This article has been contributed by Mark Quadros.
As digital marketers, we know that the trick to managing an effective marketing campaign is to stay on top of the latest social media trends.
However, as trends change every year, it can be tricky to know which trends to focus on.
In this article, we’ll share seven new social media trends that digital marketers need to embrace in 2021. Plus, we’ll cover our best tips for getting the most marketing mileage from each trend.
Social Media Trends vs Social Media Phases
Social media trends work just like trends in other industries. While phases in clothing, travel, and car ownership shift year-on-year, new permanent trends emerge in each industry annually.
These permanent trends set a precedent that guides the future of the industry. The same is true for social media.
On social media, we see two types of behavior around new and popular technologies:
Phases are short-lived crazes that are embraced as the new ‘hottest thing’, while trends are crazes that change the way the social media platform operates in the future.
To continue with the car analogy, that is the difference between people buying red cars in 2021 (phase), and the availability of hybrid and electric cars increasing (permanent trend).
Top 7 Social Media Trends for 2021
Since the inception of the first social media site (Six Degrees) in 1997, permanent social media trends have shaped the way brands, influencers, and users engage with each social media platform.
Once a trend has been adopted for some time, it influences the development of new trends. This continuous cycle of growth drives social media platforms.
Twenty-four years after the birth of social media, the culture around social media is still growing, changing, and developing.
While we can’t see the future with a 20/20 vision, these are the 7 social media trends and features we’ll be embracing this year.
1. Facebook & Instagram Storefronts
Facebook and Instagram are both working towards fully integrating online storefronts into their platforms in 2021.
This will completely shift the way social media users shop online, as brands previously had to use advertisements to bring customers to a separate website.
Initial versions of these storefronts have already been introduced, allowing social media users to be able to purchase products on Facebook and Instagram.
This allows brands to set up online storefronts on their Facebook and Instagram pages – increasing the number of store visitors exponentially.
These new storefronts are available globally, with Facebook and Instagram focusing their efforts on markets in India and Indonesia first.
Image source: Facebook
As a digital marketer, there are many ways you can adapt your marketing efforts to fully embrace online storefronts.
First, you will need to redesign your sales funnel to drive traffic to your online store. This includes changing your calls-to-action (CTAs) on your website, email marketing, online advertising, and social media platforms.
How To Grow Your Brand with Facebook & Instagram Storefronts
If you are exploring online storefronts as a separate sales avenue, you will need to design advertising specifically for this purpose.
Depending on your goals, this could include search engine optimization, pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns, email blasts celebrating your new storefront, and social media posts promoting the page.
Most importantly, however, you should integrate your full sales experience into your new storefront by automating your customer service. This will allow you to offer 24/7 customer service to anyone who browses your social media storefront.
As the best marketing always puts the customer-first, experts recommend designing your new storefront around your customers’ journey.
2. The Merger of Messaging Platforms
There are hundreds of messaging platforms online – including the three owned by Facebook’s parent company Facebook, INC. Facebook currently owns Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct Messenger, and WhatsApp, and first announced plans to merge the three in 2019.
In 2021, we can expect to see this merger begin as Facebook introduces unified features to all three platforms.
This means that the user experience on the three apps will be identical, turning the three apps into a cohesive messaging “ecosystem”.
Image source: GeekDashboard
For businesses, the merger of messaging platforms is an exciting opportunity. This merger will simplify customer support for businesses globally, as customer service representatives will not have to juggle messages on multiple social media platforms.
Advertising through messages will also become easier, as brands will be able to run advertisements through Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct, and WhatsApp simultaneously.
The merger will also make the sales process on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp more seamless – which is an important step as more businesses embrace social media storefronts.
Mark Zuckerberg explained this point well in a 2019 public statement, as he mused:
“A person discovers a business on Instagram and easily transitions to their preferred messaging app for secure payments and customer support.”
How To Grow Your Brand with Messaging Platforms
As a marketer, the best way to prepare for this merger is to improve your brand’s customer service. This means building customer service values, embracing customer service software, and increasing the speed of your responses.
This will leave your brand well-positioned when the merger occurs, as your customer service will become a key part of your social media storefront experience.
3. AR/VR in the Spotlight
In 2021, over 11 million people are expected to purchase an AR or VR headset, meaning that we will see AR and VR exploding as a social media trend.
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that makes small changes to images, videos, and live images. AR has been around since the late 1960s but became popular on social media in the form of filters.
Virtual Reality (VR) is more immersive than AR, as it creates a compliant virtual world for people to interact with. There are many VR devices available on the market, including Google Cardboard, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive.
Image source: GIGXR
In late 2021, both Facebook and Apple will be introducing an AR device that can be used to enhance everyday life. These glasses will be used for social media, work, entertainment, and socializing.
As AR and VR technology becomes more affordable it will be adopted on a wider scale. Inevitably, we can expect to see brands advertising on these devices, or using them as a part of robust customer service.
How To Grow Your Brand with AR & VR
To embrace this technology for your brand, you will need to improve your graphic design capabilities – as AR and VR devices require high-quality images.
A major part of this is building a cohesive brand identity that genuinely reflects your brand values.
