Amid the changes in digital marketing over the past decade, social media has not only endured but evolved every year to maintain its place as one of the most powerful channels in modern marketing.
Despite all the promises, social media is anything but easy. Constant updates, strong competition and rapid changes in markets, consumer interests, privacy regulations, and, of course, technology are combined in a melting pot that is as frustrating as it is strong.
To help you keep an eye on what you need to know about social media marketing in 2021, we’ve compiled this list of trends – both new changes and ongoing changes in recent changes.
7 Social Media Marketing Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2021
Social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn are no longer just social networks. They have turned into marketing platforms to generate more traffic to your website and revenue from your product or service.
This type of marketing is not new – Facebook launched pages for businesses as well as Facebook ads (ad placement in the left column below) in 2007, for example:
In the thirteen years since then, many brands still don’t use social media networks to the extent they can. This is bad business acumen, as social media is one of the first places people go today when they search for brands and interact with them. In fact, 54% of social media users visit a social platform when they search for new brands and their products.
Here are the eight social media marketing trends you should incorporate into your overall digital marketing strategy.
Dive deeper: The impact of social media on business in 2021
Trend No. 1: Video content dominates social feeds
If we’re honest, video content is already dominating social media. Here is a review of the effects of video marketing from 2019:
- 92% of users who watch videos on mobile devices share them with others.
- Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and image content combined.
- 72% of customers prefer to learn about a product or service via video.
- Users spend 88% more time on sites with videos
- 54% of consumers want to see more video content from brands:
HubSpot reports that 85% of companies use video as a marketing tool and by 2022 even 82% of all internet traffic will be video content.
So 2020 is the year your brand needs to increasingly implement video marketing across all social media platforms! Click to tweet
It is absolutely clear that video content is the future. Brands that continue to be on the sidelines are making a big mistake, and they’ll have a hard time catching up with their competitors unless they adapt sooner rather than later.
Trend No. 2: Stories will be the focus
Social media stories is basically a kind of newsfeed, but it’s more visual than text-heavy. The short video clip format popularized by Snapchat was once considered a fad of a teenager who would surely (or hopefully) quickly die out. Instead, it raged against all expectations to become one of the fastest-growing social media trends of the last decade.
And now everyone wants to join in. Facebook couldn’t buy Snapchat, so a copycat story feature was introduced on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram:
YouTube also has its own version:
You can hardly blame these other social networks for copying Snapchat, as it offers incredible opportunities for marketing:
- Stories grow 15x faster than feeds
- Both creation and consumption have increased by 842% since the beginning of 2016
- 62% of people are more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story
The disappearing Stories format is the perfect channel to build a relationship with followers. Marketers can benefit from people’s innate fear of missing out (FOMO), which affects 69% of millennials, and get many of them to make purchases.
Another great feature is the ability to add surveys or ask questions, allowing marketers to gain insights from their audience and increase engagement through simple interactive content.
Through short-lived content, people feel comfortable sharing more of their unedited, non-perfect moments without fear of being judged. This opens the stage for real marketing that appeals to a wider audience. In 2021, more brands with stories will come on board.
Trend No. 3: More companies will use influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is another established tactic that will lead nowhere in the foreseeable future. In fact, 63% of marketers plan to increase their existing budget for influencer marketing in 2021 because the ROI is so good – $5.20 for every $1 spent:
The reason influencers work so well is because consumers are wary of advertising and don’t trust faceless corporate brands. As such, they trust more someone they know – even if the relationship is completely online. Social evidence exists in many forms, whether it’s friends and family, acquaintances, or the customer reviews section of an e-commerce store. In any case, consumers attach more weight to these reviews than to one brand.
Social media is the influencer’s realm, and the beauty of it is that you don’t have to be a massive company with deep pockets to take advantage of it. Small and medium-sized businesses with a limited budget can take advantage of the possibilities of influencer marketing by working with micro-influencers (companies with 1,000 to 1,000,000 followers).
Instagram may be hiding likes, but that shouldn’t hurt the platform too much. Statista predicts another big year of growth for influencers:
Ali Parmelee explains that micro-influencers are more powerful for the purpose of a brand than Ryan Reynolds because:
“[Micro-influencers are] more accessible because people love to see themselves in these ambitious ads, and that more niche influencers for everyday life make this much easier.”
With this in mind, the continued growth of influencer marketing – especially among micro-influencers – will become one of the biggest social media trends in 2021.
Trend No. 4: Augmented Reality (AR) becomes mainstream
When it comes to futuristic technology in marketing, AR is arguably the most exciting trend right now. Augmented reality is defined as:
“… A technology that incorporates digital elements into the actual line of sight. As the name suggests, augmented reality is an attempt to improve reality using digitally generated images and functions. “
By 2022, the augmented and virtual reality market is expected to reach a market size of $209.2 billion, up from just $14.1 billion in 2017. Pokemon Go and Snapchat filters and lenses are probably the best-known examples of AR in “everyday” use but consider how brands can make better use of this technology:
When it comes to AR and social media, acceptance has been slow. However, as technology evolves and offers more than just games, applications for e-commerce, personalized marketing, and product discovery are gradually increasing.
