Social Media trends in 2021 will be finding balance across the platform. Brands, both Enterprises and small businesses alike, must extend their reach using the public feed while taking to private channels to focus on one-to-one engagement and deeper relationships with their customers.
With more than five billion smartphone users worldwide (both on iOS and Android), it isn’t surprising that the majority of them are regular users of social media; mobile apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat. Experts estimate that there is 3.2 billion social interaction between users worldwide – and the number’s growing by 100 million users every day!
Just think of the potential for expanding your market and increasing your presence – and profits, for that matter – through social media marketing, if you know how to use it to your advantage; such as Facebook Ads, hashtags, tweets, and content marketing (microblogging).
Indeed, there are numerous ways that social media has changed our lives, from interacting with others to creating completely new content including photography, fashion, and literature. We have also seen the fast rise and fall – or continued rise for giant social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Twitter – of numerous sites. We have seen the meteoric rise of the likes of TikTok and the eventual fall from the popularity of the likes of SnapChat, too.
In a way, social media seems unknowable and unpredictable partly because their administrators control the algorithms. But when you’re an influencer or a brand, you are actually in the best position to create, distribute, and promote relevant targeted content, even create new audiences and cultivate them to match your content.
There’s also the fact that there are people behind these social media websites, individuals like you with knowledge, skills, and aspirations. Like you, they also need social connections, authentic content, and entertainment – and these are among the reasons to continue your engagements with social media.
With that being said, you will want to take advantage of the opportunities that social media has to offer – more engaged audiences, more selling opportunities (eCommerce), and more connectedness, among others. The trust relationship between brands and consumers will be rebuilt through private groups, transparency reports, and employees as influencers.
Social Media Trends in 2021
1. The Rise of Private Groups
Unfortunately, social media use has its evils. Personal content has been subjected to constant exposure and censure while personal information has been subjected to security concerns including data privacy and theft.
These are the primary factors that have contributed to the need for social media users to establish a new connection, preferably with more security and less censure. From this need emerged private groups, usually smaller communities with gated or curated content.
For the majority of Netizens, using social media for two hours or more every day is considered quite normal and we’ve been doing it for years, perhaps even more than a decade. We have numerous social media platforms that we’re actively engaged in – Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter are among the most prominent. That’s not even counting the number of hours we spend on other Internet-related activities, such as using mobile apps and emails.
2. To say that we’re experiencing content overload is an understatement!
For this reason, active users will likely be spending more time in meaningful interactions and less time on social platforms. Such a need can be addressed through private communities and collectives, the type of social networking services where admission requirements can be strict – think the velvet rope. In these private groups, people spend more time with others who share common interests, advocacies, and directions in life instead of with the general public where discussions can quickly become hostile.
Take, for example, the case of The Loop, a community created by Courtney Adamo on Instagram, which provides its members with tips and tricks on lifestyle, fashion, and family.
3. The Embrace of Imperfections
The Instagram aesthetic is familiar to many people. It’s perfect but it isn’t accurate. It’s an aspiration but it isn’t exclusive to the rich and famous. It’s filled with light and it isn’t likely to put the spotlight on pressing issues of the day. It’s desirable in the presentation of even the most ordinary thing and it isn’t really more often than not.
In short, it’s partly blamed for the perfection mindset on social media that has influenced the way we as a society perceive ourselves, from our fashion choices to our family decisions. Such a mindset has been created and strengthened by influencers who harness the power of visuals in promoting and selling a wide range of products, many of which may not even be related to their sphere of influence.
But 2020 will see a sea change in Instagram aesthetics! While the embrace of imperfections in social media, especially in the photos posted, isn’t new, it’s increasing in strength. More and more people are rejecting the current Instagram aesthetic and it’s a trend that you should look into.
We’re seeing it in the increasing popularity of influencers who apply a stronger authenticity to their posts and the products endorsed on their pages. Instead of heavily filtered, even Photoshopped to perfection, photos of people, products and places, there’s a growing number of photos showing their real quality. Take the example of Canadian-Brazilian influencer Joana Ceddia whose social media pages on Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are filled with unfiltered posts, many of which are purposely flattering and many are hilarious.
The bottom line: Consider a more authentic approach to your social media strategy, especially to your posted photos and updates so as to attract more audiences. But keep them in line with your brand, too.
4. The TikTok Advantage Is Becoming Clearer
For your social media plan to succeed in 2020, it must include TikTok. It’s a platform with particular popularity among children and teens – it’s fun and entertaining, pure and simple – but it’s also becoming more popular in the global markets. India is among the top TikTok users with 43% of them coming from the country.
TikTok also has viral challenges that keep things more interesting in comparison with other social media platforms. These include cowboy-themed content, which was instrumental in the rise to stardom of Lil Nars X’s Old Town Road, and the purple shampoo challenge.
