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Time moves at lightning speed in the world of social media and in 2020 when day-to-day life slowed down, individuals turned to digital platforms to connect with the world around them. In the midst of the pandemic, people relied on online communities and brands’ social pages for questions, pandemic responses, support and, at times, a much-needed distraction. Social media adoption grew faster than ever with data indicating an average of one million new global users daily, according to DataReportal

Instagram—which added the greatest number of new users between July and September—posted even stronger growth figures than Facebook and its advertising reach grew by 7.1% in Q3. As the world of social media continues to evolve, Orange Label’s team of experts, Social Media Manager Chelsea Ragland, Social Media Specialist Kasey Perez and Content Writer Ashley Ruiz, rounded up insights on eight must-know social media trends for 2021!  

8 Must-Know Social Media Trends for 2021 – download as a PDF here.

Show Your Audience Your “Reel” Brand Personality with Instagram Reels or TikTok

Known for short and snappy content, these bite-sized, “snackable” content pieces give you up to 15-30 seconds to share your brand personality. They also cater to each generation’s average content attention span, which HubSpot cites as 12 seconds for millennials and 8 seconds for Gen Z, making them perfect for bolstering engagement as users multitask throughout the day. Here are a few ideas to utilize Instagram Reel’s fun, informal format to produce authentic, high-quality content: behind-the-scenes glimpses, before-and-after images, mini how-to tutorials, educational materials, product features, quick tips and even short skits. 

“IG Reels, like TikTok, are all about being authentic and showing off what makes you unique! For brands, this creates an opportunity to stop being so perfect. Audiences are craving the raw realness that we might not be used to as marketers,” Kasey says. 

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old: Don’t Leave Long-Form Video Out 

In the midst of Instagram Reels, TikToks, stories, and other scroll-stopping video clips, long-form video remains key in content strategies. On March 15th alone, YouTube received over a 500% increase in views compared to the daily average the rest of the year! More than just another trend to follow, developing quality videos and live streams that entertain, educate, inspire or benefit your audience in some way allows you to build trust with your audience—helping you go from a paid ad to a follow. Taking the time to plan out what you’ll say and how you deliver it (lighting, sound quality, editing, b-roll footage, etc.) will help you stand out. 

“Touchpoints and moments of brand authenticity can shine through short video clips, including IG Reels and TikTok, while long-form video is still relevant for that storytelling and emotional element,” Chelsea shares. 

Stories Capabilities Are Not Only Here to Stay, They’re Growing

It started off with Snapchat (or Picaboo as it was originally called when its launched in July 2011) and now they’re everywhere, the fleeting forms of temporary content that allow brands and users to share material that disappears after 24 hours. Great for sharing casual updates, personable content and authentic, humorous or “imperfect” content, the stories format has continued to grow across various platforms’ mobile apps, including Twitter Fleets, Pinterest Story Pins and LinkedIn Stories. Not only do Stories allow you to show your audience a more personal side of your organization, they can help you get to know your audience! Like polls, quick questionnaires and other voting features, the rollout of Stories across additional platforms can be a great way for brands to get to know their audiences even better and further refine their strategy. Whether Stories will take off as much as Reels and TikToks did in 2020 is unclear, but an additional avenue to connect with audiences is never a bad thing, especially when it deepens that paramount brand-audience connection. 

“Video continues to be the highest engaging form of content across social media and with the rise of Stories, Reels and TikTok, short, scroll-stopping video clips will fill the feeds. Brands will likely and should take advantage of more creator partnerships to help create this content and expand reach,” Kasey says.

Replace Face-to-Face Time with Screen-to-Screen Time 

Eighty percent of B2B marketers in the US and UK expect to run or participate in hybrid events in 2021, a research survey by Integrate finds. Helping brands connect to their audience and industry peers from anywhere, virtual events are a must or a must-try for brands, especially those that relied on live events for networking, sales and engagement prior to COVID-19, as we mentioned in our recent podcast. Social platforms met 2020’s challenges with major leaps in event hosting, promotion and engagement on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and, most recently, LinkedIn with the launch of LinkedIn Events and LinkedIn Live. On average, live videos get seven times more reactions and 24x more comments than native video produced by the same broadcasters, according to LinkedIn, expanding your brand’s reach while showing a face behind the brand. 

“Hosting your own workshop, webinar or meetup, or even better yet, partnering with other brands to expand your reach provides another avenue to serve your audience right where they’re at,” Ashley says. 