While your brand may not fully embrace AR and VR in 2021, trends in AR and VR used this year will set a precedent that guides the technology going forward – making it essential for marketers to prepare to embrace this technology.
4. Twitter Fleets & Audio Tweets
Twitter has embraced the 2021 spirit of new social media trends by showing off a brand new feature: Fleets.
Like Facebook and Instagram Stories, Fleets are short Twitter stories that allow users to post text, images, videos, and Tweet reactions. Fleets are only visible for 24 hours – making them a more casual form of a Twitter post.
In 2021, Twitter is also promoting audio tweets. Audio tweets were trialled in June last year, and allow Twitter users to post 140 seconds of audio.
Audio tweets appear in your feed alongside other tweets and are a part of the new audio-revolution on social media.
Image source: Twitter
How To Grow Your Brand with Twitter Fleets & Audio Tweets
To embrace this revolution, experts recommend integrating voice and chat audio messaging into your customer service capabilities. This will allow you to speak to customers verbally, and make your customer service more accessible.
Verbal communication has major customer service benefits for brands, as it is more intimate, conveys more information through tone, and creates a closer human connection. This is a win-win for both brands and customers.
Brands can also build Fleets into their regular Twitter content calendar. This gives you another avenue to market to Twitter followers and allows you to post more content without spamming your Twitter follower’s feeds.
Fleets can also be used to drive traffic to your website and promote Tweets, increasing your Twitter marketing mileage.
5. Instagram Reels Might Grow
To attract Tiktok fans, Instagram introduced ‘Reels’ in late 2020. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this has become one of the biggest social media trends in 2021.
Reels is a separate feature on Instagram Mobile that allows users to post 15-second videos in the style of Vine, Muiscal.ly, and TikTok. Reels can be posted as a regular post or as a story.
Image source: Instagram
Instagram Reels have been adopted by millions of users, and may see exponential growth if TikTok is banned in more countries than India.
However, Reels is already working well for brands. As breaking into TikTok as a brand is tricky, Reels allows businesses to post short videos to Instagram instead.
This gives brands the technology to record and edit videos in the Instagram app – making the process of posting videos to the platform significantly faster.
How To Grow Your Brand with Instagram Reels
As a marketer, you can embrace this trend by integrating Reels into your daily content. Although filming and editing videos is usually tricky, you can create quick Instagram videos with video templates.
Marketers can also use Reels to share a more informative side of their brand. This could include Reels that:
- Show off products
- Announce sales
- Answer simple questions about products
- Show behind-the-scenes footage
- Share in-office events
- Have a ‘casual Friday’ feel
6. Snapchat’s eCommerce Angle
The sixth of our 2021 social media trends comes from Snapchat. The platform is steadily working to increase the versatility of the Snapchat app. This is due to include introducing more advanced AR filters, Snapchat original shows, and eCommerce.
Like Facebook and Instagram, Snapchat is getting ready to embrace in-feed shopping – including integrating their platform with Amazon’s storefront.
To prepare for this innovation, Snapchat is experimenting with scan identification tools like Nutrition Scanner, Dog Scanner, Plant Snap, and Wine Scanner.
Image source: Snapchat
How To Grow Your Brand with Snapchat’s eCommerce
As a marketer in these spaces, you can add your product to the list of identified products.
For brands outside these industries, you can prepare for new trends on Snapchat by adding Snapchat content to your current content calendar.
As Snapchat completes their eCommerce revolution, this will allow you to use the platform as a versatile and profitable storefront.
7. Go Live on LinkedIn
LinkedIn reached 722 million members in 2020, making it the world’s largest professional network. This year, going ‘live’ is the biggest trend on LinkedIn – after LinkedIn integrated its live-stream technology into its event tools.
Image source: LinkedIn
This is a huge opportunity for businesses on LinkedIn, as it gives brands the ability to host live webinars.
For organizations who sell business-to-business (B2B), this will be a very effective form of advertising, as brands can promote their products and services with live virtual events like:
- Real-time product demonstrations
- Virtual conferences
- Real-time interviews
- Live tutorials
- Skills classes
The possibilities are also great for organizations that sell business-to-consumer (B2C), as LinkedIn can be used for talent acquisition and to market the business as an investment.
How To Grow Your Brand with LinkedIn Live
To embrace LinkedIn Live in 2021, brands will need to apply to LinkedIn directly. Once approved, marketers will get the best results by:
- Streaming through a high-quality streaming tool
- Setting up a streaming ‘studio’ with lighting, audio equipment, and a good internet connection
- Scripting and outlining their livestream, to ensure it stays focused and on topic
- Giving media training to anyone who is participating in LinkedIn lives
- Avoiding looking overworked or stressed during the live
- Analyzing the engagement metrics during the stream to improve future streams
Before the livestream begins, marketers should also advertise the stream by writing an engaging title, description and tagging the stream correctly so people can find it.
While it is difficult to predict what the future of digital marketing will look like, these social media trends will permanently change the way brands, influencers, and users engage with social media platforms.
As marketers, it is crucial we understand new trends in social media, as this allows us to embrace the trends that are most suitable for our brands.
Trends that are fruitful for an organization are always compatible with three things: a brand’s products, their customers, and their existing marketing.
About the author: Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot, CoSchedule and Foundr.