No one wants to talk about 2020, especially since 2021 doesn’t show any signs of being much better( so far). However, the circumstances of 2020 have instigated massive changes in online behaviour and expectations, both from companies and clients alike. In turn, these changes will persist and develop through 2021. Social media trends, in their fledgeling phase at the beginning of 2020, have blossomed and developed far more quickly than expected. Additionally, emerging technologies brought about by the 2020 COVID-19 phenomenon, will continue to evolve.
Prevailing Social Media Trends in 2021
For your best approach to social strategy, which social media trends will be the ones to watch and act on in 2021?
Video & Visual Connection – Easy on the eyes
Video media will continue to dominate social media trends for 2021 and probably beyond. While video has been the most engaging form of social content for a long time, well before 2020, access to technology has both improved and deteriorated in different ways. Without access to professional editing suites and professionals, businesses have turned to alternative methods of creating video and visual content.
You only need to note the rise of TikTok for both personal and professional uses, the introduction of Instagram Reels, LinkedIn Stories, and Twitter Moments. And Facebook was ahead of it all with Facebook Stories.
A business doesn’t need a professionally “finished” video to get across a valuable message. What’s more, sometimes, the spontaneous video clip or the short monologue can be far more profound for it’s “unfinished” look.
“Ephemeral” content, i.e. content that’s only visible for a short time can have a far more profound impact on potential customers because of it’s brevity. It plays on the FOMO factor and incentivises social media followers to take action.
Video clips made by real people for their clients allow a brand or company to engage their fans personally. They aren’t trying to shout across the company-customer divide.
TikTok might have taken a hit through a countrywide ban in India, and rumblings of the same in the US, but video will continue to dominate social media content.
Humanising Social Content & Contact
Perhaps it is a byproduct of reduced physical contact with our fellow humans, or maybe it’s because we have come to understand the importance of humanity in all our interpersonal connections. Whatever the reason for the brand-client dynamic shift, humanising our interactions has become essential.
Over the past few years, chatbots and AI interactions have become routine, but the past year has indicated it’s no longer enough. The way forward will be to combine both human compassion and AI contact with customers through social platforms.
One way of addressing this is to think more about how your customers feel about what, and how, you post. Do you need to revise your posting schedule because your clients really don’t want to hear about your new upgrade right now?
You might think that you have the best solution in the world to help your client, but what other issues might they be facing? Suppose you approach your potential clients with empathy and understand the difficulties you CAN’T fix. In that case, you’re in a better position to be the business they choose to solves the problems you CAN fix. Social customer service will go much further in 2021 because people expect and demand the human element and social media makes that contact possible.
Humanity, humility, kindness, empathy, and compassion: It’s a long list of values we don’t often equate with sales and marketing. However, this is the attitude you need to keep clients coming back this year.
“Kindness is underrated.”
Gary Vaynerchuck has been saying it for ages, and 2021 will prove what he’s been saying all along. – And that guy is masterful on social media.
Old ideas with new twists – Old is the “new” New
It took a while, but it finally happened – Baby Boomers on social media. Despite a large amount of stereotyping, they’re thriving; it just took a while for them to find their niches and communities. But They are becoming more tech-savvy and active on social platforms, so you need to include them in your strategies.
Talking of something old, it doesn’t seem so long ago that podcasts were the next big thing, but video seemed to eclipse its success. However, podcasting is seeing another surge – it doesn’t feel like they really left. The podcast is not dead!
While most of us text, rather than talk on our phones, voice is coming back. Maybe not with phone calls but with voice search, voice notes, and conference calling to stay in touch. There’s even an increase in voice messaging, rather than text, for dispersed teams.
Do you remember when we still went into the office, had drinks on Friday after work? Wasn’t it fabulous? Yes, nostalgia marketing for the “good old days” is a genuine approach even if we’re only getting nostalgic about a year ago. It still invokes happy feeling for times past, and when you make people feel good, they feel good about you. This year, we will all be looking back on the good times with envy and hope for the future.
Even newsletters are seeing a resurgence. People seem to allocate a little more time and attention to a big ‘dollop’ of new information rather than skimming little bits at a time.
User-Generated Content (2021 Remix)
Everybody loves user-generated content. Users love creating it, brands and businesses love receiving it and potential customers like seeing how someone “just like them” has used it. It’s a win all around.
It’s the cheapest way to advertise, and the most convincing advertisement is a voluntary advocate.
2021 will see UGC increase rapidly, but with a twist. Remixing older UGC will see the use of older material reshaped into new content.
While video media is still the most popular social media content, UGC can be anything from a review to a picture referencing your service, product or business. Maybe even a slide show. If you can change a Capterra review or quote into a cool image or a video, that’s UGC (the remix).
Conversational Marketing – Encouraging Discussion
Conversational marketing has long been a major player in the social media game. However, in 2021, the conversation has to change its tone and make a deeper connection.
It’s not just about saying “Hi, Bob!” and “Sure, I understand your problem. Buy my product/service/magical elixir, and it will fix everything.”
The sale is always the end goal. However, it’s not the point of opening a discussion with your current and future customers.
Engaging the client, discussing their needs and options, educating them about your business’s benefits, and providing information that could benefit them (not necessarily relating to your business). The best thing about doing this on social media is that it happens in front of an audience. At the same time, more people join the discussion.
Your goal in 2021 is to get the conversation going. In turn, you will learn so much more about your clients’ needs, wants, and requirements. Social media platforms will be your biggest customer focus group, ever.
A Socially Conscious Client Base
Ironically, while Facebook suffered no severe backlash from the Summer advertising boycott, social responsibility, conscience, and sustainability have become significantly more important to the contemporary customer.
2020 was a year of social, environmental, political, and judicial polarisation – not to mention the extensive invasion of fake news and false information. Consequently, more than one company found itself in hot water with both authorities and their customers.
Potential customers will not only judge you on the product or service you provide. Political leanings, environmental policies, social and economic awareness, and your integrity are all up for inspection. Your commitment to telling the truth in your customer contact is also on the cards. If you spread or endorse information without checking your facts, your business’ trustworthiness is damaged.
When 2020 has seen misinformation like “5G causes COVID-19” or “All vaccines contain tracking microchips”, commitment to telling your customer the truth is paramount.
Take integrity, social conscience, and facts to the bank by providing accuracy and honesty in 2021.
The Overarching Theme for Social Media 2021
The clear picture emerging from the predicted social media trends in 2021 is that the client is the key target of your social strategy. It’s not the sale (although that’s a nice bonus), it’s the human engagement with a person. An engaged person will give further consideration to a product or service that appeals to them. Connecting with clients on multiple economic, social and emotional levels is how to engage clients for the long haul.
There’s no avoiding the fact that 2020 brought many people to their knees, both personally and professionally. In 2021 we have the power to use social media strategy to recover from that and to bring human compassion back into our business dealings. It’s a pretty remarkable thing that it seems to be the way the wind is blowing.
I’m not going to go against the trend; I’ll be quite happy to see 2021 as the year that brought empathy and kindness to social media marketing.