21 trends to guide your social media marketing strategy in 2021 – Megaphone

We did it! We got through 2020. As you plan your social media marketing strategy for 2021, take a look at these Facebook and Instagram trends you can leverage to drive more leads and sales for your business in the new year.

#1 The future is private

Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg shared that he expects Messenger to soon become one of the main ways people communicate on the Facebook network. We’re already seeing it. How often do you share content with a friend via DM, or reply to a story rather than comment on a public post?

We saw the merging of Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct in 2020, which streamlines communication and integrates features of Messenger to Instagram such as automated responses, leading to richer customer interactions in 2021.

There’s more and more ways for potential customers to opt in to hear from you like the One-Time Notification API where brands can send automated follow up messages when an item is back in stock, when their purchase ships, or before a coupon code expires. Get ready for more of this in 2021!

What you should do in 2021:

#2 Hello, interests-driven communities!

With Facebook’s algorithm prioritising ‘posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions’, groups are always going to get more organic reach than branded posts. The shift to private social networking isn’t just about DM’s, it includes Facebook Groups – now numbering more than 620 million niche groups and showing no signs of slowing down – that can be set to public, private or secret and allows strangers to build communities around shared interests.

What you should do in 2021:

#3 It’s 2021 – AR and VR isn’t niche or scary

Augmented reality (AR) can sound scary or unattainable, but in reality we’ve been using AR on Instagram since face filters launched in 2017! AR has just been taken a step further now – brands can create their own interactive AR filters for Instagram Stories, or even AR ads on the Facebook mobile news feed.

Facebook is partnering with EssilorLuxottica – the makers of eyewear from Oakley, Ray-Ban, Armani and Versace – to build innovative, fashion-forward AR glasses in 2021. Imagine that! 

Facebook explains, “We’re envisioning a time when we have all the benefits of connectivity (and more), without the need to keep our heads and our eyes down, looking at a device. Imagine calling a friend and chatting with their lifelike avatar across the table. Imagine a digital assistant smart enough to detect road hazards, offer up stats during a business meeting, or even help you hear better in a noisy environment. This is a world where the device itself disappears entirely into the ebb and flow of everyday life.”

What you should do in 2021:

#4 Video, video, and more video

In 2016, Mark Zuckerberg told Buzzfeed News, ‘I wouldn’t be surprised if you fast forward five years and most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video’. Well, here we are – take a look at your newsfeed. Mostly video? We thought so.

If you’re still not creating and sharing videos on the reg, this is your year!

What you should do in 2021:

#5 Shop within the app? Long overdue, we say

Ecommerce and social commerce – what’s the difference? Ecommerce happens on your website where you sell products through a platform like Shopify. The link between social media and ecommerce is that advertising on Facebook and Instagram attracts your ideal audience to your website and drives conversions. Social commerce, on the other hand, is an offshoot of ecommerce where customers can purchase directly within the social media platform. No need to exit the app and wait for a landing page to load, no need to even insert card details if your customer has pre-saved it – just tap, buy and go, all directly from a post on their feed.

With the introduction of Facebook Shop in 2020 and wider availability of Instagram Checkout, it’s time to leverage in-app shopping. With many turning to online shopping during lockdown, your customers are ready for simple virtual shopping experiences in 2021, and it’s free to create your own shop.

What’s right for you? Facebook Shop is a mini online store where you can list multiple products with photos, prices and descriptions. You can customise your store so that the button colours and text fits with your brand’s style guide. If you create a Facebook Shop and link to it from your Instagram bio, it’ll appear as ‘View Shop’ just under your bio link like this:

Facebook Shop may be a first step before you hit the big time with Shopify, or you could trial Facebook Shop as an extension of your ecomm store to drive even more sales.

Checkout on Instagram allows you to set up shoppable posts that people can buy directly from, without leaving the app. This is a great option if you just want to focus on selling one or two products to start with, and not worry about managing engagement and product inventory with a virtual shop front.

The future looks exciting for in-app shopping, with Facebook announcing that more features, such as live shopping options and loyalty programs to incentivise additional purchases, are in the works.

