9 Social Media Trends Marketers Should Watch in 2021 [Data + Expert Tips]

9 Social Media Trends Marketers Should Watch in 2021 [Data + Expert Tips]

As we near the end of 2020, one thing is certain: We’ve spent a lot of time on social media this year.

But, our increased connection to social media isn’t at all shocking.

In March, as countries implemented stay-at-home orders due to the global pandemic, Statista reported a 21% uptick in monthly social media usage.

Throughout the year, consumers have not only continued to use social channels to catch up with loved ones, but they’ve also embraced them for product research, the latest news coverage, and hours of mindless entertainment. 

Now, as the world hits 3.6 billion social media users and continues to deal with the pandemic, brands aren’t just wondering how they’ll engage huge social media audiences next year. They’re also asking, “What social media trends should I expect in this constantly changing landscape?”

To learn more about what brands can expect next year, I spoke with HubSpot’s Social Media Manager Kelly Hendrickson and dug through research including HubSpot and Talkwalker’s Social Media Trends Report.

Below, I’ve compiled nine expert or research-backed trends social media marketers should watch or leverage in 2021.

Download Now: Social Media Trends in 2021 [Free Report]

1. Brands will continue to take a “less is more” posting approach.

This year, many brands spent less time churning out social media posts and more time producing only content that felt thoughtful, valuable, and in-touch with the world around them.

According to Hendrickson, the trend of “less is more” is likely to continue in 2021. 

“COVID-19 had brands starting to ask a question they may have never asked themselves before: ‘Does my audience even want to hear from me right now?’,” Hendrickson says.

“I expect we’ll see brands being more thoughtful about when they post. This may even mean posting less — regardless of algorithms — because it’s the right thing to do,” Hendrickson explains. “There will also be more thoughtful ad buys and partnerships.”

“Never before has ensuring your audience obtains true value from your brand meant so much,” Hendrickson adds.

2. Content value will beat production quality.

When many businesses were forced to go completely remote in 2020, social media and video marketing teams needed develop scalable production processes that could be done from home

When consumers still continued to engage with videos, live streams, and other social media content that was clearly made from home offices, marketers realized that content with lower production quality can still be engaging — if it provides value. 

“COVID19 forced many brands to get scrappy when it came to producing content, especially video work,” Hendrickson explains. “Without a production studio or tons of equipment available, production value became a bit more lo-fi and in the end, but also a bit more human.”

“The exciting thing for brands is that — generally — audiences loved it. If anything, they saw themselves more in the work,” Hendrickson adds. “They too were on Zoom, filming things with their phones, or stuck in their homes.”

Hendricks predicts that “we’ll see bare bones productions in 2021. But, audiences will continue to appreciate it.”

3. Conversational marketing will change its tone.

Conversational marketing isn’t new. In fact, most of the big brands we know and love allow you to connect with them via social media messaging channels at any time. 

But, in 2021, with more messaging channels than ever — and consumers needing more information to make a worthy investment —  the tone of digital conversations might change. 

For example, while past conversational marketing tactics centered around promotions and making sales as quickly as possible, 2021’s conversational marketers might be more focused on helping a user with something, educating them about a product, and nurturing them to conversion with a more thoughtful or empathic tone.

“Brands need to be more human on social media, inviting the world to your dinner table for a meaningful and engaging conversation,” says Aaron Kaufman, Director of Social Media at Square Enix in our Social Media Trends Report. “You are your fan’s greatest fans and need to embody that no matter what social media channel you live on. Emote, respond, recognize, relate, be engaging. We’re not robots.

So, how will brands deal with more demand for thoughtful conversational marketing? A mix of AI tools and human interaction could help. 

A healthy combination of AI and human interaction could enable brands to run efficiently on social media while still giving consumers the authenticity they need to see to trust a brand and make a purchase. For example, a bot could handle quick message queries, while sales, service, or community management reps could respond to more complex questions and concerns. 

To learn more about scaling up your conversational marketing strategy, check out this guide to building a chatbot or learn how HubSpot increased qualified leads with by mixing human and bots in our conversational marketing.

4. Consumers will crave snackable content.

In 2020, we saw the rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels, continued engagement on Stories content from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, and brands creating other short-form or “snackable” pieces content to educate consumers about their brand. 

