is over.

No one likes scrolling through their feed to see sections of one larger image across multiple different posts. It makes you feel like you have to go digging for the rest of the content, which on a highly content-saturated app this action can get put into the too hard basket. Also, although it looks coordinated when you initially post it, once you continue to post more content, the image becomes jumbled up – similar to if you were doing a robot verification test on Google, and we all know that you have more value and creativity to offer to the world than that. So, let’s leave this ickiness in 2022 and if your heart desires to post a wide-length image, use the multi-post swipe feature to your advantage to create a seamless transition across the image.

7. Annoying website pop ups

Our founder and director, Erin, says that annoying pop ups are so cringey and need to stay in 2022.

Ever landed on a website and felt frustrated at all the pop ups that, well, keep popping up? Those pop ups that appear immediately are even more annoying. And the most annoying pop ups are the ones that take over the whole screen and can’t be closed. Yuck.

Website pop-ups are annoying because they interrupt the user’s experience on a website. They can be disruptive and distracting, causing the user to lose their train of thought or their place on the website. Poorly considered pop ups can even harm conversion rates.

Let’s say goodbye to spray and pray pop ups. Instead, with personalisation becoming increasingly important, brands should take time and care to create personalised sign-up forms with well-considered timings and triggers.

8. Prioritising aesthetic content over valuable content is such an ick

If you’ve been working in social media marketing for more than five years, this one is probably gonna be a really hard one to let go. We get it. But its time to move on from prioritising aesthetic over content value and purpose.

Curating a #FeedOnFleek used to be a measure of social media success. Heck even the hashtag #PostItForAesthetic was trending in 2018. But folks, it’s time to say ‘seeya’ to the overly aesthetic social media feeds. Especially puzzle feeds. 

Truth bomb: literally no one but you cares that every third post needs to be millennial pink. And while your community and customers might be momentarily impressed by your puzzle feed it’s not a strategy that’s gonna make it rain.

Instead, focus on creating content that educates, inspires or influences behaviour. After all, the purpose of social media marketing is to increase reach and awareness, build authority and credibility and drive conversion. So exhale. Release the self imposed rules of a perfectly curated feed and get busy making valuable content.

Where to next?

Well, there you have it. The ickiest marketing tactics that got under our skin and we want to send on their merry way, not to be repeated in 2023.

‘No more!’ we say to SMS overload, infuriating pop ups, Green Friday sales, multi-photo collage grids, platform image spec disrespect and just damn lazy marketing strategy.

Want to make 2023 your best year of marketing yet? Check out our post on the marketing trends we expect to see in 2023 or contact our team for a marketing strategy to get radically better results.

Written by

With qualifications in psychology, criminology, PR, advertising, writing and publishing, Larissa probably could have become the next Patricia Cornwell. Instead, she spent the early part of her career working as a writer and marketing manager at an Australian real-estate portal start-up. When she’s not in her home office with her vast family of house plants you’ll find Larissa throwing the ball for her cocker spaniel, Dexter, walking on the beach, upcycling furniture and drinking cups of English breakfast tea. She’s a musicals fanatic and has seen more than 30 shows, some of them on Broadway and in the West End.

Our Melbourne and Mornington Peninsula studios are open 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday. If you’re a brand in the business of doing good, we’d love to hear from you.

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