Ready for some predictions to fire up your social media strategy in 2021? We bet you are!
2020 was a challenging time for businesses big and small, creators, influencers, and everyone in between.
So to help you get a head start on your social strategy for the new year, we’ve lined up our top predictions for the next 12 months (and beyond!):
Social Media Prediction #1: Video Content Will Reign Supreme
Video content, no matter the platform or format, is going to be big in 2021!
From Instagram Reels and TikTok to the original video giant YouTube, there are tons of opportunities to grow your audience and boost your engagement with video content.
The key to making video a success in 2021 is to strategically think about your audience and tap into them where they’re most comfortable.
For example, if you’re hoping to expand into a Gen Z market, you might want to think about TikTok. Or if you already have an active and engaged audience on Instagram, experimenting with IGTV videos or Reels could be your way to expand that reach.
If creating video content sounds overwhelming, know that more video content doesn’t have to mean more work. A lot of brands are cleverly repurposing video content from one platform to another. Take a look at Vivian from @coffeebae97’s Instagram feed and TikTok feed.
Her Instagram feed is primarily made up of video content and very similar content appears on her TikTok feed:
Vivian has accumulated 13.3M likes on TikTok, all by repurposing her content across both her platforms, essentially doubling her social media reach!
Not sure where to start? We have a complete guide on how to repurpose video content for your feed, so you can kick off your first post!
Take Action in 2021: Share Your First Instagram Reels Video
If you’ve not jumped on the Reels bandwagon yet, now’s the time. Instagram Reels content is pushed to all Instagram users, not just to those that follow you. And, since it’s still fairly new, Instagram is giving Reels major prominence.
Instagram Reels can be discovered in many places on the Instagram app — which accounts for it being a major growth hack for 2021!
In fact, there are 4 ways people can discover your Instagram Reels:
- The new Reels tab in the home screen navigation
- Scrolling the Home feed
- The Explore page
- The Reels tab on individual profiles
If you want to get more eyes on your content, Instagram Reels is the best place to start.
Learn more about creating your first Instagram Reels post in this video:
Social Media Prediction #2: Social Shopping Will be the Norm
Welcome to a new age of social media where e-commerce takes center stage!
From Instagram’s new shoppable features like Instagram Reels Shopping and Instagram Live Shopping, to TikTok’s recent partnership with Shopify and live-streamed shopping event with Walmart, consumers will start to get very comfortable buying on social platforms.
As of today you can shop with Reels. Creators can tag products in Reels, and, if you’re interested, you can find out more about them inline. I’m excited to see how this helps people find and share new things you love. pic.twitter.com/vA26LF6Bpm
— Adam Mosseri ???? (@mosseri) December 10, 2020
And this is great news from small businesses around the world — your digital storefront is another way to secure revenue for your business amid COVID-19.
The work you put in now to optimize your profiles (be it on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, or Pinterest) will serve you for months and even years to come.
Why? Because the customer journey used to start on social media and end on your website or online store. But now, that journey is much, much shorter — a new customer can go from discovering your Instagram profile to buying their first product from your brand without ever leaving the app.
Having shoppable posts, educational product videos, and a clear brand message on your social profiles all goes towards building loyal customers.
Take Action in 2021: Level-up Your Social Shopping Knowledge
If you’re an e-commerce brand, now’s the time to get your digital storefront up and running.
And the good news is, we’re going to be showing you how! We believe social e-commerce is going to mean big business for small brands. This year, we’re going to be releasing a host of new training, resources, guides, and live webinars to help you get ready for the shift.
Sign up to the Later newsletter to be the first to know when we launch a new resource and get all you need to be a social e-commerce expert!
Social Media Predictions #3: Brands With Purpose Will Go Viral
That’s right, our next prediction for 2021 is that brands and businesses with a strong focus on social, environmental, and ethical responsibility will flourish!
2020 was the year that sparked an uprising — people found their voice on social media and (thankfully) brands stepped in to support.
While it was a long-overdue change of scene for the social space, we expect brands to lean into this change and elevate voices even further this year.
Now more than ever before, brands need to support and share their mission. Not only does it help connect with their audience, but it also highlights what they stand for which is really important, especially with Gen Zers.
“Gen Zers are much more inclined to vote with our dollars, and believe a brand’s values are a reflection of our own,” explains Gen Z expert (and Gen Zer!) Larry Milstein.
Some topics that matter to Gen Z include:
- LGBTQ+ rights: 60% of Gen Zers think same-sex couples should be able to adopt children
- Diversity: 60% of Gen Zers say increased racial and ethnic diversity is good for society
- Social responsibility: 70% of Gen Zers try to purchase from companies they consider ethical
“We’re 3x more likely than older generations to believe a company has a role in improving society,” adds Larry.
Whatever your business model, now’s the time to strategize content around your mission — through your content, let people in and share how you’re making changes.
Take underwear brand Parade for example:
Parade’s focus on body positivity and inclusivity is redefining the underwear industry. Their content not only helps to normalize stretch marks and body hair, but they value self-expression and are vocal advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and the decriminalization of sex work.
