It's an understatement to say that this year has changed the way people and businesses use the internet in general, and social media in particular. How will these new social media trends affect the way we use social networks in 2021?

In the fall of 2020, we surveyed more than 11,000 marketers to ask them exactly. We conducted detailed interviews with dozens of industry specialists. Then we went through the latest published reports and data from some of the most respected sources in the world including:

  • Deloitte
  • Edelman
  • eMarketer
  • ranger
  • GlobalWebIndex
  • The CMO survey

All of this information, pointing out five key social media trends in 2021, will come to the fore. Here's what you need to know:

Download the full report on social trends To get an in-depth analysis of the data, you need to inform your social strategy in 2021.

1. The race for ROI: Social closes the gap to a new customer experience

We asked marketers what their top social media goal was for 2021. Almost three quarters of them stated that they were “gaining more and more new customers”. This is a significant increase since last year when less than half of marketers said it was their top social goal.

Diagram:

Source: Hootsuite 2021 Social Trends Survey

It's not a shock that brands are focused on doing new business. However, it's interesting that only 23% of marketers said improving customer experience is a top social networking goal.

The pandemic rolled a wrecking ball through typical offline customer experience efforts. Suddenly there were no more samples in the store or attractive displays. No more sales events or personal help from knowledgeable staff.

In 2021, marketers can still get a quick ROI from new customers using social ads. But you also need to provide online social experiences that help build relationship and build brand loyalty.

For example, personal advice from product experts is what drives Clarins' retail sales and bottom line. When stores suddenly closed, they needed a new way for customers to consult with Clarins' beauty consultants.

The Clarins & Me video advisory service didn't start until two weeks after the lockdown and recorded more than 450 bookings in the first month alone.

They also tapped Clarins beauty coach Rebecca Jones to post daily skin care videos from home on Instagram Stories. Followers appreciated this DIY approach. Story completion rates increased from a previous average of 20% to 75%. This was the highest score the team had seen on social channels.

Then Instagram introduced Reels. Rebecca is now publishing her home videos in this new social video format.

Those who use short social videos create brand loyalty. But you can also increase sales. TikTok is experimenting with in-app purchases. And Taobao, China's largest e-commerce platform, offers short videos on 42% of product pages.

Live streaming events are another great way for brands, experts, influencers, and customers to socialize. In China, a Tommy Hilfiger livestream event drew 14 million viewers. 1,300 hoodies were sold out within two minutes. In the US, livestream shopping events are expected to generate $ 25 billion in revenue by 2023.

What to do in 2021:

Multiply the ROI by adding more channels

Each channel you add can improve ROI and effectiveness by up to 35%. Start by adding Social User Generated Content (UGC) to email marketing campaigns. Or try combining search and social ads.

Turn inspiration into sales

Create fun in the online buying process. Use Instagram Live or Pinterest as virtual showrooms. Inspire fans by introducing them to things they didn't know they needed or wanted.

Put the social back into shopping

Host live Q&A sessions. Work with influencers. Or share user-generated content. These are all ways to increase buyer confidence in a product they cannot see in person.

Focus on customer loyalty

Social connects organizations with their most loyal customers. Proactive social listening. Then, reach out to other teams in your company to resolve common complaints.

2. Silence is gold: brands find their place in conversation

Sometimes the best companies can do is listen rather than speak. After all, in times of crisis, people want to use social media to distract and entertain themselves. And they want to connect with each other, not with brands.

On average, 32% of Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, and Baby Boomers say that “finding funny or entertaining content” is their main reason for using social media. Useful and entertaining ads will most likely lead to purchases.

Successful campaigns this year have helped create connections between people. Or they offer much needed moments of ease and fun. These are the reasons why people turn to social media in the first place.

Do you remember all of these brands with the nearly identical "unprecedented times" ads? Instead of following these popular social media trends, Coors took a different approach.

They lamented the "suck, suck, suck, suck" of 2020. They started a social campaign where people could nominate someone, the #CouldUseABeer. They then sent 500,000 beers to grateful customers.

America #CouldUseABeer. But today (and most days actually) nobody deserves it more than mom. So here are nannies, mother dogs, and everything in between. #Happy Mother's Day! pic.twitter.com/pv0CcGdN22

– Coors Light (@CoorsLight) May 10, 2020

Ocean Spray meanwhile organically unfolds a viral social moment instead of jumping in with a marketing message.

You've probably seen the Ocean Spray challenge. It started when Nathan Apodaca posted a TikTok while riding his longboard. He dubbed his lips with "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac and drank Ocean Spray from a large container.

