What’s Happening with Social Media in 2021

Crazy specs with heart eyes

It seems that, this year, there’s a little more space on social media. The pandemic is no longer a 24-hour doomwatch, American politics have stopped being a sitcom/train wreck and we’re all bored with documenting our baking projects.

So, there’s a little bit of breathing room for us to take a look at what ELSE is going on with social media in 2021.

1. TikTok’s gone mainstream

TikTok use has exploded in the last year. People in Europe who said they’d accessed TikTok in the last month increased by 93% during 2020. In other parts of the world, that figure is well over 100%.

It’s hit the mainstream: millennials are sharing sea shanty TikToks posted by Gen Z on Twitter. TikTok stars are getting record deals and being interviewed on the BBC by confused boomers.

After a year of staring at our phones for hours at a time, I doubt there’s a person reading this who hasn’t watched a TikTok, whether that’s on the platform or elsewhere.

2. Vulnerability cuts through

2021 is going to demand some real-realness, now the general sense of dread is normal and we’re settled into our lockdown routines.

How we, as businesses, serve that need can be as simple as slightly adjusting the style of our social posts. More conversational, less polished – more, well, vulnerable. That can be a scary idea for a business but if you do it right and listen to the reaction, it could make you stand out.

The world is crazy right now. Try putting a little crazy into your marketing: let loose, try new things and be as open as possible. Vulnerability is the real trend for 2021 – write it on my grave.

3. Even more content production

Pinterest is the latest (and last?!) platform to introduce the story-style posts Snapchat introduced to the culture in 2013.

These ephemeral video posts have made short-form, homemade content the number-one format on social today. Anyone can do it, and they do.

With this homespun style of social, your business has the opportunity to step up your posting schedule. It’s time to worry less about perfection and more about ongoing communication with your customers. Stories can feel like throw-away content but they’re also freeing: they get you into a confident rhythm of production.

If a 13-year-old can go viral with a 10-second video of their dad falling over, you can get some nice engagement with your own content.

4. Omnichannel commerce

Customer buying journeys are getting more and more complex. We can’t think of the route as Googling, clicking, browsing, buying anymore. With dual-screening, shopping habits disrupted by working from home, different age groups adopting digital and social media dominating (replacing?!) our lives – buying online is a MESS.

Your ‘ecommerce’ is no longer just your product website. Shopping is now everywhere. And it’s entertainment, because social shopping is an extension of the ingrained browsing behaviour that many of us will engage in for long periods in our day. We don’t only buy things we’ve thought of; we are literally scrolling through product marketing as an activity.

Instagram says 60% of users say they discover new products through the platform. 130 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month.

Think outside the box this year

Your customers are starved of entertainment. Although it’s not always the job of a brand to provide entertainment, we can try to make our advertising, content and brand activity fun.

That’s right, FUN.

Think you can’t be fun because you manufacture tractor tyres? Absolutely untrue, try harder. I’m thinking a charity pig race, Over-70s Farmer Pinup of the Year and a tyre-flipping competition. That’ll do you a week’s content.

At the very least, let’s not be boring. If you’re at the point where you’re quietly starting to think your business will survive the pandemic, why not celebrate with a bit of cheekiness for social media in 2021? We all need it.