Social media has become increasingly vital to brands, but to gain most value from it, it is important to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening. We’ve researched some of the leading social media analysers, looking at what they think will be the biggest trends in social media over the next year. Here’s what they have predicted for 2021.
1. Quick revenue, long term relationships
The disruption caused by the pandemic over 2020 means that companies will have two main objectives when it comes to social media in 2021. The first will be to use targeted performance marketing to deliver the short-term revenue increases needed to bolster flagging financials, while the second will be to develop digital experiences that attract long-term loyalty and help propel future growth.
2. Develop listening skills
These are shifting times in society, with lots of complex conversations taking place on subjects that are important to many consumers. Over recent years, some brands have marked their position too early and found themselves facing a backlash as a result.
Learning from those mistakes, the smarter brands, this year, will listen more carefully to what consumers have to say about hot topics and only then will they find innovative ways to contribute to the conversation. At the same time, they must avoid not practising what they preach or promoting a value simply because they believe it will make them more money. Social media users are clever enough to see through these.
3. New kids on the block
Traditionally, marketers have targeted social media campaigns at tech-natives, such as Gen Z and millennials. However, the pandemic has vastly increased the number of Baby Boomers and Gen X users taking to social media over the last year.
Now, with their newly acquired digital skills, these lucrative demographics are joining the conversation and shouldn’t be overlooked by brands wanting to expand their reach. Of course, differences in age and interests means a different approach may still be required – and this may mean bringing some of the older generations on-board social media teams in order to build meaningful relationships.
4. The year of Instagram investment
When asked which social media platforms they will increase investment in over 2021, the clear winner amongst brands was Instagram, with 61% of businesses saying they will increase investment. Despite it being hot property right now, only 14% were likely to increase investment in TikTok. Snapchat, meanwhile, seems to be losing popularity, with only 4% of brands increasing investment. Over 44% of brands were all intending to increase investment in Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.
These figures should give smaller businesses an indication of where enterprises see the biggest ROI opportunities for social media marketing over the next year.
One reason for these figures is that brands are investing where user growth is. Instagram added the most users in Q2 of 2020. With a 7.1% growth, it outpaced parent company Facebook three to one. With marketing budgets stretched over 2021, it makes sense to spend what little there is on well-established platforms.
5. No budget? Head to Pinterest and Twitter
For smaller companies that can’t afford paid advertising on social media and have to focus on social posts, analysis has shown that the two most beneficial channels during 2021 will be Pinterest and Twitter.
Pinterest is particularly useful for creating conversions at the bottom end of the sales funnel and has now added new ROI-driven advertising tools as well as its Today tab, a function which helps to maintain user engagement. That engagement has attracted a wider range of organisations to the platform. While once it was predominately used by the retail sector, today there are growing numbers of professions, educational establishments, advertising companies and non-retail businesses making use of it.
Twitter, on the other hand also offers opportunities for brands to get low-cost reach. It remains one of the most visited websites in the world and has seen significant growth in traffic thanks to the numerous big news events over 2020: the pandemic, US elections, international racial equality protests, etc. It also offers opportunities to post a wide range of media, longer messages (280 characters) and interact with consumers. Users can also post up to 2400 tweets and send 1000 messages a day.
As brands seek to move on from the disruption of 2020, social media will continue to play a crucial role in promoting products, building relationships and expanding brand awareness. 2021 will see a need for quick financial gains, building long term connections, learning to listen, investing in well-established platforms, targeting untapped demographics and, for those with limited budgets, making greater use of channels like Pinterest and Twitter.
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