It’s that time of year when marketers get out their crystal balls and share their predictions on what social media marketing trends to look for in the coming year. Inevitably some of these predictions actually come to fruition, while others just never see the light. After all, many in the social media marketing field forecasted the popularity of the Stories feature in 2020 (with Twitter and even LinkedIn releasing their own copycat versions of the Instagram staple), whereas other predictions such as Instagram completely scrapping ‘likes’ never came to fruition.
And if 2020 taught us anything as marketers, it’s to expect the unexpected. The societal changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the long-overdue changes stemming from the summer’s social unrest added another layer of uncertainty to our marketing world. Event marketers have had to rethink the role of trade shows in the age of Zoom and virtual meet-ups, while small business owners have had to rethink the importance of digital marketing in the age of social distancing and online shopping.
Nevertheless, from social commerce to brand activism, there are a few trends we believe are here to stay. What follows are four social media marketing trends to look out for in 2021. Come back in 2022 and let us know how we did!
Social Media Marketing Trend #1: Social Commerce
In response to the drop in in-person shopping and surge of online retail, Facebook and Instagram released a number of new features in 2020 intended to make the online shopping experience more accessible to customers and the online selling experience more seamless for brands. Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops allow businesses to set up virtual storefronts where customers can shop brands’ full catalogs, save their favorite products, and even check out directly through the app.
In addition to Facebook Shops and Instagram Shops, Instagram also replaced the Activity tab with a brand new Shop tab, introduced Instagram Live product tagging, rolled out IGTV ads, and expanded its e-commerce features for creators. And Facebook and Instagram’ focus on social commerce isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In fact, Instagram recently announced that creators can now tag products in its newest feature, Reels, thereby expanding the tagging option to every single feature on the app.
Social Media Marketing Trend #2: Brand Activism
Perhaps the most important social media marketing trend to come out of 2020 and the most likely one to continue into 2021 is an increase in brands weighing in on social issues, from the COVID-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matters movement. A 2019 survey showed that 66% of consumers said they believed brands should weigh in on social issues because they can create real change, while 63% of consumers said they believed brands have the platform to reach a meaningful large audience.
However, a 2020 survey further clarified consumers expectations for brands, showing that 55% of consumers said they believed brands should back these corporate statements with real action. These actions may take the form of donations, public goals, new partnerships, or other concrete support. Last summer saw a widespread backlash against brands who made empty statements in support of the Black Lives Matters protests. In 2021, there will be an increased focus on brands walking the walk, rather than just talking the talk.
Social Media Marketing Trend #3: More Meaningful Influencer Marketing
Along the same lines, 2021 will see brands focusing on increasing the diversity of their feeds, influencer initiatives, ambassador programs, or athlete teams—from race and ethnicity to sexual orientation and gender identity to age and ability. These changes will have not only social ramifications, but business consequences, with 64% of consumers taking some action after seeing an ad they considered to be diverse or inclusive.
These changes will impact the way brands approach influencer marketing altogether, with brands focusing on ongoing relationships over one-off posts, treating influencers as long-term partners rather than disposable collaborators. 2021 will also see both brands and influencers reevaluating these partnerships’ worth, with more influencers seeking payment or affiliate links over free product or gear discounts…and more brands acquiescing.
Social Media Marketing Trend #4: Bite-Sized Video
Byte. Instagram Reels. Snapchat’s Spotlight. Bite-sized video platforms have come out of the woodwork in an attempt to compete with the ever-growing rise of TikTok. At roughly 2 billion downloads, 100 million monthly active U.S. users, and 50 million daily active U.S. users, TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2020. Even an attempted U.S. ban couldn’t derail its unprecedented climb. So what does that mean for brands?
Well, it’s a little unclear. 2020 has been a year of brands dipping their toe in the proverbial bite-sized video waters; 2021 will be the year they dive in headfirst. After all, a 2020 study showed that 84% of consumers were convinced to buy a product or service based on the brand’s video. In addition to posting organic content, brands can choose from an array of TikTok ads. On the more affordable end, brands can bid on in-feed ads for a minimum spend of $50 per campaign and $20 per ad group (while pricier options range from $50-150k).
We’ll be following these predictions for 2021 social media marketing trends closely and look forward to reporting back at the end of the year to share which ones we’re right and which ones fizzled out.
To learn how Darby can help your brand shape your 2021 social media marketing strategy, drop us a line HERE. You can also go HERE to learn more about the successes we’ve had for our clients in both public relations and digital marketing