How will social media marketing change in 2021? In this article, the 10 trends will be ranked from the less impactful to the most impactful on the customers.
Due to the pandemic, customer behavior towards social media has been gradually changing. To get more insights on this issue, we did research about social media trends in 2021, especially documents from Talkwalker and HubSpot teams. The interviews were conducted with 70+ global experts to collect their opinions, predictions as well as takeaway tips for the social media trends in 2021.
10. Remixing is the new User Generated Content
User-Generated Content (UGC) is simply defined as any type of content created by users or “real people”. Pictures, videos, reviews, blog posts, etc. are some popular forms of content that people create. UGC was applied in marketing more than 15 years ago; however, the rise of TikTok, Koji, and Instagram Reel has upgraded the UGC to the next level. Remixing is the art of using existing formats and ideas, then customizing them to match with users’ personalities and hobbies. Some businesses expect to have more opportunities for remixing and brand engagement where new users can create outstanding content.
During the pandemic lockdown, mentions of “remix” on TikTok and Koji have been rising. People just stay at home to create content instead of going out, that’s why some tools need to be added to fulfill their needs. Remixing will help users create the content easily with fewer technical restrictions. According to Dmitry Shapiro, the CEO and Co-Founder of GoMeta, “remixing gives ordinary people the power to layer context and self-expression”. (forbes.com).
The trend has just started, it’s a promising scenario when brands provide templates and tools for users to create content or called as a co-production. Based on the rapid development of social media platforms, the demand of users will be met as well as the growth of competitors. As predicted, 3D games, pictures, VR, and AR user-generated content will become dominant types in near future.
- Provide proper assets to your users: Logos, templates, and digital tools will help your users effectively create the content. These assets facilitate and encourage the creativity of your users => better content will be made.
- Keep engaging with creators: UGC usually gains 28% more engagement than the original content of a brand. Therefore, do not forget to immediately engage with your audiences’ content.
- Take care of your social media channels: Some companies do not have any social media strategy for different channels. Tiktok and Instagram will help your brand become more popular and approachable to young and creative people.
- Risk management of UGC: Monitor carefully every activity that happens to your brand reputation. Someone will try to bombard your business with negative content to pull your company down. Again, check every remixed content to react as quickly as you can before it goes viral.
9. The four Cs of pandemic content
Even if the pandemic is successfully tackled in 2021, there are still some aftermaths left to deal with. Companies will need to adapt to the new work condition and environment, probably at home, or restricted people at the workplace. There are 4 Cs to shape the business situation in 2021: Community, Contactless, Cleanliness, and Compassion.
Despite the focus on the 4 Cs, these topics are still trending on different social media platforms. 78% of consumers believe that brands will help them out in their daily lives with the information and reassurance of Covid-19. However, there is still a communication gap between them. While companies concentrate on supporting communities, customers have more concerns about cleanliness. In 2021, Covid-19 will remain the central issue of most conversations and businesses should carefully choose the topics to communicate.
According to Janet Machuka, the founder of ATC Digital Academy, the 4 Cs of the pandemic will become a new normal thing in marketing. The consequences of it, partly affect every brand, so the 4 Cs marketing strategies have to be done.
As reported by Lilach Bullock, a content marketer, the year 2021 will be full of experimentations, new strategies, or even products and services to catch up with this new world aftermath.
Brand example, LEGO approached their audiences with this meaningful photo of a guy washing hands. This tweet generated 4K engagement. Later, they continued to provide a similar kind of message during the lockdown. LEGO has successfully built its community with the C of cleanliness among their family and young audiences.
Other brands also started their quick engagement with the messages about health and safety since the first announcement of Covid-19. The phrase “wash your hands” has got 81,7K shares in 5 months since March 2020.
Regarding how it impacts the digital aspect, the 4 Cs will re-construct the brand communications in the following year. Companies need to understand their customers’ issues to find the best way to connect and help them solve their problems.
- Follow worldwide trend analysis: Frequently monitor the pandemic situation, to get a quick reaction to any issues as well as help your customers overcome them. Give out messages can help you strengthen your relationships with your community.
- Focus on the 4 Cs content: Find out the elements that your customers have been following then connect those keys to your brand. Show them how you care about the community, the cleanliness at your store, etc.
