How are we adapting?

Digital media trends Jewish nonprofits should watch for in 2022 

In Short

Making it easier to “do Jewish” from your mobile, whether it’s ordering kosher food, an ugly Hanukkah sweater or attending a class on a Jewish topic, is the smartest next step for Jewish sites and brands.

Digital behavior – information consumption, social interaction, even Jewish life – was rapidly evolving pre-pandemic. But today, those that used what we hoped was a short-term blip in our reality to experiment in the digital universe out of sheer interest have quietly accepted this new reality and are now immersed out of sheer necessity.  

As the Jewish nonprofit world works to harness the power of the digital age to fight antisemitism, bolster Jewish pride and enhance Jewish activism and life, here are  what I believe to be the 9 most important digital media trends for the coming year,

  1. All in

Eight in 10 people now see the world as all digital. Consumers expect everything to be available online, including previously offline experiences like attending services, classes, seminars, conferences and social events. This translates into consumers’ expectations of a smooth, streamlined and state-of-the-art, well-working digital experience. 

Organizations that saw the writing on the wall at the onset of the pandemic quickly pivoted their focus to provide new digital experiences. As that trend continues in 2022, we will see a healthy scale-up of Jewish portals of every kind, from higher quality virtual events and easier online class registration to effortless information gathering. Smoother experiences can be expected to translate to increased engagement, and organizations must be ready to invest in the upfront and ongoing costs in order to reach consumers competitively.    

  1. Mobile-first

Even though we have found ourselves “sheltering in place” more than ever, the move to media consumption on mobile hasn’t slowed. More than half of web traffic today comes from mobile devices with Millennials and Gen Z users, in particular, pushing this trend forward. Computers are increasingly viewed as exclusively productive tools, while mobile devices are the predominant form of socializing and relaxing.

Web and email designs must be formatted with the mobile experience taking first priority. This means that vertical video will also become the format of choice in the coming year.   

Making it easier to “do Jewish” from your mobile, whether it’s ordering kosher food, an ugly Hanukkah sweater, or attending a class on a Jewish topic, is the smartest next step for Jewish sites and brands.

  1. Get Real

As we spend more time in the metaverse, people genuinely want it to mirror the authenticity and value they experience in the “real world.” 

“Real” content that engages with honesty will dramatically outperform overly curated, overly branded, faceless content. Organizations that evoke a more personal feel, developing creative ways to highlight people (whether it’s the visionaries, the donors, the beneficiaries) will be the ones to build stronger, more loyal audiences.

Brands will increase their online chat options with real humans as people are increasingly able to appreciate the difference between a real conversation and a bot. Because they want authenticity, they will also want real customer service. We will see more activity like “LiveChat” which gives you access to a rabbi at almost any hour online, to answer your questions in real-time. 

Along with a more human digital experience, people are seeking far more added value to their digital lives. The good news for nonprofits is that Millennials and Gen Zers love learning new information. From Duolingo to Coursera and Khan Academy, we will continue to see growth in the free information category, with an expanded Jewish library of resources.  

Data shows that people are hungry for inspiration and meaning, and they are searching for it online. Although we still need to develop creative and entertaining ways to grab initial attention, providing informative, inspiring and educational content of substance will be 2022’s biggest jump in online demand and consumption. 

4. Partnerships

57% of consumers are more loyal to brands that have a stated cause for-profit brands are therefore adapting to this trend and fostering a ‘goodwill vibe’ that features transparency and active partnership with nonprofits that resonate with their customers.

We are going to see an increase in partnerships in the coming year. The recent “Shine a Light on Antisemitism” campaign was an example of a broad spectrum of Jewish foundations and nonprofits working together with corporate brands to address the frightening rise in Antisemitism. United Hatzalah’s cooperation with Salesforce and how this has impacted their donor base and fundraising is another example

Brands like Salesforce and Meltwater will not only continue to cater their products and services to the Jewish world’s online needs, but we will start to see mention of such by mainstream brands as a part of their narrative. Likewise, Jewish organizations will demonstrate their leadership by discussing their use of cutting-edge digital services as well. 

5. Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing has become a mainstream marketing strategy, with steadily increasing portions of large-brand marketing budgets being allocated to this area year over year because of its consistently high return on investment (ROI). Most companies are using micro-influencers that have niche audiences to foster higher levels of trust amongst their followers.

Nonprofits should look to turn micro influencers into ongoing brand ambassadors. When evaluating influencers for collaboration don’t be fooled by follower counts – look at engagement rates and messaging alignment. Quality over quantity will be the trend regarding influencers in the coming year. 

