Set Your Sights on These Rising Social Media Trends in 2021

COVID-19 has drastically changed the way people utilize social media. With a 74% rise in social media marketing spend during the pandemic, marketers are investing more money in social media marketing. They expect to spend the same, if not more, in the coming year.

To make sure you’re getting the most out of your social media marketing spend, you need to understand what social media trends have seen a recent spike — and are likely to continue surging in 2021.

Gen Z Buys With Its Values

Gen Z is becoming a more important target audience for social media marketing as they enter adulthood. The content Gen Zers consume needs to reflect their current tastes.

One of the most unique things about Gen Z is their world outlook; they often see themselves as global citizens. Gen Zers care about what’s going on in the world because they’re more connected to it than any other generation before them. As the aptly nicknamed “iGeneration,” they’re the first generation to have grown up with smartphones and social media easily at their disposal.

That also means their brand outlook is different. In fact, 68% of Gen Zers “expect brands to contribute to society.” That means your social media channels should display what your brand is doing in that respect. Generally speaking, Gen Zers want to see brands that care about equality and the environment, and need those values prominently displayed on social media in order for them to engage.

This socially responsible mindset also drives Gen Zers to strive for inclusivity. The problem? They aren’t seeing enough of it on social media — 71% of Gen Zers say they want ads to have more diversity. Ensuring that different cultures and genders are appropriately represented is a great place to start. Your social media efforts as a brand should reflect your desire to include people from all walks of life.

Another key piece of the social media puzzle for Gen Z is giving them options. Remember, they didn’t grow up with TV as their only form of information and entertainment. They’ve had access to smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more — all from a very young age. Being on one social media platform simply won’t do the trick. Picking a few different social media networks where you can cater to Gen Z is a must. Younger generations are constantly toggling between different apps and social media channels. It’s your job to make sure you’re right there with them when they decide to make the jump from Instagram to TikTok.

TikTok Becomes a Major Social Media Player

Speaking of TikTok, the video-sharing social network has become one of the most successful social media channels during the pandemic. Much of the platform’s fun and lighthearted content has connected with social media users of all ages, but particularly Gen Z.

Consider this: TikTok saw nearly 100% growth in the United States in 2019, and the average time spent on TikTok per user in the United States in September 2019 was nearly 500 minutes.

TikTok has also continued to produce a number of viral videos over the course of the pandemic. A recent example is TikTok user Doggface208 and a video he posted riding his skateboard while sipping cranberry juice and lip-syncing to Fleetwood Mac.

social media trends tiktok doggfaceSource: Daily Dot

Doggface208’s viral sensation caught the attention of Ocean Spray (the brand of cranberry juice he was drinking in the video). The brand gifted the Idaho potato warehouse worker a brand new truck for inadvertently promoting their juice unlike any other influencer has been able to do for them. Bottles of the same cran-raspberry juice Doggface208 drank in the video flew off shelves shortly after the video went viral.

Health organizations have also taken notice of TikTok’s youth influence. The World Health Organization (WHO) has 2.6 million followers on the platform, and they’re using it to spread information about COVID-19. The goal is to get more young people aware of the pandemic dangers on a platform they’re using regularly.

In terms of advertising, TikTok is still a work-in-progress. Ads on the platform are beginning to pop up more, but they’re still relatively sparse compared to the likes of Facebook and Instagram. On average, TikTok ads clock in at around $10 per 1,000 impressions (CPM) vs. Instagram, which only has a CPM of about $8. While impressions come at a higher average cost, there’s still very little competition on the platform and a big opportunity to advertise more for brands in 2021.

Influencers Are Driving Social Commerce

People are using social media to connect with more brands from home and shopping from their laptops and phones. The role of influencers in that sales process has been amplified by the pandemic.

Social commerce is bigger than ever, and 34% of Americans say they have shopped on Instagram due to a recommendation from an influencer. As the pandemic continues to keep more people at home, you can expect that number to rise in 2021. Social media influencers are becoming increasingly important as salespeople. Marketers should be reaching out to influencers for paid partnerships that can help boost their product visibility and brand awareness.

The continued rise of micro-influencers is also important. Not every brand will have the digital marketing budget to bring on a big-name influencer to promote marketing campaigns and new products. Micro-influencers can be a more affordable alternative with smaller but equally loyal audiences. Influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily have to mean hiring Kylie Jenner to feature your brand on her Instagram stories.

Social media influencers are also becoming increasingly important in relaying health messages to younger audiences during the pandemic. The UK government hired influencers to help relay COVD-19 safety messages to young people using the platform. This trend will likely continue in 2021 as the pandemic continues to be part of our everyday lives.

Brands Are Showing More Empathy

With so much uncertainty in today’s world, many brands are taking an empathetic approach to their social media efforts. They recognize people are going through difficult times and using their brand voices to address those concerns.

As COVID-19 anxiety grew over the course of 2020, a number of ecommerce brands began creating customized content that addressed the pandemic.

social media trends glossier instagram

Source: Instagram

In the example above, the beauty brand Glossier chose a humorous approach to quarantine with a short-form video. They also talked directly to their active users and asked them what they wanted to see to make them feel better. Having that genuine open line of communication with followers is more important than ever to see how they’re feeling as a collective audience.

You can be creating content that addresses mental health issues, pandemic fatigue, and even social connection heading into 2021. Your followers want to know that there are real people behind your brand going through the same things they are. Nothing about 2020 has been “business as usual,” and your social media strategy needs to reflect that.

That also means taking more time in the social media creation process. Take time to think before posting. Ensure your content isn’t alienating members of your target audience who may be going through serious health or financial hardships. Showing a little heart can go a long way in making your audience less isolated and alone during challenging times.

Stay on Top of Social Media Trends

These social media trends will continue to find their way into the mainstream consciousness in 2021, especially with no immediate end to the pandemic in sight. Understanding these trends now can set your brand up for future success.

If you want to get more insight into 2020 content trends, Alexa’s Content Exploration tool has you covered. It can help you find relevant and timely topics to cover in your social media posts that other brands might not even be focusing on yet. You can find low-competition opportunities and content gaps easier than ever before.

Try our free 14-day trial today to get access to all these great content insights and more.

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