- Prepare for the ongoing pandemic: Do not target new customers, due to the ongoing pandemic, they still have some insecurity. Focus on relevant content that meets the customers’ concerns.
8. The emergence of memes
Emojis and stickers are not popular in text anymore in recent years. Instead, GIFs and Memes are dominating social media channels and chat apps. Not all of them are funny and positive, but memes are shifting the way of communication as an interesting way to raise community engagement. A meme contains a huge meaning and implication, that’s why the sender and receiver can easily understand each other without a word. Even though memes are not professional at all, the positive effects of them are undeniable.
55% of memes are sent every week among the young generation with the age from 13-35. Mentions of memes grew from 19.8M to 24.9M throughout the year 2020, with a peak of 28M in April 2020. The three most engaging topics of memes are Covid-19 (2,9%), the economy (2,8%), and politics (2%). These topics are very sensitive and easily get the risk of memetic manipulation.
Komal Gupta, Head of Content Marketing at Ferns N Petals, believes that consumers are gradually evolving, that’s why innovation in content marketing is extremely essential right now. Memes contain old-school movies, series and pop-culture can be a new-age catalyst in marketing.
Brand example, Sony’s PS5 released a trailer of their product’s new look and quickly got users’ responses. This format is very simple but gaining significant engagement at 180K. It helps the meme more approachable, easy to share, and go viral quickly. Besides the impressive amount of engagement, this tweet also helps Sony generate more relevant messages and build a strong audience connection.
- Share and encourage user-generated memes (UGM): This is the best way to increase your brand awareness with UGM since customers have more trust in real people than a brand itself. And, do not forget to credit the creators, it helps strengthen the relationships and encourage them to create more valuable content.
- Monitor your brand logo: Normally, there is no text on memes. The best to identify your brand is the logo, so make sure the image recognition works properly in your memes.
- Be cautious of what you post: Offending and valueless memes lead to negative comments, which drastically harm your brand. That’s why you always need a double or even triple check with the visuals and implications before uploading anything.
7. Nostalgia marketing
2020 is not a year that most people want to remember, so It’s understandable why people feel much better when looking back on previous years. The positive emotions with the good old days help enhance your current feelings. Nostalgia marketing is similar to that. When customers have an optimistic emotion to your brand, it boosts the sentimental feelings as well.
During the lockdown, mentions of nostalgic keywords rapidly grew from 13M to 24.4M (+88%). It happens because connecting with the positive memories from the past help them unlink with their current struggles. Try to link that positive memory to your brand to build an emotional connection with your customers. If you make them feel good, they will rely on your brand.
According to Aji Aditra Perdana, Head of Content Marketing at Home Credit Indonesia, a nostalgia marketing campaign will bring the good old days back. The world is changing, and no one knows what happens next. Therefore, staying positive will significantly help you during the pandemic.
Brand example, Netflix is one of the masters in content creation, by mixing original ideas with the nostalgic needs of customers. Stranger Things is the best instance for it, based on the theme of the 80s’ nostalgia to approach the audience. The show was successfully mentioned 6.1M times and 23.1M engagement. Stranger Things has become the hottest topic that attracts tons of concerns from the audience.
Nostalgia marketing will change the digital landscape in 2021. Probably, the themes of good old days, better days, or old school will go viral fast. However, nostalgia marketing only works for one generation at a time. So, brands should not be greedy by targeting all your audiences with the same old school content.
- Understand your audience: Classify your audience in different demographic sets. Each campaign will possibly reach a set of audience within a ten-year age bracket, gender, location, and other elements also affect the performance.
- Old is the new “new”: Check your catalog and products to see if any of them could be re-released. Limited edition along with nostalgic emotion will tempt the young generation to purchase. Think outside the box with retro designs, songs, movies, and series will recall the customers’ past and stimulate their senses.
- Collaborate with retro influencers: Some of the existing influencers have had their communities focused on nostalgic factors. Engage with them and pitch up your ideas of nostalgia marketing to connect with more audiences who are already connected with the past.
6. Conversational marketing
Conversational marketing is a method of engaging customers through conversations such as chatbots, social messaging, calls, etc. This methodology was emphasized by Gartner since it started as a trend in 2018. Marketing needs interaction between brands and customers, that’s why conversations and connections are the two main factors to build relationships and boost sales.
