With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, social media played a huge role in our lives in 2020. As people, we spent more time sitting on our couches scrolling, shopping and interacting on social media than ever before. As marketers, we spent more time honing in on social media as a tool to reach audiences and get our messages across. The year 2020 undoubtedly changed social media forever, spurring on new trends, tools and experiences.With the use of social media on the rise across industries, we expect to see several innovations and strategies appear in 2021. The social media environment is evolving rapidly, and it’s more important than ever for social media marketers to take note and pay attention. With social media gurus like Hootsuite and HubSpot releasing their predictions for the next year, we’ve rounded up what we believe to be the five most important social media trends rising in 2021.
1. Social Listening Is Vital
Big conversations are happening on social media – about politics, race, COVID-19 and other social issues – and your social media posts can easily be out of touch if you’re not listening to those conversations. Social listening is vital in 2021 when it comes to putting out in-touch messaging at the right time. If this is a new concept to you, social listening is all about understanding how people on social media feel about any given topic and how they might respond to your messages. This practice allows you to be sensitive to things your audience cares about and sets you up to join the conversation at the right time with the right messaging.
Social listening can be done by simply searching topics on each platform that relate to your industry to see what people are saying about it, or looking more generally at the things people are talking about on social to see how you can join one of those conversations in a way that serves your brand. If you want to save time on social listening and receive more accurate data, you can always enlist a paid service like HubSpot, Hootsuite or Sprout Social to help.
2. One-Stop Shopping on Social Media
Companies have been advertising products and services for sale on social media platforms for years, but interested consumers have always been forced to take the long journey from the social platform to the company’s website to complete a purchase. Not so anymore! Channels like Instagram and Facebook are becoming their own marketplaces. On Instagram, users can now complete a purchase from start to finish within the application. This means you could view a product on an influencer page, click on the product tag, view that item in the brand’s Instagram shop, and use Facebook Pay within the app to buy it.
These new opportunities will affect how many brands do their social media marketing, guiding customers directly to a purchase. For example, we’re seeing influencers play a role in a larger way. In fact, 59% of marketers plan to increase their influencer marketing budgets in 2021. As one of the fastest-growing channels for marketing, social media is something to consider heavily in your 2021 strategies.
3. SEO Becomes More Important on Instagram
Instagram used to be all about the hashtags when it came to finding something you were looking for. Now, the platform is becoming much more search-friendly, behaving more like Google’s search engine. This creates a new opportunity for increased reach based on the consistent content of an account’s post.
To take advantage of this, social media marketers will want to make sure to include keywords in all captions as well as in the bio. To further categorize your business account, make sure you’re consistently posting content that’s directly related to your industry or niche. This means resisting the urge to post pictures of the office dogs or what you ate for breakfast that morning. From a glance at your profile, it should be evident to anyone who you are and what you do.
4. Humanizing Brands and Aligning with Customer Identities
This year, buzzwords like “authenticity” and “transparency” are big. Consumers are smart, and they can smell brands that are fake, hypocritical and jump on every bandwagon from a mile away. They also respond positively to brands that are openly vulnerable – brands that have feelings, opinions and, sometimes, stances on social issues. People want to do business with brands that are more human, more relatable. In response, we expect to see a lot of companies using social media to further humanize their brands, show their personalities, and back-up their mission-oriented claims with action.
Brands are also using social as a way to align with audience’s identities – whether that be their racial identity, political identity, gender identity, socioeconomic identity, or others. Brands will use images and language in posts to represent the identities of the audiences they want to reach. This is same reason we’ll see many brands getting behind social and environmental causes because it helps brands align with things that are important to their customers.
5. Video Platforms Continue to Blow Up
Video has been the king of social media marketing for a while now, and its upward trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. While social video platforms like TikTok have primarily been used for entertainment and news purposes, we expect to see more and more brands eager to capitalize on this market for advertising. Already, brands ranging from L’Oreal to Lysol are getting creative with their campaigns on TikTok, targeted toward the more than 500 million young people on the app. In 2021, we predict that smaller brands will begin experimenting with it as well.
The new-ish kid on the scene is Instagram Reels, an up-and-coming TikTok competitor from the social platform we all know and love. Reels are short videos that provide access to music and effects, much like TikTok. While Reels doesn’t offer paid advertising opportunities yet, it’s a good idea for brands to get familiar with using it. Many experts expect that advertising will be available soon, and it’s still a way for your brand to be discovered by people who normally search for your kind of content.
2021 is going to be a big year for social media, and we know some brands will need help to navigate all of the change. If you’re feeling unsure about your social media approach for the coming year, contact us here at PRIME. Together, we can harness these new tools and trends to help you reach your social media goals.
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