As social media attention spans continue to shrink and more people scroll endlessly through feeds while bored at home, don’t expect snackable content to lose steam anytime soon. 

To learn more about four types of snackable content your brand should leverage next year, check out this helpful post. 

4. Video will continue to take center stage. 

Early in 2020, HubSpot’s Not Another State of Marketing Report found that video was the most commonly used marketing content — and the second most engaging content type on social media. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 2.59.58 PMImage Source

As major platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and LinkedIn increasingly amp up their video capabilities, marketers can expect high video consumption to continue and grow in coming years. 

5. More brands will go live.

In 2019, one in five Facebook videos were live. In May of that year, YouTube users cumulatively spent 284 hours watching live video.

In 2020, as many brands were forced to take conferences, events, and other marketing experiences online, it’s not shocking to think that 2020 live stream numbers could be higher. 

At the moment, many brands are using Facebook, Instagram, Twitch, and Twitter to live stream events, Q&As, tutorials and other types of content. These types of content keep your followers engaged with your brand by bringing an event they otherwise might not be able to attend directly to their screens.

For example, each year, INBOUND interviews some of its noteworthy speakers and guests in live INBOUND Studio episodes on Facebook. This allows followers who can’t join us to get live tips from experts. It also allows followers of interviewed experts to learn more about INBOUND and HubSpot.

To learn more about going live online, check out this guide to live streaming, as well as these tips for marketing your next virtual event

6. Social media platforms could double as shopping channels.

As many brands learned how to do business completely online, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok raced to develop more online business marketing solutions.

While TikTok and Snapchat expanded business marketing offerings in 2020, Facebook and Instagram actually brought shopping capabilities directly to their apps. 

With Facebook Shops, Instagram Shoppable posts, consumers can buy a product seen in a post without even leaving the app they’re on.

For consumers, this adds convenience. For brands that couldn’t build their own ecommerce store, the online shopping tools noted above are providing new opportunities to effectively sell products online. 

8. Social media users will embrace gaming and VR.

In the last year, the number of social media users who identify as “gamers” increased by more than 10 million — or 32%. Our Social Media Trends Report reveals that the highest uptick in gamer identification happened in COVID-19’s heaviest lockdown months.

Now, with Facebook’s company, Oculus, launching new VR products, Twitch continuing to expand online game-streaming capabilities, and platforms like Snapchat launching mini-game apps, it’s clear that gamification and social media will continue to go hand in hand in 2021. 

As a small to medium-business marketer, gaming-related promotions might be inaccessible now, but with Facebook and other major platforms continuing to launch brand tools around their newest features — it’s not shocking to think that more social media in-game advertising opportunities could be possible in the future. 

Brands should keep an eye out for game-related promotions in 2021.

Even if advertorial game content becomes available to big brands but not smaller companies, marketers can still watch what bigger companies are doing and hit the ground running with fresh ideas if gamified promotion become more scalable.

9. Authenticity will be vital.

This year, consumers and brands faced a global pandemic, uncertain financial times, and a number of major events that paused nations in front of news channels.

Now, consumers need more than just great deals to trust, identify with, and invest in a brand. At this point, many brands have taken notice by embracing authenticity and their human side on social media.

While some brands have spoken directly about their thoughts related to COVID-19 or other news items, others have shown authenticity by zoning on their customers through user-generated content or customer testimonials. 

When done authentically, both strategies can help brands gain trust from their audiences while boosting awareness as a company that cares about people.

“We will continue to see the growth in creators in
the social media space. Influencers will continue
to be present, but accountability, authenticity,
and transparency will be the areas brands and
companies will use to determine who to partner
with, and who to pass on,” says Karen Freberg in our Social Media Trends Report. “Empathy and advocacy will be elements that will be integrated within messages and purposes for creator campaigns. The days of ‘faking it till you make it’ without any experience other than having lots of followers are over.”

In 2021, expect authenticity to take center stage on social media as successful brands continue to build trust from their audiences.

Navigating Social Media in 2021

Today, the world around us is constantly changing. And, although we think we know what to expect with social media, this list of trends is likely not exhaustive of what we’ll see in 2021.

As a social media marketer, the best thing you can do is to continue to research trends, online consumer behaviors, and your team’s social media data to determine which trends or strategies to lean into or how to navigate unprecedented online scenarios. 

