By Mitch Poirier, MDMS
If you’ve noticed a slowdown in your engagement or you simply want to know what’s on trend for your social pages, we’re sharing the top social media changes for 2021.
Digital marketing and social communication go hand-in-hand, so your new strategy should incorporate these new trends, leading to more effective and relevant content to increase engagement.
These changes include enhancements to social trends, algorithm updates, new tools, and enhanced strategies that span across customer acquisition and engagement.
Most Important Social Media Trends for New Year
Many social platforms announced new features and algorithm updates for 2021. In fact, social communication has entirely changed with new live and story features. For example, Twitter now offers “fleets,” which is akin to Instagram Stories and Facebook Live.
New social trends are adopted fairly quickly, so it’s great that you’re looking for new ways to improve and enhance what you’re already doing on social networks.
Some of these changes may present challenges as brands and marketers switch up their content and pivot to new live or stories features. However, it’s critical that you keep an eye on these trends and evolve your business’ social pages to reach your audiences every day, as users are more active than ever before.
1. Live Streams More Popular
Today’s social apps all have some component of live streaming or real-time stories. These include:
- Facebook Live
- TikTok Live
- Instagram Live
These top channels for live streaming bring in a lot of viewers, but it takes some planning for brands. You want to create a live stream that’s predictable, such as sharing new products on certain days and times or announcing a live stream earlier in the day to your followers so they can tune in at that specific time.
Many brands offer special discounts or products during these live streams, but your content could also include live tutorials, tips, behind-the-scenes content, or other announcements that you think your audience will engage with.
2. New Content Format: Stories
Stories aren’t exactly new. It’s been around since Snapchat, but they’ve become just as popular as posting to your feed. Stories post content to the top of a user’s social app and networks also notify users when someone they follow has posted a new story.
This is why it’s crucial for businesses to start taking advantage of stories as a content format. More than 500 million users currently engage with Instagram Stories on a daily basis. If you haven’t already created a plan for stories content, it’s time that you take a look at what influencers are doing in your industry and post to your brands’ story with new product images, videos, questions, tutorials, and links that you think they’ll like in the moment.
3. Augmented Reality Content
Your content should also reflect the nature of current digital life. Augmented reality (AR) relates to interactive photo filters that people can choose to change their faces, backgrounds, and anything else in their photos and videos.
This content is highly effective for engagement when done correctly. Brands can buy into the AR social trend by creating filters for users that feature their products or interact with their brand in a unique way.
For example, McDonalds created an AR filter called “Spice Zapper” that allowed users to shoot lasers at chicken nuggets with their eyes.
Other AR filters allow users to “try on” clothes, makeup, or any other product that can be virtually mapped onto a user’s body. Users simply select the filter within Instagram or Snapchat, which then produces the products in the background or on their person.
In one example, a furniture store created a filter that allowed users to select different home decor behind them. Additionally, filters can include links to product pages to engage a transaction from the app.
4. Reliance on Social App Commerce
Today’s social network audiences actively look for and purchase products directly from social business pages. Both Facebook and Instagram have “shops” that you can set up within your page and feature a product catalog.
The best part is that users can browse and shop on mobile phones without ever leaving the social apps they love so much. For example, you can set up your Facebook Shop so that anyone visiting your page can shop your products directly within your business page. To see an example, search for “ThreadBeast” on Facebook to see their page and click on the tab “Shop” to browse products and click to purchase.
You can also use Facebook’s dynamic advertising to automatically show the best products to your audiences within their feeds, allowing them to instantly go to a product’s page from the ad in their feed.
5. Human-Focused Social Campaigns
Driving engagement can be difficult, whether you’re a new or an old brand. The current digital climate is finicky with many audiences becoming bored with the same old posts and videos. That’s why it’s important to plan purpose-driven, human-focused social ad campaigns.
One Twitter survey found that 74% of respondents wanted to see brands focus on acts of kindness in their campaigns. Another 77% of respondents engage positively with brands that offer ways to support people during the pandemic.
