In 2020, the era of COVID-19 had undoubtedly accelerated social media adoption and shifted online user behavior. This article will dive into the top social media trends that are showing high potentials going into 2021. From the growing impact of social commerce to the latest social media marketing strategies, these insights will surely inspire your social media advertising tactics to fuel your eCommerce business.
As governments across the globe imposed lockdowns, consumers were turning online for their dose of social contact, alternative forms of home entertainment, and shopping. This acceleration speeds up the development of various social commerce features and shifts in the social media landscape. At the same time, online audiences demand higher expectations on digital content and experience as well. Nike CEO John Donahoe got it right, saying that “Today’s consumer is digitally ground and simply won’t revert.”
1. Social Commerce goes on the unimaginable growth
This social media trend isn’t new, but it remains an area that few brands leverage successfully. Lockdown policy inevitably pushed the modern consumer to turn predominantly digital, purchase exponentially more online, boosting the uprise of social commerce features in the major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, WhatsApp, etc., within a short period.
As a pioneer in establishing their social commerce capability a long time ago, the key highlight for Facebook would be Facebook Pay, which is limited in certain countries only. It evolves the consumer journey on social media for a frictionless shopping experience. In certain regions, it is integrated with Instagram/Messenger/WhatsApp.
Earlier last year, as online shopping surged, it launched Facebook Shops (Facebook, 2020). The conversion power of Facebook continues to perform well, and it is expected more businesses to jump on Facebook Shops as an added sales channel and take advantage of its 2.6 billion-strong user base.
While Facebook is facing various challenges, Instagram has already equipped itself to be app-wide ready for social commerce. Including those in beta testing in the US, all placements are now added to view the products directly with the shoppable functions.
Read more: Instagram Checkout function: A game changer!
WhatsApp Carts was introduced globally last month. With Carts, WhatsApp is bringing one of the most appreciated physical retail feature to its app: shopping carts. This game-changing feature simplifies shopping, allowing potential customers to check out their purchases via a single message!
A recent survey found that 68% of Internet users worldwide are more likely to purchase from a business that they can contact via messaging, proves that online messaging between customers and brands will be expanding from traditional inquiries to closing sales and improving customer services.
A few weeks ago, TikTok announced the strategic collaboration with Shopify to enhance their shopping capabilities. Before this Christmas, Walmart partnered with TikTok to debut the first Live-streamed video shopping.
Regarding the success in Douyin, there is no surprise to see TikTok moving fast in creating their own shopping experience with a critical focus on leveraging influencers’ power.
Unlike features enhancement, Snapchat focused more on the innovative experience. They have created a few interesting cases to illustrate how new social commerce can be using their AR Filter. NYX Professional Makeup has opened a virtual store that provides virtual try-on and gaming. This store is not just one-off, but the brand plans to update the products from time to time, setting it as a brand-new online shopping experience.
Apart from the above-mentioned social media, other platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., are also setting up their shopping functions. It is foreseeable to find the retail, social commerce battlefield heavily on social media with a swift upgrade in 2021.
📝 Checklist for brands to react and leverage the social commerce opportunities:
1️⃣ Build up your product catalog – this enables you to a wide range of formats & opportunities
2️⃣ Hygiene work – keeping your store being seen via eCommerce Facebook page CTA button, Instagram action buttons, post copy with links & link ad format, etc. to ensure people notice your store
3️⃣ Evaluate the influencer strategy for more conversion campaigns instead of just awareness.
4️⃣ Identifying influencers who are familiar with Live streaming shopping is also highly important.
2. Short and live video content will continue to grow
While people have more time to stay home, the video becomes the dominant content across digital platforms and will remain a key social media trend. Entertainment experiences are required to be digitalized; hence we see the growing demand for online concerts, movies, virtual classes, and more innovative experiences. For example, at the first outbreak of COVID, the search for workout & cooking videos soared globally as everyone faces a similar situation.
Videos have long been established as consumers’ favorite type of content to see on social media. Users seek more video content on social media from broader aspects now, including brands, How-to videos, news, educational videos, for-fun video, gaming, etc. They are not only for awareness now but also for paving to conversion. According to Forbes, 90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions, and 64% of customers say that seeing a video makes them more likely to buy.
📝 Checklist for brands to plan for video marketing strategy in 2021:
1️⃣ Short & crispy content in regular social media management
2️⃣ Live streaming (aka the new norm!)
3️⃣ Interactive videos
4️⃣ Efficient video production for different platforms
🌟 Extra tip: out of all video lengths on Facebook, those between 65 seconds and five minutes perform the best.
3. Interest-driven Social Media Communities are sprouting
There is a rising number of private, interested-driven social media communities. Users expect more information from social media now, but this also increases their expectations of relevance and quality. The private nature allows users to get more engaged, and the organic reach by platform algorithm is also seen to be higher than page feed. Instead of broad reach, the communities’ increased engagement rate would be valuable for consumer retention and lifetime value growth.
