Gone are the days when social media was used just for socializing. Social media is easily accessible and unavoidable in the 21st century. Anyone can reach you with just one click. Most people spend a lot of time on social media, simply scrolling through it.
Brands and companies utilize social media to connect with their target audience. We live in a time where technology is moving fast and consumer interests are hard to predict. Hence, it is vital to understand audience preference and foster organic engagement.
As social media platforms are emerging and evolving, it is more than necessary to hop on the bandwagon. With the growing usage of social media, it has become quite essential to make your presence felt. Research shows that 52% of brand discovery happens on Instagram before indicating that it is the customer’s first stop before even visiting the company’s website.
Your business can potentially skyrocket with a well-planned social media marketing strategy.
With 2020 being the year of a global pandemic, and unpredictable, the only way to connect was through social media. The pandemic doesn’t seem to be ending soon, so here are a few social media trends that will remain popular even in 2021 and can help you to engage with your audience.
Trend 1: Live streams
Whilst experiencing a global pandemic, live streams were a savior. Live streams helped brands connect with their users more intimately. The number of people tuning into live streams significantly increased during the lockdown period, whether it was live stream by a brand or by a celebrity.
Businesses had to adapt to the new normal. Live events turned into Instagram/Facebook live streams and face-to-face meetings turned into online conferences.
While the pandemic situation doesn’t seem to get better soon, people have gotten used to not leaving their houses for events. With the events not happening, brands had a tough time retailing their products, so while adapting to the new normal the brands showcased their products on live streams, enabling them to know and buy products.
Live streams were being used to make announcements and launches of products. Brands were making users witness what happens behind the scenes of interviews, collaborations, and takeovers. Live stream interviews became quite a trend in 2020 and will not be going away soon.
Live streams have gained a significant amount of popularity. Adding them to your social media strategy could be of great benefit.
Image Source: Statista
Trend 2: User-generated content
Customer experience has never been more important. Brands need to humanize their content. Studies have shown that two-way communication boosts your organic posts at the top of your audience’s feed. An algorithm is a key to deliver relevant content alongside paid ads.
The benefits of user-generated content are that it helps in strengthening your brand community, the content becomes more relatable and uplifting. It helps brands to generate ‘stay at home’ content in collaboration with its users and social media influencers.
User-generated content allows the brands to meet customers where they are and helps brands to generate more content. It helps the brand connect and communicate with the consumers directly and vice versa.
User-generated content is free and considered authentic, it helps your brand attain credibility and gain the trust of the customers.
Image Source: Movou
Trend 3: Purpose-driven content
A growing focus on political, environmental, and social issues means increased social media conversations about it. According to research, Consumers are more likely to engage with your brand if you talk about important issues.
Users are looking for something that bridges the gap between the brand and the consumer, something that they can connect to. Having a purpose for your brand might help. With the increase in global warming and climate change, the users are opting for sustainable products.
Audiences expect brands to take considerable actions on social issues instead of exploiting them for marketing purposes. In solidarity with the “Black lives matter” protests, most influencers and brands observed a blackout day on social media.
In a Twitter survey, 77% of people agreed that they feel more positively when brands make an effort to support society.
Image Source: Twitter
Trend 4: Inclusivity
Brands are constantly under pressure to create meaningful content for inclusion in their business. Brands know their audience is aware that they have a plethora of options to invest their time and money in companies and issues they are passionate about.
A study by Accenture shows that cultural shift towards inclusivity can also impact purchase behavior. Consumers are drifting away from the retailers which don’t show any inclusivity of identity and diversity in their brand.
Brands that seem to be non-inclusive and are not being a part of the conversation around inclusivity will not be able to connect with the consumers. However, brands that seem to be inclusive will build deeper connections with the buyers.
Singer/Songwriter Rihanna launched her cosmetic brand called ‘Fenty Beauty’ promising her audience the inclusion of women of all colors. Her brand offers shades and colors for all skin tones. However, inclusivity is not limited to just beauty brands.
Image Source: Pinterest
Trend 5: Increase in voice and visual search
There is a rise in the number of users engaging with voice-activated tools like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. Users utilize the voice search feature for various tasks, be it getting an update on the weather or simply hearing the latest news.
Perhaps it is because consumers were stuck in their houses and there was equal to zero human interaction around the globe or these devices are easily available in the market. Not only voice search will be prevalent but visual search as well. Google lens enables customers to search whatever is visible to them. Visual search assists consumers and suggests products similar to something they already like.
Brands will have to develop an impactful visual identity and provide a hassle-free experience to the users. This means that marketers will have to focus more on visuals this year as it will become highly important in the SEO game.
Image Source: Becoming human
Trend 6: Virtual Reality(VR) and Augmented Reality(AR) as a trend
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are the trends to look out for in 2021. With everything being shut, brands are constantly trying to offer exciting experiences for the users. Many e-commerce companies have adapted to AR-programmed shopping, allowing users to try-on products virtually before making a purchase.