What you should do in 2021:

#6 Ads that don’t look like ads

Ever notice that your down to earth content – an iPhone snap of the team or everyday people with your products on an ad carousel – gets more engagement than the polished ones? Gone are the days where every Instagram feed is covered with flat lays and overly exposed white backgrounds. With the rise of TikTok, Reels and Stories, it’s this slightly edited but far from perfect content that people want to see more of in 2021.

What you should do in 2021:

#7 Discovery without the hashtags

Instagram launched two features towards the end of 2020 that are shaping the search experience on the platform. Interest search allows you to now search topics or products on Instagram without a hashtag or account name, and the Guide feature lets you curate a list of products, destinations or posts you like. You can create a title and blurb, choose posts from different accounts (including your own) to feature and write a caption about each one.

What you should do in 2021:

#8 Twitter quotes – just not on Twitter

The 20% text on imagery rule left us in 2020, so now you can freely put text on any ads and posts without fear of getting your reach penalised for it – but don’t go overboard. Remember, we’re aiming for natural looking ads that people won’t scroll by. If you’re in the thought leadership and industry disruption space, consider posting a quote on Twitter and then sharing the screenshot on Instagram. It’s proving to be more popular than ever and creates real cut through on the feed.

Someone outside of the ecomm space (but still needs to convey key messages clearly) who does this well is Premier Dan Andrews. He’s used text posts from the iPhone notes app, coloured text on imagery and Twitter screenshots as major tools in his communication during Victoria’s lockdown because it’s clear, concise and cuts through when people are scrolling through their feed.

What you should do in 2021:

#9 Short form video is where it’s at

With TikTok shares on Facebook and Instagram going off this year and the introduction of Reels, short form video isn’t going anywhere. We expect it to ramp up in 2021 with more ways to connect, share and advertise. 62% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.

What you should do in 2021:

#10 Small business? Get the available support

Small businesses were hit hard in 2020. With a recovery on that scale not going to happen overnight, we expect that 2021 will have more and more opportunities to support small businesses get back on their feet. Facebook is investing $100 million to help 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries through the Facebook Small Business Grants Program. TikTok is offering $300 and $2000 USD ad credits for new brands and small businesses advertising on its platform. Keep an eye out for others too!

What you should do in 2021:

#11 Two words. (One word?) Micro-influencers.

Influencer marketing continues to rise and is still proving to be an extremely effective marketing tool, with Instagram Stories in particular playing a key role in influencer content. We’ve ramped up influencer marketing here at Megaphone with a dedicated team focused on building relationships and coordinating the content from these partnerships. Here’s some practical tips from Ellen from our Influencer team.

What you should do in 2021:

#12 Don’t ignore the boomers

It might surprise you that 70% of internet users aged 55–64 have bought something online in the past month. Underestimating baby boomers on social media is a stereotype that needs to go in 2021, and that stat shows you just how much of a lucrative demographic they can be for your business. 

Here’s just one example. The average click through rate from video ads on Facebook varies from 1.05% to 3.42% depending on age. Guess who had the highest click through rate. Yep – don’t neglect the boomers. 

What you should do in 2021:

#13 Aim for saves, not likes

Instagram started hiding likes in 2020 and it was good for us. Likes are a vanity metric – the numbers are nice to look at, sure, but feel-good analytics aren’t increasing engagement and moving you towards your business goals. Aim for quality engagement metrics like a share or a save that will keep you higher up in your follower’s feeds and even get you on the Explore feed so more people can discover your brand.

What you should do in 2021:

#14 No more empty promises

With all the social upheaval in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter movement and the US election, people are ready to call out brands who aren’t walking the talk. Or, just move on. 60% of millennials and Gen Z surveyed by Deloitte said that they plan on buying more products and services from large businesses that have taken care of their workforces and positively affected society during the pandemic.

Brands aren’t just about products anymore, we’re looking at the people behind the brands and how focused they are on diversity, ethical supply chains, environmental sustainability and giving back. People want purpose-led, socially conscious brands who are building a better world because it’s at the heart of what they do – not brands who post heartfelt messages on social media but have nothing to show for it.

