Social Media Keys

Unlocking the Trends 2021 Could Bring

As we approach the close of 2020 there’s definitely quite a bit to digest. From a social media perspective, the pandemic unearthed a bevy of new learnings for brands--many of which provide a blueprint for how brands should approach 2021. From platform innovation to consumer learnings, 2020 has been a year of pivoting by both brands and social media platforms alike. As an agency we’ve been on the front lines, advising our clients in the moment on what steps set up the best chance for success. In all my years working in the social space, I’ve never seen a year this impactful. Now that the year is coming to an end, we can take a look at some of the trends that are certain to make an impact in 2021.

Make Way For TikTok

TikTok has been one of the heroes of 2020. The platform catapulted itself to the forefront of relevancy with a mixture of viral moments, product innovation, and consumer targeting. One thing for brands to keep a definite eye on for next year is how to authentically integrate TikTok into their overall strategy. Brands that are succeeding on the platform have taken a more user-friendly approach, rather than that of traditional advertising. Simply handing someone a camera and telling them to “go create” seems to be the best course of action. Sam’s Club is one of a few brands that’s made major strides. They’ve promoted authenticity by choosing to highlight their products on the platform through culturally relevant memes and challenges.


Cedric Clark leads more than 85 of our clubs. But we think he would rather be CEO of hand washing 🧼 @norry_96 #samsclub #goingpro #fyp #clean

♬ original sound - Sam’s Club

Oh, so you’re saying you gotta work out on this stuff? 🏋️😂 #samsclub #whatspoppin #boostyourmood #protein #membersmark

♬ original sound - Sam’s Club

The platform also encompasses all walks of life, Tiktok actually saw a major shift from a younger audience to a more seasoned one. 43% of its active users are between the ages of 25 – 54.

It’s also taken the reins as the most engaged platform. With an average engagement rate of 9%, the platform is vastly outperforming other major platforms. This includes Instagram, traditionally the engagement leader amongst platforms. In response, IG has now incorporated similar technology with the release of IG Reels.

GO LIVE… or Not at ALL

Expect to see way more live content in 2021! Live streaming is an avenue that will definitely be explored by brands in the coming year. Users share comments and likes that a brand can directly respond to in real time. According to Stacey McLachlan’s hootsuite article, The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Live Streaming in 2020, “There’s an urgency to a live post that demands attention. A recent study showed that 80% of audiences would rather watch a livestream than read a blog post. In an age of everything-on-demand, live TV broadcasts are still must-see-TV.”

This is a level of excitement that brands should be capitalizing on, as real-time content has become the norm amongst desired media for consumers. There’s also major interest in behind the scenes content from brand audiences. According to McLachlanan, 87% would prefer to watch more videos online if it means more access to bts content. Another indication of the value here is the fact that all of the major platforms have adopted it. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube all possess live streaming capabilities. Furthermore, as a result of on-site shopping activations becoming obsolete in 2020, livestream shopping events are now predicted to generate $25 billion in sales by 2023. So as you’re building out those content calendars for 2021, gather some listening around what consumers are saying or asking about your brand and that will unlock some easy ideas on what types of live content should be produced.

Carousels Crowned King

Carousel posts have traditionally been some of the most engaging and impactful pieces of content of brand social strategies. Instagram has long seen these assets perform at high levels as their sole purpose has been to invite engagement. According to an SE Journal article by Matt Southern, a study of 22 million IG posts finds Carousels are the most engaging type of post. Carousels have an average engagement rate per post of 1.92%, compared to 1.74% for images and 1.45% for videos. The engagement rate per post goes over 2% when all 10 carousel slides are used. Southern reports that in 2017, 3 to 4% of Instagram content consisted of carousel posts, compared to 19% in July 2020. We expect to see this trend continue significantly in 2021. Not only are brands starting to catch on but more platforms have begun producing and promoting their own carousel capabilities.

Twitter has jumped head first into the carousel game, so you can see these engagement numbers continue to climb. Twitter is hands down the most conversation-and story-led platform of the bunch. Combine this with an asset that has already proven to be one of the industry’s most successful, with a usage rate that continues to rise, and you have a recipe for high impact social marketing. Carousels allow brands to showcase various products, highlight specific features, or tell a brand story that develops across 2-6 Carousel cards. With this type of impact available in one single social post, brands should integrate a regular carousel cadence across all appropriate channels.

A Game of Adjustments

2020 took us on a roller coaster ride of restrictions, pivots and key learnings. Those who made adjustments to the new landscape have succeeded. While those who didn’t have faltered. As we head into the New Year, we all need to come to terms that this rapid pace of change is going to continue, so the best course of action has to be to continuously ADAPT!

Michael Plant is a Chicago-based Community Strategist at Camp + King. He brings seven years of social media experience, specializing in engagement and driving cultural relevance for QSR brands.

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