In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic, social media has proven to be an invaluable channel for brands to reach and convert customers. Social media marketing warrants staying up to date with trends in both technical and social progressions to ensure they are taking advantage of all opportunities. 2021 is sure to be a year of significant growth in the digital marketing space. As companies and communities continue to adapt their approaches to the new normal, we are sure to see many creative and outside-of-the-box thinking take the proverbial stage.
Here are the most prominent social media trends predicted for 2021:
People-First Social Media
Conversational marketing that puts people first is a significant movement within the social media sphere right now. Brand’s need to create content that starts a conversation worth having – audiences are hungry for content that engages them.
The construct of social media has given the audience a platform on which to voice their opinions. Marketing is all about reciprocity – it’s a two-way street. Brands can’t just broadcast their messages and leave them there. On the contrary, it’s all about conversations and connections – engaging with consumers to foster those relationships and create sales.
If anything the COVID-19 pandemic put this in the spotlight. Customers don’t prioritise sales anymore – they favour information, engagement, and social matters. Establishing a connection through these stories is vital for optimum engagement. Which brings us to the next point: what content is relevant?
Socially-Conscious Social Media
Well, audiences have joined the crusade, and they expect brands to do the same. Throughout the year, the need for brands to humanise and spotlight political, environmental, and social issues. This brought about many conversations about matters close to customers’ hearts.
Amplifying this demand, Merkle’s Q4 2020 Media Insights Report revealed that 56% of consumers say they have no respect for businesses that remain silent on important issues. The people have spoken, and they want more meaningful content. Brands should leverage their reach to educate people, spread positive messages and welcome people to join the conversation.
As businesses become more aware of the spread of misinformation, 2021 will likely be a year of ‘truth’. Significant attention will be placed on preventing the circulation of fake news, and brands will need to put their social content through more thorough review processes to ensure they aren’t propagating misleading information.
While User Generated Content (UGC) isn’t a new concept, 2020 saw a “remixed” version of this content type which will likely burgeon into the 2021 social media marketing space.
User-Generated Content is content that has been posted by users and then shared by brands to show consumers are using or experiencing their products. Customers are now taking it one step further by “remixing” it – taking brands’ content and changing it to suit their own personality or ideas. The best content will always be that which marketers don’t create, but rather facilitate. Brands should leverage content created by their audience since it goes hand-in-hand with conversational marketing and encourages audience interaction.
4 C’s of COVID-19 Content
With COVID-19 still at the forefront of mass media, even if the pandemic is resolved in 2021, the aftermath will be felt for quite some time. The shadow cast by COVID-19 will most likely persist, making it difficult for consumers to simply forget its presence. Brands will need to adapt their communication with this in mind – with the tone of 2021 shaped by the 4 C’s of coronavirus content:
- Community – it’s essential for brands to focus on uplifting their immediate ecosystems, such as sourcing products from local businesses instead of international ones.
- Contactless – brands need to embrace the social distancing trend and support business models that promote contactless practices, such as “tap and go” bank cards.
- Cleanliness – brands need to adapt their strategies to foster the cleanliness-focused society we know live in. An excellent example of this is KFC temporarily dropping their “Finger Lickin’ good” slogan.
- Compassion – this ties into socially-aware climate we are now living in, with people wanting brands to share and create content that uplifts, supports, and fosters kindness.
People are creatures of habit, so it’s only natural to reminisce about the former lives we lived in the pre-COVID-19 world. The positive associations of the “good old days” are a shining beacon of hope in times of uncertainty and stir up good feelings. Nostalgia marketing is powerful because it establishes a connection with consumers on a universal level, and adds a sentimental touch that will appeal to the masses since it is a welcome distraction from current global challenges.
No one could have predicted that 2020 would hold such significant societal and economic changes and one lesson to learn from this year is the importance of being prepared for both the expected and the unexpected. Despite the global upheaval and subsequent chaos brands have made the most of social media platforms to engage with their audiences and continue to operate as normally as possible. What lies ahead in 2021, is up to how both consumers and brands navigate the ever-changing social media landscape – either way, it’s bound to be an exciting and challenging time!