With clearly defined values, Parade is able to differentiate itself from other brands in its industry and engage with their audiences.
Take Action in 2021: Identify Your Brand Values
If you haven’t already, it’s time for you to sit down and identify what causes your brand or business stands for and what actions you can take throughout the year to better support, and share this journey with our audience.
Need some inspiration? Take a look at these 9 brands driving meaningful change on Instagram!
Social Media Predictions #4: Conversations on Corporate Responsibility Will Continue, Especially on LinkedIn
We already mentioned how 2020 was the year people found their activist voices on social media. And for many brands, it was a time to pause, reflect, and take action to better improve the diversity and inclusion within their business model and the content they share.
Transparency is a big deal on social media and instilling trust with your followers isn’t gained overnight.
We’re hoping 2021 will bring continued discussion and much more open dialogue on how brands can better improve and represent both their communities and missions.
And Instagram is the perfect platform for B2C transparency — for example @paynterjacket. From their Instagram content to their email marketing, they’re continuously keeping their audience in the loop on their mission and practices.
As well as putting your promises into action with the content you choose to share.
However, with the spotlight on corporate culture, expect to see a lot more brands talking about their policy changes and corporate responsibilities online, especially on LinkedIn.
With LinkedIn marketing, brands have the opportunity to become thought leaders on the platform, encouraging a much wider reform beyond their individual Instagram feed or stories content.
And that’s one social shift we’re excited to see in 2021!
Take Action in 2021: Get Comfortable Sharing on LinkedIn
Talking about your brand’s challenges online can feel unnatural — it’s a vulnerable position to be in. But it can go a long way in building trust and establishing your brand as an industry thought leader.
If you want to make a real impact in your industry, get familiar with LinkedIn’s latest tools, and start strategizing ways to be more transparent on social.
Social Media Predictions #5: Educational Posts Will Continue to be Big Engagement Drivers
Want to really engage your audience? Start sharing educational content!
First up, let’s chat about Instagram carousel posts — they’re the perfect growth hack on Instagram, as they are the perfect tool for easily shareable and educational content. And with likes disappearing, we predict shareable and saveable content will become even more important in 2021.
Take a look at how Instagram strategist Natasha Samuel creates educational carousel posts full of tips and tricks:
Next up, Instagram Guides — a brand new way to share and consume content on Instagram. Originally exclusive to a small group of health and wellness advocates and creators, it’s now available to everyone.
Have you ever wanted to give your followers an extensive list of tips and tricks or an in-depth how-to guide right on Instagram? Now you can!
Businesses and creators alike are getting creative with the Instagram Guides feature. By curating these lists, you’re offering additional information that will hopefully inspire them to share your tips with their followers.
Take @jadedarmawangsa’s “How to Journal (My 15 min Exercise)” Guide for example.
This guide is an amazing resource for her followers who are looking to start journaling. Instead of putting these tips on her stories, Jade’s journaling exercise now lives under her guides tab *forever*.
Take Action in 2021: Create & Schedule an Educational Carousel Post
Get familiar with apps like Canva and Over to design your educational post — they have tons of ready-made templates you can use for text-based Instagram posts. All you have to do is plug in your content!
Then, you can schedule your carousel post with Later — just upload your designed images to your Media Library and select the images you want to make into a carousel post. Schedule for the time you want to post and we’ll send you a notification when the time comes!
Social Media Predictions #6: Meme Culture is Here to Stay (at Least for 2021!)
It’s been a tough year, and when done right, memes provided the comic relief we all needed on social media.
But brands haven’t only jumped on memes because of the fun factor — they’re also a tactical way to grow your audience and boost engagement.
The best memes are shared with friends, reposted on stories and saved for later, so it makes sense to spend time coming up with original memes that have the potential to go viral.
Take @ritual for example. The modern vitamin brand often posts fun, pop-cultural memes that show off its ethos and brand values — all while engaging their audience in a relatable way. Check out this perfectly timed Thanksgiving meme on their feed:
Take Action in 2021: Experiment with Memes on Your Feed
Take inspiration from mega-brands like Ritual, Saint Hoax, Girlboss, and Curology on how to create the perfect meme for your brand.
Looking for even more strategic advice on memes? Check out our guide to using Instagram memes to increase engagement!
Social Media Predictions #7: Stories Content on Every Platform (And We Mean Every Platform!)
Stories are a perfect example of how social media and the way we consume content is changing.
When Instagram first introduced Stories to the app in 2016, 150 million people used the feature.
Now, over 500 million people use stories every day — and every major social network has some form of stories-like feature in the works.
Meanwhile, YouTube Stories were introduced in 2018 for creators with over 10K subscribers, setting themselves apart with a 7-day lifespan rather than the usual 24-hour window.
Even LinkedIn has announced LinkedIn Stories, bringing a professional twist to the 24-hour stories format we all know and love.
And it doesn’t stop there. Twitter Fleets, Spotify Stories, and Pinterest Story Pins are all also reportedly being tested prior to their wider release — a clear sign the stories format is only going to grow in popularity as users prefer to share in the moment authentic content.
