• David Mahan

Top 5 Social Media Trends To Expect In 2021

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This year was different, to say the least. No handbook, tutorial, or guide could have prepared creators, marketers, or businesses for what was thrown at them. But we did it! We have survived 2020. And as the dust from this year’s events settle, we hope to gain some insight on what’s to come. Given our state of affairs, there are a few shifts that we can anticipate. Here are our predictions for what trends to expect in 2021, and tips on how to navigate them.

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1. In-App Shopping

Social media and eCommerce are becoming best of friends. Facebook has been playing with In-app shopping for years, but it continues to add ways for users to purchase trendy products without leaving the platform.

In May of this year, Facebook announced “Facebook Shops” as a solution for small business who were struggling to adjust to the Covid-19 crisis. Businesses are able to create free storefronts that allow users to view and shop the business’ entire inventory. It makes customer service as convenient as possible since customers can ask questions and provide feedback through Messenger and WhatsApp.

Instagram has been taking major strides in this space as well. They report that 70% of shopping enthusiasts turn to Instagram for product discovery, and each of the following features are making it really difficult for the remaining 30% to ignore them.

  • Instagram Shop is the shopping section of the Explore page. This is where consumers go to discover new brands, styles, and organizations.

  • Shops is essentially the same as Facebook Shops. It is a customizable storefront that connects the business directly to the consumer. Given a strong social media strategy and an updated catalog, Instagram (and Facebook) could potentially supplement the need for website traffic.

  • Product Launches are now available so brands can pique the interest of their followers. Users have the ability to set reminders that alert them when the product launches.

  • Live Shopping is made available for businesses that have in-app checkout enabled. This is an amazing feature because it lets business owners or representatives demonstrate the value of the product, allows for interaction in real-time, and for a seamless sales funnel.

  • Shopping tags can be placed directly on a Story or in-feed images. Users can view a product on an individual, see the description of the product, and purchase it. This cuts down on the time spent scouring the internet for the same jean jacket in the photo.

Surprisingly, this isn’t even the full list. In the new year, Instagram will, no doubt, continue to test and develop new ways to get their users to spend their money.

Even Tik-Tok, although it is not moving as aggressively as Instagram, may be introducing new methods of in-app shopping in the coming year.

2. Cross-Platform Blending

This one is happening, whether we like it or not. Despite the complaints of the Snapchatter’s who only want to see Stories on Snapchat, or the Tik-Tok lovers who despise seeing Tik-Toks ending up in Instagram Reels. For those of you who do not like mixing your food - it’s too late, we’ve crossed the Rubicon. The top social media platforms will continue to steal ideas and evolve as new platforms gain traction.

It started with stories. Snapchat started the trend. Then Facebook hopped on, and its subsidiary, Instagram, soon followed suit. LinkedIn was not far behind. Most recently, Twitter joined with their "Fleets" update.

Tik-Tok, also known as the “new vine," brought back short form video content that was lacking in most major social media platforms. Given the addictive nature of the app, it is no surprise that Instagram created Instagram Reels to act as its direct competitor.

YouTube stood out among many other social media platforms (and still does in many ways), but now that videos on Facebook can be monetized and IGTV ads exist, the same content seen from your favorite YouTubers will likely be seen on Instagram, Facebook, or maybe even Snapchat. Creators now have options, no matter what form of content they create.

This blending of features has a couple of side effects:

  1. Up and coming social media platforms will have to be increasingly niched down in order to make an impact in the market.

  2. Creators can build their audiences faster without creating new forms of content with the help of strategic, cross-platform promotion.

3. Audio-Focused Social Media

Although we haven’t seen an audio-based social media platform take the nation by storm quite yet, 2021 could be the year we hear them out (no worries - that was the only pun of this post).

Twitter may be the first major social media platform to solidify audio-based socializing. On top of their Fleets update, Twitter is testing a feature called “Spaces.”

I do not expect this feature to catch on quickly, but it will open up users to the idea of an audio-based interaction. Other top audio spaces to look out for:

  • AudioList is a free app that was created for the casual listener. Users can listen and post to social media while enjoying a walk in the park. Although short form is also acceptable on the platform, longer form content is becoming popular on the platform, and starting to catch traction among podcasters.

