The Future of Social Media Marketing

Social media marketing poses both challenges and new possibilities for brands looking to foster greater connection with potential consumers and increase awareness of their services. We take a rundown of the core social media trends that we expect to see dominate the discourse of 2021 marketing.

1. Live Streaming

Video streaming has become a media force to be reckoned with over the course of 2020 and shows no signs of abating in 2021. The spontaneous and authentic rapport brands are able to strike up with their followers by way of social media is nowhere more apparent than with live streaming, and reaching out to influencers can have even more of an impact.

Facebook and Instagram are both thriving by way of their robust video streaming services, and with more people experimenting with collaborative streaming platforms like Twitch we expect to see brands coming up with new ways to authentically leverage this media. With the arrival of Clubhouse on Android after a year’s exclusivity on Apple devices, we are also expecting to see audio-only streaming grow in popularity across all social networks as the content of this form begins to cross-post between platforms.

2. Collaborative Marketing

With the increased accessibility between brands and customers made possible by social media and the internet in general, many organizations have been looking for ways to acknowledge this dialogue and even, in some cases, leverage this relationship in order to create new products and services.

LEGO, the Danish company known for offering models with interlocking plastic bricks, launched LEGO Ideas after a change of management back in 2004. The concept behind this service was for customers to suggest and subsequently vote on prospective new Lego models they would like to see become available. This dialogue has been wildly successful and continues to this day. Many popular Lego sets on the market today have come through this crowd-sourcing medium, including a series of Minecraft collaborations, and a model of the Japanese Hayabusa rocket.

For organizations that are built around regular consumer participation, putting forth a shared sense of community at the heart of your brand messaging can be extremely effective, especially in the modern, reactive social media environment. Coming into 2021, gaming platform PokerStars have launched their “I’M IN” campaign to celebrate their focus on creating a vibrant community of like-minded players on their services. With a growing presence in the Esports sector, continued collaborative community building is increasing at the core of the organization’s promotional strategy, and presents a sense of integrity and self-awareness to prospective and returning patrons.

3. Authenticity and Integrity

With the massive outpouring of social justice activism being a key feature of 2020’s social media discourse, we are expecting to see brands continue to foster a sense of integrity and social consciousness into 2021. Consumers, especially those belonging to politically engaged Generation Z, are increasingly centering ethical practices as a decisive factor in dictating where they choose to direct their spending power.

But be sure you mean what you say on Instagram or Twitter. Paying mere lip service to the important matters of the day without clarifying your genuine commitment to support social and environmental justice can backfire spectacularly in today’s modern social media climate. Consider making an extra effort to champion marginalized voices, or give a portion of your profits to helping initiatives in order to make clear your intentions are sincere if you intend to put energy into this strategy.

4. Shoppable Content

Increasingly, our social media feeds look more like product catalogues, with the saturation of sponsored product placements and targeting ads occasionally crowding out more holistic content. While we expect to see companies favor a “less-is-more” approach to posting in 2021, brands will be able to capitalize on improved shopping integration on most of the major social networks in 2021, with even Tiktok announcing it would soon offer shopping features on its platform.

Instagram has been doing something similar for some time with its Shoppable Posts, which enable users to select specific items or services pictured in an Instagram post and be directed to a check-out process entirely in-app. Twitter, which has historically been the least consumer oriented of the major social networks, has launched a tipping feature that will enable users to tip other users’ tweets. While this is only in early development at the moment, this feature has the potential to grow into a more comprehensive monetization model for creators on Twitter.

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