📝 Checklist for brands to identify the opportunities:
1️⃣ Identify the specific target audience group
2️⃣ Set the purpose of the group and manage the expectations of the takeaway
3️⃣ Define the persona of the group management (page/ admin)
4. Influencers collaboration elevates to another level, so as the evaluation
It has been quite a while since the market talked about influencer fatigue, we can observe that there is a shift from macro to micro-influencers from the latest social media trend. However, after COVID, we see another uplift of influencer marketing with large amounts of their content to fill up people’s screen time. Brands also look for more different collaborations to explore business opportunities, which branded partnerships with new artists and musicians will grow thanks to TikTok and Spotify.
This year, influencer marketing goes more on conversion-driven campaigns than awareness campaigns. To sync with the eCommerce trend, brands are inviting influencers to take more unboxing or recommendation videos to boost sales. Brands also evaluate their persuasive power via ideas like unique promo codes, collaborative sets, and in the end, the impact on sales they brought. More advanced collaborations are expected next year when social media platforms are all equipped with live streaming shopping functions.
Check out some of our project cases with Infiniti, Moroccanoil, Dior, etc to understand how influencer marketing can boost your sales.
5. Time to catch up on the reshape of Social Analytics
Social media is a goldmine for data and insights that businesses can use to refine their social strategies. Along with the changes in business objectives and new formats, more and more companies starting to review their social media performance measurement. Followers and engagement on the post would no longer be the significant KPI to management, but more useful metrics are considered.
This also brings in the importance of social listening as brands invest more in digital and social media. The measurement of their social media solely cannot reflect the holistic picture. Hence, constant social listening helps to evaluate the brand presence better and understand what the audience thinks.
One trend worth to highlight is that there are more and more US basis analytics platforms acquiring Chinese analytics platforms, for example:
- Parklu (CN) has been acquired by Launchmetrics (HQ is New York)
- Klarity (HK startup) has been acquired by Meltwater (HQ in San Francisco)
- Meltwater has recently started a strategic partnership with qian-gua (千瓜数据)
In the future, different analytics platforms built to harness data from diverse social media environments (Western & Chinese) will support marketers to centralize analysis deciding different ecosystems.
📝 Checklist for brands to prepare for 2021 social analytics:
1️⃣ Identify the business objective & review your performance metrics and KPI for 2021
2️⃣ Incorporate measurement tools for better collection of data
3️⃣ Plan for the holistic analytics and align across different communication for accurate measurement
6. AR/VR will be at an all-time high on Social Media
The high potential technologies Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) market size set to hit $18.8 billion in 2020. They are one of the fast-growing social media trends, proven by Facebook’s Spark AR Studio and TikTok AR filters to be immensely popular among its users. Both platforms are stepping up their game to offer more innovative AR experiences.
To date, nearly half a million creators from as many as 190 countries have used it to create and publish over 1.2 million AR effects on Facebook and Instagram (Spark AR, 2020).
Since TikTok released AR Branded Effect in mid-2020, just a week ago, TikTok has released its first augmented reality filter that can utilize the iPhone 12 Pro’s LIDAR sensor for an enhanced confetti effect that realistically settles on people or objects in your room. It is just the start, with TikTok promising to “develop more innovative effects in 2021.”
To ring in 2021 we released our first AR effect on the new iPhone 12 Pro, using LiDAR technology which allows us to create effects that interact with your environment – visually bridging the digital and physical worlds. We're excited to develop more innovative effects in 2021! pic.twitter.com/6yFD2FfHta
— TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) January 6, 2021
🌟 Benefits for brands to publish AR branded effects ad content:
- AR is more engaging than video! (4x more than mobile video)
- AR has a 70% better memory recall than non-AR content
- Encourage word-of-mouth sharing and getting billions of impressions quickly
- Custom-made, swiftly and cost-effectively to however you wish
- Ripe for use if you are looking to hyper-target Gen-Z consumers
7. Micro and ephemeral content will lead the way, outperforming feed content
Ephemeral content is something that is available only for a short duration and disappears afterward. Instagram and Snapchat Stories are perfect examples of this type of content. Nowadays, people have shorter attention spans and affected the way they like to consume content. This is why content formats like Stories have become popular as a key social media trend. They are short, engaging, and addictive in a way that people can spend hours scrolling through one Story after another.
This is evident by the substantial rise in Instagram Stories’ daily active users, as shown below.
Find more statistics at Statista
In 2020, Instagram added a new functionality called “Reels” to its app, made available to users in Brazil, France, and Germany, which largely replicates the critical features of TikTok. The new Reels features are interesting, and it’ll be equally interesting to see if Instagram decides to bring Reels to more new markets.
Meanwhile, Instagram is testing out a new format for the display of Stories on the desktop version of the platform, designed to make it easier to scroll through the various Stories from the profiles you follow on the bigger screen. There’s no question as to why brands are focusing their efforts there.