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5 Social Media Trends for 2021

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5 Social Media Trends for 2021

Erin Fry

Erin Fry
Dec 02, 2020

Social Media Trends for 2021

About a month ago, I received an email with one of my favorite subject lines: If hindsight is 2020, what’s 2021?

This was one of many emails containing trends and predictions for next year. And after the year this has been, it is understandable why people are looking ahead.

Read on as we share some of the insights we’re gleaning from our crystal ball.

1. Social media usage

How many of you received a number of weekly screen time reports that said “your screen time was up from last week”? Turns out, you’re not alone. Nearly 50% of adults in the U.S. increased their social media consumption, and social media users increased 10.5% globally during the pandemic. From a channel perspective:

Why it’s important

It’s important for brands to understand this user behavior and consumption on social media, because it can directly impact channel strategy. With increased time spent online, fans have higher expectations when it comes to responsiveness. It also gives companies the opportunity to engage with their fans more frequently through a variety of content.

What to expect in 2021

While people flocked to social media to find connection and entertainment during quarantine, we fully expect the amount of time spent online to plateau and decrease slightly as we head into next year. You’ve probably already noticed some of your connections indicating that they’re feeling digitally fatigued and may be pulling back their online engagement.

We also anticipate that continued conversations around data privacy and user protection will impact how people view and use social media. While we aren’t expecting a monumental change in how many people use social media, we do anticipate that people will be more conscious of their behaviors online. They want to protect their information, which could impact usage.

This means that brands will have less time to compete for their audiences’ attention and engage them with their content. They will also have to constantly work to foster trust among their followers as people question their own trust in the social media platforms they’re using.

2. Community-building

If there is one thing we learned during 2020, it’s the importance of having a community. When we were pushed into social isolation, people came together in their communities, both online and offline, to support one another.

For brands, cultivating a relationship with and among your fans can drive brand loyalty. We know that users engage with brands and are looking for brands to engage back.

61%

of consumers say that when a brand engages with its audience, that helps it stand out as a best-in-class brand.

75%

of Twitter, 59% of Facebook, and 34% of Instagram users have leveraged those platforms to engage with brands.

40%

of users expect a brand to respond to their inquiry within one hour, while 79% expect a response, regardless if it was private or public, within one day.

Although quick, meaningful engagement can seem overwhelming, it is important for brands to focus on their connection with their fans. These individuals are more likely to have a positive view of the brand and have a higher potential of becoming a brand advocate when they receive responses.

Other ways we’re seeing brands drive engagement and loyalty is through the use of user-generated content (UGC), groups, and virtual events. All three of these tactics help fans gain insight into and connect with other fans in addition to the brand.

Why it’s important

For brands, nurturing relationships with their customers is as important as ever. During 2020 the increased time spent online has impacted consumer expectations, and meeting those expectations will directly impact your fans’ perception of you. Additionally, the stronger the community you’ve built, the more you’ll be able to rely on brand advocates to help you continue to nurture prospective customers.

What to expect in 2021

B2B brands are different from B2C brands in many ways, but the need for a memorable relationship with their customers isn't one of them. Similar to previous years, we anticipate that priorities will continue to be placed on providing timely customer service — whether through real-time responses from people or leveraging chatbots to help guide users to the information they’re seeking.

We also expect to see more brands take advantage of social media groups, especially on Facebook, where they’ve been focusing a lot of effort on optimizing this experience. Last, we expect more brands to leverage UGC as part of their content mix. If this is something you’re considering, we encourage you to get your terms and conditions in place so people have to consent to them before you use their image or video on your channels.

3. Ephemeral content

Ephemeral, or short-lived, content continues to drive trends in the social media space. Here’s what we know:

Platforms have clearly found success in creating a space for users to share short-form content, some of which expires from people’s feed. This has likely helped contribute to the increased time spent on social media and has presented new opportunities for users and brands to engage with one another.

Why it’s important

As we see more users engage with short-form and short-lived content and spend time in those respective areas of platforms, it presents both organic and paid opportunities for brands to meet users where they are. This year, we saw an increasing number of viral challenges and social media trends emerge from short-form content — everything from flip the switch to the use of AR filters, which brands started participating in. It also gives marketers the opportunity to tap into new platform features and content types to help communicate different messages.

What to expect in 2021

In 2021, we expect to see users continuing to adopt Stories across channels. Because of this, we also anticipate brands will leverage Stories and tap into more of the organic, engagement-driving platform features like AR filters and stickers. We also expect advertisers to continue to leverage the power of Stories ad placements to drive traffic and leads. And we’re looking forward to the creative challenges and trends that emerge from short-form content.

4. Social media e-commerce

It’s no surprise that social media e-commerce is a trend we’re tracking as we head into the new year. Online sales have surged in several industries, and platforms have rolled out more features to support purchases through social media.

Here are some things we saw recently:

Why it’s important

Consumers appreciate convenience. We know they’re spending a lot of time on social media, so why not connect them with a product or service they may need? From a marketing standpoint, one of the great things about leveraging social media to drive sales is that it can help you validate the investment you’re making into your channels — and it makes it easier to quantify the return on investment (ROI).

What to expect in 2021

In 2021 we anticipate more sales will be driven from social media channels, whether it’s through advertising, influencer marketing, or e-commerce capabilities within specific platforms. Integrating social media e-commerce into your marketing plan will be important next year.

5. Employee advocacy

The most valuable asset of any organization is its employees. When activated on social media, they can significantly impact your marketing efforts — typically at a lower cost compared to other advertising tactics. When it comes to employee advocacy, the benefits prove themselves.

On average, employee-shared content sees:

Social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, have recognized the value of employee advocacy programs. This has led to the release of new features:

  • LinkedIn rolled out their new “My Company” tab, which is the integration of LinkedIn Elevate with company pages.
  • LinkedIn introduced a new functionality to notify employees when there’s a new post on a company page to engage with.

Why it’s important

Employee advocacy is a great tool to leverage to help recruit new employees, generate leads, and build thought leadership.

This year, we’ve seen employees play an important role in helping communicate on behalf of their company. In everything from business operation disruptions to communicating about job opportunities, employees helped increase transparency with current and prospective customers.

Additionally, interest in employee advocacy has increased by 191% over the past seven years, and nearly one-third of high-growth firms already have a program in place. Chances are, if your company isn’t exploring an employee advocacy program by this point, you may be behind your competition.

What to expect in 2021

We expect that more brands will recognize the power their employees can have when properly trained and activated on social media, and will invest in implementing an employee advocacy program.

If you’re looking for an experienced partner to help you stay on top of social media trends, develop content that will drive users to take action, or work with you to launch your own employee advocacy program, contact us.


Erin Fry
Get to know Erin

Erin is a social media strategist who enjoys strategizing how to effectively use social media in marketing campaigns. When she’s not working at Two Rivers Marketing, she is testing new recipes in the kitchen or cheering on the Cyclones. Reach out to Erin.