It’s that time of year again — time to review the social media trends we expect to shape the upcoming year. Let’s dive in now to our annual list of social media trends to watch in 2021, according to the Convince & Convert social media consulting team:
Companies Will Need to Address Social Media Team Burnout
“On one hand, many social teams have been elated to finally be seen as a vital part of their organizations because higher-ups have recognized just how valuable social media has been for communicating in real-time through COVID-19 and other major crises. On the other hand, social teams are burning out with having to be always on with social customer care (which also includes being the target of a lot of misplaced vitriol) and also having to be the first to communicate through a lot of shifting situations and serious crises, in addition to dealing with all of the personal hardships that come with living through a pandemic.
Social media burnout has been a huge topic with a lot of Social Pros podcast guests over the last few months. I’ve also heard the concern from our clients in higher education. In fact, according to Sprout Social, ‘88% of social marketers [in higher ed] say the pandemic has made their work much harder, and nearly half don’t have adequate support or resources to manage their mental health. Checks out.”
Fee-based Fan Communities Will Grow
“Many businesses continue to suffer from a lack of organic reach in social media. Concurrently, consumers are increasingly gravitating toward smaller, more intimate topical communities (see the rise of Facebook Groups popularity as an example). Simultaneously, 2020 saw a big move in the direct-to-consumer space, both in terms of e-commerce (as evidenced by Instagram shopping), and content (look at the explosive growth of OnlyFans and similar).
In 2021, we’ll see these trends converge, and brands will begin to adopt fee-based communities that give superfans exclusive access to content, exclusive products, and more. This is the post-modern version of the Membership Club, and will give smart brands the ability to build advocacy and word-of-mouth among core customers who are willing to pay a small monthly fee to interact with one another, and the business.”
Building Trust Through Content Delivered By and Featuring Humans
“Sure, for a long time, people have talked about the erosion of trust in brands, but never before have brands had to face it more head-on than 2020. It should become the default that content is carried by human beings — whether that is influencers, your employees, or other subject-matter experts. People don’t just need to trust because it feels good; people have to put their every action and every purchase through a filter of safety and economic impact. It’s time to up-level content — not necessarily in production value, but in human connection. Is it harder? Yes. Is it the right thing to do? Yes.”
The Rise and Resurgence of Private Groups and Platforms
“As noise increases on social media, many are looking to customize their experiences by joining private groups and forums based on causes and personal interests. There has been a rise in the number of Facebook Groups and membership, and Instagram is now seeing the use of its Threads or sharing Stories with specific friends. Many people are also going to or returning to private and semi-private online forums for education, entertainment, networking and mutual interest.”
Influencers Will Become Vital in B2B, not Just B2C
“According to the 11th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report from CMI/MarketingProfs, 89% of B2B marketers use social media for content distribution, but only 24% used Media/Influencer relations.
It’s no surprise that in the last decade, social media has become an extremely fragmented and noisy place, and therefore, brands both in B2B and B2C will find that their dollars go further when they collaborate with individuals whom their audience trusts. Whether these are macro-influencers or micro-influencers, co-creating content that comes from these trusted voices will help brands to break through the noise AND reach broader audiences.”
Socially-conscious Values Extend to Imagery as Well
“Nearly 80% of people globally have said it isn’t enough to have people of various ethnicities, backgrounds, and appearances in advertising but that they expect companies to do a better job at capturing people’s true lifestyles and cultures, according to new research by Getty Images. Searches have increased year-over-year for ‘diversity’ (up 133%), ‘culture’ (up 115%), ‘real people’ (up 115%) and ‘inclusion’ (up 126%).
From May to June alone, customer searches for diverse images increased by 200%, and searches for images around unity and equality increased by 500%, trends that are believed to be intensified due to anti-racism protests. Side note: our client, AARP, partnered with Getty to create more authentic images of people 50+.”
Social Media Is Part of Everyone’s Job
“Social media has been a core part of business for more than a decade. Long gone are the days where ‘playing on that Facebook thing’ was only supposed to happen on lunch breaks. In the age of coronavirus, social media has become more important than ever to business survival and success.
Your employees are your greatest social media assets. In fact, 45% of consumers are more likely to research a product or service when a brand’s employees post about that product or service.
Social media skill sets go beyond marketing and communications roles. They are less frequently required but especially needed, in customer service, HR, sales and research. Even in roles without direct ties to content, messaging, design, lead gen, sales or service, we’re still asking employees to be good at social media to power our internal advocacy efforts. Employee advocacy programs continue to be a top trend because their success to humanize a brand and amplify storytelling is undeniable at scale. Businesses must provide social media policy guidelines and resources for their employees to master social media skills, as this technology is more akin to email than VR in today’s business world.”
Use of User-generated Content Grows
“User-generated content has become an increasingly reliable social media marketing tactic. Brands and consumers find this type of content more authentic and trustworthy. A majority of users trust UGC when it comes to influencing their buying decisions, and people want to see real-life experiences. We will see a surge in UGC content this year through platforms such as TikTok and Instagram.”
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