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MITP's Top Social Media Marketing Trends for 2021 (And Why They Matter)

Here are some trends transforming social…

By Charles Douglas

May 25th, 2021

Social media trends are forever evolving. Our favourite platforms are always looking to add new features and modifying their algorithms, which means the way we engage with them has changed over time.

Just look at instagram, which has grown tremendously in recent years and now offers stories, in-app shopping features, IGTV and reels. Users have been quick to jump onboard these new trends, and so brands must be able to swiftly and flexibly adapt their strategies to changing demands. This means that social media marketer’s (like us) must always keep a close eye on what’s in right now and what’s on the horizon.

So, if you’re curious to know what’s currently du jour in the world of social media, then you’re in luck. Here’s our list of the top social media trends for 2021 and why they should matter to you.

TikTok’s meteoric rise will continue

It’s impressive how quickly the landscape shifts around social media. Platform heavy-weights like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may be monopolising the space right now, but new contenders can always enter the arena and challenge the status quo.

One such contender, TikTok, has seemingly blown up over night. The social media app which allows users to post short videos - usually lip-synced, musical or comedic in nature - has tapped into the younger generation’s thirst for video content.

Currently the app boasts more than 689 million monthly active users around the world, a colossal number that has grown rapidly since the app was first made available to market’s outside of China in 2017. The apps growth truly has been spectacular, far outpacing the growth that established platforms like Facebook and Instagram were able to achieve. To give you context on just how quickly the app has grown - it took Facebook four years and instagram six years, to attract the same number of users as TikTok has gained in just under three.

In early 2019 the platform reached 1 billion downloads, and gained another half a billion more just eight months later. Today, there’s no signs that the app’s aggressive growth is slowing down. It’s now available for download in more than 154 countries, and becoming increasingly popular with older age groups outside of their key 16 to 24 demographic.

After such an explosion in popularity, it’s safe to say that many brands are sitting up and taking note, with early adopters finding success in advertising to TikTok’s devoted fanbase. For those who haven’t already, 2021 is the time to explore the opportunities presented by this new platform, and integrate it as part of your social media strategy.

Video will continue to grow

If there’s one thing that TikTok has demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt, it’s that video is in hot demand. Surveys have shown that people are watching more video than ever before, and for longer, with 71% of people reporting that they watch more video than they did a year ago. It’s anticipated that by 2022, video consumption will make up 82% of all consumer internet traffic.

So, it’ll come as little surprise then that video is a key focus for marketers and the main social media trend for 2021.

It’s proving to be a very successful endeavour as well, with video content out-performing other content types on a number of platforms and driving higher levels of engagement.

Why? Because video tends to capture the attention of viewers for longer. More time spent interacting with content is looked on favourably by algorithms, which boost it to a wider audience. This is why you’ll notice that video content has become highly visible on most platforms.

It’s effective too. With most social media marketer’s discovering that video is helping them to generate leads and increase conversion. One survey found that 89% of video marketers felt they were receiving a good return on investment from video.

Looking for tips on getting started with video? Check our article on making quality content on a budget.

Live streaming is fulfilling our desire for connection

Whilst live streaming video is nothing new (Youtube officially launched their Youtube Live feature all the way back in 2011) it has never been so ubiquitous. The global pandemic has brought on a desire for connection and immediacy in the digital space.

Live video streaming has grown dramatically in the last two years, with more people than ever before watching and streaming live video and staying engaged for longer. It has seen platforms like Twitch evolve and reach new audiences, moving beyond simply gaming and into streaming music, sports, art and even podcasts.

Brands are using stories

Instagram stories have become a staple for users and brands on the platform, and they're expected to continue to grow in popularity this year. They’ve proven to be a great tool for engagement and retention and most businesses are now looking to post at least a few times a month. With Instagram looking to boost new forms of content, many brands have benefitted from extended reach and improved metrics by jumping on board the trend early - and the same is expected to happen with Instagram Reels and IGTV.

