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2021 Social Media Trends Blog

February 12, 2021
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If you haven’t noticed, social media has changed the way we live our lives —from the way we get our news to how we decide what restaurant to eat at next. Any way you look at it, social media plays a key role in our decision making. 

Since January of 2020, the world has seen the rise of monthly active users on social media grow exponentially (upwards of 3.6 billion). Maybe this is due to the majority of our population now staying home, or maybe it’s due to the Tik Tok dance trends that took the world by storm. Who wouldn’t want to hop on that bandwagon? 

Today, social media presence plays a crucial role in connecting people and developing relationships. But how can one stay on top of the rapidly changing latest social media trends and social platform updates while making an impact for their brand? We’ll make it easy with these 5 most important social media trends to look out for in 2021.

Goodbye Hashtags, Hello Keywords

It’s no secret that hashtags were the outbound awareness drivers that brands and influencers used to reach more users, but perhaps adding that long list of keywords with a pound sign is no longer the way to reach your target audience. Hashtags have always been a controversial social media strategy for growth. Customers hate feeling spammed by long hashtag strands, while brands and influencers think they are a natural way to reach a direct audience…but are they? 

Hashtags as an outreach strategy often fall flat due to the competitive nature of hashtags. For example, #lifestyle was used over 250 million times and the top nine are refreshed every one to three seconds. There’s also been a change in the way that users interact with hashtags. Users are not following hashtags to find and buy products — in fact, they are really only following hashtags to keep up with niche interests and hobbies. 

With Instagram’s new keyword search option, you can enter the conversation while looking less “spammy.” Now, users can search a simple keyword that they are interested in to be shown a feed of relative images not based on hashtags! The algorithm then has more control in sourcing images that it believes will be of interest to you, not just every individual that dropped an unnecessary hashtag on their picture. Think Pinterest. This new keyword approach on Instagram means in 2021, your captions should be written for engagement AND rankability by including specific keywords that are relative to your brand or product. 

While we love this shift and are looking forward to implementing an SEO mindset paired with colorful copywriting, it’s interesting to see not every platform is eager to move away from hashtags. In fact, YouTube recently launched a hashtag search capability to all users. This feature allows content creators to add hashtags to their video content that then users can click on to be brought to a feed with similar content. Whether this takes off is still in question, but it’s definitely another new social media trend to watch in 2021. 

Shopping on Social

Shopping on social media isn’t a new feature for 2021, but we do believe this internet marketing service will become widely used this year. Previously, shopping on social was a great way for customers now and then to come across an Instagram ad and scroll through products offered by the brand. However, there was not a general comfort when it came to checking out on social media. As many brands experienced, social media users would use the channels for product research and introduction, but when it came to converting they often left the social channel and went directly to the company’s site. Now, Instagram is working to change that. The new Instagram shop features include guides, partnerships and more and also allows users to checkout directly through the platform. 

We believe that in 2021 brands that jump on social checkout will be rewarded by the platforms with extended reach and access to new features (including shop push notifications in beta right now). As social media continues to move from a connection platform to a consumer platform, we expect shopping on social media to stay. 

The Great Unfollowing

Gone are the days when someone would join a social media platform and mass follow every brand they’ve used and person they’ve heard of. Today, social media users are becoming more exclusive with who they follow and they frequently conduct “feed cleanups” by unfollowing those who no longer provide value. In 2020, we saw a significant dip in the rate of growth — already a clear sign that the way users follow brands and influencers on social media is shifting. However, in 2021, we expect to see a potential dip in followers for many brands and influencers that are not providing value. Rather, individuals will seek out these pages when they are looking for an update or fresh content — further, putting value into Profile Visits as a main KPI. 

In order to maintain or grow your social media following in 2021, you need to think value first. What does your content strategy look like? Does your content speak to people that already own your products? Does it give them a reason to continue following after they’ve purchased? Does your page educate and inform those who are researching your product? Most importantly, does your page provide value? To avoid a potential dip in followers, you need to make sure your content is fresh and exciting. Avoid any use of templates to eliminate content fatigue. Stay current, posting relevant content that sparks conversation with your target audience. Finally, lean into your community authentically and personally (more on that below)

Remember, even if you see a shift in following, that does not lower the value of your social media pages and brand awareness. We expect many brands to see a large lift in profile visits month-over-month as more and more individuals use social as a research and credibility tool. 

Keep it Real  

This trend we’ve noticed over the last couple of years, but we believe now more than ever people are going to expect (and desire) authentic connection with everyone they follow on social media. We’re seeing this trend through the “Question” story feature on Instagram, Mentorship capability within Facebook Groups and even through the unfollowing habit we mentioned above. Social media users want to feel like they’re being individually heard and recognized from even the large brands and influencers they follow. And if not, well, they won’t be following them for long.

There is so much more to community management than simply commenting back to your users. Brands in 2021 will need to go outbound to be successful. This doesn’t mean those mass bot-like comments like “DM for feature” or spammy DMs asking to try a product — this is true and authentic communication and connection. Facebook’s Community Management tool offers user profiles which is a great way to start keeping track of top engagers. Additionally, your website CRM is another great tool to try to seek out and connect with top customers on social media. The most successful brands on social media in 2021 will prioritize social listening through social based surveys, “Close Friend” campaigns and detailed user profiles. 

Additionally, we see a shift in 2021 to “real” content. Instagram Story filters became a viral trend in 2020 (we all needed a nice spin that year…) But as we enter 2021, we see more and more influencers and individuals avoiding filters or transparently posting the difference they make. Social media is making a shift to its roots — to be in the moment and real. Perhaps even grid aesthetics will be of less importance as “real” content makes an upswing. Users want to see what the brand is truly like, not the “filtered” version. The best way to accomplish this as a brand is to think about the type of friend it would be as a human — how would you talk, what would you share, what would you find funny? Portray that individual personality through your social content for a deeper connection. 

New Year, New Platforms 

Like every year, we expect to see a few new platforms trinkle in. While this commonly happens, only a few lucky ones actually take off. At the moment, we’re keeping our eyes on ClubHouse. ClubHouse is a new chat-based app (almost like a two-way podcast) that allows individuals to get involved with conversations that are interesting to them. Whether it’s  juicy gossip or education resources, ClubHouse plans to have a little something for everyone. We are excited to see how this world opens up to brands as a true platform of connection. After all,  the brand will need a literal voice to be successful here. 

On the same note, we’re monitoring platforms that we see having a downfall in 2021. We anticipate that Twitter will continue to lose popularity — only being used for niche topics and industries. Similarly, we see Facebook making a shift to more group-focused interactions rather than branded pages. As new platforms enter the space, and old ones fizzle out, one thing is for certain….social media will not remain the same in 2021. 

What latest social media trends are you keeping an eye on when it comes to social media in 2021? We’d love to hear from you! 

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