One great place to start doing this research could be our HubSpot and Talkwalker’s recent Social Media Trends Report.

Along with insights and quotes from social media experts, our Social Media Trends Report walks through all the major 2021 trend predictions to know about and data on how COVID-19 could impact social media marketing. to see the free report, click here or the banner below.

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The Role of Social Media in Affiliate Marketing and How to Best Utilize It

The Role of Social Media in Affiliate Marketing and How to Best Utilize It

Affiliate marketing and social mediaSocial media provides a unique opportunity for affiliates to quickly share discount codes, referral links, and promote a product or service. Affiliate marketing is no longer limited to creating long-form content but can be more effectively done using social media posts and stories.

Social media, therefore, is an important affiliate marketing channel that you simply cannot choose to ignore. 

But, how can you best utilize social media for affiliate marketing?

That is the question that this post will answer. In this post, you will learn six tips to best utilize social media for your affiliate marketing program.

Ready to learn more?

Let’s get started.

1. Create a Lucrative Affiliate Program

One of the important things that you should do when setting up an ecommerce store is to design an affiliate marketing program as well. Affiliate marketing should be an integral part of your ecommerce business’ marketing strategy.

But, how can you create an effective affiliate marketing program?

The first rule of creating a lucrative affiliate program is to provide the right incentives for affiliates. You should make your affiliate program beneficial for affiliates to encourage them to join.

This could be in the form of a percentage of profits for every sale that you make through affiliates. You could also create a tiered program where top-tier affiliates get commissions for every customer that their network of affiliates brings in. 

There are also pay-per-click or pay-per-impression commissions where affiliates get paid not just for sales conversions, but for other actions like clicks and leads. This, however, is not the most profitable option for your business.

When you design your affiliate program, make sure that you make it mutually beneficial for both your affiliates and your business.

Also, create a dedicated page on your website for this, where you clearly mention the guidelines for joining the program. The idea is to make it easy for potential affiliates to find and join your program.

Also, share the details of your affiliate program on social media to attract social media influencers to join your affiliate program.

You can also analyze competing affiliate programs from your key competitors to further enhance your program.

2. Choose the Right Social Media Influencers as Your Affiliates

Once you have successfully created your affiliate program, it is time to grow your affiliate network. You need to set some filters to recruit the right affiliates instead of allowing anyone and everyone to join.

When selecting social media influencers as affiliates, you should look beyond vanity metrics like follower count. In fact, the more important criteria should be the type of content that the influencers post and how much engagement they get on each post.

Some of the most important social media influencer selection criteria include:

  • Engagement rate
  • Niche/area of expertise
  • Relevance to your brand
  • Past collaborations success stories

As far as finding social influencers is concerned, you can hire one of the many agencies to find influencers. These agencies already vet the influencers on their platforms, so you will get to choose from the best options. 

You can also look within your social media network to find the most relevant influencers who already like or engage with your content. These influencers will be more likely to become your affiliates and their recommendations will also be more genuine as they already like your products.

3. Ask Your Affiliates to Mention Your USP in All Promotional Content

Affiliates promote brands in different ways and on different platforms. But, the constraint with social media is that the content often needs to be short and precise. So, you need a good content strategy to help your affiliates promote your products on social media.

With social media content, you don’t have the liberty to explain in detail each and every feature of a product that you’re trying to sell. So, you have to help your affiliates distill the key points about your product that you want to promote and use those in their social media promotions.

These should include the key features of your product, benefits that it will provide to users, and how it is different from other similar products. Make a list of these points and share it with all of your affiliates to help them create the best content to promote your product on social media.

This will help ensure that they clearly communicate to their audiences why your product is a good choice for them. This will help them drive more leads to your website, thus benefitting you both.

4. Use Short Redirect Links

One of the things that deter people from buying through an affiliate link is when the links make it obvious that the content is promotional. Ideally, this should not matter if the product that an affiliate is recommending is good, but it does. 

Affiliate links are quite easy to spot and give away the fact that the influencer promoting a product is making money online from its sales. This makes their audience lose trust in their recommendation.

To avoid this, you can create short redirect links that don’t give away the fact that it is an affiliate link. Make sure that your affiliate links are simple and clean, and do not deter a person from clicking on these.