In this high-tech era, together with AI solutions, the omnichannel conversation can be personalized by a chatbot. In 2021, the full potential of conversational marketing will be exploited. The brand that can utilize and optimize it will gain a huge advantage over the competitors. The auto-reply email and messages are not strange for people anymore; however, the auto-human voice message reply will be the new level that AI could do. It helps brands, especially big enterprises respond to customers’ messages immediately.
Ming Johanson, CEO at Mother of unicorns, said that brand voices will play an essential role in strategic marketing. It develops chatbots and voice search leading to an increasing number of customer engagement.
According to Sotirios Seridis, Founder of XYZ Lab, marketing automation via conversation commerce will become more important in the following years. 68% of users prefer texting as the primary way to communicate with companies. Brands should seriously start creating their conversational system online.
Brand example, Domino’s Facebook Messenger chatbot helps the company solve tons of customer questions without a touch of human hands. The bot has its name, Dom, and some personalities to communicate with customers. This conversational system enables customers to easily access the options they want to communicate with the brand. It engages more relevant content to clients.
In 2021, every brand will try to integrate AI in its online conversational system to connect with more customers. The relationships will be perfectly strengthened.
- Start building a conversational system: Chatbots, social media messaging, or SMS are some best tools for you to start a conversation with your customers. It creates more opportunities for your brand to communicate with the customers and vice versa.
- Be careful with your tone and language in communication: Humanize the AI conversation with an approachable tone. People prefer contacting your brand because they feel an authentic connection.
- Marketing – customer service integration: Most of the conversations are started from the customer service sector. However, breaking the line between marketing and customer services will create more opportunities for your brand to create workable solutions for your customers.
5. Social gaming
During the pandemic lockdown, many people turned to video games as a new form of entertainment. The gaming community has drastically grown together with a huge number of fans. Over a year, people who identify themselves as gamers have risen from 31.1M in August 2019 to 41.2M in July 2020 (+32%). The posts and conversations of these gamers started a new trend on different social media channels.
Most of the mentioned keywords are not related to the games they play, but their co-players. Friends and communities are the main conversation drivers with platforms: Twitch and YouTube. People cannot have a face-to-face meeting in the real world, so building connections in digital realms is the best option. As predicted, these gaming communities are growing fast and stronger in the next following years.
Referring to Jheric Delos, Head of Marketing at Amanotes, the border between social media and gaming platforms are gradually disappearing. This is something that brands need to focus on since the two communities are continuing to evolve and possibly merge.
In the opinion of Rahul Pillai, Senior Social Media Freelancer, the reason for this trend is because of the connection between UGC and gaming interactive content. People tend to like and engage more with entertainment content.
Brand example, since the pandemic lockdown, movie theaters have to be closed for a while. It directly affects the production of upcoming films, in the marketing aspect as well. Warner Bros took a leap of faith to reveal the trailer of their latest movie, Tenet by Christopher Nolan on the Fortnite game platform. The movie trailer got 2.6K mentions and generated 10.3K engagement. These are just the conversation out of the game, the Fortnite community connections had helped Tenet a lot in a promotion.
Spotify is also an instance of this gaming collaboration. They became a partner in audio streaming of League of Legends Esports. Different audiences and marketing channels, but the similarity in connection.
Regarding the digital landscape, next year, Facebook will launch Facebook Horizon, where you can explore an ever-expanding universe of virtual experiences designed and built by the entire community. The gaming industry will boom shortly with high-tech integration. This is a massive opportunity for every brand to personalized content so that it drives audience engagement and ultimately, sales.
- Search for more communities: Communities are growing rapidly everywhere, from social media to influencers, and fanbases. Find the right spot to jump in, and optimize the chance to advertise your brand.
- Understand those communities: Communicate and interact to get some knowledge about these groups, then gradually engage the audience and create content. Do not be hustle; otherwise, you will ruin everything because of no credibility.
- Break the ordinary: Tenet/Fortnite team-up is the best example for this case. The hottest game and a blockbuster – Tenet collaborate together, creating an earthquake for two sets of audience. Now it’s time to create innovative ways to advertise the brands by engaging a new community.
4. Old-school marketing for a new market
In recent years, we have witnessed so many ups and downs of different marketing trends. The marketing techniques are similar. However, the ways we approach customers are somehow slightly different, when someone is about to bring the old school marketing back to test. During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a time of uncertainty, that’s why everything can happen, and no one can predict it accurately. Based on that, we will probably see a surge of old school marketing in 2021, due to its simplicity of captivating customers.
