2021 Social Media Trends…Maybe?
I know you probably think it foolish of me to even attempt to think about social media trends for 2021 given the unpredictable and bonkers year we have just had. But I do think it’s important that we aim to try and think positively and plan for what the year ahead may hold. Otherwise, we run the risk of not having a clear social media plan or vision and this isn’t great for your business, or for you or your clients.
It’s also really important to understand the radical changes that social media has been through during the past year and how these changes will influence our usage this year.
Social Media Platform Shopping
This year has seen many more people getting online when they were perhaps hesitant before and this has led to a dramatic increase in online sales. Predictions are that these shopping habits are set to continue with social media platforms integrating more and more shopping features into their apps, thereby dropping the step from social media to website to purchase.
So, it’s important to ensure people can purchase through your channels and not just view as a shop window. You must make maximum use out of your profiles, leveraging shop tabs and in-app purchases etc wherever possible. Also, make sure you keep your website up to date, mobile-optimized etc - you want to be able to make the online buying process as easy as possible. 2021 is not the time for a clunky one-page website written in times new roman with slow loading and bad stock photos…
The increase in online shopping has created many more astute customers who are now demanding a better online shopping experience. Brands need to be aware of the service they are offering their clients. Are you making the most out of online opportunities in addition to your actual shop? Do you know what your online customer journey is? Making the online shopping experience as personal as possible is going to be key. Moreover, customers are also being more vocal online. This means it’s essential to monitor social media channels and of course answer any online customer service questions promptly and politely. Maybe think about using a BOT to answer easy questions or direct customers.
Get the Right Platform
So this one isn’t a trend but I thought I would add it as it’s super important. Five years ago, a business could be on Twitter and Facebook and be done with social media. That was the extent of it, along with LinkedIn for recruiters. Today it’s a totally different story. There are numerous channels that all work differently, have different types of content and radically different audiences. You can’t effectively be on all channels unless you have a massive budget and if that was the case, you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog post!
Never has it been more important to understand your market so that you can be on the right platform. Not only that, but you need to understand how each platform works and what content performs the best. For example, on Facebook, some of the best engagements, connections and conversations can be found in groups and not necessarily on your own page.
Communication and Authenticity
It’s true that I am a total nag when it comes to this aspect – Communicating with your audience. There will be absolutely no place for posting and ghosting. YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE AN EFFORT AND BE SOCIAL ONLINE!!! Personally, I think that having the conversations, making the connections, etc is as important as the content you create. So, creating the time in your day to be online listening and joining in conversations is vital and will be even more the case in 2021. Why? Because there are a lot more businesses and people online. Social media platforms are crowded places, and you have to work much harder to be heard now than you did five years ago. Personal conversations and making personal connections are going to be key. Being real and authentic are words that aren’t going to go away.
Instagram DM’s will continue to be a popular way to communicate with existing and potential clients. You can even record messages which is different and a great way to introduce yourself.
“Lives”, Reels and Tik Tok
According to Social Media Examiner, short-form video such as Reels is going to be huge for 2021. They claim the reach for posts and stories has dropped significantly but that reach for Reels is up. So probably time to start thinking about venturing into the world of video if you haven’t already done so. And I’m not talking about minutes - it’s literally 15-30 seconds. Interestingly, just before Christmas, The Black Country Living Museum became the most followed museum on TikTok, proving that it’s not just for the 15-year-olds.
We can probably assume that Live streaming has also increased during 2020. And as in-person events (such as networking, conferences, etc) are still not being organised with any real confidence in 2021, it’s safe to assume that this trend will continue for the next six months at least.
The trend for producing thoughtful, authentic and valuable content is here to stay. However, it’s important to understand how your audience wants to digest this information, for example via podcasts, videos, blogs or memes.
What Can You Do?
There’s quite a lot of content to digest here, especially if you’re a relatively new business or a small business that doesn’t have a social media team.
I would focus on one aspect at a time, take your time and ask for help if necessary:
If you’re a business that sells handmade children’s clothes, for example, you probably want to spend some time looking at your Instagram or Facebook channel, ensuring they are both fully optimised to sell your products.
Keep up-to-date with features that are available, or any that will become available in the future. Instagram shopping, for example, is only available to certain accounts currently, but this is likely to change.
Would your business benefit from the use of a BOT for customer service?
Map out your customer journey and ensure it’s smooth and easy.
Then think about what type of content best suits your customer. What do they like, what worked well in the past? Use your analytics to provide insight.
But I think the main thing we can take away here is that social media is going to be so much more than just a platform to advertise your testimonials on. Its integration into our businesses is set to continue, and we can no longer think of social media as a separate arm that we sometimes create content for. With more people shopping online it will be key to reaching new demographics and people in a very crowded place, as well as communicating your message and selling your products. We are also going to have to be much more creative with our content, posting less but with a clear purpose.
Finally, you will also need to thoroughly understand your customer and their purchasing journey so that you can best meet their needs efficiently and effectively online.