IGTV taps into the growing appetite for immersive, long-form video and live content, whilst Reels seeks to capture some of the success of TikTok with it’s short 15 second multi-clip videos. Those who act quickly to incorporate them into their marketing strategy will no doubt benefit from increased visibility with the platform looking to promote new features and video.

Social commerce will reach more platforms

Social media platforms are increasingly looking to shorten the customer’s shopping journey by making it possible to shop in-app or directly from the platform. The likes of Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest have added social commerce features that allow consumers to complete purchases on the spot, making for a much smoother, more seamless shopping experience.

Social commerce removes many of the road-blocks that might otherwise see potential customers give up and abandon a purchase, and it’s becoming very big business. Right now, social storefronts are estimated to be a AUD $116bn market but that is expected to grow to around AUD $782bn by 2027. And all that new growth on the horizon brings new technological opportunities. We’re already seeing AR features becoming integrated into social e-commerce and it’s anticipated that this is going to evolve massively in 2021, especially considering the lockdowns. With so many of us now shopping online, many brands are looking to use AR to enhance the e-comm experience for their customers.

Augmented reality is trending

Augmented reality technology has become a bonafide trend in 2021, and a big deal for brands and influencers. Social media users have become familiar with AR in the form of filters and businesses have been enthusiastic about adopting the technology, using filters to promote products, encourage engagement and finding new and increasingly fun ways to enhance their customers' experiences. AR is a technology we know and love here at MITP - here's a look back at some of the best filters and augmented reality experiences we’ve created in previous years.

Commercial use of AR has skyrocketed, with the market predicted to grow dramatically over the next 5 years. It’s a technology that is intrinsically dynamic and engaging. It’s interactivity keeps customers interested and in 2021 is one of the most powerful new tools at the disposal of brand’s who want to stand out. At MITP, we’ve been working in the commercial AR space for a number of years, and we’ve recently been lucky enough to become Australia’s first agency to gain entry into one of the world’s leading AR creator groups, Facebook’s Spark AR network. We’re one of a very small number of agencies accepted into the network and we’re incredibly excited about the opportunity it presents, as it will allow us to be on the forefront of AR in social media.

Chatbots and AI

Chatbots and AI are increasingly being viewed as an essential part of every digital marketers toolkit because of the potential boost to customer re-engagement that they can provide. Chatbots make it possible for brands to engage with their customers around the clock, providing instant responses and complementing or even reducing the need for most costly customer service arrangements and staff.

Messenger bots are capable of integrating with most E-commerce sites and have revolutionised the way that customer service and support is delivered. Already there are more than 300,000 chatbots on Facebook messenger alone and this number will only continue to grow. With intelligent AI capable already in regular rotation in enhancing the online shopping experience for consumers, there’s little doubt that we’ll continue to see them spring up on storefronts across the internet.

Engaging social conversation is key

One clear trend for social media is that engaging with current events and topics of conversations is now a must-do for brands and influencers, as long as it’s done in an authentic way. Social media users are using platforms to find interesting and informative content, to share opinions and to learn about what’s currently going on in the world around them.

There’s a real opportunity there for brands to listen and provide sharable content that really resonates with their audience.

Increasing investment in Social

Businesses are seeing the value of social. Not only are many brands investing more into creating high quality social content, they’re also looking to increase their ad spend and upping their budgets for content distribution across social channels. Last year, social media ad spend in Australia reached an estimated $2.51 billion, and this trend is only expected to continue. With most brands now seeing a great return on investment from social media, it’s expected to become an increasingly prominent part of the overall strategy and budget for new campaigns.

Keeping up with the latest

Staying on top of trends can help you to build a stronger reputation and presence in the quickly expanding digital space. With your finger on the pulse you will be able to anticipate what’s coming down the pipeline and help you to create a social strategy that’s as effective as it possibly can be.

Charles Douglas

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