Over the past year, we’ve seen a shift in the way brands promote their products or services on social media.
And, as social media popularity continues to grow — we reached over 3.6 billion social media users globally in 2020 — brands aren’t just wondering how they’ll engage huge social media audiences next year. They’re also asking, “What social media trends should I expect in this constantly changing landscape?”
1. Brands will continue to take a “less is more” posting approach.
This year, many brands spent less time churning out social media posts and more time producing only content that felt thoughtful, valuable, and in-touch with the world around them.
“COVID-19 had brands starting to ask a question they may have never asked themselves before: ‘Does my audience even want to hear from me right now?’
2. Content value will beat production quality.
When many businesses were forced to go completely remote in 2020, social media and video marketing teams needed develop scalable production processes that could be done from home.
When consumers still continued to engage with videos, live streams, and other social media content that was clearly made from home offices, marketers realized that content with lower production quality can still be engaging — if it provides value.
3. Conversational marketing will change its tone.
Conversational marketing isn’t new. In fact, most of the big brands we know and love allow you to connect with them via social media messaging channels at any time.
But, in 2021, with more messaging channels than ever — and consumers needing more information to make a worthy investment — the tone of digital conversations might change.
For example, while past conversational marketing tactics centered around promotions and making sales as quickly as possible, 2021’s conversational marketers might be more focused on helping a user with something, educating them about a product, and nurturing them to conversion with a more thoughtful or empathic tone.
“Brands need to be more human on social media, inviting the world to your dinner table for a meaningful and engaging conversation,” says Aaron Kaufman, Director of Social Media at Square Enix in our Social Media Trends Report.
4. Consumers will crave snackable content.
In 2020, we saw the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, continued engagement on Stories content from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, and brands creating other short-form or “snackable” pieces of content to educate consumers about their brand.
As social media attention spans continue to shrink and more people scroll endlessly through feeds while bored at home, don’t expect snackable content to lose steam anytime soon.
5. Video will continue to take center stage.
Early in 2020, HubSpot’s Not Another State of Marketing Report found that video was the most commonly used marketing content — and the second most engaging content type on social media.
6. More brands will go live.
In 2019, one in five Facebook videos were live. In May of that year, YouTube users cumulatively spent 284 hours watching live video.
In 2020, as many brands were forced to take conferences, events, and other marketing experiences online, it’s not shocking to think that 2020 live stream numbers could be higher.
At the moment, many brands are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Twitter to live stream events, Q&As, tutorials, and other types of content. These types of content keep your followers engaged with your brand by bringing an event they otherwise might not be able to attend directly to their screens.
7. Social media platforms could double as shopping channels.
As many brands learned how to do business completely online, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok raced to develop more online business marketing solutions.
While TikTok and Snapchat expanded business marketing offerings in 2020, Facebook and Instagram actually brought shopping capabilities directly to their apps.
With Facebook Shops, Instagram Shoppable posts, consumers can buy a product seen in a post without even leaving the app they’re on.
8. Social media users will embrace gaming and VR.
In the last year, the number of social media users who identify as “gamers” increased by more than 10 million — or 32%. Our Social Media Trends Report reveals that the highest uptick in gamer identification happened in COVID-19’s heaviest lockdown months.
Now, with Facebook’s company, Oculus, launching new VR products, Twitch continuing to expand online game-streaming capabilities, and platforms like Snapchat launching mini-game apps, it’s clear that gamification and social media will continue to go hand in hand in 2021.
As a small to medium-business marketer, gaming-related promotions might be inaccessible now, but with Facebook and other major platforms continuing to launch brand tools around their newest features — it’s not shocking to think that more social media in-game advertising opportunities could be possible in the future.
Brands should keep an eye out for game-related promotions in 2021.
9. Authenticity will be vital.
This year, consumers and brands faced a global pandemic, uncertain financial times, and a number of major events that paused nations in front of news channels.
Now, consumers need more than just great deals to trust, identify with, and invest in a brand. At this point, many brands have taken notice by embracing authenticity and their human side on social media.