Five social media trends for 2021

|| November 4, 2020

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms Social Media Coordinator

As this bizarre year winds down, you may be thinking ahead to 2021. What will the new year look like for your business? COVID-19 forced changes for businesses that will be felt into 2021 and beyond and it’s important to factor these into your planning process. Working from home became common from late March, forcing our connection and business online. Our reliance on digital platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to conduct business increased enormously and social media became the simple way to connect with our friends. These changes have provided new ways that businesses can utilise these social media platforms to engage with their audiences – trends as it’s commonly referred. In this blog, we’ll share the top five social media trends we see making a difference in 2021:

1. Socially-Conscious Audiences

This is as much a trend as a movement. Audiences across social media have become more conscious of issues that affect their lives and the world they live in. This charge is led by Gen Z – the generation who grew up with social media – who are heading towards adulthood and entering the workforce for the first time. This same generation is known to be the most well-educated audience with strong views on critical issues such as climate change, racial equality, feminism, education and professional equality. As a business or brand on social media heading into 2021, it’s important to do the work of creating an honest social impact. A study by Forbes in 2019 revealed 88% of consumers want to support brands that have social causes aligned with their product or service. It needs to become part of your cultural fabric so consumers remember your brand beyond just the product or service you’re operating.

2. Nostalgia Marketing

It’s easy to look back on 2019 and beyond and think how much better life was. The positive emotions connected with “the good old days” is a welcomed sensation, particularly after the year we’ve had. This craving for nostalgia is spreading through social media like wildfire and brands are marketing to exactly that. The appeal for this marketing is clear – it connects strong positive emotion to your brand and gives it a sentimental boost. During times of uncertainty, it’s a powerful way to connect with an audience looking for ways to escape to happier times. Netflix’s original series Cobra Kai – a follow-up to the iconic 1980s Karate Kid movie – shot to No.1 on the platform using this exact approach. Motorola enjoyed a similar response with their marketing campaign around their updated Motorola Razr flip-phone. If you can transport your customer to a memory of a better time to distract them from the struggles of now, then consider incorporating this into your social strategy in 2021.

3. Tik Tok

Tik Tok isn’t a new social media player but it’s consistently ignored by brands that don’t think they have an audience to publish to on the platform. Change that thinking. Tik Tok has been one of the most influential tools for a number of industries in 2020 and particularly favours individuals or brands that give it a chance. Australian radio stations have seen great success on the platform. Sydney hosts Kyle and Jackie O reign as the most-followed Aussie radio figures on Tik Tok boasting 180k followers and say they use the platform to help brand recognition and amplify content from their daily show. Their reluctance to use Tik Tok initially was due to their incorrect assumption that it was an app for kids but there were a lot of fans already on the app that quickly jumped on the content. They say it’s all about driving awareness and recall to the show and with such great views numbers, it can only be a good thing. Away from radio there are accounts on the platform that talk about how bourbon is made, power cleaning or how to trade stocks. Put simply, I’ll bet there’s an audience on Tik Tok you haven’t accessed yet, so give it some thought.

4. User-Generated Content

The best pieces of content will be the ones brands don’t create but instead facilitate and video will still dominate. What this means is that brands that are sharing content about their product or service that their consumer has created are going to better connect with the desired target audience. Why?

  • Promoting trust: sharing content created by a user who has invested in your brand acts as a form of social proofing. To other consumers it shows you can be trusted and it really helps build the consumer confidence in your offering.
  • Better engagement: while professionally-made and polished content pieces look great, audiences on social media hate being sold to. User-generated content is a little less polished and is easier for another consumer to place themselves into what you’re marketing because they’re seeing someone as regular as them.
  • It saves you time: user-generated content will free up some of your marketing time to focus your efforts on other important things. This isn’t to say you need to spend less time on marketing – for you it may mean more time to create the next perfect campaign.

To get this started for your business, you need to provide your consumers with the tools to create the content: give them a hashtag to share their videos/photos; provide them with the jingle you want experimented; and ask for reactions. Whatever it may be, hand over the tools and encourage them to create.

5. Misinformation Crackdown

This is almost an extension of the first point but it’s important enough to stand on its own. A lot of us get news and information on world events via social media. When COVID-19 struck and we were forced indoors, our reliance on the information coming from social media increased significantly. People were desperate for the latest information surrounding the pandemic, yet it was becoming increasingly difficult for people to identify an authoritative source they felt they could trust. This led to unreliable sources filling the gaps and so concerns around fake news and misinformation flared again. As restrictions begin to ease, information offered on social media needs to be reputable and factual. Brands need to be held to this same standard on important issues and stamp out incorrect information. Brands will really earn loyal customers in 2021 if they adopt this as a basic requirement.