Emphasis must be made that authenticity isn’t exactly a new trend on TikTok. Instead, it is part of the platform’s DNA, an authentic approach that’s part of its enduring appeal. Users, for instance, often go live without makeup, backdrops and props, and designer clothes – just their stripped-down, spontaneous selves. They are then able to create opportunities for making more meaningful connections with their audience, an opportunity that big brands and others can take lessons from.
5. The Continued Rise of Micro-influencers
What do big brands and macro-influencers with their hundreds of thousands of followers have in common? Both typically have difficulty creating and strengthening meaningful connections with discerning consumers, more so with picky ones.
Social media users are becoming wiser about the unbridled promotion of brands through major influencers, a tactic partly caused by the absence of standardized regulation of paid content. Most of these major influencers cannot be blamed, too, for their actions on social media because their bread and butter depend on it.
Due to the disillusionment with major influencers, an increasing number of users are turning their attention to micro-influencers whose following are only in the thousands. We even expect the so-called nano-influencers with just a tenth of the number of their micro-influencer counterparts to have a more powerful voice in social media! These nano-influencers are seen as more sincere, authentic, and reliable so they are more relatable to the millions of social media users.
There’s also the rejection among social media users of the “bigger is better” mindset. Users are looking for content with integrity and honesty, as well as content with more focus on both the creator and the consumer, the producer, and the end-user.
Such a mindset also comes from a well-known fact of modern society. People will likely buy from people that they know, like, and trust, not from faceless companies.
Soon, we will be seeing the micro-and nano-influencers finally being heard and getting the share of the pie!
5. The Publication of Ephemeral Content
Studies have shown that social media use in terms of time spent on it is decreasing and among its reasons are lessening digital and information overload. Trust Insight, for example, pointed out the overall engagement rates in social media websites including Instagram use while the fall in stock prices for SnapChat, Facebook, and Twitter suggest it, too.
Social media websites are then adopting innovative ways to fight the decrease in interest in their platforms, especially in light of their target audience’s increasing interest in offline activities. The publication of ephemeral content, or content existing for a short period only, is becoming a trend and it’s one that’s expected to increase in 2020. The best examples are Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, and SnapChat.
There’s been an increase in the demand for these stories, a fact that adds more weight and value to them. Because of their elusiveness – the content doesn’t stay on the Internet for long unlike other types of content – these stories are becoming more premium, too.
Arguably, the best social media website that captures the beauty –and profitability, for that matter – of ephemeral content is TikTok, among the fastest-growing platforms with more than a billion users globally. The site achieves the ephemeral quality of its content by presenting it in a non-chronological manner.
This is unlike the chronological structure of other social media platforms, such as Facebook, wherein the posted content is displayed in such a way that the first posts are the most recent additions. With TikTok, the users’ content is randomly arranged so it’s essentially timeless. The result: The users feel that their content is consistently valuable since it’s evergreen in nature.
Tip: To make your content more ephemeral, use unexpected designs on your posts.
6. The Less Is More Mindset
With digital overload becoming a major stressor in people’s lives, the digital detox trend is becoming more of a lifestyle choice than a passing trend. We’re choosing offline activities, limiting our Internet time, and just switching off our smartphones so we can enjoy the real world, not the virtual world where social media platforms, influencers, and brands can’t bother us.
Such a less is more mindset is influencing our preference for more considered or curated content. Instead of the number of hours spend and the frequency of log-ins, we’re looking more at the quality of the content. This applies to both the content we post and the content we read, a mindset that demands a sea change in the way we see social media platforms.
Interestingly, the preference for quality also means an increase in the importance of getting likes and other measurable user engagement. Keep in mind that only Google and Facebook can monetize traffic so that every other social media platform requires its users to build their following on their own.
For this reason, you have to create, strengthen, and widen your group of followers so as to gain profits from it. It’s a more preferable way of achieving your digital goals instead of chasing the likes and comments from your followers.
7. The Rise and Rise of User-generated Content
The lightning-fast rate of content generation in recent years may have feed the hungry beast, so to speak, of the social media platforms. But it has its dark side, too, of which the most disturbing is the burnout among the creators and consumers of the content.
In 2020, we expect to see the rise of user-generated content that will fill in the gap created by the creator and consumer burnout.
The increasing popularity of user-generated content on social networking sites can also be attributed to the need among consumers for real user voices, not voices influenced by the big brand pitches and the like. There’s also the factor of data leaks, false advertising, and product recalls fuelling such a need for authentic people behind the products.
User-generated content is also important for businesses because it’s one way of showing the consumers of their reliability, trustworthiness, and relatability. Consumers are also looking for people they can like and trust in order to choose the products they will buy, and it isn’t always possible with paid content from big brands as promoted by major influencers.
Does it seem like the virtual world is going for a smaller-is-better mindset? Yes, perhaps it does but it’s something that you can take advantage of on your 2020 social marketing planning. After all, bigger isn’t necessarily bigger all the time!