5 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2021

Written by Rachel Gibeau

With 41% of Canadians reporting increased screen time in 2020, this past year was massive for social media. The COVID-19 pandemic, anti-racism movement, and the U.S. presidential election made for a particularly stressful and life-changing time for us all. Many people turned online to cope, stay connected, and even laugh and be entertained by our favourite public personalities.

Because our lives are shifting online, trends and technology are changing at a faster pace than ever. The pressure on businesses to stay current and be part of the conversation is at an all-time high.

Although we encountered a lot of difficulties in 2020, the way we interact with our community has evolved significantly, creating room for hope and growth. For your businesses to make the most of these changes, read on to find out about social media trends that should define your marketing strategy in 2021.

1. GET PERSONAL ON MESSENGER

Did you know that Facebook and Instagram Messenger merged in October 2020? Plus, Facebook has announced it will eventually connect WhatsApp to Facebook and Instagram Messenger.

What does that mean? All of Facebook’s marketing functionality and capabilities will be available to businesses on each app. Brands will now have a major opportunity to cross-promote and run targeted campaigns on all these platforms.

With the use of automated chatbots and social messaging, conversational marketing is becoming a refreshing alternative. Consumers are craving and expecting one-on-one conversations and personalized relationships with brands.

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To inspire connection with your audience and customers, infuse your brand voice and tone into every interaction with them.

Rather than reactively responding to comments, develop metrics and KPIs to measure the success of your engagement and share them across the company. For example: how long was the response time? Did the person responding do so with empathy and accurate information? Did the sender seem satisfied with the response?

2. TAP INTO SOCIAL COMMERCE

During the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce has grown significantly, shepherding the way for Facebook and Instagram to introduce Shops in May 2020.

Shops make it easy for people to buy directly on these social media apps, which is a major opportunity for brands to connect with their customers. People are already using Facebook and Instagram to research products and services, so buying within the feed is simply the logical next step.

If you’re running a live stream, your viewers can even make a purchase during the event. Brands will also soon be able to offer options to shop directly within Facebook Messenger. Plus, there are AR (augmented reality) shopping ad formats that will be coming to Instagram. AR allows you to digitally explore products before you purchase them, such as trying on glasses or seeing furniture in your home.

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If you’re an e-commerce business on social media, setting up Shops is an easy way to boost your sales and open a new channel of revenue growth. However, be sure to pair your Shop with stellar photography, creative content, and targeted advertising for the best results.

3. PRIORITIZE PURPOSE-LED BRANDING

Generation Z has officially reached adulthood, and they will be some of your most socially-conscious customers ever. In 2021, we’re also facing a huge revaluation of societal issues like mental health, racism, and body positivity. Brands, especially if they are in any way related to these movements, need to weigh in on these important concepts or face irrelevance.

With that being said, your organization still needs to be cautious and strategic about commenting on issues with an insensitive or uninformed tone to avoid coming across as opportunistic.

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Engaging in social listening helps you keep a pulse on your customers’ sentiments and stay ahead of communications crises. Before you speak, go back to your brand purpose and position when creating content: how can you authentically engage, inform, and inspire your audience?

To guide you, we recommend creating a set of brand values that resonate throughout your organization and ensure this echoes in your social media content (rather than having the day-to-day, on-the-fly management of social define your brand).

4. REIMAGINE USER-GENERATED CONTENT

In 2020, user-generated content (UGC) has evolved with the rise of TikTok. Memes continue to circulate and become popular, and this will definitely continue into 2021. Huge, well-known companies such as Airbnb, Lululemon, and Adobe all leverage beautiful and well-curated content from their followers to infuse personality into their social media feeds. 

Since many people are spending more time at home in 2021, users can’t take picture-perfect Instagram photos and provide them to brands. Instead, creators are now editing content from brands and putting their own spin on it—right from their living room.

Add that to the statistic that 55% of 13- to 35-year-olds send memes every week, while 30% report sending them every day. This means UGC is getting more raw, humourous, and real.

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Take a page out of Ocean Spray’s playbook and learn from the viral popularity of their Fleetwood Mac TikTok video. Like them, you can capitalize on UGC and memes through brand-appropriate yet refreshing advertising techniques

Your business also might want to make your logo and marketing assets public, so your fans have the creative freedom to remix your content and produce something you might never have expected—in a good way!

A caveat here: you should be ready and have the governance infrastructure in place to monitor any UGC that arises (positive and negative), so you can respond quickly and develop relationships with creators.

5. FIGHT AGAINST MISINFORMATION

Tech giants such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and numerous others across the world are under fire for allowing the proliferation of misinformation on social media. This criticism came to a head during the pandemic, when inaccurate news and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 increased significantly.

The European Union and Great Britain recently passed laws to protect digital users against the spread of misinformation and harmful content. Twitter has begun cracking down on false information with censored tweets, and Facebook is finally taking a stand on hate speech by banning QAnon groups and posts.

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As the government and social networks work to combat inaccurate news and information, you should prioritize transparency about your business.

It’s also important to have clear social media guidelines, so that your team only shares true and factual information. Once more, this comes back to governance procedures.

STAY AHEAD OF THE SOCIAL MEDIA GAME

Every year, new social media trends arise, and some may fizzle out. But in 2021, brands are evolving and never looking back. As we move forward through this rapidly changing time, it’s vital to place your audience and their needs at the forefront of your marketing.

If you’re looking to create or grow your social media presence, reach out to our experts and we can build a strategy that connects you to who matters most to your business.