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Marketing changed overnight in 2020, with a significant shift in digitalizing efforts. Social media platforms, in particular, saw substantial growth in 2020, with major platforms gaining 10% more users in the last year. Here are the top social media trends to grow your brand on social media in 2021. 

1. SEO Will Play an Integral Role

Discoverability on social media platforms isn’t just tied to hashtags anymore. Instagram recently announced that they’re going to roll out keyword searches for English-speaking users. This is a significant change from how brands are usually found on Instagram through strategic hashtags or direct search for their brand usernames.

Facebook also has its own SEO algorithm, and brands that want to rank organically on Facebook’s search results need to optimize their content by targeting keywords. 

Start by doing keyword research. Which keywords do you want to be associated with? Which keywords are your competitors showing up in? Once you know the keywords you want to target, make sure your profile is optimized for search. Incorporate your major keywords in your name and Instagram bio.

For more information on how to conduct an SEO audit on competitors:

Know Your Enemy: How An SEO Competitor Audit Helps You Win

Instead of merely choosing and using the right hashtags, make sure your content is relevant to the keywords you want to be discoverable under. 

Be descriptive. Instagram allows captions of up to 2200 characters. While it’s still a good idea to save some space for essential hashtags, incorporate keywords into your actual posts.

Ensure you’re consistently posting content relevant to your niche to increase social media algorithms’ chances of tagging your account as relevant to users searching for your keywords.

2. The Rise of Live Streaming

When in-person connections dropped significantly last year, people were quick to adapt to virtual meetings. 

Communicating via video has become the norm. It gives people their much-needed synchronous face-to-face interactions in the safety of their homes. This trend is not going anywhere. Even after social restrictions worldwide are lifted for good, video conferencing will be a viable alternative for everything ranging from internal meetings to public events.

For examples of successful brands that implemented social media trends:

How 4 Powerhouse Brands Mastered Social Media — and You Can, Too

Live videos remain popular on social media platforms as well, with live videos earning 6x more engagement than regular videos on Facebook in particular.

As users now expect some form of video content delivered to them live, brands need to offer quality. Poor video resolutions and other technical challenges might have been acceptable in the early days of the pandemic, but audiences now need content that goes beyond the usual Zoom meeting aesthetic.

Before executing a live streaming campaign as part of your social media marketing strategy, it’s a good idea to test your tools if they’re in good working order. Testing connectivity, video, and audio quality ten to fifteen minutes beforehand will allow you to see any possible errors and troubleshoot them before you go live.

When it comes to content, keep it short and highly focused. As social media audiences are used to quick bursts of information, you want to make sure you hold their attention, especially if you plan on delivering something longer than 10 minutes.

3. Omnichannel Marketing Will Become the Norm

Regardless of the market you serve, there’s a big chance that your audience uses more than one channel regularly. They could be following you on Twitter and Facebook as well as subscribed to your email marketing campaign. Consumers expect this level of activity from brands, but they also respond to consistent messaging across these channels.

This is omnichannel marketing. Brands deliver personalized experiences to the consumer depending on which channel they’re interacting with the brand on and which stage of the buyer’s journey they’re in. 

Marketing efforts shouldn’t exist in a vacuum. What you communicate on your Facebook posts shouldn’t be different from what you’re sharing in your email newsletter. Each channel should be aware of campaigns running concurrently with theirs, giving the consumer a cohesive experience.

To get started, brands must have intimate knowledge of their market. If they’re following you on Instagram, what kind of content do they expect from your brand? If they’re interacting with your Facebook page, what information do they expect to be given?

Giving a consistent message is not the same as posting identical content across different platforms. Brands should refine strategies and content according to the platform, but all these channels’ overall goals should be the same.

Each customer who has purchased from your store has likely done their research: viewed your website, scrolled through your social media pages, checked reviews, and subscribed to your email. 

It’s crucial that in their interaction with your brand, you can identify touchpoints and communicate with them with a clear understanding of where they might be on their journey.

4. From Social Networking to Social Marketplace

Online selling is becoming more streamlined through social commerce with Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest, now offering in-app purchases. Other apps you might want to leverage as a social marketplace for your brand are WhatsApp and Snapchat.

The number of steps consumers need to make until checkout are opportunities for them to abandon their cart. Before, consumers had to do online searches before shopping and meet countless distractions. These days, they can scroll through their feed, tap on what they like, and make a purchase without ever leaving the app.

Social media platforms are now social marketplaces. Marketers need to make the most out of these features to significantly reduce (or even eliminate) any friction in the buyer’s journey. This may be one of the most powerful social media trends in 2021, especially for retargeting campaigns, as you can show shoppable posts to followers who previously expressed intention to buy your products.

For social media trends around customer service: 

Social Media Customer Service: Best Practices

5. Emphasis On Brand Humanization

People like connecting with other people. When they’re engaging with a brand, it’s likely because they are not just showing their personality but also engaging back in a valuable and meaningful way.

Humanizing a brand is so crucial that 76% of consumers have said they choose brands they connect with over a competitor. The way brands humanize themselves is usually through social media communication, both on public posts and private messaging.

You can communicate your brand story in more creative ways than ever before. Audiences don’t just welcome behind-the-scenes peeks and companies that show vulnerability; they expect it.Even admitting mistakes adds to brand humanization. It shows audiences that you value transparency and are authentically connecting with them.

Show off your employees and your office space, include previews of how your company works or how you make your products into your social media calendar. Let them see that you’re not just a faceless brand but also a team of dedicated and passionate people.

You can also start official online communities to engage your most loyal customers. Make sure you take the time to interact with them when you do so.

6. Increasing Concerns on Privacy

With brand humanization and transparency, people are now growing more concerned with how brands collect and use their data. 3 in 10 consumers say that they’re apprehensive about how social media companies, in particular, use their personal data.

The more people remain online and depend on social media for interactions with brands and other people, the more they will be concerned with their privacy. If brands are not proactive about their audience’s privacy concerns, their customers could simply stop engaging with them on social media. And when your market doesn’t share or engage with you on social media, you won’t be able to use social listening to personalize their interaction with your brand.

Fortunately, it’s easy to alleviate these concerns by being transparent about how you use customer data. For example, MyUKMailbox, a parcel-forwarding company, has its privacy policy published on both its website and Facebook page for current and future customers to read. 

7. Growing Demand for Social Responsibility

The pandemic and other major current events in 2020 have revealed to consumers which brands care about their issues. This has become a deciding factor for consumers regarding whether they will do business with a company or not.

While brands could be concerned about taking a stand, especially on controversial issues, it’s more profitable than staying silent. Over half of consumers say they have no respect for brands that do not take a stand.

Use your social platform to show your brand’s social responsibility. This will assure your customers that you care more about your bottom line. However, paying lip service isn’t enough, with millennial consumers, in particular, demanding that brands go beyond social posts of solidarity. If your brand decides to back a cause, relay what your company is doing to support that cause. Collaborate with a relevant non-profit, make significant donations, leverage content creation to show your authenticity as a brand.

2021 and Beyond

The social media trends that arose during the pandemic won’t go away once restrictions lift. They will be the strategies brands will continue to rely on in the new normal.

While using SEO strategies and making use of live streaming and social marketplace features will give your brand a leg up in terms of social media marketing, what customers respond to in the end are transparency, authenticity, and social responsibility.

When you create a brand identity that puts people first and use social media strategies to convey this to your audiences, your marketing efforts will surely succeed in 2021 and beyond.

Author

Kevin is a content marketing consultant who helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.