Social Media Marketing Trends For 2021

Brent Barnhart

January 10, 2021

Brent Barnhart

January 10, 2021

Chances are you’re ready to leave 2020 in the dust.

And hey, we definitely don’t blame you.

Now’s the perfect time to look ahead and brainstorm the changes you’ll make to your social strategy in 2021.

Because even though last year was a total dumpster fire, there’s no denying that it was an eye-opening experience for marketers. Consumer behavior has changed significantly and businesses need to adapt to those changes ASAP.

If you’re looking for some inspiration and motivation for social marketing in the New Year, we’ve got you covered. Below are nine social media trends to keep an eye on in 2021 and beyond.


1. Live Events Will Remain Online for the Foreseeable Future

No huge surprises here.

We’re all itching for in-person conferences and festivals to return for good. That said, ongoing travel restrictions and medical precautions mean that virtual components of large events will be the new “normal” for the time being. This is especially true for events with international attendees.

The good news is that we’ve already seen brands running virtual events successfully

Live video and social streaming will continue to help businesses recreate the in-person experience for folks at home (see below).  Meanwhile, virtual event registrations like those promoted by SydFest at Home are a prime example of how planners have learned to adapt and promote via social.

2. Make Short-form Video A Staple Of Your Social Content Strategy

We’ve talked at length about how video content has taken over social media at large.

But specifically, it’s short-form clips that are all-the-rage right now. Brands have clearly staked their claim on TikTok, meanwhile Instagram Reels is here to stay. Expect both to grow in 2021.

For brands hesitant to get on board with video marketing, it’s undoubtedly easier than ever. Both TikTok and Reels do most of the editing legwork for you if you have a smartphone. Meanwhile, creating video content without a camera is also an option on both platforms.


Another added bonus of creating short-form video is that it’s a cinch to cross-post across multiple channels. For example, TikToks are fair game for the likes of Instagram Stories (see below) or Facebook. If you need something simple to fill up your content calendar, short-form video can do the trick.

3. A Renewed Interest In Search On Social Media

While it may have flown under your radar, Instagram has recently become more search-oriented. In addition to Instagram’s new search function for discovering content (see below), Google is currently experimenting with a search feature that aggregates results from Instagram and TikTok.

We’re not telling you to start stuffing keywords into your social posts. Instead, consider how your social presence might benefit from some light optimization (such as relevant terms in your Instagram bio) and lengthier post captions when appropriate.

Heck, social media profiles already dominate Google search for many product-related queries. Between fierce competition and the growing role of social platforms as content publishes, expect a greater emphasis on social SEO moving forward. 

4. Don’t Forget About the Boomers

Boomers might not be the “agents of cool” that Gen Z or millennials are, but they most definitely hold the majority of wealth versus any other demographic. They’re likewise more tech-savvy than you might think.

Recent social media usage statistics highlight how Boomers dominate the likes of Facebook and are among the biggest buyers when it comes to ads. To piggyback on that point, brands are upping their investment in Facebook ads according to recent research from Socialbakers.


The takeaway here is not to immediately abandon “older” social media platforms (particularly Facebook) in lieu of Instagram or TikTok exclusively. Oh, and be skeptical of anyone telling you that Facebook is “dying.” After all, Facebook’s ad platform is tried-and-tested and it’s well-documented that older users are the ones clicking through.

5. Ad Platforms Will Become Even More Automated

“Automation” is a buzzword that pops up year after year in pretty much every social media trend roundup.

That said, programmatic ad formats are on the rise. Although we’re not at the point where you can create ads in a single click, we’re getting there. 

Look no further than Facebook’s Automated Ads as evidence. These ads are capable of recommending audiences, generating appropriate budgets and essentially “learning” what makes a top-performing ad for your business. 

Granted you’re creating great content organically, converting those posts into ads will require less tinkering and fine-tuning in the future.


6. Expect Social Ecommerce Features to Evolve Even More

With new Checkout and Shopping features on the horizon via Instagram, expect a continued emphasis on social-specific shopping in 2021.

But perhaps more importantly beyond new features and ad formats is the need for brands to provide comprehensive service and care via social. 

Whereas Twitter and Facebook Messenger are typically seen as the go-to customer care channels, we’re seeing more and more interactions happen on Instagram as well. The takeaway here is to pay close attention to your notifications, questions and comments across all channels to avoid potentially losing out on business.


7. Social Interactions Remain Central to Real-World Product Deliveries

We saw firsthand how restaurants and hospitality businesses adapted as a result of COVID-19. Social media was integral to doing so, providing a real-time avenue to provide customers with updated delivery options, hours and availability. Service businesses should expect to do more of the same this year for the sake of keeping customers in the loop.

8. Politics Remains Unavoidable For Brands

As noted in our recent guide to getting political on social media, brands in certain industries are more or less expected to put their beliefs front-and-center. That expectation isn’t going away any time soon.

Regardless of whether you engage in politically-charged conversations on social, it’s crucial to be thoughtful of your public comments. This includes socials, replies and DMs to customers as well. Always read the room and err on the side of caution if a movement or issue isn’t “in your lane.”


9. Businesses Will Rally Support with More Personal, Human Content 

Although you’re probably sick of hearing about COVID-19, the crisis has empowered businesses to open up to customers and be more vulnerable. That’s a good thing. Expect more of it in 2021.

In a day and age where audiences crave authenticity, consider how showing off your human side can create a stronger bond with your base.

Meanwhile, showing support for your community and local businesses has likewise become the norm.


The takeaway? If there was ever a time to find your voice and “get real” with your audience, it’s now.


What Social Media Trends Do You Think Will Define 2021?

Listen: marketers have come to expect the unexpected (thanks, 2020).

While we don’t know exactly what this year will hold, having a pulse on the trends above can give you a better idea of where your priorities should lie on social media.

And if you’re looking to make 2021 really count marketing-wise, we’re all for it. We invite you to contact Hello Social to hash out how you can make the New Year one to remember when it comes to your social campaigns.


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