2021 Social Media Trends & Predictions You Need to Know

    January 18 2021  |  Inspiration , Marketing , Social Media

    collage-online shopping

    If those Sunday morning screen time stats were any indication of just how much time we spent online in 2020, it’s very possible that we’ve never used social media more than we did last year. 

    Although our heightened connectivity to social media in 2020 was certainly prompted by the pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders, Twitter timelines, Instagram group chats, and endless TikTok scrolls were simply where we choose to spend our time no matter what was happening around us. 

    Last year, we collectively saw an uptick of 21% in monthly social media usage. We’re logging on more and staying longer when we do. Which prompts a question: what does our increased social media use last year mean for this year? 

    Well, it means that all the new tools, exciting trends, and up and coming platforms that began to take shape last year will become commonplace over the next 12 months. And for marketers, small businesses, and influencers, it's critical to understand and implement those trends in order to have a successful go at social media marketing this year.

    Today we’re breaking down some of our 2021 social media trends and predictions to help you get a jumpstart on your social strategy for the New Year.

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    2021 Social Media Trends #1: Reels Will Get Real

    In the past, we’ve seen Instagram generously reward users with visibility and increased engagement for tapping in and testing out their new tools. The same can be said for the launch of Reels in 2020. 

    This year, however, Instagram is placing even more emphasis on Reels content. In one conversation with Rachael Reichenbach regarding its algorithm, Instagram noted that Reels is outright the top engagement metric on its platform right now

    Users looking to increase their visibility and engagement on Instagram need to ideate and post Reels with great frequency. In fact, in that same conversation mentioned above, ideally, Instagram would like its users to post 4-7 Reels per week. Why, you ask? Primarily for two reasons: 1) to bring attention and engagement to its shiny new tool and 2) to outpace one of its biggest competitors, TikTok.

    For Instagram, Reels is the future of content creation. Because of that, our prediction is that Reels will be to 2021 what IG Stories was to 2020. Its impact will be huge. And if you want to grow your brand reach on Instagram, you’ll need quality Reels content to help you do it!

    2021 Social Media Trends #2: Microblogging Will Bring Authentic and Fresh Voices to New Spaces

    Are you noticing longer yet compelling narratives on Instagram captions? Or maybe even thoughtful video storytelling on Instagram or TikTok? What you’re seeing the emergence of microblogging – a budding trend unfolding right before our eyes. 

    Although the concept of microblogging isn’t new–think back to old Tumblr or Blogger posts–blogging within Instagram captions, on your Twitter timeline, or even posting a video blog does signal a new way to share thoughts and ideas without the backing of a brand or publication. 

    In 2020, many creators grew their platform and/or personal brand by being open, vulnerable, and transparent on social media. Some went from writing in Instagram captions to print publications. Or form video microblogging to partnerships with brands. 

    This somewhat grassroots and organic approach to writing, content creation, and storytelling should be part of your social strategy in 2021. 86% of all content marketers use some form of blogging as part of their marketing strategy. All you need to reach a larger audience is your voice and a platform.

    2021 Social Media Trends #3: Clubhouse is Next Up

    Are you on Clubhouse (or CH) yet? Or are you still waiting for a friend to send an invite your way? Whether you’re hopping from room to room in Clubhouse or still waiting on that coveted invite (people are actually paying for CH invites if you can believe it), it’s clear that the budding app is 2021’s next big social media platform. 

    The invite-only, FOMO inducing app has generated lots of buzz over the past few months and is poised to become a social media norm this year. 

    Clubhouse is an audio-based platform where users can hop into various virtual chat rooms and talk with other creatives about a range of topics. Celebrities have also flocked to the app, including the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Hart, Jared Leto, and even Drake, many of whom have hosted “rooms” to discuss different topics.

    Much like microblogging, Clubhouse is a throwback to the early days of digital communication. Chatrooms came just after the advent of the internet. But Clubhouse has modernized the chatroom, allowing users to create a user profile and enter into any chatroom they would like. In those rooms, users are welcome to “chat” and engage in conversation or just mute themselves upon entry if they choose to just listen.

    It’s all but expected that Clubhouse will expand in 2021 thanks to massive funding rounds and increased interest in the platform from users and potential partners.

    2021 Social Media Trends #4: eCommerce and In-App Shopping Will Explode

    Over 2.14 billion people are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021. To put that massive number into context, you should know that there are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide. That means more than half of the users on social media will be buyers at some point this year. 

    eCommerce sales and the marketing push behind them will be a force in 2021. With the influx–or rather the necessity–of online purchasing in 2020, the eCommerce market to a multi-billion dollar entity that will only grow in the months ahead. 

    Where in years past marketers and small businesses could simply benefit from building an eCommerce presence online, now it’s much more of a necessity. In-app purchases on Instagram Reels, Live, and a budding TikTok partnership with Shopify will all but account for much of the social media shopping in 2021. 