Thank you for the love and support. Here is my original video, but yes, thanks for the love and donations. It is very much appreciated that there is a much needed sentiment on world pic.twitter.com/gkCgc1U9As

– * BLAZIN * 4 * 1 * NATION * (@ doggface208) September 27, 2020

The post quickly went viral. And in a real TikTok way, people started recreating the video. Celebrities, influencers, U.S. state governors, and even members of Fleetwood Mac jumped on the trend. But Ocean Spray was silent for over a week.

Finally, their CEO re-created the video on TikTok. But only after they bought a new truck (filled with Ocean Spray) for Apodaca. If you were to give back to the creator instead of just trying to benefit from the free advertising, Ocean Spray has brought in a lot of goodwill.

Many brands misinterpret new social media trends. They misunderstand what people want from them on social media and how much people want to interact with them in the first place. Is it really any surprise that 68% of people don't believe brands or companies are sharing interesting content?

In 2021, the smartest brands will understand where they fit in customer lives on social media. And they will find creative ways to fit into the conversation instead of trying to lead it.

What to do in 2021:

Don't dismiss passive consumption of content

The average Facebook user has only shared one post in the last 30 days.

Reach and response are much more realistic engagement goals than mass participation. Provide value to the people who see your content instead of just trying to get them to share again.

Secure social listening data with search data

It is not as easy to monitor conversations across Instagram Stories, LinkedIn, TikTok or private messages as it is on Twitter or Facebook.

This can skew your findings. Search analytics is a powerful secondary tool because it reflects more of what people think privately.

Replace costly content production with UGC

User generated content is both cheap and effective for building trust. Consumers are more likely to listen to their peers than to a brand, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.

3. Much more than OK: A generation ignored by digital marketers is booming online

Baby boomers are brought fully on board with social media trends.

Boomers spent more time online in 2021, using social media, digital video, gaming, and mobile payments. 70 percent of Internet users between the ages of 55 and 64 bought something online in the past month. And 37% plan to continue doing this more often.

Marketers typically target baby boomers through television commercials. For now, this is still one of the most effective ways to achieve them. However, EMarketer predicts that less than half of households will have cable TV by 2024.

Meanwhile, baby boomers are discovering more new brands and products through social media. Especially on Facebook.

The marketing director of a medical technology company explained to us why Facebook accounts for more than half of its media purchase.

"It's so effective from a landing page, but we don't have two-way conversations on our side," he said. “Our patient population is 65+ and they just talk all the time. They basically tell our story for us so that we don't even have to interfere. "

With new social media trends, boomers are also exploring and expanding their hobbies online. "We see a very high affinity for gardening, travel, art, animals, DIY and recipes within this population," said Jim Habig, global head of business marketing at Pinterest.

Most marketing and advertising professionals are under 40 years of age. Sometimes when creating marketing campaigns, they can forget about older generations.

Consider the following: 46% of the US adult population are over 50 years old. But only 15% of the images with adults contain people in this age segment. Successful marketers in 2021 need to better understand the purchasing power and growing social instinct of older consumers.

For example, the Australian supermarket Woolworths used a Facebook campaign and an Augmented Reality (AR) filter to increase brand preference by 11 points and news association by 46 points among women aged 55 to 64.

During the campaign, Woolworths reward members were able to plant and care for a virtual Christmas tree using the AR filter. They could also donate their rewards to an environmental organization to have a real tree planted on their behalf. As a result, more than 6,000 trees were planted.

The most effective social platforms for 2021

Whether or not boomers are a target audience, more than half of all businesses (60%) plan to increase their Instagram budget, and nearly half plan to do the same for Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. With all the hype about TikTok, in particular, it has not gained importance in the investment stack.

Social platform marketers plan to increase investments in

With marketing budgets slashed in 2021, it's no surprise that marketers are focusing on familiar favorites rather than experimenting with newer tactics and platforms.

Graphic: Social media platforms marketers want to spend more money on in 2021

What to do in 2021:

Aimed at baby boomers with passions or hobbies

Baby boomers are not all created equal. Use passions and hobbies to attract cross-generational audiences rather than just addressing them by age.

Pinterest Marketing is a great choice for this. It's a network known for passionate projects and planning. It's also the second most popular social network among boomers (after Facebook).

Include baby boomers in your creative without stereotyping

Baby boomers don't see themselves as "old". But that's how they are often portrayed in marketing campaigns.

Almost 70% of 55 to 73 year olds own a smartphone. But only 5% of the images show older generations interacting with technology. The Disrupt Aging Collection on Getty Images is a great source of images that more accurately represent older generations.

Use online reviews to build trust

Online reviews influence boomers' buying decisions more than any other online source. With the integration of Google My Business in Hootsuite, you can monitor and interact with Google customer reviews in addition to social media activity.

