Social Media Marketing Trends in 2021: The Ultimate Guide

February 10, 2021

Social Media Marketing Trends in 2021: The Ultimate Guide

Social media marketing trends are always evolving, and as one of the world’s fastest-growing digital agencies, we are always researching new ways to meet these demands. More than ever, people are connecting with each other via platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and the up-and-coming Clubhouse app. 

2020 Was Huge for Social Media Marketing, 2021 Will Be Even Bigger 

Many people spent more time at home during 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This also resulted in an increased amount of social media activity this past year. When unable to connect with others in person, interacting online is the next-best option. 

As pandemic-related restrictions still linger for brick-and-mortar establishments, office environments, and public gathering spaces, reaching people via social media campaigns will play a more significant role than ever. Simply put: If your brand is not alive on social media, you won’t thrive. 

To help ensure you do thrive in 2021, here are some social media trends you need to look out for: 

Instagram Reels Are Here to Stay 

Short form video content dominated 2020. People were introduced to this by the platform TikTok, but when Instagram’s Reels emerged as a viable alternative, it exploded. 

Prior to Reels, Instagram’s primary engagement driver was their Stories feature. Similar to Snapchat, Instagram stories presented users with quick pieces of timely content that would disappear within 24 hours. Since Reels were introduced, Story reach has declined as Reels are on the rise! 

Reels took off to the point where they have now replaced the Discover tab as the center-spot on the app menu. Now, accessing and engaging with your favorite creators is more streamlined than ever. 

Instagram Reels are short videos lasting between 15 and 30 seconds. Content creators can edit clips together, add visual elements, and share them with the rest of their other posts. 

Instagram’s Discover algorithm also regularly introduces new audience members to your content based on user behavior. These elements firmly cement the platform as the gold-standard for visual social media marketing. 

You might be wondering: Can I import my TikToks into my Instagram Reels? Instagram just released their latest algorithm update which no longer allows for promoting Reels that have a TikTok watermark on them. This makes TikToks less discoverable on the Instagram platform, but they can still be seen in the regular feeds. 

If you want to share your video on both platforms, we recommend creating the content on Instagram and then uploading it to TikTok. Instagram does not generate a watermark on Reels. 

(Short Form) Content is King

The long-held “content is king” marketing mantra has applied to social media since its inception, but in 2021, short form content will take the spotlight. Videos that are only a few seconds long, like what we see with TikTok and Instagram Reels, are the new elevator-pitch to sell audiences on your brand’s value propositions. 

While you may not be able to present a detailed product description using these formats, you can maximize visual appeal. This means brands need to spend less time explaining and more time showing. 

Beyond sharing short videos via Reels and TikToks, here are some other ways to introduce short form content to your marketing strategy: 

Graphics & Infographics

Create graphics and infographics as social posts that share valuable insights and information about your brand, industry, or other relevant subject matter with your audience. Here, you can add text to your posts and make snackable content that people can consume on-the-go. 

Memes & GIFs

Who doesn’t love a good laugh? Share memes and GIFs that promote your brand’s sense of humor and give your content a viable chance to go viral within your industry or across a broader general audience base. 

Saves Reign Over Comments and Likes

Whether you are running a paid social campaign or creating organic content, you should encourage your audience to save your posts on Instagram and Facebook. Saving a post acknowledges that the user intends to further engage with your brand at a later time. 

We are going to see a shift in engagement metrics that matter to the algorithm, saves and sends will be the most valued among them, followed by comments and likes. Likes will still remain important, but the days where likes hold the highest value are no more. Saves are transforming into the most powerful engagement metric as it tells the algorithm that you are building authority on the platform. 

The Trend That Will Dominate it All: Humanizing Your Brand

In 2020, we saw that many brands relied on social media to connect with customers. Whether sharing updates to their business hours or posting specials, they turned to social platforms. This year, in addition to those routine update posts, we can expect to see brands becoming more humanized and authentic.

In order to humanize your brands, you need to balance showcasing personality and maintaining professionalism. Here are some ways to do that: 

  • Showcase your team – Put faces behind your brand. Highlight employees, their birthdays and accomplishments, and don’t forget to promote employee-created content to inject some fresh personality! 
  • Go behind the scenes – Utilize stories to give your customers a glimpse of the day-to-day operations. 
  • Storytelling – One of the most effective ways to humanize your brand and become more authentic, is to tell stories. Whether you are sharing your successes or failures, you are being human, showing transparency, and giving your audience the chance to relate to you.
  • Answer everything – Acknowledge and answer every single comment that comes your way, whether on a paid advertisement or a social post. A simple thank you can go a long way. For engagement that requires more thought and detailed responses, you should have a team to manage this type of engagement as your response can influence how people view your brand. 

Social Media Shopping – The New Digital Mall 

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer eCommerce portals for brands to sell products directly to users through their own accounts. Instead of having to navigate off-app to your own website, a person can engage in social shopping directly from where they currently are. 

With social media’s targeting capabilities, brands can also advertise their products and services directly to those most likely to purchase them based on demographic, interest, and behavior data. This allows you to drive more revenue through more qualified buyers seeing your listings in their feeds and taking action without ever leaving the app of their choosing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the way that people shop online. With more brick-and-mortar retail locations becoming less accessible, small and large businesses have leaned heavily on digital. Customers that wish to stay home have also engaged more with eCommerce platforms.  

Harnessing the power of social shopping provides a unique opportunity for small businesses to survive, or even thrive, during a tumultuous period in economic history. Once users transition to a post-pandemic society, we can expect many will continue to shop via social as it will become what they are now accustomed to. Similarly, we can anticipate that many more brands and entire industries will shift to social shopping than ever before.

The New Frontier: The Clubhouse App 

Launched in 2020, the new Clubhouse app is emerging as the latest challenger to the established social media landscape. Completely unique, the audio-based platform operates on an invitation-only model where like-minded people can discuss topics relevant to their interests. 

Think of Clubhouse as a hybrid between a live podcast and a virtual chatroom. Users can jump in and out of conversations they’re invited to.

Unlike other platforms, however, you cannot sign up for Clubhouse. You must be invited by another user. As the app expands its reach, you will see it be made more accessible to a broader pool of users, but for the time being, its exclusivity is driving user interest. 

Ready to Take these Social Media Trends by Storm? 

You’ve heard it here first: these trends will dominate the social media landscape in 2021. If you’re looking to elevate paid social and organic content capabilities this year, contact us to learn more about how we can form an agency partnership to help you scale. 

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