2020 has been a year filled with reaction-based activities from businesses needing to respond quickly to the global pandemic. There has been a wave of ideas and strategies carried out across every social platform in an attempt to create new opportunities and to gain the attention of target audiences.
Content throughout the year has been very much about brands showing supportive and compassionate content. It has been a way to share the difficult experiences with audiences and further forge close relationships with followers. One thing that continues to rise is the sensitivity of audiences. It is important for social posts to consider this aspect of content and defuse any possibility of negative or controversial messaging.
As thoughts turn to the new year, social media will continue to evolve and respond to social situations and events with a compassionate approach. Here at SQN, we have given our take on answering some of the key questions you might have about social media trends and changes heading into 2021.
What social media themes and trends do we expect to see in 2021?
The global pandemic has accelerated the need for social media accounts to provide authenticity, trust and transparency amongst followers. The economic impact of COVID-19 has further encouraged followers to be more conscious of sustainable and safe practices. In regards to building follower trust, we expect to see an increase in private communities across different platforms. Whether this requires businesses to create private accounts or even subscription-based platforms (e.g. YouTube Memberships), exclusive access areas and tailored content for individual followers will be emphasised in 2021. We also see audio media being a theme of next year. In recent times this has already seen a rapid rise, but over the next 12 months, it is likely we will see an even greater consumption through platforms such as home audio devices, podcasts, Twitter audio features and even the Clubhouse app. However, it will be necessary for audio engagement to have more transparency, especially podcasts, to make it a measurable tool rather than a vanity project.
What formats will be the best for 2021?
Video remains the very dominant format for engaging social followers. It is clear that short-form videos continue to capture audience attention. TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels and Snapchat’s introduction of cut-down video content emphasises the need for brands to utilise this video format. As previously mentioned, the rise of audio continues and is definitely a format to consider when the likes of Spotify and Apple are investing hundreds of millions of pounds into this type of content.
How can businesses adapt to the new focus around disappearing content?
By disappearing content, we mean content that is publicly visible for a short time, usually no longer than 24 hours. Disappearing content gives Biz a great opportunity to utilise the built-in call to action tools. Providing followers with swipe ups, votes and other interactive actions can substantially help businesses interact with users. Deals or offers in disappearing content can be successful and reward the most loyal and engaging followers in almost a subtly exclusive way. Although the content is designed to fade away, there still needs to be an emphasis on narrative and opportunities for follower engagement to be successful. Disappearing content needs to work as part of an integrated strategy where fragmented content needs to work together as part of multi-touchpoint communications.
Does building communities on social still work?
Yes, it does, although it can be a very subjective topic. Having a large following and carrying out “social media hacks” to receive engagement can only take a business so far. The recent community trends have related to followers and content creators. Followers continue to crave connections or relatable experiences with those across social platforms. Influencer marketing is becoming increasingly niche with brands reaching out to content creators not necessarily with the highest number of followers, but a responsive, genuine and loyal following.
How can people keep on top of the ever-evolving changes across social platforms?
Making the most of online tools as well as reliable sources of information will help you to ride the wave of social media developments. Refining an understanding of audience information and the changes in their needs is beneficial for staying one step ahead. With all this being said, to truly keep in the loop with social trends and changes is through real-life “on the job” experiences where you fully immerse yourself in learnings. Trust in social media managers’ experiences can also ensure businesses stay proactive with their social media marketing.
If prior to 2020 it was believed that social media could not evolve and transform at such pace, this year has certainly shunned those beliefs. For businesses, content needs to have well thought out ideas and strategies to engage audiences. It is even more important today for businesses to be actively present across different platforms to inform and educate followers about brand and company beliefs. This aligned with applying successful communications trends throughout 2021, can truly help businesses apply human elements in stories and further engage with stakeholders.