4. Do I Know You ?: Linking engagement data to identity gives advanced marketers a boost

Social channels have gained more than 450,000 new users in the past 12 months. That is a growth of more than 12% since last year.

This large and growing audience makes it easy to connect with people online. But how beneficial are these connections? Less than half of marketers and executives believe their social media followers are more valuable than other customers.

Social media connections can be lifelong customers. But it can also be new leads, ex-employees or angry trolls. Can you demonstrate that you are reaching and deepening relationships with real customers (or prospects)? If not, you could be wasting time on engagement that doesn't really pay off.

But your customers are out there and you can use social media to build more valuable relationships with them. In fact, 69% of our social transformation survey respondents said that social media helped them maintain customer relationships after COVID-19.

In the CMO survey, 33.5% of marketing directors said customer retention was their primary goal during the pandemic. Compare this to only 14% who were most focused on customer acquisition (14%).

What's stopping so many marketers from proving they're working with the right people in the right way? Data integration.

Only 10% of marketers believe that they can integrate social data well with corporate systems like Adobe, Marketo or Salesforce. Without a database, it is difficult to reconcile social engagement with behavior such as buying, promoting, or donating.

Complete data integration is a complex, confusing process. Integrating paid and organic social media activities can be an easy way to get started.

The targeting and reporting that comes with paid ads ensures that you are delivering relevant content to the right people on social media. Because of this, companies with fully integrated paid and organic social strategies have stated that they have 32% more confidence in their ability to demonstrate the ROI of social media.

But almost a third of the marketers we've spoken to don't run any social ads at all.

We also found that companies have more confidence in social ROI when they employ strategies like:

And as confidence in social ROI increases, these companies expand to more advanced social strategies. Think of employee advocacy and social listening. This creates even more value for the social. It is a virtuous circle.

Here is an example of what data integration looks like in practice.

The Pierre & Vacances Center Parcs Group vacation property brand brought together their social and CRM teams. Both teams who work in the sales department now share tools and data. The new insights for both teams have enabled them to interact more effectively with customers before, during and after their stay.

What to do in 2021:

Hold the social accountable for more than just reactive engagement

Who are you trying to reach What should they do or think? Clear goals that align with real business goals keep you posted.

Take small steps to gather measurable social engagement data

Use UTM parameters. They help keep track of all of your organic and paid campaigns data. That way, you can see which channels and content elements are driving the action.

5. The Dangers (and Promise) of Purpose: Bold brands start in the boardroom, not the front line of the social

The modern brand structure is changing. 60 percent of Millennials and Gen Z told Deloitte they plan to buy more from big companies that looked after their workforce and made a positive impact on society during the pandemic.

Companies need to adapt to these socially conscious mindsets and expectations.

But you can't pretend to become a purpose-driven company. Many brands stumbled here in 2020. They responded to important topics like they were just new social media trends. Their posts were quickly described as hypocritical.

Brands like Patagonia and Ben & Jerrys have made names for themselves as purpose-driven companies. You can credibly report social change because it proves customers and followers that you are leading the conversation.

Compare the effects of these contributions to simply dividing a black square:

However, you can only talk credibly about your social branding purpose if it really affects your corporate culture. Consumers are smart. They don't particularly care about brands that post statements. They are much more concerned about whether a brand is really working to make the world a better place.

Diagram:

Social media insights can help your brand adapt to these new buyer beliefs and new business methods.

Brands that "only pursue brand-driven narratives that don't respond to the time we're in are just not going to retain customers," said Michael McGoey, senior manager, corporate partnerships at Twitter.

What to do in 2021:

Create or revise your internal social media guidelines

Your social media policy defines how you want your brand and employees to use social media. These guidelines are particularly useful in times of crisis, but they also control daily work.

Set up a workflow for crisis communication on social media

A solid crisis communication plan can help save valuable time and keep everyone focused when a crisis pops up on social media.

Use social listening for intelligence, not interruption

Yes, social listening can help you monitor keywords, track sentiment, and find ways to insert your brand in trending conversations. However, the crises of 2020 have shown the importance of social listening as an intelligence tool.

In fact, 66% of respondents to our Social Media Trends survey said that social listening has increased in value over the past 12 months. Use the lessons learned to make smarter decisions based on changing customer needs and concerns.

You have read the social media trends. Let Hootsuite help you hit the social scene in 2021.

Hootsuite offers a full suite of tools to help you manage every aspect of your social presence.

From a single dashboard, you can easily:

  • Schedule, create, and schedule posts on any network
  • Track relevant keywords, topics, and accounts
  • Stay up to date with a universal inbox
  • Get easy-to-understand performance reports and improve your strategy as needed

Try Hootsuite for free

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