As social platforms introduce new features and change their algorithms, social media trends likewise undergo an evolution. These rapid changes present a whole new challenge for brands and social media marketers as they have to constantly review their existing strategies and pivot to add new types of content to their repertoire. Marketeers continually have to keep an eye out for the latest trends influencing the future of social media and evolve accordingly.
With major world events spurring changes in people’s day-to-day lives, 2020 has been a monumental year. Spanning borders, the pandemic has created common experiences that touch on local cultures in different ways. In many instances, it’s accelerating cultural developments that were already underway.
In this time, people are prioritising what matters most, be it community or time spent outdoors. They’re caring for themselves and each other more intentionally and getting crafty with limited resources. Digital mediums are helping people connect in new ways, accelerating the adoption of nascent technologies in new markets.
1. Live Streams will Remain Popular
The global health crisis of 2020 saw many businesses going digital, So naturally, there’s an uptick in the use of live streaming features on social media. Facebook saw a massive rise in messaging and live streaming, especially in COVID-19 hotspots like Italy. For instance, the number of views on Instagram and Facebook Live doubled there in just a week. While the situation continues to evolve in 2021, people have gotten used to being able to interact with brands live without ever leaving their homes. So live streaming will continue to gain popularity and should definitely be a part of your social media marketing strategy.
2. The Rise of Virtual Reality
Amid the stay-at-home orders and the need for social distancing, people are seeking more meaningful interactions virtually. Virtual reality (VR) is one of the current technological trends that can provide them with those interactions. Interacting with people through VR gives you a sense of actually being together even if they’re halfway across the world. This is the exact kind of experience that people need at a time when they have to socially distance. 2021 is likely to see virtual reality gaining more popularity on social media as platforms push forward with incorporating this technology.
3. Augmented Reality As a Mocial Trends
Similar to virtual reality, recent events have accelerated the adoption of Augmented reality (AR) experiences, including in the social space. AR doesn’t require additional hardware beyond a smartphone, making it even more readily accessible than VR. It’s also familiar from experiences like dynamic photo filters that have been on multiple social platforms for years.
Augmented reality experiences are inherently interactive and highly effective for engagement.
Brands are quickly buying into this latest social media trend by creating AR filters to promote new products or encourage fan interaction. This keeps your audience engaged and entertained, and could even help you attract new customers with the right promotion.
One excellent example is how McDonald’s came up with the Spice Zapper filter, which allows users to zap nuggets as they fall.
4. Social Commerce Will Continue To Grow
With the social media industry constantly adapting to enhance the user experience, we’re seeing more features and tools that support quick and easy shopping. Instagram, for instance, allows you to add product tags and enable easy checkout without ever leaving the platform.
5. Purpose-Driven Campaigns to Take Centre Stage
While social media has always driven engagement with causes, the global pandemic has shined an even brighter spotlight on these causes. People want to help more than ever, and they expect brands to pitch in. So even for 2021, we’re likely to see brands helping out however they can through purpose-driven social media campaigns. 86% of respondents in the survey want brands to support vulnerable members of the community. And 82% of respondents expect more support for frontline health staff.
Facebooks ‘Topics and Trends Report 2021’ also supports this with their Awareness becomes Action Insights from 2020 which suggests that social conversations have focused on action that needs to be taken surrounding numerous topics.
6. Inclusivity Matters More than Ever
Brands are increasingly under pressure to make meaningful strides for inclusion in their business operations and marketing. Audiences are more aware than ever that they have plenty of options, leading them to put their money behind companies that show investment in the communities and issues they are passionate about. You can no longer afford to be silent and passive about issues that your target audience passionately cares about.
So in 2021, inclusivity is an even bigger focus for brands that want to build deeper connections with their customers. If your brand’s social presence doesn’t reflect your audience’s views on identity and diversity, you’ll end up missing a crucial opportunity to connect with them.
7. Authenticity & Transparency is Paramount
Consumers want brands to get real. That means maintaining authenticity and transparency about your products and operations. If you want people to trust you, you need to be honest with them.
According to the 2020 Sprout Social Index, transparency and engagement with the audience are the top two factors that make a brand’s social best in class.
Facebook (2021) ‘The 2021 topics and trends report from Facebook IQ’ Available at: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/insights/2021-topics-and-trends-report [Accessed 22 July 2021]
SproutSocial (2021), ‘The most important social media trends to know for 2021’ Available at: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/social-media-trends/ [Accessed 22 July 2021]