  • Clubhouse is currently in beta, but closely resembles Twitter’s Space feature. This makes the list, in part, due to the success of their founder, Paul Davison, and the VC backing of the project.

  • HearMeOut is a short-form social media platform that allows users to post 42-second audio clips. Users can post a cover photo for each clip, but other than that, the platform is entirely audio based.

4. Socially Conscious Marketing

Socially conscious marketing has been increasing over the years, but 2020 pushed it into high gear, and we can expect to see it grow in 2021.

The death of George Floyd shook the entire nation and affected almost every aspect of society: socially, politically, and economically. Hate speech was swiftly and strongly criticized, cancel culture was at an all-time high, and small voices were amplified.

No one truly knew how to respond to the crisis, and industry giants like Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Unilever, and Target paused advertising on a global scale to boycott hate-speech and detrimental mindsets that they believe were perpetuated through companies like Facebook. This was a major move, and shook up the marketing industry in a new way. With the leadership of the aforementioned companies, organizations all over the world started to reconsider their marketing strategy, or pause all advertising efforts entirely.

According to a survey done by Markstein and Certus Insights, 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues, and 46% pay close attention to a brand’s social responsibility efforts when they buy a product. An organization’s brand is not decided by the pages of it’s company handbook. It is fluid and lies in the mind of the public. With how critical the public eye is right now, businesses will be taking the socially conscious route in order to avoid the public scrutiny.

Not all companies will do this successfully. As brands scramble to redefine themselves in 2021 (or whenever Covid-19 subsides), some companies will immediately benefit from the great PR, while others will come off as pushy or disingenuous. Here are some pitfalls to avoid when taking a social stance:

  • Be Specific. Causes that are too general can result in more harm than good. They do not inspire, and can tarnish the potency of your brand.

  • Pick A Bad Guy. You may not have to explicitly state what it is, and it could be something as broad as a negative mindset, but it is hard to get behind a cause that is of no consequence. Your approach can still be very positive, but in order to structure an effective campaign, your audience should have an idea of what you are taking a stand on, and why it’s important. If nothing is opposing your agenda, then it isn’t truly a stand.

  • Lead By Example. It may not be wise to run a campaign promoting diversity if everyone in your company looks the same. Nobody likes a hypocrite. Make sure you audit your own company before expanding your message to the public.

  • Time Your Launch. Fighting for social causes should be consistent, but unfortunately, social trends are usually just that; trends. You should be doing work for your cause no matter how much attention it gets, but when your cause is in the spotlight, it is the perfect time use your brand to spearhead the charge.

5. Increase In Video Marketing

Video Marketing is one of those tools that everyone knows they should probably employ, but is hesitant to start. There is a fear of being on camera, having a face to scrutinize, the cost of a solid production team, etc. Despite the numerous reasons why one might not use video, the payoff greatly outweighs the risk involved.

It is almost impossible to build a solid brand nowadays without the trust of the people, and it is hard to trust in something that is not tangible. Personalities will always be favored over logos. In a Hubspot study, 54% of the 3000 respondents reported that consumers want to see more video content from a brand or business they support. Video is the connection between an inflexible corporate appearance and the heart of your brand. With YouTube and Tik-Tok leading the charge, video is becoming a larger player in our daily feeds, and social media platforms are gradually adapting. Instagram reels and IGTV are good examples of this transition.

The power is now in the hand of the creator. Just about every major social media player is focusing on how they can appease the creator, not necessarily the corporation. If businesses don’t adapt, they are at risk of conceding the attention of their audience to an individual with less resources but more boldness. Especially now that we can’t interact the same way we did pre-Covid, our presence online will have a greater determination on who succeeds and who gets left in 2020.

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post!

If you want my team to just do your marketing for you, click here

About The Author

David Mahan is an entrepreneur, marketer, and the co-founder of Undrptd and UR Marketing. He has gained a wide base of experience through cofounding a tech startup, marketing agency, and a media company. His passion projects are often centered around education, purpose, and business. Feel free to reach out to David on LinkedIn or Instagram.