So what’s a brand to do in 2021? Focus on one main stories channel and learn how to repurpose the content across multiple channels.
Even with all the new stories-like platforms, Instagram still rules the roost so it’s worth putting in the time to nail down your Instagram Stories content in 2021, and then decide how you can cast your net further on other platforms.
Take Action in 2021: Start Scheduling Instagram Stories
Scheduling your Instagram Stories frees up time to work on other goals — like navigating Twitter Fleets for the first time!
With Later, you can plan and schedule your Instagram Stories content in a flash:
Social Media Predictions #8: Influencer Marketing on TikTok Will Become A Key Channel For Brands
We’ve long associated influencer marketing with Instagram — it’s where the first brand ambassadors and paid partnerships were born.
But expect to see influencer marketing appear on platforms like TikTok and Pinterest over the next year.
With the amount of reach and engagement TikTok users can garner per video, it’s a no-brainer that brands and businesses have and will continue to work with influencers on the app.
Since advertising on TikTok itself still comes at a hefty price, we expect to see more and more brands turn to influencers as a way to tap into the TikTok audience.
Take @doggface208 for example. A selfie-video of him drinking Ocean Spray went viral on TikTok, spiraling into an incredible (and unforeseen!) brand partnership.
@420doggface208Morning vibe #420souljahz #ec #feelinggood #h2o #cloud9 #happyhippie #worldpeace #king #peaceup #merch #tacos #waterislife #high #morning #710 #cloud9♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac
Ocean Spray caught wind of this viral video and jumped on board right away — sending him Ocean Spray product, merch, and a car! Yes, you heard that right.
In this case, spontaneity, randomness, and TikTok trend culture brought this partnership together. But, that’s not to say it can’t happen with your brand or business. With some planning and pitching, think of all the influencer marketing possibilities.
Take Action in 2021: Make a List of Your Favorite Micro-Influencers on TikTok
If you haven’t already, make a list of local micro-influencers on TikTok who you’d love to work with. Starting local and small is a great way to dip your toes into the influencer marketing world.
If you don’t have room in the budget, that’s okay! A simple DM can go a long way. This could be as simple as sending a message saying you love their content or asking if you could send them your product to try out (without any expectation for them to post).
This early communication can help build a relationship, opening up the door to potential opportunities down the road.
Social Media Predictions #9: Go Live or Go Home
From Zoom, IGTV, and Instagram Lives, 2020 was the year of virtual events. Virtual events are one thing, but live virtual events are another!
With 2021 fast approaching, live content will continue to fill our feeds. In fact, live content isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially with it being a main feature on most social media platforms — LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok alike.
But why is live content so popular? Simply put, live content offers a unique way to bring communities together, offering real-time connection and information to those who would not normally have access.
Let’s look at @verzuztv for example. Their idea was to have live singing competitions between popular musicians, hosted on Instagram Live.
What started as a fun idea during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, now, the Verzuz Battle’s bring in record-breaking Instagram Live numbers (and even Apple TV streams!).
Spoiler alert — you don’t need to have record-breaking numbers or famous artists on hand to run a successful Instagram Live! If you’re a brand or business, why not tap into your network and create some sort of competition for your community to watch?
For example, if you’re a bakery, have a live bakeoff between two bakers. You can even use the new Instagram Live shopping tool to highlight the different products used.
Take Action in 2021: Get Familiar with Live Platforms
Since there are many platforms to choose from, we’ll let you in our favorites: Instagram and Facebook Live. Have a browse around and familiar with the platforms before you jump in.
Ready? Here are our extensive guides to get started with Facebook Live and Instagram Live.
BONUS Social Media Prediction! The Use of Data Storytelling on Social
You heard it here first — data storytelling is here to stay!
More and more brands are jumping on the trend and using data storytelling to not only bring their current audience together, but also reach new and larger ones.
Spotify’s Unwrapped campaign is a great example of this. With individual personalized user data, each Spotify user feels seen and heard by the brand. And, as we’ve seen on Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram, Spotify users are encouraged to share their Unwrapped results on social media.
There are many ways you can use data storytelling for your brand or business.
Some companies take the roundup approach. Take Goodreads for example. They create individual landing pages for each of their users, outlining data and stats on their 2020 reading habits.
As a small brand or business, you can use your own analytics to do this on your own social media. For example, dig into your analytics and see which of your Instagram posts had the most likes, or which products had the most sales.
To repurpose content and encourage engagement, why not a roundup of your top 5 most-liked posts or products and re-share them (or include them in an Instagram Guide!).
2021 is just around the corner, and with so much change occurring, these 9 predictions, you’ll be better prepared for the future of social media marketing — and can start allocating the resources needed for your strategy.
Whatever strategies you take on for 2021, Later’s here to help you plan, schedule and post to your favorite platforms — for free!
Nikki is Later’s Editorial Manager. She’s worked in digital media in Dublin, London, and Sydney and loves nothing more than hitting “publish” on a new post. When she’s not writing blogs with the Later team, you’ll find her outdoors with her dog, Arlie, or planning her next adventure — follow along on @nikkitravelled.