5. Provide High-Quality Product Pictures and Videos to Your Affiliates

Another important factor for helping your affiliates create good promotional content for social media is visuals. The most engaging type of social media content is visual content and it is also one of the things to equip your affiliates with to create their best content.

So, make sure that you provide your affiliates with high-quality product pictures and videos to help them create stunning social media content. 

Product visuals are also important to show your prospective customers what the product looks like and whether it will be useful to them. Showing a product in use or adding visuals that explain how to use a product is especially important.

Why? Because it makes it easier for consumers to make a purchase decision.

Also, make sure that you provide multiple pictures of a product from different angles to give consumers a clearer idea of its dimensions and details. You can create engaging GIFs and videos if you want to make the content more appealing.

Ready to Improve Your Affiliate Marketing with Social Media?

Social media is an important channel for affiliate marketing as your affiliates can post more frequently on social media than create a dedicated blog post for your brand. These tips will help you leverage the power of social media for your affiliate marketing program.

So, what are you waiting for?

Use these tips to get the most out of your affiliate marketing program by incorporating social media into it.

5 Tips For Creating Striking Social Media Content

5 Tips For Creating Striking Social Media Content

social media content
Content creation word cloud concept on grey background.

Do you think that social media is all fun and games? Think again. With the right type of social media content, aimed at the right audience, you can create powerful marketing campaigns and promote your business and ideas.

Whether you want to make money with some exciting advertising or leverage your social media accounts to drive traffic to your blog, we’ve got you covered.

Ready to start, then? Here’s your guide to the best five ways to create media content that will win you likes (and make you money!).

1. Do Some Prep Work

Before jumping into the creation of the best social media post that you’ve ever written, you want to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

Ask yourself what you want from social media. Is it a chance to make some extra money? Or to promote your blog? Or perhaps you aim to become an influencer in a specific niche, like fashion or food?

Treat this step like a mini-business plan. Draft your objective, vision, and aspirations, and factor in any potential budget requirements. Are you going to go it alone, or do you plan to hire any help, like a proofreader or designer? All of that needs to be taken into account.

2. Not All Social Media Content Is Created Equal

Creating impressive social media posts requires a bit of word wizardry. Don’t feel discouraged, though: we’re not talking about impeccable grammar or syntax (you can hire a proofreader for that). What you really need is creativity and imagination.

Social media is full of posts that feel samey-samey, so you want to produce something original and unique that can help you stand out from the crowd.

At this point, you also need to ask yourself whether you want to post on one particular platform (like Instagram), or several (a combination of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, for example). Each social media platform provides different ways to gain more visibility, so you will want to read about each one in detail and make sure your content is optimized for the platform you’re using.

3. Eye-Catching Content

A complete and compelling marketing message conveyed through social media must not miss one factor: striking images and videos.

Whatever the types of visual content that you choose, make sure they are relevant both to your message and to the audience that your message intends to reach.

And don’t limit yourself to standard images or traditional videos. Visuals, these days, are so much more than that. Try your hand at something fun like a meme, or put your design skills to good use by coming up with a great infographic.

4. Talk to Your Audience

Once your post is out there on the world wide web, you want to drive engagement and ensure that as many people as possible are reading, liking, and sharing.

A great way to do so is to engage with your readers. Great content that doesn’t offer a chance to spark a conversation is very limiting and often doesn’t generate the desired results.

Try to set aside some time, each day, to go through comments and messages from your audience, and reply to as many as you can. Seeing that there is a real person behind your account will help to boost your credibility and drive more traffic.

5. Be Consistent

Last but not least, remember that consistency is key. If you post your content every once in a while, or in a very unpredictable way, your audience will soon lose interest and move on.

How can you ensure that you never skip a beat? You could take advantage of a social media content calendar to set reminders or schedule posts for a specific time. Just make sure that you deliver the content that your readers expect, when they expect it.

This becomes particularly crucial if you’re harnessing the power of social media to draw attention to your business venture. Timely posts are not just a way to keep your readership engaged, but are also a reflection of how reliable you are as a businessperson.

Make Your Content Shine

If you follow our tips above, you’ll be in a great position to succeed in creating social media content that sets you apart from the competition.

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