By Forbes Communications Council for Forbes | Feb 11, 2021
At the start of each new year, there's always a hint of anticipation about the coming trends. In marketing and communications, trends are vital since they allow marketers to connect to their core demographic in a more in-depth way.
Knowing about trends before they go mainstream can enable businesses to align themselves and capitalize on the trends as they become popular. Being ahead of the curve offers an advantage for marketers when it comes to preparing communication tools and utilities to take advantage of those trends.
To help, 16 experts from Forbes Communications Council predict the most popular social media trends they expect to see in the new year and explain how marketers can leverage them in their work.
1. A Bigger Demand For Authenticity
The biggest social media trend will be the demand for authenticity. Customers expect to get a clear sense of "who" a business is. Corporate social media will become increasingly accessible and interactive, still focused on industry topics but including more people and culture-focused shares. Brands will engage in ongoing dialogues with customers, establishing real-time rapport and, if done well, increasing customer loyalty. - Kevin Brown, North Lane
2. More Focus On Video
Video will remain key! As communities were forced apart, we all looked to video platforms to create the connections missing in our everyday lives. It is the responsibility of modern brands to create content that activates people and places in new ways. Find clarity of purpose, meet your audience where they are, and engage in a dialogue that is authentic, shareable and truthful. - Michaella Solar-March, Tishman Speyer
3. Explosion Of Social Commerce
Where eyeballs go, money follows. Social media is winning the battle vs. search. Meanwhile, the pandemic has devastated parts of the brick-and-mortar retail sector. The result in 2021 will be an explosion of social commerce. Brands are turning to social media to reach customers and to build awareness. Expect U.S. social media commerce to balloon by at least one third to more than $39 billion. - Dave Platter, Juwai IQI
4. More Focus On Corporate Activism
Corporate activism will continue to rise in 2021. Younger consumers are more willing to shop from brands that are outspoken about their values. In the year ahead, I expect more businesses, big and small, to use their social platforms to let their social or political stances known to their customers. As much as this has the power to alienate some customers, it also has the power to unite and reconcile. - Amine Rahal, Regal Assets
5. Increase In Social Listening
I believe that the need for brands to be better social listeners will be the biggest trend in 2021. In 2020, many marketers found themselves having to navigate messaging about topics they'd never had to address before like social justice and a global pandemic. Marketers must listen to what their audiences care about so that they can strike the right tone in related content and advertising. - Ami DeWille, Perform[cb]
6. Significant Growth In Livestreaming
We will see significant growth in the use of livestreaming for social media and retail. Consumers enjoy watching TikTok, Instagram and leveraging Facebook. These platforms have increased their focus on retail. The next step is live streaming for individuals to speak and interact with others. Consumers will also want to engage with brands to buy their products — real-time social commerce. - Brittain Ladd, PULSE Integration
7. Instagram Voice Messages Via DM
Instagram voice messages via direct messages will allow brands to drastically increase engagement and reach people on an emotional level. Brands and the marketers behind them simply need to carve out a few minutes each day to send voice messages via DM to both their most engaged followers and their newest followers. Vary the messaging to find what connects best. - Kurt Uhlir, Showcase IDX
8. Social Media For Customer Service Inquiries
We live in a digital world where people expect quick easy answers. In 2021, I believe a strong social media trend will be an increase in the use of social platforms for customer service inquiries. Nearly every business has a social media account and they're simple to update and use for both owners and customers, making it the ideal place for quick Q&As. - Victoria Zelefsky, The Menkiti Group
9. Rise Of Social Digital Currencies
We will see more emerging features such as social digital currencies (Facebook's Diem) that will facilitate the way we purchase things on the internet. These will also help marketers be more creative when it comes to rewarding customers and promoting products. - Ben Constanty, Smartlink
10. A Shift To Interest-Based Groups
We're going to see a transition away from generic social spaces like LinkedIn, Facebook to professional and interest-based groups, perhaps sponsored by the professional bodies themselves. In the early 1900s, when coffee houses became all the rage in London, they began serving groups. The Rainbow coffee house served politicians and actors, while Lloyd's coffee house traded insurances. - Ian Tomlin, US TECH SOLUTIONS INC
11. Rise Of Interactive Visual Content
I predict that one of the biggest social media trends this upcoming year will be interactive visual content based on 3D and augmented reality technology. By engaging with a product virtually in this way, audiences can have a realistic experience during this difficult time where in-person interactions are not possible. - Sally Frykman, Velodyne Lidar, Inc.
12. Revived Popularity Of LinkedIn
Arguably the oldest social media platform, LinkedIn will enjoy revived popularity. Consumer social media destinations (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) have largely become places of discontent and division. LinkedIn’s business atmosphere will draw users in for increased interactions. Smart business-to-business and business-to-consumer marketers will use LinkedIn to meaningfully connect brands — and executives — with stakeholders. - Mike Neumeier, Arketi Group
13. Increase In YouTube Ad Spend
I believe there will be a big increase in ad spend on YouTube this year. A lot of marketers will allocate a portion of their Facebook ads budget to YouTube because of the ongoing war between Apple and Facebook. - Matthew Stafford, Build Grow Scale
14. Growing Importance Of Microinfluencers
The influencer market is in for a major shakeup. Macro influencers have been inflating their worth from some time, and while it's tempting to shell out the money to work with an influencer with a massive following, brands aren't seeing the return on investment and could see the same return at a much cheaper price when working with a microinfluencer that has a more niche and qualified audience. - Pamela Jacques, NETSCOUT
15. Surge In Audio Apps For Social
I think audio apps will see a huge surge in 2021 across social media. Apps like Clubhouse, whose user base surged from 70,000 in November to 1 million users by the end of the year, allow users real-time conversations and exchange of expertise through voice-only conversations. After a year of video-conference fatigue in 2020, audio will be a huge driver in how users connect with each other online in 2021. - Yi Jin, Turing Video, Inc.
16. More Businesses Getting On TikTok And Reelz
I could see that more and more businesses getting on apps like TikTok and Reelz. These short videos that typically have some sort of catchy moment within them is a great way to get your brand remembered. Coming up with a way to show off your company's capabilities in a short, to-the-point video could engage more viewers than some longer videos such as on YouTube. - Sarah Lero, Peerless Products Inc