Newsletters and podcasts were rising throughout the pandemic crisis, for instance, 55% of Americans are listening to podcasts and newsletters were up to 14%. Some old school communication methods are coming back, especially voice calls. The emergence of voice search, voice notes, and voice Tweets have gained 164K mentions and 774.4K engagement. These are massive numbers, and predictably growing faster in the following years.
As reported by Neal Schaffer, Author of the Age of Influence, digital marketing is the first thought that marketers have nowadays. That’s why old school marketing is forgotten, but brands start connecting both into old school digital marketing.
Brand example, TheNewsMarket has already released some old-school marketing models via newsletter and podcast. The podcast was successfully fit by gaining 8.5K engagement together with positive feedback from users.
- Grow your audience with a newsletter: 31% of B2B marketers believe that the newsletter is good for lead nurturing. Customizing the messages and information for each user will increase their engagement and strengthen the relationship.
- Find podcast opportunities: Identify the theme of your business based on products, services, core values, and vision. Try to interview some podcasters who suit the requirements, then define the audience together.
- Connect to Omni-influencers: The omnichannel influencers have a broad connection with their audiences in different social media platforms as well as approaches. Cooperate with them to maximize engagement and influence.
3. Social media giants adapt to the new normal
It’s common to hear rumors about the demise of a social media platform, while another one will take over. Giant apps have been constantly updated with new features to keep up with their competitors and trends. However, it’s hard to find a sign of quality decay in the coming years.
Throughout the last 13 months, the news stories of the 3 biggest social media platforms: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, have been mentioned slightly more on different digital channels. In spite of the differences in factors such as audiences, demographics, and customer behaviors, no one can deny the domination of these Trio. Tiktok has been trying hard with a massive increase in stories and vines, but it still has a long way to catch up.
The big platforms have enough capability to quickly adapt to the new trends and change the customer habits, Facebook Horizon and Twitter voice are parts of it. As predicted, these giant apps will still prevail in the social media market, but there will be a huge change due to feature updates.
Mat Navarra, Social Media Consultant, claimed that social media giants like Facebook will have to modify their regulations and restrictions instituted by governments. Users are becoming more cautious about data leaking on the Internet after the scandal of Cambridge Analytica.
On the other hand, Dr. Karen Stutherland, Social Media Researcher at the University of the Sunshine Coast, believes that social shopping is getting more prevalent as Facebook releases its Commerce Manager function for the business. Besides that, virtual events are about to evolve for the social connection even though after the Covid-19 period.
Brand example, Facebook has successfully tackled the issues of Covid-19 disinformation and misinformation to give the audience the right information they need to know. This video provides the facts about the pandemic that was shared 33K times along with 183K engagement. This is the best proof of a platform presenting real information and gaining support from the community.
- Adapt as the platforms do: Utilize every available feature on each platform you use. It helps your business easily adapt to the trend, for example, your clients are more into videos than photos, prefer stories than posts. In these cases, you need to meet their needs, instead of getting rid of them.
- Choose the right social media: There are hundreds of social media platforms out there, it’s hard to control and be the best in every channel. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or even LinkedIn will be the spine of your marketing strategy. So be focused on the main channels and understand the capability of your brands.
- Monitor your PPC on social media: If your business concentrates on ads, so you should keep an eye on them more seriously. Since new upcoming updates, find other solutions to optimize campaigns and minimize the budget.
2. Solutions for digital disinformation
Social media has had so many rumors about the border between fake and real information, it was growing stronger during the Coronavirus pandemic. There are millions of pieces of information related to the virus, but no one knows if it’s a fact or fiction. The repercussions of fake news were extremely serious when demonstrations, riots, and scams occurred. Governments and users expect social media channels to concentrate on highlighting the truth and ignoring the hoax news.
Since February 2020, misinformation and conspiracy theories have been mentioned drastically due to the Covid-19. During the global pandemic, everyone wants to find the real and official information to take care of themselves as well as their family; however, it’s a rough journey to find out.
28% of the American adults suppose that microchips should be implanted into the human body to cure the Coronavirus, based on some fake news. The so-called “conspiracy theory” creates a challenge for governments and medical departments in researching the vaccine for the virus.
