A lot has happened so far in 2021, and the hit of the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the role social media plays within brands. That meant that while some of the trends which were predicted pre-pandemic did end up following through, some didn’t emerge at all.
Most notably, eCommerce sales have gone through the roof this year and have no means of slowing down, people have been spending a lot more time on social media, and video conferencing is still the new norm. This has led to a major shift in the way brands connect with their consumers online.
So, as we continue this year slowly adapting to the new norm, what social media trends will continue to permeate in 2021?
Here are 7 key trends to consider:
Live Streaming Will Take Center Stage
Stay at home orders meant that everything in-person had to shift into the digital space. Events were canceled and consumers weren’t even able to socialize with their loved ones. This led to an increase in the number of people tuning into live streams, whether it was a graduation live stream, a live video on Instagram from their favorite influencer, or an online workshop.
In fact, Facebook Live viewings spiked by 50% during lockdown periods, while viewings on Instagram surged 70%. There was, and still is, a strong need for human-driven content that can create trust and allow consumers to tap into the in-the-moment connection.
User-Generated Content Is Important
When you think about user-generated content, it is very similar to the reviews you see often on products or services, but in video form. It can be posted in the form of sponsored content that influencers get paid to produce or just a testimonial from a friend who wants to share a product they really love. Overall, it shows the importance of customer experience.
User-generated content builds and strengthens communities, it’s relatable and uplifting, it enables brands to meet customers where they are already hanging out, and it helps brands generate tons more content against restrictive measures.
Social Commerce Will Continue To Grow
With the social media industry constantly evolving to enhance the user experience, you’re going to see more features and tools that support quick and easy shopping. Facebook has been working on its Market and Shop over the years integrating its practices to Instagram. These features allow you to add product tags and enable easy checkout without ever leaving the platform. It’s the convenience that consumers want.
This could be the perfect tool for marketers to capitalize on in 2021, especially considering the role of social media in purchase decisions. It’s also good to note that 54% of social media users research products using social media. And social media referrals can influence the purchase decision of 71% of users. Even having a “buy” button somewhere on your socials can lead to more traffic to your site and an increase in sales.
Goodwill and Purpose-Driven Missions Will Be Expected
The 2021 Hootsuite Social Trends report notes that:
“The smartest brands will understand where they fit into customers’ lives on social media, and they’ll find creative ways of fitting into the conversation.”
At the core of this is the need for relatability and transparency. It’s impossible to connect with your consumers if they can’t relate to your mission or feel like it is insincere. Think about it, consumers won’t want to invest in something that they can’t trust or don’t believe in. This is why it is important for brands to start digging deeper into their goodwill actions and purpose-driven missions. Seeing brands do good things isn’t new, but there will be an even bigger emphasis on this for the rest of the year.
Inclusivity Is Key
Inclusivity and diversity have become a huge focus in recent years with the Black Lives Matter movement highlighting endemic issues. One study showed that the cultural shift towards inclusivity is also impacting purchase behavior, with 41% of consumers shifting away from brands that don’t reflect their view on identity and diversity - and 29% are willing to switch brands completely if they don’t show enough diversity.
Brands that come off as non-inclusive, or who don’t appear to be a part of the inclusive conversation, will likely see major impacts at the end of 2021. On the flip side, brands who openly showcase their inclusivity will reap the benefits and drive deeper connections with their consumers.
Authenticity and Transparency Is Vital
The uncertain times of the global pandemic left many feeling uneasy when it came to purchasing decisions. The need for necessities took over the need for desires. Now, consumers need more than just a great deal to trust, identify with, and invest in a brand. At this point, many brands also realize this and have taken to embracing authenticity and their human side on social media.
A great example of this was when brands spoke directly about their thoughts on COVID-19 or other major news items. Those who spoke up reaped the benefits and those who remained quiet didn’t do quite as well. When done authentically, both strategies can help brands gain trust from their audiences while boosting awareness as a company that cares about people.
East-to-Consume Content Will Be Craved
Bite-sized content has taken over social media - things like podcasts, TikToks, and Reels are the go-to for consuming news and entertainment. Consumer habits have changed, and with the average attention span being 12 to 8 seconds long, brands will need to begin experimenting on how to best convey their brand, messaging, and call to action, in short, catchy forms of content.
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