In the hopes for us all that health and safety restrictions allow for it in 2002, hosted and sponsored delegations of influencers traveling to and from Israel like this one will increase. We will likely see more complex agreements made by these influencers with Jewish brands and organizations. 

6. Audio

People are heading back to work, listening to more podcasts en route and elsewhere.  

The Jewish podcasting world has exploded with content over the last couple of years. However, with the influx of media production, and heavier saturation, it’s increasingly difficult to stand out. As Jewish podcasts continue to improve in production quality, we will see more “stars” emerge and excellent industry leaders rise to the top. 

The limitless potential for learning and substantive discussion via podcasts will continue to blossom in the Jewish world. 

Despite the increase in audio, however, we predict the continued demise of Clubhouse. Perhaps due to an inability to multitask on your phone while using it, or perhaps because it became openly available instead of exclusive, we predict that the app that emerged as a 2021 trend will soon meet its end. It remains to be seen whether Twitter’s latest “spaces” addition, which like Clubhouse is a voice-only space, will take off and succeed where Clubhouse has not. 

7. More Video, Shorter Video

Videos will remain the key content format at the top of the funnel across all social media platforms. 2022 will see videos getting even shorter, snappier, low-fi and mobile-first, making it easier for viewers to consume and using less bandwidth to create. All are consistent with the attention span users have for TikToks and Instagram Reels, which are key markets. Recognizing the popularity, nonprofits should focus on bite-sized Jewish content across the spectrum. 

The efficacy of micro-content (larger quantities of shorter videos) to put viewers on more personalized consumer journeys leading to more enhanced secondary content will be the direction for many Jewish brands and organizations in the coming year.  

8. Cryptocurrency and NFTs

Cryptocurrency continues to grow, especially with inflation on the rise and Blockchain technology being used in new ways (like NFT). Smaller coins will rise and fall, but BTC and ETH will remain the top coins. We are going to see major strides in Jewish organizations embracing and accepting donations in cryptocurrency in the coming year.

NFTs, or “non-fungible tokens” are anything digital (such as drawings, music, or even a bible verse), which are attached to a “certificate of authenticity” preserved in the blockchain. NFTs are expanding into various areas like music, gaming and even virtual real estate and will continue to attract higher-risk individuals, which will spark more creativity and ingenuity.

Creating Jewish NFTs will grow in popularity, but as many categories before it, NFTs are most successful when attached to already well-known brands or celebrities, so this is probably where we will see the most growth in 2022.

You heard it here first: whether at online or in-person fundraising galas, the big fundraising winners in 2022 will be one-of-a-kind Jewish art NFT auctions, like the afikomen emoji whose auction broke ground this past spring

9. Smart Data Used in Smart Ways

The trends in the corporate world to embed analytics responsibly as a powerful tool to best engage with target markets are now making their way into the Jewish world. Investment in data systems that began with fundraising will be increasingly utilized across the rest of 2022’s most successful nonprofits, including the formation of content, the building of customer journeys, interpreting user experiences, creating targeted ads and emails and more. 

This coming year will see a leap in the adaptation of nonprofits’ metrics. How we measure the outcome of digital initiatives has to be different from traditional in-person models. As each organization adapts and has changed its programming from in-person to a hybrid, or continues to change the online content they produce, new ways to measure success become critical. 

We predict  – and hope to see a commensurate rise in philanthropic investment in data infrastructure, such as the leadership shown by the Mayberg Foundation in funding – and advocating for – funding operational support

The Digital Future is Bright 

People are consuming more of their information online. What is less obvious is how precisely their user behavior is also changing, because it is happening in real-time. Noting and adapting to these changes is critical for media outlets, entertainment brands and Jewish community organizations alike. 

There are tragically numerous examples of the damage caused by being uncompetitive when it comes to online engagement, such as when Jews or Judaism come under attack. With new challenges come new opportunities. As the collective Jewish world invests in an online presence, becoming smarter, sharper and better, there is real potential for transformational innovation. Most importantly, these tools can be used to reach the rapidly growing numbers of Jews that aren’t connecting to our traditional models. 

It is my greatest hope to see 2022’s biggest Jewish digital trend: the number of Jews engaged with their Jewish identity because of what we all have collectively created. 

Jamie Geller is the chief media & marketing officer at Aish, creating the digital strategy and spearheading content creation for AishVision 2030, and founder and CEO of Kosher Network international (KNi), the #1 global kosher food media company and world’s most watched Jewish food network. The piece was written with contributing analysis from REM90.