Various social media applications like Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook offer several filters for users to click images, film videos, and post them across social media.
Facebook has already taken a step towards this direction by introducing ‘Horizon’, a social virtual reality world. Technology is making VR gears at affordable prices for users to have a riveting gaming experience. While there is still a lot to improve on this front, hopefully in the near future AR and VR will become completely mainstream and enhance the experience of the user.
Image Source: Medium
Trend 7: Video Content Ignites Organic Exposure
2020 was quite an uncertain year, to say the least. Influencers started creating Do-It-Yourself (DIY) content from the comfort of their homes. Video content is perhaps the most engaging form of content right now. Many brands are switching to video content creation rather than images and written content.
In 2020, Tik Tok witnessed a surge in the downloads of their application. Tik Tok is an application that is used by celebrity and aspirant creators of various age groups to create content from dance videos, cooking videos, and social media challenges.
Noticing the rise and engagement in visual content, Instagram soon launched ‘Instagram Reels’. Instagram Reels allows one to create short videos of 15-30 seconds long. The fun part about Instagram reels is that users can add text and music in the background to keep content engaging. 15-second videos outperform the 30 seconds video, as Instagram reel preview is limited to 15 seconds before the users have to click “see more”. Hence creating videos of 15 seconds is beneficial as one can watch the content within the preview limit. These short videos can be created very easily from an audio snippet of your podcast, these are called Audiograms and if done correctly will boost your social engagement and web traffic.
It is no secret that stories are a big deal on social media, from sharing their daily routine to creating meaningful content, users have utilized the ‘stories’ feature to its full potential. Snapchat was the first application to offer 24 hours disappearing stories.
Eventually, Instagram and Facebook introduced the feature of stories. The use of video stories outperforms the image content as they are short, engaging, and addictive in a way that people can spend hours scrolling through stories.
Image Source: Entrepreneur
Trend 8: Personalized Marketing will be predominant:
Personalization is a global consumer trend that allows brands to understand the needs and preferences of their target audience.
Businesses are leveraging personalized marketing via social media ads. Personalization has reached a point where brands understand the kind of products the consumer is looking for and show similar ads to them.
The more ads you click the more it is easy to understand online behavior and preferences. One of the greatest examples of personalized marketing is Amazon. It provides customers recommendations, based on their search history.
Consumers are seeking personalization, they are willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized recommendations.
Image Source: Pinterest
Trend 9: Social Media Communities
Social media communities are becoming popular now. Social media communities are social media groups created by brands to help them connect and engage with their audience and provide a platform for like-minded people to connect. Social media communities are private groups across various social media platforms. Brands need to build a community with their audience in order to sell their products. Online communities are especially beneficial to people who do coaching/consulting work, build a membership website or an online course.
Make the interaction personal for the audience. Prioritize your brand’s values. Users engage when you provide them with value, and valuing your users starts with problem-solving and communicating. Communication with your audience is essential to build a community. Make sure you as a brand are approachable and easy to communicate with.
Reach out to your consumers for authentic feedback. Listen to your audience and their concerns. Instagram’s ‘Q&A’ feature, allows one to do that with just one click. It is vital to develop an engagement strategy, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to promote user-generated content. Promoting UGC adds value to the brand’s content and increases reach organically.
Finding creative ways to give back to your consumers plays an important role in building a community. One can run giveaways for their consumers and reward loyal contributors with special and personalized gift coupons, offers, etc.
Many brands utilize such groups to understand consumer interests and preferences and to build and foster meaningful engagement.
Image Source: Marketing91
Trend 10: Social Commerce
Social Commerce is retailing products directly through social media networks. Brands have always used Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook to sell their creations. Social Commerce trend is the new approach for brands and is only going to get stronger. Social commerce is becoming a mainstream channel for online purchasing.
Shoppable posts and ads are different from original posts, as they include buttons to direct users to the brand’s website. Facebook was the first platform to introduce the ‘Shop Now’ button on their website and application. One could easily shop without leaving the app.
Eventually, Instagram introduced ‘shoppable posts’ that gave brands the ability to tag organic posts, which when tapped, directed users to check out. Instagram seems to have more potential in social commerce, as it is mostly operated by a younger audience. Social commerce helps in leveraging the digital sales of your brand.
Image Source: SocialCommerceToday
2020 was an unprecedented year for business owners, to say the least. Small business owners hopped on to social media for their survival.
Social media can be utilized for shopping, live chats, and forming relationships with your audience. It is one of the best ways to engage with your target audience.
To conclude there are numerous trends that would be useful to establish your brand’s presence on social media. Knowing what to prioritize from these 10 trends can be tricky. Although they are new, they are unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon.