7 Social Media Marketing Trends to Expect in 2021

Throughout history, moments of crisis and uncertainty have inspired new innovations and shifted views on what matters most to people. The unpredictable nature of 2020 has forced brands to adapt in how they connect with their audience. Shop closures and stay-at-home orders meant people were stuck inside, and as a result, they were spending a lot more time online. This has pushed brands to diversify and create more personalized ways of reaching their buyers. Personal conversation will become increasingly common, purpose-driven brands will rise, and customer experience will remain an integral part of every marketing strategy. Over the next 12 months, we’ll see this and other trends continue, so to help you with your social strategy, we’ve lined up our top 7 predictions for the new year.

1. Brand Accountability

People connect with people, and after the year we’ve endured, brands are expected to take a stance on social issues and show transparency in this era of the conscious consumer. New data from Sprout Social reveals the majority of consumers (70%) believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues, a number that’s increased since their last survey on this topic in 2017. So get more faces out there and talk about what matters to your core tribe.

2. Organic Instagram Visibility with Keywords

In November 2020, it was officially announced that Instagram would become more “search-friendly”. Even without the use of hashtags, when you search for a keyword in the search bar, relevant videos, profiles, and posts should populate. To take advantage of this update and help Instagram categorize your content, include a relevant keyword to the name in your bio (see example below). Another tip is to use relevant keywords in your captions and hashtags to identify what’s being shown or talked about in your post.

Instagram Organic Results

3. User Generated Content

Brands leveraging user-generated content isn’t new, but is a trend that is still holding strong and being implemented at a higher rate by marketers. One-quarter of search results (25%) for the world’s biggest brands are links to user-generated content. A majority of users trust UGC when it comes to influencing their buying decisions, as people want to see real-life experiences without the actors and fancy editing. We’ve seen and will continue to see a surge in UGC content this year through platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.

Take this Ocean Spray TikTok that went viral, for example.

TikTok user Nathan Apadaca took a video of himself drinking a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice while on a skateboard, lyp-syncing to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Ocean Spray moved in fast on the social media discussion associated with its product and reaped the rewards of drumming up awareness for its brand. These instances are rated by authenticity of the moment rather than carefully-scripted rollouts.

4. Bite-Sized Content

In 2020, we saw the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, continued engagement using “Stories”, and brands creating various short-form content to educate consumers about their brand. With consumers at home and having nothing to do, social media attention spans continue to shrink and endless scrolling continues, so don’t expect bite-sized content to lose popularity anytime soon. Your audience wants to consume content in a more entertaining way, so captivate them quickly and create a message that is to the point.

5. Social Commerce

Almost everything has moved completely online, and platforms have raced to develop online business marketing solutions. Hootsuite recently asked their clients what they were trying to achieve with social media. By far the most popular reason for businesses using social media was for increased acquisition of new customers (73%). Users will shop in social media applications now more than ever. Facebook and Instagram actually brought shopping capabilities directly to their apps. With these “Shoppable” posts, consumers can buy a product seen in a post without even leaving the app they’re on, creating a simple and seamless path to purchase. Social commerce is well on its way to becoming a mainstream retail channel on par with websites and offline stores. Look into adding this feature to your business pages and redirect any visitors to your “store”, where you can set up a product catalogue.

6. Livestreams and Virtual Events

They began out of necessity, but livestreams and virtual events have proven to be convenient and are here to stay in 2021 due to accessibility and a high return on investment. By going virtual, companies were able to open up their event to an entirely new audience as factors like travel restrictions and cost weren’t as big of concerns. As a result, this allows for higher attendance and more participation. When planning something virtual, the objective should be to drive engagement through great speakers, valuable content, and moments of entertainment. Take a look at @verzuztv. The producers, Timbaland and Swizz Beatz, created the platform as a fun idea during the initial pandemic lockdown to host live DJ battles and singing competitions between popular artists on Instagram Live. It has become a highly anticipated event, bringing in countless fans to watch every week.

7. Meme Culture

No matter what social media you use, you can’t escape the millions of memes that are posted daily. Known for their funny and unique humour, these memes that started off as inside and funny jokes, are now being used by brands to boost their social media following. They provide the comic relief we all need and, if used correctly, will boost engagement. The best memes are shared with friends, reposted on stories, and saved for later, so it’s no surprise that they are in high favor of social media algorithms.

Take @Curology for example. The modern skincare brand occasionally incorporates fun memes that show off its ethos and brand values — all while engaging their audience with relatability.

In a world filled with constant unknowns and reinvention, no one can be exactly sure of what 2021 will bring. However, if there’s a key takeaway message, it’s that personalized user experiences and authenticity matter, and it’s safe to bet each and every time. Contact Jungle Communications to learn more about how we can help you improve your strategy.

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