When social networks launch new features and improve their feeds’ algorithms, new social media marketing trends emerge. Only until a few years ago, we were using social media just to share beautiful photos, post daily well-curated content and create perfectly-timed videos, hoping for higher engagement. Today, we’ve got plenty of options to choose from and incorporate in our strategy. We can create stories, reels, live streams, giveaways, Q&A sessions and all sorts of interactive content to give fans and potential followers the informational thrill they need.
The more amazing these shifts are, the more challenging they are for marketers. Social media platforms have become an integral part of the life of today’s consumers. But with such power comes a lot of responsibility. In order to remain on top of their game, marketing experts have to quickly adapt and adjust their strategy. They have to comply with privacy regulations, follow market shifts, changes in consumer interests, and embrace new technologies.
With millions of people using social media every day, there’s no doubt its influence stretches beyond the imaginable. In order for marketers to take advantage of all of the platforms’ benefits, they really need to stay ahead of the trend and its curve. So, if you’re looking for the latest social media marketing trends for 2021, this article will have you covered.
1. It’s All About the Stories
Pioneered by Snapchat then popularized by Instagram, social media stories challenge the ‘regular’ scrolling feed format. According to Mavrck, stories are growing 15 times quicker compared to feed-based sharing. About 1.12 billion users consume and create stories across multiple platforms – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube, and recently Twitter, contributing to a 987% growth since august 2016, when they first came out on Instagram.
Stories are becoming an amazing way to increase brand visibility on social media. On Instagram alone about 500 million people, out 1 billion active monthly users, use stories everyday. Socialbakers’ research has found that brands which have leveraged this content format successfully have experienced one-fifth of their impressions coming solely from stories – a considerable amount taking in the fact it’s purely organic.
Given the amazing popularity of stories on Instagram, there’s no surprise that other social media platforms are hopping on this trend. Each platform offers their own set of interactive features for users and brands to be creative with. From adding hashtags, music, stickers, filters and various styles of texts to polls, countdown trackers, questions, quizzes, stories allow users and brands to design a truly unique content to encourage engagement.
For maximum results, creators should sync their story content with the context of the specific platform and the core demographics. When using stories, brands need to make sure they have a consistent schedule as well as a devoted and trusted team that can deliver great results.
2. Microcontent on the Rise
Going a step further from stories, bite-sized microcontent like TikTok videos, Instagram Reels and Snapchat Spotlights is on the rise. Today’s users are exposed to so much information and content on various platforms. Due to their urge for newness they tend to switch between topics so quickly that their attention span has shrunk to a mere 8 seconds.
It’s not surprising then, that social media marketers and platforms are exploring more ways to capture an audience’s interest almost instantaneously. And, what’s more interactive than 10-15 seconds-long videos with embedded music that a user can simply scroll through?
Microcontent offers new opportunities to marketers to showcase brands in new creative ways. TikToks, Reels, and Spotlights offer a huge amount of user generated content that is very entertaining to film and watch, and that brands can definitely use to their advantage.
Moreover, thanks to these platform’s smart ‘for you’ content delivery algorithm, which shows users the content that they will likely engage with the most, marketers can reach their target audience in a new captivating way.
3. Video Is Still Growing
Videos are an engaging, versatile and easily shareable piece of content that can give users a real-life picture of what is happening. Consumers perceive video really well because it’s entertaining and easy to digest. And marketers really like it too because, according to Wyzowl, video gives a good return on investment (ROI) through various channels, by increasing web traffic, time spent on a page and lead generations.
According to Hubspot, video comes in second as the most engaging type of content on social media for a couple of reasons.
- Informative – It educates customers on how a particular product or service will cater to their needs which is much more valuable than a sales pitch.
- Great for SEO – Search engines deem videos as high-quality content and if they are optimized properly they can do wonders for a brand’s SEO.
- Useful for gaining a competitive advantage – With video, marketers can get messages out in a unique and straightforward way. By using different media types and storytelling brands can easily grab and keep their audience’s attention by entertaining them.
- Helpful for adding a personal touch – By offering glimpses of, for instance, a behind the scenes look, videos can give a better feel of a brand’s personality, thus showing authenticity and building trust with the audience.
- Amazing for boosting conversions – Videos are a great way to have visitors stay on a website longer. What is more, about 74% of people will likely buy a product if they can see it in action in an explainer video.
There different video formats and types brands can use to lead consumers down the funnel, which can vary depending on the stage of the customer journey and the platform used.
4. More Brands Are Going Live
Live streaming has become one of the trendiest marketing strategies of 2020 and will continue to be so in 2021. Going live on social media platforms is quite easy, relatively cheap, doesn’t require a huge production, and has a high potential for a good ROI.
According to Neil Patel, live streaming has become so huge because social platforms are basically acting like an improved version of television. When a person goes live they have the possibility to spread their message across not just their own network, but also over their network’s network, resulting in a massive audience reach.