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    2021 Social Media Trends #5: Video Content Over Everything

    With the exponential growth of TikTok, Instagram’s push towards Reels and Live, Video Pins on Pinterest, and influencers raking in huge sums on YouTube, video content will be the preferred method of content creation over the course of 2021. 

    For brands, marketers, and influencers alike, shifting your content strategy to prioritize video will pay large dividends. Algorithms typically rank video content higher than all other mediums, with consistently quality video content proven to grow social media followings extremely quickly.

    As mentioned above, if you’re looking to grow your business on Instagram, Reels content is central to that expansion. But you’ll also want to go Live more! Leveraging each of Instagram’s video tools will help populate your content on the coveted Explore Page and the new Reels tab on the homescreen navigation. 

    Of course, TikTok will continue to flourish this year. And while many were skeptical about the platform's security in its early stages, most have looked past those concerns and taken to the emerging app simply given its importance as a marketing tool to Gen Z. It’s critical that brands and creatives don’t miss out on the opportunities available to them by leveraging TikTok as a marketing tool.

    2021 Social Media Trends #6: Influencer Marketing (and Nano Influencers Especially) Will Continue to Rise

    Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere this year. Truly, it will only loom larger as the influencer pool is now slanted towards nano and micro-influencers.

    Nano Influencers are the true drivers of this industry. With influencer marketing expected to balloon into a $15 billion dollar industry by this time next year, partnering with the right influencers for your brand is imperative to growth and visibility. Conversely, for influencers, you’ll need to be creating great content as you’ll be more in-demand than ever before.

    You can also expect the collective number of influencers on social media to grow over 2021. So, there will be greater opportunities for partnerships, branded content, and personal brand growth in the months ahead. Organic growth from individual influencers like @doggface208 will become more common. 

    Brands will be more likely to reach out to influencers for partnerships and help them navigate social media marketing. As the financial industry stabilizes and marketing budgets reset with a new fiscal year, now is the time where brands will be looking for long-term partners. Influencers should have decks and clips ready to pitch brands looking to cement its 2021 marketing initiatives.

    2021 Social Media Trends #7: Twitter Spaces as a Marketing Tool

    So let’s be real - Twitter’s Fleets isn’t quite there yet. But the platform's new Clubhouse competitor, Twitter Spaces, could very well be the addition that brings it all together.

    The audio-based feature will allow Twitter users to host and attend virtual chat rooms for audio-only conversations. Users will be notified that a Spaces chat is taking place by, you guessed it, a Fleets bubble, similar to the way we are notified a Live is happening via Instagram Stories. 

    The marketing implications of Twitter Spaces could be huge. Want to gather a few of your Twitter followers for a quick interview with your lead designer about a new collection? Or maybe do a giveaway where the first ten followers to enter your Spaces gets a coupon code? 

    There will also be an opportunity to crowdsource ideas from your audience, conduct polls on upcoming products and services, and really tap into your audience and provide them with new experiences surrounding your brand. 

    Twitter Spaces is still in beta but expect chat rooms to start blowing up your Twitter timeline real soon.

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    2021 Social Media Trends #8: Building Online Community Through Educational & Inclusive Content

    To be clear: Inclusion and education are not trends. Not even close. Both should be mainstays to content creation and content evolution. 

    Yet and still, educational and inclusive content soared during an unprecedented 2020. We learned together, grew together, and hopefully changed together. And through it all, the online community that we often talk about became very real and visible. Many brands and influencers rose to prominence due to their authenticity, vulnerability, and bravery to share the things that weren’t always easy to discuss or come to grips with.

    Gen Z has been a champion for diversity and inclusion on social media. In fact, 70% of Gen Z buyers attempt to purchase goods and services from brands they deem socially responsible. In tandem with Millennials, the vast majority of your buying audience is very socially and ethically aware. So, if your brand isn’t on the right side of building community online through inclusion, diversity, and education, not only will you struggle to attract the right customer, but your morally sound competitors will outpace you in customer loyalty.

    2021 Social Media Trends #9: Scrappy Marketing > Big Budget Productions

    2020 was a marketing masterclass in many ways. Primarily due to the fact that inexpensive scrappy content far outweighed big-budget productions in influence and consumer connection. 

    Marketing spends were down in 2020 but the content show had to go on. And it did – especially on TikTok. Creative influencers and genus creators proved that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars to create incredible content. 

    Brands also made scrappy ads during 2020 that soared in consumer reach. Further proof that thoughtfulness and creativity often simply tossing cash at an advertising campaign. We anticipate more scrappy, makeshift marketing content in 2021 as the originality and authenticity that comes from limited resources proved to be, well, resourceful. Marketers were forced to dig deep to really uncover ideas and concepts that would resonate. 

    The advertising industry will rebound in 2021 but the lessons learned last year will certainly still drive creation.

    Get your 2021 social media marketing strategy in order with PLANOLY to plan, auto-post, and analyze your content. For business owners, you can also set up your digital storefront for the eCommerce boom with sellit.