5 Social Media Trends to Keep Your Eyes On

In 2020, you were probably challenged to think differently, adjust your marketing plans and pivot your social strategy. As we look back at last year, one thing is certain: We spent a lot of time on social media. But our increased connection to social media isn’t at all shocking. As countries implemented stay-at-home directives in March due to the global pandemic, Statista reported a 21% rise in monthly social media usage. Now, as the world hits 3.6 billion social media users and continues to deal with the pandemic, companies and entrepreneurs are wondering what social media trends they should expect in this constantly changing landscape in 2021.

Throughout the year, consumers have not only continued to use social media to catch up with loved ones, but they have also embraced them for the latest news coverage, product research and hours of entertainment.

Below are some of the trends for 2021 we see industry experts talking about.

1. Authenticity will be vital.

Authenticity is crucial to creating meaningful connections with your audience.  Consumers will need more than just really good deals to trust, identify with, and invest in a brand or individual.

In 2021, expect authenticity to take center stage on social media as successful brands continue to build trust from their audiences. You should not be operating as business as usual. “Reflect on who you are as a brand and take action on who you want to be moving forward,” says Kamilah Jones, Brand Marketing & Social Impact Leader.

“We will continue to see the growth in creators in the social media space. Influencers will continue to be present, but accountability, authenticity, and transparency will be the areas brands and companies will use to determine who to partner with, and who to pass on,” says Karen Freberg, Social Media Professor. “Empathy and advocacy will be elements that will be integrated within messages and purposes for creator campaigns. The days of ‘faking it till you make it’ without any experience other than having lots of followers are over.”

2. Listen to your audience’s needs and expectations.

Being a good listener is an invaluable skill for marketers, in life and on social media. When you listen you learn the challenges people face, what interests them,  how they view the world around them and so much more. “We can’t plan for much but we can begin to understand how people are feeling,” says Daniela Vieira, Senior Director, Digital & Social Media Marketing at fluent360. And you’ll need to do that to be successful in social media moving forward.

3. Conversational marketing will change its tone.

Conversational marketing isn’t something new. In fact, most of the successful companies we know and love allow you to connect with them via social media messaging channels at any time.

But, in 2021, with so many options to connect on social media and consumers needing more information to make an investment —  the tone of digital conversations might change.

For example, while conversational marketing tactics in the past concentrated around promotions and making sales as quickly as possible, 2021’s conversational marketers might be more focused on helping a user with something, educating them about a product, and nurturing them to the sale with a more thoughtful tone.

“Brands need to be more human on social media, inviting the world to your dinner table for a meaningful and engaging conversation,” says Aaron Kaufman, Director of Social Media at Square Enix. “You are your fan’s greatest fans and need to embody that no matter what social media channel you live on. Emote, respond, recognize, relate, be engaging. We’re not robots.”

So, how will brands deal with more demand for thoughtful conversational marketing?

A healthy combination of AI and human interaction could enable brands to run efficiently on social media while still giving consumers the authenticity they need to see to trust a brand and make a purchase. For example, a bot could handle quick message queries, while you and your team could respond to more complex questions and concerns.

4. Social media platforms could double as shopping channels.

As many businesses learned how to do business completely online in 2020, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok sprinted to create more online business marketing solutions.

While TikTok and Snapchat expanded business marketing offerings in 2020, Facebook and Instagram actually brought shopping capabilities directly to their apps. With Facebook Shops and Instagram Shoppable posts, consumers can buy a product seen in a post without even leaving the app they’re on.

For shoppers, this adds convenience. For companies that couldn’t build their own ecommerce store, the online shopping tools offered by Facebook and Instagram are providing new opportunities to effectively sell products online.

5. LinkedIn culture shifts toward conversational transparency.

LinkedIn is currently plagued by mass-outreach spam, which is making people more hesitant and skeptical about connecting and more easily offended by a sales pitch. Spam ruins relationships and reputations but real relationships build them.

In 2021, marketers will want to focus on building relationships rather than collecting connections whose sole purpose is to drop a sales pitch after two interactions. Real one on one connections begin when the connection request is customized for the recipient, making them feel valued.

You need to ensure you are putting the effort into building meaningful, long-term relationships on LinkedIn that aren’t perceived as transactional. This will build you stronger relationships and an audience that will interact with your posts.

Navigating Social Media in 2021

This list of trends is likely not exhaustive of what we’ll see in 2021, because as you know, the world is constantly changing. As an entrepreneur that uses social media in your business, the best thing you can do is to continue to research trends, online consumer behaviors, and your social media data to determine which trends or strategies to lean into so you can determine how to navigate in these shifting times.