With the chaos of 2020 behind us, one thing was certain: we’ve spent a lot of time on social media this year! Last March, as countries implemented stay-at-home orders due to the global pandemic, social media usage rose worldwide by 21%.

Now as the world approaches 3.6 billion social media users and continues to deal with the pandemic, brands are asking “What social media trends should I expect in this constantly changing landscape?”

Below, we’ve compiled seven social media trends which marketers should watch or leverage in 2021.

Ready? Let’s dive in!

1. The organic social media relationship funnel

Who do your customers trust?  With rising concerns over privacy and fake-news, forming a trusting relationship with your customers in 2021 is going to be harder than ever.

With studies showing that 75% of people don’t accept advertisements as truth, there is a lot to be said for a relationship marketing approach to building trust with your social media audience. These stats speak for themselves:

  • 63% of social media users feel consumer ratings are #1
  • 70% of consumers believe customer opinions (that’s more than double those who trust advertisements)

To cut through in 2021, social media marketers must invest in their relationships with employees, customers, and influencers, to ensure their key brand messages are backed up by the voices their customers value the most.

2. People-first social media

Two-way communication is the ticket to boost your organic posts to the top of your audiences’ social feeds. An active online community who engages with your content through likes (good), comments (even better), and shares (super!) can help amplify your content significantly.

3. Social content for good

A growing focus on political, environmental, and social issues throughout the year means increased social media conversations about the issues close to your customers’ hearts. Study show that 56% of consumers say they have no respect for businesses that remain silent on important issues. Now is the time to leverage your social platform to inform and reassure your customers.

4. Video will continue to take center stage. 

Early in 2020, HubSpot’s “Not Another State of Marketing Report” found that video was the most commonly used marketing content. As major platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and LinkedIn increasingly amp up their video capabilities; marketers can expect high video consumption to continue and grow in coming years.

5. More brands will go live.
In 2019, one in five Facebook videos was live. In May of that year, YouTube users cumulatively spent 284 hours watching live video. In 2020, most brands were forced to take conferences, events, and other marketing experiences online; it’s not shocking to think that 2021 live stream numbers could be higher.

Currently most brands are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Twitter to live stream events, Q&A’s, tutorials and various types of content. Allowing followers brand engagement at events they otherwise might not have been able to attend.

6. Social media users will embrace gaming and VR.

In the last year, the number of social media users who identify as “gamers” increased by more than 10 million or 32%. Our “Social Media Trends Report” reveals that the highest uptick in gamer identification happened during COVID-19’s heaviest lockdown months.

Facebook’s company, Oculus, launching new VR products. Twitch is continuing to expand online streaming capabilities, and Snapchat is launching mini-game apps. It’s clear that gamification and social media will continue to go hand in hand in 2021. With Facebook and other major platforms continuing to launch brand tools around their newest features, it’s not shocking to think that more social media in-game advertising opportunities could be possible in the future.

Brands should keep an eye out for game-related promotions in 2021.

7. Authenticity will be vital.
During 2020, consumers and brands faced a global pandemic, uncertain financial times, and a number of major events that paused economies.

Because of this consumers need more than just great deals to trust, identify with, and invest in a brand. Many brands have taken notice by embracing authenticity and their human side on social media. Some brands have spoken directly about their thoughts related to COVID-19 and other news items. Others have shown authenticity by zoning in on their customers through user-generated content or customer testimonials.

When done authentically, both strategies can help brands gain trust from their audiences while boosting awareness as a company that cares about people.

Navigating Social Media in 2021

The world around us is constantly changing. Although we think we know what to expect with social media, this list of trends is not exhaustive of what we’ll see in 2021. As a social media marketer, the best thing you can do is to continue to research trends, online consumer behaviors, and your team’s social media data. Good Luck!

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