With every year passing, traditional marketing loses more ground. In the world of rapidly developing technology digital marketing is king. Social media platforms are thriving. Facebook, that behemoth of social networks, has around 2.5 billion active users now. Instagram is close on its heels with 1 billion active users. And as online audiences grow in numbers, so does the advertising market. The best way to interact with these audiences is by knowing their needs. How do you do that? By keeping up with the most relevant social media trends, of course.
Ignoring this rise of social media and its influence on customers would be a grave oversight. This is why many marketers and brands turn to social media platforms to get in touch with their target audiences.
However, today it might be more problematic than before. Modern social networks suffer from content overload and competition is massive. It might be extremely hard to stand out if you don’t have any detailed digital marketing strategy.
That’s when knowing the hottest social media trends might come in useful. Let me present you with ten hot-button trends you can use for your business’ benefit in 2021.
What’s Trending on Social Media?
Before we get to specific trends of 2021, it’s important to understand why they are crucial to follow. More often than not, concrete numbers and stats illustrate this importance the best way possible.
- GlobalWebIndex survey shows that social media users spend nearly three hours on social networks on a daily basis. Interestingly enough, they spend even more time scrolling away their social media news feeds on their mobile screens.
- Another survey results say that over half of customers prefer to learn about brands and products from social media.
- Yet another survey by SocialMediaInstitute shows that nearly half of all active social network users trust influencer recommendations.
- Finally, a survey by Buffer shows that the majority of marketers think that SMM marketing was somewhat effective or very effective for their business.
Using social media to market your products, you expose them to larger audiences than you could ever reach by using traditional means of advertising. The bad news is marketing your business via social platforms haphazardly might not give great results. But the good news is knowing your latest social media trends will pay off in spades.
Trend 1: Authenticity
One of the major trends of the year that concerns both text and visual content is authenticity. ‘Realness’ is everything and real emotions and captured moments of real life rule the day.
It’s no surprise: authentic accounts are more “alive” and much closer to real everyday life as we all know it. This makes them more relatable and as a result, followers are more interested in the posted content.
Forget about those presets with their integral styles and color palettes. Forget about any commitment to artificial perfection at all. Now integrity is about small elements, subtle shades, and themes that unite the visual content.
Authenticity is definitely a priority for all personal blogs at the moment. While the high quality of content is still a must, bloggers strive to be more real and natural.
Trend 2: Honest influencer marketing
Sponsored content still works, and most likely, will keep on working. However, the quality of this content, as well as the quality of products, is going to be under heightened scrutiny. If you think that subscribers can’t tell a genuine recommendation from hidden advertising, think again. People know when someone tries to sell them something. And trust me, they are sick and tired of annoying ads. Even if you get a celebrity or a famous influencer to promote your product, there’s no guarantee your sales will skyrocket.
According to Bazaarvoice study in UK, 47% of customers are extremely tired of generic ads. Additionally, 23% complained about the low quality of such ads. On the other hand, 62% find recommendations coming from influencers useful.
Trend 3: The rise of dark social
Social media goes back to where it came from. Mass marketing is waning while the personal approach rules. Youn can see it in the increased number of Instagram stories hidden from the general public. Or in the increased popularity of secret chats in instant messengers. There’s less of direct communication with the mass customer and more of private communication via private messengers.
This is what dark social basically is: sharing content via private channels. For many customers, it offers the opportunity for authentic communication. When they share information privately, they feel more comfortable with being who they are.
The problem with it is that it cannot be assessed using traditional social marketing instruments. There are no web analytics tools that can help you here.
This trend offers both bad and good news to marketers. On the one hand, a significant part of website visitors come from untrackable channels. On the other hand, it might mean that your company has more fans than you thought.
Trend 4: Personal brands
Nowadays it’s not unusual for a commercial brand to have its own social media profile. But what about all the freelances and self-employed individuals out there? They create personal brands, and the number of these is rapidly growing. Right now it’s one of the hottest trends on Instagram.
A personal brand isn’t just about creating your professional portfolio. It’s about personality, ability to interact with the audience, and the usefulness of information shared with others. Sure, every personal brand is about showcasing professional skills. However, values, worldview, and personal attitude must shine through. Captivating storytelling is what followers value most of all now.
Successful personal brands tell you:
- How much they work and how much time and effort it takes;
- How successful their endeavors are;
- About their work ethic;
- How much they care about their reputation and their professional portfolio;
- How experienced they are in their area of business.
Trend 5: Voice marketing
According to PwC survey, 71% of respondents prefer to use a voice assistant to search for something rather than do that manually. More than half of respondents admitted they use voice assistance at least once a day. Over 60% are convinced they will use voice assistants more in the future.
Voice assistants are becoming an essential part of our lives. And this trend will definitely affect the way social marketing works. It predicts the emergence of a new type of marketing geared towards voice assistants. You’ll see increasingly more features on social media providing information upon voice requests, as well as voice chatbots.
Social networks are already getting ready for integrating voice features.
Trend 6: Growing role of instant messengers
Over the past years, interest in mass social networks has been gradually decreasing. Does this mean that people aren’t interested in getting in touch anymore? Not at all. As dissatisfaction with massive social media grows, people more and more frequently choose private messengers. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber offer a decent number of new features. No wonder private messengers become increasingly attractive to marketers. After all, PMs offer access to billions of customers including especially coveted millennials and zoomers.
Trend 7: Likes are a thing of the past, engagement is the future
Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms, second only to its parent, Facebook. So when a major change happens, you know your marketing strategy must change as well. Of course, I’m talking about the announced complete removal of likes as the platform’s integral feature.