Facebook’s AR Studio is a “powerful tool for stunning interactive experiences for the Facebook camera” that allows you to “distribute your content to more people on new interfaces such as Instagram, Messenger, and Facebook Lite”.
With augmented reality, you can change the customer experience in an unprecedented way – a truly interactive shopping experience.
Cosmetics brand Sephora uses AR (along with VR and AI) with its Sephora Virtual Artist app. With this technology, users can “try on” different types of makeup products without ever setting foot in a store. All you have to do is upload a photo of their face to the app. Sephora is an innovative example of how you can use augmented reality to personalize and improve the customer experience:
Ways brands and marketers can use augmented reality to promote their products or services include:
- AR Virtual Stores on Social Media: Transform social shopping into a unique and comprehensive experience.
- AR and Live Events: Enable your global audience to participate in your brand’s event from anywhere in the world.
- AR videos: Create interactive AR videos to show your customers how to use your products (e.B an interactive product demo or explainer video).
- AR for better brand awareness: At this point, the technology is so new that an AR experience can be widely shared – which means great word-of-mouth marketing.
AR technology opens the doors to tremendous opportunities for marketers, and as their capabilities improve, barriers to entry are lowering, so you can expect great strides for this channel in 2021.
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Trend No. 5: Social Commerce will be massive
The fusion of ecommerce and social media has always been a matter of time, and 2020 will be the year their marriage becomes mainstream.
Gen Z spends up to three times more time shopping on social media than the average consumer. Most of it happens on Instagram and Snapchat, where influencers are a massive driving force. In 2019, 42% of 18- to 34-year-olds regularly used social commerce:
Giving consumers the option to buy products without leaving the social platform – such as shoppable posts – is a big step forward in offering a better user experience to Internet customers. Instagram is thus a leader:
In addition, this is a move that is very much welcomed by consumers, as studies show that 87% of online shoppers believe that social media helps them make purchasing decisions:
The growth of social commerce will help marketers create shorter sales funnels and give consumers access to a smooth and fast buyer journey that will certainly increase customer satisfaction.
Trend #6: Customer service is all about chatbots
There was a time when the idea of communicating with a robot was a hair-raising anathema, as people would rather avoid the previously recorded flowchart-like experience and instead talk to a real human.
Now people want to interact with chatbots. why? Thanks to advanced technology, chatbots are smarter, faster, always available and more effective than the clunky software systems of earlier times:
- 90% of companies report faster resolution of complaints with chatbots
- 56% of people prefer to notify companies rather than calling customer service.
- Chatbots can save 30% of customer support costs.
Little Ice or XiaoIce in Chinese is Microsoft’s biggest chatbot success story: it is Weibo’s (China’s largest social media platform with more than 445 million monthly active users) top influencer and has over 850,000 followers. People who follow XiaoIce interact with her more than 60 times a month. On average, she passes the Turing test for even ten minutes, which means that in the first ten minutes of chatting with her, users don’t realize that she’s a bot.
When business owners find that chatbots can communicate with multiple customers at the same time, work without interruptions or pay, and never get tired, they need to try the technology. In 2021, there is no better time to experiment with chatbots, as they help you improve the customer experience, boost trust and increase your profit.
Trend No. 7: Many users will perform a digital detox
According to Smart Insights, there were nearly 3.5 billion social media users worldwide in January 2019 – about 45% of the human population. You can expect that to grow in 2021.
However, despite all the social media trends discussed so far, there is also the possibility that fewer people will use social media in 2021:
- 35% of adults in the UK have restricted social media
- The reasons used are trust problems (26.2%) and privacy and privacy concerns (21.4%) led.
- 8% of users have both deleted their accounts and remove mobile apps
- 27% of users stopped using social media because they felt addicted to it
- 29% of people deleted their social media account because they felt overwhelmed by it
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, 44% of users aged 18 to 29 deleted the Facebook app from their phone. Although Facebook has largely recovered, the exodus has continued on many platforms. All the apps, screens, social printing, and privacy concerns come together and make people worry about their personal information, mental health, or simply the time they waste on social media platforms.
In our digitized world, marketers rely on most people to own a mobile phone and use apps on a daily basis. However, this strategy needs to change so as not to further overwhelm people and get them to delete your app.
So that’s where you have the top social media trends of 2021.
As Gen Z and millennials lead a new wave of social commerce, looking into interactive video content and augmented reality apps, marketers need to improve their game to stand out on social media.
It will certainly be a great year of innovation and development, in which many brands will finally take the plunge to try out new digital marketing strategies. How will you make a name for yourself on social media in 2021?