If you want to double your exposure quicker, then a collaboration with another individual can do the trick. It will allow both of your audience to get to know each other better and spread the content much faster.
Compared to pre-recorded videos, live streams are incredibly engaging and diverse. High-quality videos can undoubtedly strengthen a brand’s position in the market, but because these don’t offer the same network effect, they aren’t able to facilitate the expansion to a larger audience the same way as live videos can.
What is more, real-time streaming gives brands the opportunity to generate content that is more precisely related to the audience’s needs. This helps for showcasing authenticity, building trust, and improving brand awareness and perception.
5. VR and AR Going Mainstream
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been around on social media mostly in the form of various filters for some time, but in 2021 they will play a much bigger role in entertainment and eCommerce. Snapchat pioneered these technologies by launching its own filters, lenses, and effects. Shortly after Instagram incorporated these functions, Facebook, TikTok and Pinterest followed their footsteps opening a massive opportunity window for brands to use AR and VR in various innovative ways.
According to Emarketer, in 2020 alone AR and VR have been used by 20.8% of the US social network users for reasons going way beyond entertainment. From virtual pop-up shops where users can browse and try-on clothes, shoes and accessories, to creating VR live events and cause-related awareness initiatives, these technologies offer very effective and creative ways to engage users.
One particularly transcending approach on social media marketing is with virtual influencers. These are digital characters with a personality that can do everything that human influencers can, but with much more control and as much as three times higher engagement rates, according to InfluencerMarketingHub.
Brands that leverage virtual influencers as part of their social media marketing can greatly benefit from disciplined messaging and genuine influencer engagement. Virtual influencers can be photographed in any way, and be anywhere at any time. They can have their personalities tailored to the values of the brand they are representing, and reflect their followers’ perfect target persona.
In whichever way marketers decide to incorporate VR and AR into their social media initiatives, they would undoubtedly be able to provide unique experiences that really make their brand stand out.
6. Social Commerce Is Expanding
Social commerce may be one of the latest marketing buzzwords, but it is also an approach with great potential. According to GlobalWebIndex about 54% of social media users go to social media when researching a new product, giving the industry great influence over their purchasing decisions. Instagram and Facebook, were quick to realize this. The platforms already allow brands to set up a shop and have their customers browse and buy without ever visiting the brand’s website.
Shopping on social media gives a much more interactive experience compared to a typical eCommerce spree. Shoppers can easily consult with their peers, show off their purchases, give instant feedback and interact with brands directly. This is amazing because marketers can have a focus group right at the tip of their fingers while the audience will feel more involved in the product decisions.
Social commerce brands can remove friction and reduce the number of abandoned transactions. When a customer sees something they like they no longer need to visit the website to search for it. Instead, they can purchase it straight from the platform they saw it on. This significantly simplifies and shortens the buyer journey, while adapting to the customers’ ever changing needs.
7. Online Communities Are Flourishing
Social media communities are getting bigger and stronger, and if your brand doesn’t already have one, now is the time to get to it. Online communities are essentially social groups created by brands in order to provide networking opportunities for their customers. They can be dedicated private or public groups, or composed by all very active community members on a brand’s social media accounts.
Online groups can act as a great support system in helping brands grow and stay relevant. They offer a place where individuals can listen, learn and collaborate with one another, thus generating lots of useful and unique content. This is especially great for SEO since it’s quite common for people to search questions on Google and end up reading a community discussion.
Through social media communities brands have a wonderful opportunity to build better relationships with their clients. Within the communities users can discuss various topics and get to know the brand and the people behind it better. This can help brands gain valuable customer insights when it comes to improving their product or launching a new one.
8. The Fight Against Misinformation Is Not Over Yet
Misinformation is a huge problem that many social media platforms have been fighting against for many years, and more prominently since 2016. While the internet is an infinite vassel of information, it’s also a place full of tricksters and grifters, and it’s not always easy to differentiate what’s real from what’s fake.
Such viral spread of misinformation can negatively impact a business’ reputation and bottom line. This is why brands have to design a plan to identify and mitigate the issue before it strikes.
When fighting for the truth, it’s important that organizations don’t unintentionally contribute to the problem. Marketers should be careful when it comes to clickbait content. An engaging headline is one thing, a false or deliberately misleading promise is entirely different., Businesses should also be careful not to use half truths, false testimonials, and manipulative emotional appeals. Social media is there to help brands build trust, loyalty and expertise, not have them be questioned or misinterpreted.
By anticipating the future social media marketing trends of today, your brand will be able to build and sustain a stronger presence tomorrow. Brands should be on the lookout as social media platforms introduce new changes in algorithms and features, so they can successfully leverage them to create truly unique experiences for their audience.
Knowing what to look forward to and watch out for is essential for sustaining your organization’s competitive advantage. This will help you stay ahead of both the trends and the learning curve, so you can adopt the innovative practices and technologies as they come.
We hope you are excited to hop on some, if not all, of these social media marketing trends. Let us know if you do because we would love to share in the experience with you.