Instagram likes have been a useful tool that helped marketers see the level of interest in their product. After this feature is completely removed, it will be much harder for brands to evaluate this level of interest. So it’s quite likely that marketers will invest more in Instagram ads because this will allow them to track the effectiveness of their investment easily.
This can (and probably will) completely change the face of SMM as it is now. In all likelihood, other social networks will follow in the steps of Instagram.
After likes become the thing of the past, the level of engagement is what will become really important. Interactive stories, profile features, contests will take the center stage as indicators of audience engagement.
Trend 8: Stories: interactive features and storytelling
To their own detriment, many commercial brands don’t know much of these Instagram features or completely ignore them. And yet they become increasingly popular and have grown enough to be a fully-fledged trend. Using them as a marketing tool makes a lot of sense since it generates a high level of engagement.
The same can be said about storytelling as an Instagram stories format. If your short stories are connected by a single theme and tell an engaging story, they capture attention. High-quality visual content used for storytelling motivates viewers to watch a short storyline to the end. Needless to say, it also sparkles their interest in your product.
Trend 9: Focus on targeted advertising via algorithm (programmatic advertising)
Targeted advertising is a form of online advertising that aims to search for target audiences using certain parameters, specifics, and interests of users. The key point is purchasing targeted ads on several websites at once online. In this case, marketers don’t pay for the entire bulk of traffic or content. They pay for getting in touch with users that belong to their target audience. This kind of approach can significantly decrease customer attraction costs and increase conversion. According to eMarketer, over 86% of all digital advertising in the US will be algorithmic.
Programmatic platforms utilize hundreds of targeting signals, including potential clients’ lifestyles, habits, etc. Any business would benefit from using this trend and personalize advertising, saving budgets and increasing sales along the way.
Besides, Instagram tends to push targeting platforms and block other means of promotion, so targeted advertising is the future.
Trend 10: Say goodbye to mass following
As we all know, since recently Instagram feed doesn’t show the newest posts but the most interesting ones. This means that mass following and buying followers become yet another thing of the past. Besides, let’s face it: the majority of followers you buy are fake accounts. They show no engagement in your content and are nothing but dead weight. As a result, your Instagram profile lags behind other profiles who have significantly fewer followers with a consistently high level of engagement.
Besides, Instagram doesn’t look favorably at any kind of interference with its work. The times when mass following really worked and brought real followers are long gone. Now it does nothing but annoy people. And can be a reason for your account suspension.
What to do in 2021
Knowing about some of the hottest social media trends of the current year is undoubtedly an advantage. But sometimes simply being informed just isn’t enough. Let’s summarize and talk about what you’ll have to focus on this year, shall we?
1. Provide high quality of both visual and textual content. Give people “realness” and authenticity.
Focus on real emotions and naturality. Offer your customers high-quality photography. Remember that they are extremely picky about the quality of content nowadays. With the present-day issue of oversaturation of artificial perfection online, people are looking for something more real and genuine.
2. Don’t be afraid of telling more about your business.
Your potential customers must never get a feeling that you have something to hide. Tell them more about your quality product.
In case you want to partner with an influencer, let them test your product. Let them fall in love with it. This will make advertising as genuine as it gets. What’s more, it will make it look less like advertising and more like a genuine recommendation.
It would be even better if this won’t be about a single post. Let your influencers use your product on a regular basis. Why not making them your brand’s ambassadors?
3. When partnering with bloggers, choose nano- and micro-influencers.
Influencers who have less than 50 k (or even less than 10 k) followers have a quality audience. In all likelihood, they all are real people sincerely interested in the content they view. Besides, they are usually the ones who tend to be pickier about advertised content.
4. Make personalized content.
You’ll have to work on personalized content your customers can share with each other via private messengers. Yes, the statistics of this type of engagement is hard to track. However, it’s not impossible. Track the number of referrals by adding an eye-catching “Share” button to your ad content.
5. Increase the level of your customer engagement
There are multiple ways to do this:
- High-quality content
- Great visuals
- Engaging textual content
- Interactive features (games, contests, surveys)
- Entertaining content
Motivate your customers to comment and save your posts. Let them spend a while viewing your photos and stories.
6. Pay special attention to Instagram stories.
Today, lots of companies have experts who work specifically with Instagram stories. They write entire content plans for this single feature. There’s a good reason for that. If you don’t use and don’t plan the content you put in Instagram stories, you lose over 50% of customer engagement. Stories are now something people pay attention to in the first place, so not using them is a massive oversight.
7. Do a lot of planning.
It’s what SMM can’t do without. You must know your competition, your target audience, set the right goals. Create a detailed SMM strategy and don’t forget about content plans.
8. Down with cliches.
Stop using threadbare phrases and words. You can say “Come over, it’s great here!” a thousand times, but your customers won’t understand why it’s so great. Be more specific.
9. Be more open to your customers.
As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. Your openness and sincerity will make people trust you. Tell them about your product production, about your staff, quality control. Let them know what makes you so sure about your product quality, what kind of raw materials you use. This kind of honest attitude will motivate them to buy your product.
Here are some of the most relevant trends in social media in 2021 (and probably years to come). Use them to your advantage and stay a step ahead of your competition.
The necessity of using social media marketing as an instrument of business promotion is obvious to the majority of business owners. Those who are too slow on the uptake don’t stay afloat for a long time.
The potential for digital marketing is huge. The possibilities it opens for businesses are really impressive. But our world changes rapidly, so keep your eyes open and jump on a bandwagon in time.