Whether it’s providing donations, information, or showcasing personal stories, brands need to think through what they are communicating to social networks during and after the global pandemic.
While audiences want to see leadership from brands in this space, it’s also crucial that businesses be sensitive and time their social posts to align with their audience’s perception. You don’t want to exploit a sensitive topic just for marketing purposes.
6. More Inclusive Content
Diversity has always been an issue in marketing. People want to see themselves with your products and in your social posts. Inclusivity is a step further. While brands showing images with all ethnicities is important, businesses must make sure that they are inclusive within business operations, local communities, and product offerings.
Many brands simply choose graphics that may showcase diversity, but is it actually practiced in your business? Are you hiring people of color? Do you support events in different communities or make investments into issues that they’re passionate about? Brands must not stay silent during this time.
Audiences are actively looking for brands that make meaningful contributions and statements about their inclusivity. If you already know of issues within your company that could be brought to light, plan to change and address these issues as this could be a huge risk to your social presence–but also to your company’s reputation.
Many brands also have created new products to be more inclusive. For example, beauty brands have added more shades to makeup lines and showcased real people using their products.
7. Get Customer Service Online
Many brands have started new Twitter accounts and Facebook Messenger protocols to handle the stream of customer service needs on social channels. Without these channels, customers may just “@” a brand on Twitter publicly with complaints, which is something you don’t want.
Instead, you’ll need to come up with a customer service plan to address social users and their needs. In many cases, a separate Twitter account can be developed to address complaints via tweets or DMs.
On Facebook, you can create customer service messages and even use chat bots to answer customers 24/7 through Messenger. These messages can be routed through to your CRM or customer service manager if more help is needed.
However, brands should also look at social networks as opportunities to help customers pre-emptively by providing tutorials and answering questions. If you already have a customer service team, it’s important to loop in these managers and representatives to find out what the issues are and what’s most important to customers. You can highlight these posts about product demos, FAQs, and special features to give more insights to your customers on a weekly basis.
8. Algorithm Changes
Social networks are constantly changing the way that they serve up content to users. If you haven’t already heard, here are some of the changes being made across different channels:
- Facebook now prioritized content posted in Groups and Events. Data shows that people go to Facebook mostly to see this type of unique content.
- Hashtags are changing on Facebook to include “recommended tag listings” that show up as you’re composing a post. This is a new feature that hasn’t fully rolled out yet.
- Currently Facebook prioritizes content from friends and family over businesses and brands, focusing mostly on people you regularly engage with, but it also prioritizes posts with a high number of comments, as well as length of comments.
- Facebook also prioritizes posts with more reactions.
- Posting to Facebook Live notifies all of your followers, which is a great way to get around algorithm changes.
- New algorithm does not recommend any clickbait or engagement bait content.
- Contests and giveaways have reduced engagement as they are no longer recommended or prioritized.
- Repurposed or “regrammed” content doesn’t get recommended or prioritized.
- Posts are prioritized based on highest number of likes, very recent posts, regular engagement with specific accounts, and posts that have hashtags that users follow.
- Studies found higher engagement rates when tweets contain two hashtags and 100 characters or less.
- Tweets get more engagement currently when images or videos are attached.
- It’s important to tweet 2 to 8 times a day and create Twitter polls to increase engagement.
- Specifically asking your followers to retweet can help your metrics, though it has to be a cause or about something your followers like to engage with.
- Twitter typically prioritizes recently tweeted content that received more retweets and comments over likes.
Next Steps: Improving Your Social Media Presence with Digital Marketing
In addition to these trends and changes, your social team should also have access to social management tools that track brand mentions, offer moderation tools, and help you schedule out your best content.
Many tools now offer ways to schedule posts at the best time as well as compare your social engagement to competitors. Tools like Buffer, Tailwind, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social are a few of the biggest social management apps helping teams manage and optimize their social pages.
Lastly, social strategies depend on brands understanding their audiences and what they’re looking for. As long as you understand your audience’s needs and intent when browsing certain hashtags or searching certain keywords on social, you can always offer up the right content to capture their engagement.