What you should do in 2021:

#15 Well established platforms still win for ecommerce

Despite the TikTok hype, well established platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are still leading the way with focus and investment. According to a survey by Hootsuite, more than half of businesses are planning to increase their Instagram budget, and almost half are planning to do the same for Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. If you want to stay ahead in 2021, now is the time to invest in your paids ad strategy on these platforms.

Facebook will be restricting the number of ads brands run from February 2021. The good news? If you’re already using dynamic formats to automatically customise ads to show the best copy and creative, you don’t need to run as many ads as you did in the past before leveraging these machine-learning options.

Social media still isn’t widely accepted as a platform to shop on purpose – it’s seen as a place of impulse decisions enticed by clever ads. We’re expecting this stigma to shift in 2021 as people continue the online purchasing habits they developed during lockdowns in 2020, and as in-app shopping on Facebook and Instagram grows.

Keep in mind that the average order value in Australia and the US is around $85 USD. Advertise lower-priced items and then use clever retargeting strategies through paid ads and email marketing once trust has been built with a quality first purchase.

What you should do in 2021:

#16 Clever tactics over big tricks

A Tommy Hilfiger livestream event in China attracted 14 million viewers and sold out of 1,300 hoodies in two minutes. Livestream shopping events are predicted to generate $25 billion in sales by 2023 in the US alone. 

Chasing bottom funnel clicks won’t be enough in 2021. It’s the brands that can adapt fast and go after clever tactics that people will be looking to. Jason Thomas, head of global research at The Carlyle Group, predicts that the companies in 2021 who will outperform the rest are the ones who “focus on reinventing their businesses while others endeavor to return to January 2020 levels with only minor adjustments.”

What you should do in 2021:

#17 Reinvent online customer experiences

With in-store interaction lost or limited in 2020, contactless shopping became the norm. Some brands went further and reimagined virtual experiences altogether, using Stories and live streaming to bring connection and fun to the mindless, isolating scroll that can be the online shopping experience.

TWOOBS launched a new shoe collection while Melbourne was in lockdown (where their retail store is located) so they did a series of ‘ask me anything’ Instagram Stories to answer any questions people may have about the sustainable range and a 53-minute live video with the founders talking about why they’re heading in this new direction.

What you should do in 2021:

#18 Test new formats and go where there’s growth

Test and pivot, test and pivot, that’s what our account managers are doing every single day. If there’s anything 2020 taught us, it’s to be prepared for anything, so don’t just lean on what has worked before. There are the usual shifts coming up, from gift buying in December to self improvement buying as we hit the new year, but be prepared to quickly adapt copy and creative with the changing times as we all did with our posts and ads when we started working from home.

What you should do in 2021:

#19 Shift towards a lighter tone

With everything that’s been going on this year, people are hopeful about 2021. Social media content and ads should reflect that feeling and shift towards a lighter tone. Of course, people want brands that are real, so it’s not about being overly positive and fake. 32% of key demographics say that finding funny or entertaining content is their main reason for using social media, and studies show that useful and entertaining ads are most likely to drive purchases.

What you should do in 2021:

#20 Always optimise for mobile

96% of Facebook visits are made on smartphones, but get this: 79% of Facebook users only access the site through mobile. That’s why you need to always optimise for mobile – most people are only ever seeing your content and ads on their phones! Another helpful stat is that 80% of Facebook access on mobile happens on Android devices, while 14% happens on iOS. If you’ve been assuming that your target audience is engaging with your ad on an iPhone, think again! Double check that your ad is compatible with both devices.

Mobile accounted for 94% of Facebook ad revenue in Q3 2019, and lockdowns throughout 2020 have made the amount of time people spend on their phones skyrocket even beyond that. We need to keep optimising for an exceptional mobile experience, rather than just a great online experience in general.

What you should do in 2021:

#21 Longer captions are in

Microblogging in your Instagram captions will grow your audience and may even get you featured on the Explore feed because people will want to share or save your post – the gold level engagement that we talked about earlier. When people save, share, revisit your post or spend time in your Stories, it indicates to Instagram that it’s a quality post. Plus, value-add captions naturally encourage people to comment and start conversations around the topic you bring up, so your organic reach will thrive. You can use retargeting strategies to later educate on your products further and drive these people to your website.

What you should do in 2021:

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