Three Social Media Trends For Brands In 2021

Adding value through social media content has been the way to go for years, but the playing-field keeps changing.

It’s prediction season! The beginning of a new year, the time to look ahead. And magically, a new year comes with much-needed change. In my experience, January is always the time to reinvent the content calendar, try new things, and have kick-off workshops and meetings. All with fresh energy and the best intentions.

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

After an intense year, I’m not even going to mention the details, we’re ready for things to change and are optimistic for 2021. But let’s be real for a second, 2021 is going to be equally intense and uncertain, if not more than last year. Still, we’ll enter the year with positivity, optimism and energy.

As we look at drastically changing markets and growing consumers, the game has and will change even more compared to pre-pandemic times. Last year we have seen many brands adopting truer voices, developing purposes and many random acts of kindness. Marketers have never cared as much about how consumers are feeling, what they’re doing, and their stress levels, as today.

I believe many of these developments will continue to manifest their influence in 2021. In fact, I believe they will continue to be impactful and further scale meaningful efforts. Brands will have to make tough choices, keeping in mind that consumers are not only for revenue growth. They can be part of your movement to help make the world a better place. BS will be called out and the decline of the ‘paid message’ will continue. Seeing/receiving an ad hasn’t been enough for years. And definitely not in 2021, a year in which consumers are even more critical of how they spend their time

Here are my trend predictions for brands on social media in 2021. The trends are based on what I’ve seen in the market, a lot of reading, and my experience and vision.

The world will resolve less around your brand

It’s as simple as that. There are many brands that refer to their own “brand world” in advertising context. This means they create an ideal landscape that works in their favour, and they get to be the hero. This is especially the case on social media, the place where the other conversations are held. It’s impossible to hide or pretend nothing is going on.
Last year was a rough wakeup call; we all live in the same world, and we can’t simply ignore things happening around us. Right now it’s the pandemic that keeps us busy and climate change is going to be next. It’s simply ignorant for brands to ignore what’s happening to their clients. Instead, I believe that brands who acknowledge societal events and try to do good, are the brands that will be the most successful in the upcoming years.

This is a big opportunity for the genuine brands among us. The brands that have a purpose that surpasses profit and personal gain will receive more attention. As a brand you have the means to reach a broad audience and to be influential. In other words, you have the ability to change and contribute to the good. This decade is vital in the fight against climate change. Commit to a purpose and audiences will help you reach the full potential. Create a movement, not ads.

It’s as Kara Swisher says:
“The next generation billionaires will come out of innovation to solve climate change problems.”

Content for the masses and enormous audiences are a thing of the past

Since the rise of mass media, brands and businesses have been fighting for our attention. Advertising is everywhere. And consumers have become more resilient to the sheer amount of messages shown to us, we’re mostly only processing the ones relevant to us. And this goes for social media content too, where brands have relied on making content relevant for big audiences. Most content has been entertaining and good, but safe and generic for years.
I believe mass content is a thing of the past. And the future of branded content can be found in niche content created for (smaller) specific audiences interested in a specific topic. Instead of creating content for your brand, you’re creating content for a specific field of interest. TikTok is a great example of interest based social media. Everybody’s ‘for you page’ looks entirely different. TikTok learns from engagement and views and will present you with similar content you like. Creating generic content will not cut it anymore. Produce relevant and specific content for multiple small audiences to build relationships with the brand.

Examples of brands pioneering this trend:

🏎️ Lifestyle, art, architecture, culture and Porsches | Type 7
✨ LGBTQIA+ content by Netflix | The Most
🎵 Twitter’s music account

Just to be clear, this is not creating a social media account for a part of your company, but for a niche audience or specific field of interest. This is where you put the audience in the front and the brand in the back.

Taking care of hygiene has never been more critical

Not necessarily a trend for the new year, but ever-growing in importance. Let’s start with one of the most important things brands should keep in mind when publishing on social media: what’s in it for your audience?. Simple as that, interacting with your brand and consuming its content should always provide value to the audience. In 2021, it won’t be enough anymore to post solely from the brand’s perspective. (it hasn’t been for a while). Put your audience front and centre and give a proper answer to the two questions:

Why should I follow your brand?
What’s in it for me?

Next up, Clarity. We’re living through turbulent times. Our timelines are filled with noise, and we’re not sure which information is legit and which is not. Seeing confusing or unclear messaging will hurt your reputation big time this year. Don’t be afraid to tell it like it is. Giving a fuzzy answer will only escalate and consumers will go elsewhere.

Last but not least, let’s talk about the importance of community management. The previous sentence is filled with two clichés. But seriously, if you put content out there on social media, a platform where we’re all used to interacting, we should be able to expect some sort of interaction back. You’re not posting billboards on the side of the street, you’re literally posting on a social medium.

Let’s make this year brilliant together, share less waste on social media and contribute to a better world. Let me know what you think of this blog in the comments. What do you think will change branded social media this year?

Digital Strategist from Amsterdam, focused on earned first social media, content & digital. Writes about content marketing, productivity and digital things.

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