According to Gini Dietrich, Founder of Spin Sucks, harmful content is the most dangerous enemy to destroy your brands somehow. For every business, 2021 is the year of selecting the real and accurate information to provide for you users to build the trust issue again.
Tania Tai, Managing Director at DIA Brand, said that transparency communication is a vital element for every business, but the disinformation during the pandemic has decreased their trust. That’s why user-generated content will be more reliable than branded content.
Brand example, Vodafone was recently pulled into global pandemic disinformation. A fake video stated that 5G was the main reason for the Coronavirus. This video was swiftly shared across several forums and websites, with approximately 1.8K engagement after being on social media. The 5G tower was burnt down, leading to serious damage and network suspension. The aftermath was disastrous not only for Vodafone but also for other telecom co-operations.
Experts expect that social media platforms will actively solve the controversial issue as soon as they can. It’s not easy to balance and control tons of data online, but as estimated, the number of fake news will be decreased significantly throughout 2021.
- Increase your brand transparency: 66% of customers claim that the most attractive quality of a brand is transparency. If you do not provide useful information to your clients, someone else will.
- Be careful of what you share: Do not put your brand into a tough situation by sharing incorrect information. If the posts are not 100% accurate or authentic, so discuss again with your legal team to have a better version.
- Improve the security of your channels: Hackers are not a strange thing for every business nowadays, so make sure that all of your channels are secure and verified carefully to reduce the risks. Two-factor authentication is at least the step that every social account needs to have. It takes time to log in, but it’s safer than a naked account. Additionally, there are few chances that your employees took over the company’s accounts and published inaccurate information that caused your brand to be destroyed. So, always be cautious!
1. The influences of socially conscious customers
This is the number one social media trend in 2021 as defined in the survey. In 2020, the socially conscious generation had a significant influence on brands, politics, and society. Therefore, brands will need to create content with other interesting topics; otherwise, the old issues will become obsolete in 2021.
Regarding Generation A&Z, the conversations of politics, mental health, education, finance are extremely critical to get their attention. The Covid-19 has negatively impacted Gen-Z, while 50% of them have either lost their job, or someone in their family got layoffs. In the coming years, they will have an explosion time to fight for the jobs back, and work harder to compensate for the money they could not earn.
As stated by Roha Daud, Brand Consultant, the year 2020 have pushed Gen-Z toward being mature and getting into the formal workforce. This will be the most well-educated generation in terms of climate change, racial equality, politics, etc. The collaboration between brands and Gen-Z will help the business come back on the market.
In the opinion of Alison Battisby, Founder of Avocado Social, “Global brands with a healthy advertising budget will explore paid opportunities amongst short-form video content, particularly when it comes to supporting large events such as the Super Bowl and rescheduled Olympics”.
Brand example, following the situation of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ in this year. Nike presented a video related to that topic quickly. The video got more than 326K engagement along with 7.9M views. Nike understands social awareness, so they make the brand commitment and support the communities. The hashtag #UntilWeAllWin has gained 131K mentions and 671K engagement. This powerful message helps Nike get more trust and support from both employees and customers.
In the matter of digital landscape, brands will need to restructure themselves in the next couple of months and get away from the old marketing strategy in order to get more socially conscious marketing. Engaging with the issues will drive more younger generations to boost their power.
- Improve brand- audience connection: Comprehend your customers and find out their issues to build a connection. Be serious about what you do to engage with customers; otherwise, you have to face the crisis you created.
- Focus your marketing on your mission: Hard sell is not a good idea to apply to Millennials and younger generations. Only 1% of Millennials believe that a compelling advertisement will create trust. A marketing campaign based on the company mission will build a strong brand resonance.
- Deal with social recessions: It’s hard to avoid every social issue, that’s why every brand needs to prepare a backup plan for it. Some people will do some research on your brand and find out how you manage global problems. Somehow, they can become your customers. So be prepared for every scenario!
In a nutshell, the one ultimate trend every brand needs you to remember is The consumer is King. In most cases, they need to be the central part of marketing strategies. It probably sounds cliché, but it’s very true. If a company fully comprehends its customers’ needs, wants, demands, and conversations will be the one who survives in the chaos ahead. It’s time to listen to the customer’s voice and turn it into brand success for 2021.
Follow these trends to get the first idea about social media trends in 2021. It will be a huge advantage for every business to develop their plan.
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