Make eCommerce Even Easier: Social Media Becoming a One-Stop Shop

With an increasing number of social media platforms offering more eCommerce capabilities, your digital storefront just got bigger! Consumers are no longer having to exit social media apps to make a purchase as the checkout process has been streamlined to occur directly within the social platform. Educational product videos, clear brand messaging and pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can be integrated with shoppable posts on your social profiles to drive curiosity, increase sales and develop loyal customers. 

Along with Instagram’s new redesign, which gave Instagram’s direct shopping feature its own dedicated tab, other Instagram shopping features, include Reels Shopping and Live Shopping. LinkedIn recently began rolling out an e-commerce Product Pages option, which allows organizations to highlight their products on LinkedIn. These can be used to highlight products with videos, photos and descriptions, feature endorsements and reviews from customers to build social proof, and generate leads with six customized call-to-action (CTA) buttons.

“Social platforms are making it more and more accessible for consumers to shop without ever leaving the platform. From IG Reels and Live shopping to TikTok’s new integration with Shopify, designing ads and social strategies for in-platform shopping has never been more crucial,” Kasey explains. 

When It Comes to Content Strategy, Knowledge is Power

2020 was the year of baking banana bread, growing plants, making TikToks or Reels, watching webinars, utilizing a lot of video and getting creative with the ways in which we keep ourselves, and for many of us, our children, entertained. Building upon 2020’s momentum, informative posts, such as step-by-step guides, how tos, tips and recommendations will drive engagement this year; therefore, educational posts should remain in the front seat of your content strategy.

The best way to motivate, teach and help your customers grow in some way via social media? Through a mix of IGTV, Reels/TikToks and long-form videos, listicle Instagram Carousel posts and Instagram Guides, a new format for sharing curated, scrollable content of places, products or specific posts you’ve shared or saved. 

“Similar to a mini-YouTube series living on your Instagram page, IGTV offers an incredible way to stand out with ongoing series. This can be used on a B2C- or B2B-front, dependent on your audience to feature quarterly trends, how certain products are made, useful apps, industry insights/tips and more!” Chelsea shares. 

Just Because You Can Go Text-Heavy on Facebook, Doesn’t Mean You Should

If you’ve ever been involved in the creation of a Facebook ad, you’re likely aware of the infamous “less than 20% text in the main image” rule. Despite the recent removal of the parameter,  our social experts and designers unanimously agree: ads with larger, bolder copy that deliver the hard-hitting facts first grab users’ initial attention most effectively. Captions and Facebook Carousel formats provide the appropriate space to offer audiences a deeper explanation. 

While it’s been popular to showcase micro-blog captions on social media, especially on Instagram, it’s important to err on the side of caution and keep in mind that the art of long-form caption writing is just that—an art. Read silently in the minds of your audiences, micro captions can quickly go from a powerful speech to a droning ramble if it’s disorganized, unfocused and not something your audience is looking for. The key to incorporating long-form captions and text is knowing your audience and the type of content that will best serve them. 

“You need to break through the noise with a short headline or emotional phrase that grabs attention immediately. Long captions or text-heavy designs run the risk of getting scrolled on by,” Chelsea says. 

Keep What’s Behind the Brand and Behind the Screen at the Forefront: People

The running theme of so many of this year’s social trends is to put people first. Beyond showcasing your brand’s personality, company culture and insightful content, pushing your brand’s “why” to the forefront remains ever-important as Gen Z and millennials mindfully build loyal relationships with brands whose values align with their own. It’s been a buzzword for years, but “brand authenticity” had its moment last year and will continue to this year as the picture-perfect Instagram aesthetic shifts and brands are able to engage with their audience on more informal levels. Both B2B and B2C companies can benefit from showing their audiences the faces behind the brand, whether it’s by signing off with the name of a responder in customer service inquiries, directly addressing company’s handlings of world events or hopping on a live video to share news, audiences are looking for brands to share a more relatable, human voice on social.

“Now more than ever, customers are paying attention to what the brands they are buying from are doing to make a difference in the world and what stance they are taking. With a direct feedback loop, social media is an area where this truly shines,” Chelsea says.

Which of these trends seems most relevant to your brand? In the spirit of social media trends, we’d love to hear from you… on social! Connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, today. 

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Founded in 1972

As Orange County’s longest-standing, privately held response marketing agency, we have witnessed dynamic shifts in the world of marketing. Through it all, we have ensured our clients stay at the forefront of communication and technology, driving response and value with every new endeavor.