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Top Social Media Trends for 2021

Looking to find out the latest social media trends for 2021? Well, check out our blog written by our team of social media experts.

Today, almost half the world’s population uses social media. That’s a staggering 3.6 billion people that are actively using popular platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn. What’s more – social media usage is growing across all demographics.

With such an extensive reach, it’s easy to see why businesses, brands and digital marketers are so invested in social media trends. However, being successful on social media requires consistency, expertise and innovation. If you want to gain more followers, prompt more engagement and turn social media activity into revenue, take a look at the top social media trends to look out for in 2021:

1. Long-Form Videos on Social Media

Social Media Video Trends in 2021
Social Media Video Trends in 2021

The popularity of video content has skyrocketed in recent years, thanks in part to high-speed internet connectivity and reduced data costs. It was one of the most important social media trends in 2020 and it’s going to be just as popular as we move into 2021. However, that doesn’t mean that the type of videos we’re watching won’t be subject to changes.

Many experts predict that longer-form video content will become the norm in 2021. Not only is there a clear demand from users watching for videos, but creators are also becoming more comfortable with broadcasting and publishing video content. With platforms like Tiktok and Instagram emphasising the importance of video content, we’re likely to see long-form content and live videos becoming more commonplace in 2021.

2. Relationship-Driven Strategies

For too long, brands have focused primarily on the promotional opportunities that social media offers. However, the increasing use of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) means that users will only be exposed to content that offers them genuine value. Unsurprisingly, social media platforms strive to deliver an outstanding user experience (UX) and purely promotional content doesn’t always fit into this narrative. Instead, brands will need to publish content that nurtures relationships with their target audience and offers something in return for their engagement. This is definitely a social media trend people need to watch out for!

3. Social Media Shopping

Social Media Trend - Facebook Shop
Facebook Shop Updates in 2021

It’s possible to drive a significant amount of traffic to your site from social media but, in 2021, you won’t need to. The rise of social shopping will see users buying products and services directly from social media using tools such as Facebook and Instagram Shop. Clickable ads and transactional landing pages already shorten the customer journey, but these steps could be removed completely as social shopping continues to evolve.

For businesses, this presents a real opportunity to use social media in a whole new way. With the potential to limit distractions and reduce bounce rates, facilitate social sales can have a direct and positive impact on your revenue.

4. Increased Diversification on Social Media

The end of Facebook?

There are already numerous social media platforms out there and there’s no doubt that more will emerge in 2021. Take a look at Clubhouse for example – the brand new app has taken centre stage among entrepreneurs, start-ups, venture capitalists and even celebrities. With the absence of IRL meet-ups and coffee dates due to Covid-19, this app allows for more human connection, as users can create communities around domains of their interest and engage in conversations.

Whether they’ll become mainstream is another question. However, apps like Clubhouse are breaking the typical social media mould, by focusing on listening instead of passive scrolling.

Demographics are constantly changing

The demographics using the major social media platforms are also changing. Instagram’s core demographic has widened over time, with more 35+ year olds using the platform. Therefore, it is expected to take place across other social media sites too, including the likes of teenage phenomenon – TikTok demographics

If you want to leverage social media to increase revenue in 2021, don’t assume you know which platforms your target audience is using. Instead, you’ll need to keep your research fresh and stay up to date with how the market is diversifying.

5. Whatsapp Advertising

Whatsapp Advertising
Advertising on Whatsapp in 2021

Despite having more than 2 billion users, WhatsApp has yet to feature advertising spots on its messaging service. However, this could be set to change in 2021, with many social media experts predicting the introduction of WhatsApp advertising. Given that owners Facebook generate massive revenues from social advertising, it seems highly likely that we’ll see ads on WhatsApp before the year’s out.

6. Unified Data Management

Currently, the vast number of social media platforms makes it virtually impossible to extract and analyse unified data. Until now, that is. In 2021, we believe a huge social media trend will be the use of advanced software to extract and analyse cross-platform data.

As a result, measuring and analysing data on a purely per-platform basis will become a thing of the past. While platform-specific data analysis will remain relevant in terms of campaign development, the ability to collate data from multiple platforms will allow marketers to gain greater insight into online behaviour. Furthermore, the ability to access data in a more efficient way will streamline workflows and facilitate more data-driven decision-making.

7. Increased Instagram Opportunities

Instagram social media trends 2021
Instagram Trends in 2021

Instagram is making major changes to its search options, which will significantly enhance opportunities for brands in 2021. When users search for a keyword on Instagram, they’ll now be shown relevant posts, profiles and videos, without having to differentiate between search results. Of course, this means modifying your existing content to ensure that it’s going to satisfy new algorithms.

However, Instagram’s new search-friendly approach is good news for businesses and marketers alike. Until now, the platform has remained relatively difficult to penetrate but the increased reach that’s now available will see brands refocusing on what the site can offer. This, in addition to video content such as Instagram Reels, means Instagram is likely to be a much bigger feature in your 2021 social media strategy and is definitely a trend to get on board with. 

8. Fake News on Social Media

Social media has been central to the debates regarding ‘fake news’ and disinformation. As a major news outlet, the impact of misinformation on social media platforms can have far-reaching consequences. After repeated calls for social media giants to take action, many sites are now alerting users when content cannot be verified.

With an increase in software and websites designed to fact-check and determine the legitimacy of online content, campaigns against disinformation are likely to continue. As a result, we’ll see social media companies taking more steps to actively curb misinformation and mitigate the negative impact it can have.

9. Snackable Content

Ever heard of the ‘less is more’ approach? Well, snackable content is becoming an increasingly popular marketing tactic, characterized by its straightforward and visually engaging material. By communicating an overarching campaign message in short, easily digestible pieces of content, it catches the attention of viewers without losing their interest.

When it comes to the goals of providing immediate knowledge, boosting social sharing and attracting new leads, snackable content works much better than long-form content. As more consumers choose formats that are aesthetically appealing, easy to consume, and widely compatible with mobile devices, long paragraphs and blocks of text no longer have the same success in online marketing as they used to do.

10. Covid-19 Marketing

covid-19 marketing
Social media has helped small businesses during Covid-19

Our daily lives have changed drastically over the past year, resulting in new forms of digital communication, remote jobs, and the cancellation of major events. Not only has this modern standard altered how and when we use technology, but also the sort of material we are gravitating toward.

In wake of the pandemic, people want businesses and organisations to speak about the initiatives or changes they are introducing. Instead of steering away from the topic, demonstrate how your team has adapted and what initiatives within the wider community you are creating. These posts resonate with followers and will provide them with the knowledge they can potentially use in their everyday lives.

To adapt your marketing techniques, brands will need to adapt their communications with this in mind – with the tone of 2021 shaped by the 4 Cs of coronavirus content:

  • Community 
  • Contactless 
  • Cleanliness
  • Compassion

Planning for Social Media Success in 2021

The popularity of social media shows no signs of waning. In fact, its user base continues to grow year-on-year. For businesses, this makes social media a vital part of their digital marketing strategies. While the growth of new sites and the evolution of existing platforms can make it tricky to create long-term strategies, using the latest trends to enhance your campaigns will help you to boost your online visibility and convert social media engagement into rock-solid revenue.

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Cara Jackson

Cara Jackson

I'm Social & Content Lead at Digital 24. I specialise in Organic Social, Video & Influencer Marketing. You'll probably catch me scrolling through TikTok during the day looking for fun trends and video ideas for clients... (yes, scrolling on TikTok is part of my job description... don't be jealous).