It's hard to believe, but 2020 has finally come to an end. With the pandemic changing how many brick-and-mortar businesses operate, it's more important than ever to consider how consumers interact with brands online.
As a membership site owner, staying on top of social media trends can help fuel your marketing strategy. Some ongoing tendencies are here to stay, such as video, Instagram Stories, and personalized marketing. On the other hand, a new emerging demographic might change the way you target your content.
In this article, we'll discuss the top five social media trends for 2021 that you should know about. Let's dive right in!
1. Social Media Will Evolve Into the Main Marketing Channel
Until recently, TV and radio reigned as the most powerful marketing channels. While they are still significant for mass communication, social media has become a force to be reckoned with, largely due to lower entry barriers for small businesses.
According to Hootsuite's recent Social Trends 2021 Report, the pandemic put many marketers under pressure to seek fresh, cost-efficient ways to attract consumers. Up to 73 percent of all businesses ranked “increased acquisition of new customers” as their desired outcome for the coming year, choosing social media as the most urgent of all marketing channels.
Generating short-term revenue online has been the top priority for the majority of marketers in the past year. Social commerce has also become widely adopted, with platforms like Instagram taking advantage of shoppable feeds to make online purchases easier than ever:
Therefore, it's safe to assume that social media is no longer a reactive engagement tool, but a crucial revenue generator. In fact, according to Google, adding new social channels to your marketing mix can increase your return on investment (ROI) by a staggering 35 percent.
Hootsuite's report also stresses the importance of using social media to improve the online customer experience in 2021. The pandemic has removed much of the in-person shopping aspect, so consumers will seek to replicate this with innovative digital solutions.
It's smart to develop a long-term social media strategy and strengthen customer loyalty with content that inspires a sense of connection and discovery. Incorporating social networks into your online marketing efforts can help you expand your reach and grow your audience.
2. Social Listening Will Become a Crucial Business Strategy
Of course, 2020 was a particularly challenging year. With so many people spending more time online, it has become critical for marketers to ensure that commercials and messaging match their audiences' tone, attitudes, and values.
Brands that decide to pause and listen can fit into the conversation with much-welcomed, lighthearted posts, such as Coors Light's #CouldUseABeer campaign:
Research by Morning Consult suggests that, in 2021, consumers will be more likely to respond to funny ads and content that is comforting, useful, and customer-centric.
Most social media users also expect brands to practice corporate activism in ethical areas, such as climate crisis or racial inequality. For instance, a staggering 82 percent of Snapchatters believe they have a personal responsibility to drive the change they want to see globally – and their purchasing decisions reflect that sentiment.
Therefore, as part of your social listening efforts, it's smart to encourage user-generated content (UGC) to make your posts more authentic and relatable. Also, platforms such as Snapchat prefer raw and unpolished content, rather than overproduced ads. So don't be afraid to use these channels to connect with your audience and demonstrate your brand's personality in an honest and relatable way.
3. Baby Boomers Will Return to the Spotlight
Surprisingly, the generation that has been largely ignored by marketers is now booming (no pun intended) on social media. According to Hootsuite, 70 percent of internet users aged 55-64 bought something online in the past few months, and will likely continue this behavior well into the new year.
Moreover, many baby boomers have a relatively healthier financial situation than other generations who experienced employment loss due to the pandemic. That means they'll likely have more disposable cash to spend on their hobbies.
Facebook is the preferred boomer platform, followed closely by YouTube. However, as mature internet users are becoming more digitally savvy, it's not uncommon to see senior influencers amassing millions of followers on younger platforms like TikTok.
With this in mind, you might consider including users aged 55-64 in your digital conversations (if you're not already), and using appropriate segmentation and representation.
4. Personalization Will Be Paramount for Engagement
Considering the above findings, it comes as little surprise that 2021 will bring about new personalization opportunities. If you rely solely on organic reach on your social media platforms, you miss out on valuable insights that could help you understand (and improve) your typical customer journey.
Hootsuite reports that 69 percent of businesses used social media to maintain customer relationships in preparation for COVID-19. So it's likely that users will expect high personalization efforts in their online interactions with brands in 2021.
Moreover, providing a tailored experience is becoming an increasingly powerful brand awareness strategy, with campaigns like Spotify Wrapped proving extremely popular among millions of internet users:
Social media analytics, such as Instagram Insights, can tell you a lot about your audience's preferences. We recommend integrating this data with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool such as Salesforce. This way, you'll be able to differentiate between new leads and recurring customers, allowing you to create more effective ads and meaningful communications.
5. Live Streaming Will Continue to Reign
COVID-19 saw many businesses embrace online membership sites and e-learning platforms, with video content and live streaming becoming the new normal. Customers now assume that they can attend virtual sessions without leaving their homes, which will likely continue post-pandemic, due to lower costs and higher reach opportunities.
However, users still miss offline interaction, which is why short-lived content, such as Instagram Stories, will keep flourishing. Its behind-the-scenes nature can replicate the physical experience, as seen in Clarins' recent Instagram campaigns.
The brand successfully used Stories to provide its renowned, in-store skincare advice to customers, which resulted in story completion rates jumping from 20 to 75 percent.
Live streaming platforms such as Twitch are also skyrocketing. By December 2020, this relatively new app reached 1049 billion minutes watched, a 67 percent increase since 2019. The site now amasses 6.7 million monthly streamers, which will continue to grow in 2021.
Note that live streaming is not just an online gaming activity. We're already witnessing new trends such as live shopping events and even real-time customer service catching up with the latest video reality. As you move into the new year, you could take advantage of the opportunity to digitalize your offerings by embracing these live streaming tools and platforms.
COVID-19 has shaped the way the world operates nowadays. For instance, expiring content is growing in popularity as people crave authenticity and human connection. As a result, it's important for brands to become less business-like and exercise social listening to stay relevant.
In this article, we discussed the top five social media trends to know for 2021. To recap:
- Social media is quickly taking over as the primary marketing channel.
- Brands that truly listen to their customers are likely to see a better ROI.
- Baby boomers are adapting to innovative technologies, which can present new marketing opportunities.
- Highly personalized content and ads will drive conversions and engagement rates.
- Live streaming will continue grow in popularity, thanks to its ability to replicate the offline consumer experience.
Do you have any questions about social media trends in 2021? Let us know in the comments section below!