It's undeniable that social media has become, and will continue to be, an essential part of consumers' everyday lives. Social media hasn't been instrumental in connecting socially distanced loved ones, but it has also proven useful for product research, latest news coverage, and mindless entertainment to pass the time.
According to the Digital 2020 July Global Statshot report, more than 3.96 billion people are actively using multiple social media platforms. With over half of the global population scrolling for hours on social media, brands wonder how they could effectively engage with their target audience in 2021.
That said, we've rounded up seven social media marketing trends you need to know in 2021:
1. Live streaming will be more prominent
Live streaming has gained popularity in the past year. Users use it to interacts with brands and influencers in real-time, allowing them to know how products and services work without leaving their homes. Traditional social media platforms performed well in 2020, but the use of live streaming media has dramatically increased as well, and this trend will likely continue in 2021.
Twitch, the world's leading live streaming platform, reached the highest watch time in 2020. By mid-December, the overall minutes watched racked up to 1049 billion minutes – a whopping 67.1% increase since 2019. Twitch now has 6.7 million streamers every month.
However, the popularity of live streaming goes beyond gaming. Streaming shopping events have become increasingly popular as well. Live streaming e-commerce is one of the new ways to sell online. It's similar to home shopping channels shown on television, except it's live-streamed over social media platforms.
Other than e-commerce shopping, business owners also use live streaming to improve customer service. If live chats, phone calls, and emails aren’t enough, you can take it up a notch using a live video option where a customer support rep can communicate with your customers.
2. Ephemeral content continues to gain popularity
Instagram Stories, Snapchat Stories, Facebook Stories, and Fleets – Twitter's version of Stories launched in 2020 are examples of ephemeral content. By definition, ephemeral content pertains to images, videos, boomerangs, etc., that are only available for 24 hours.
People's attention spans are shorter by the minute, and a recent study from the Technical University of Denmark supports this claim. They discovered that people’s collective global attention span is dwindling because of the huge amount of information presented each day.
This is why ephemeral content works; they're short, engaging, and they’re digestible. This is evident by the number of Instagram Story users, amounting to 500 million accounts per day. Marketers know that this trend works, and they will continue to use it to their advantage. According to a report by Hootsuite, 64% of marketing professionals have already added Instagram Stories into their social media marketing strategies.
The ephemeral content on Facebook and Instagram has become more engaging with each update. They've developed features to make it more appealing and interactive, such as polls, tags, donation stickers, GIFs, and shoppable tags.
3. Using social media platforms for e-commerce
Many businesses have used social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to sell and promote their products and services. This trend will likely go beyond 2021 as different platforms continue to include pro-selling features in their updates, like shoppable posts, Facebook marketplace, and more. Social media platforms are evolving to benefit retailers, allowing brands and marketers to leverage these features and incorporate them into their sales and marketing strategies.
Hootsuite recently conducted a survey where they asked their clients about what they want to achieve with their social media marketing efforts. Acquiring new customers is the most popular reason for using social media, improving brand awareness, and then driving conversions.
4. Snackable content is in
Snackable content pertains to short-form, straightforward, and easily digestible content that motivates consumers to share on social media. When done right, the potential payoffs of snackable content can be wider-reaching than traditional long-form content. It's visually engaging and offers immediate entertainment, which can lead to prompt social sharing and, in turn, effective acquisition of new leads.
If you aren't familiar with snackable content, here are some of the examples you may already know:
- Quote graphics
- Short videos
- Ephemeral content
As mentioned, people's attention spans continue to decrease over time, and more and more people are mindlessly scrolling on social media. Entertaining snackable social media videos provide a solution for brands to stand out and effectively reach their audience, so you can't expect it to go away any time soon.
5. Brands are becoming more thoughtful
It's safe to say that 2020 has been a tough year for everyone. As a result, brands have become more thoughtful in producing content that's valuable and in-touch with their target audience. It's important to realize early on that people connect with people, not with brands.
Marketers need to understand that transparency, authenticity, and sometimes even vulnerability are effective marketing strategies in 2021. It's all about personifying brands to reveal what and who they stand for. Communicate what matters most to your company – your core values, what you stand for – and inform your audience about it so they’ll see you as someone they relate to, rather than a brand trying to sell them something.
6. Influencer marketing still remains
Influencer marketing isn't new, but it’s a trend that’s going to stay for a while. Social media, especially Instagram, is dominated by social media influencers or people who have built a loyal following by posting content online. These influencers are getting paid thousands of dollars to promote products and services of different brands.
Influencer marketing works because customers trust their family, friends, and the people they look up to more than the brands selling products and services. Plus, it's cheaper than ad campaigns, and it delivers measurable and quantifiable results. An effective influencer marketing strategy will generate leads and improve brand awareness, reputation, establish brand authority, and more.
You don't have to reach out to celebrities or other big name influencers to implement influencer marketing. Start small by collaborating with micro-influencers or influencers who have a moderate following of thousands or tens of thousands. Micro-influencers have high engagement rates because their small following allows them to bond with their followers more regularly instead of a celebrity with millions of fans.
Marketers usually work with a whole network of micro-influencers relevant to their niche, and as a result, they're getting higher engagements for a fraction of a cost.
7. User-generated content is staying
Similar to influencer marketing, user-generated content is not new, but it’s going to remain a trend for years to come. In fact, as years pass, more and more marketing is starting to adopt user-generated content (UGC).
Brands like Daniel Wellington encourage their customers to post pictures and tag the brand for a chance to get featured on their page. Other brands like Glossier share their "Top 5" tags from their customers on their Instagram Stories. They keep their content fresh and fun, which is a huge hit to their millennial audience.
Regardless of how you want to use UGC, it should have a place in your content marketing strategy. It’s free, it's effective, and it’s more authentic compared to brand-generated content. It also helps boost brand credibility and trustworthiness. If you've never tried using UGC before, it’s time to start incorporating it in your next strategy.
The world of marketing is constantly changing. Although these trends are likely to stay in 2021, there are more strategies and techniques we have yet to uncover. Social media marketers need to continually research different trends, online consumer behavior and analyze the trends you gather to determine which strategies are effective for your business and your audience.