2021 Social Media Trends: What You Need to Know

purple colored sky with pink and golden fluffy clouds spotted across it to symbolize the bright opportunities ahead for brands that leverage 2021 social media trends

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Social media took center stage in 2020, and that trend is continuing in 2021. With many of us spending more time at home due to the ongoing pandemic, we seem to have more time than ever to spend on digital platforms. That’s reflected in most all social media platforms reporting record levels of usage with higher numbers of regular active users than ever before.

chart showing increase in online and digital activities in july 2020 based on a report from we are social agency and hootsuite

Brands that aren’t effectively using social media marketing should know that they’re missing out on a huge opportunity.

It’s crucial to develop a strong social media marketing strategy that makes the most of your available resources.

With that in mind, I asked some of the top social media marketers what they think you need to know about the top 2021 social media trends. Here are some of their insights to help guide you in the year ahead.

[ICYMI: 2021 Marketing Predictions & Insights from Business Leaders]

All About Connections

“Community happens in the replies.”

This pandemic blows. People are feeling excluded, separated, and alone. This year is going to be all about individuals (and brands) using Twitter in unique ways that build connections into communities.

Adam Ilenich, Community Manager, Twitter

2021 social media trends: adam ilenich, twitter

Watch the Small Shifts

In my opinion, I don’t think social media marketing in the year 2021 will see MAJOR changes, but what I think we will see, is a focused attention to customer service via social media. 

As we’ve seen in 2020, business can shift real quick and a lot of small biz had to resort to creating a social presence, or even moreso, a better social presence

We will start to see companies allocating more funds to supporting social media needs, whether that be hiring someone full time, creating a team, more money used for paid ads.

I’m excited to see what 2021 holds for the digital space.

Codi Dantu-Johnson, Social Media Specialist, UC San Diego; and Digital Marketing Consultant

2021 social media trends: codi dantu-johnson, marketing

Increasing Decentralization

People are looking for two things: more methods of intimate connection with smaller groups, and creative spaces where their content will be seen and not limited by algorithms. 

The door is open over the next year or so for the current platforms to either evolve according to what consumers want, or we’ll see more new platforms successfully entering the space.

Eddie Rizzo, Social Media Director, Westbrook Media

2021 social media trends: eddie rizzo, social media marketer

Accessibility & Inclusion on Social Media

In 2021, I’m hoping that marketing professionals take a good look at their social media strategies and find ways to prioritize accessibility. 

Make sure that every video is captioned and you write alt text for all of your images. Put any compound hashtags in #CamelCase and place emojis at the end of your posts. 

Little things can make a huge difference to how inclusive your content is!

Alexa Heinrich, Social Media Manager, St. Petersburg College

2021 social media trends: alexa heinrich, social media

The One Constant is Change

The instability of 2020 will continue well into 2021 and beyond. 

The algorithms on the different platforms will change on a weekly basis and new features will be added and removed at a moment’s notice.

 We should expect uncertainty and change, but do not overburden yourself with the need to learn and adopt every trend right away. Chasing after every new content format can create unrealistic expectations with your audience and your brand’s stakeholders and lessen the impact over time. 

Here is what will remain constant: you should be listening to your audience, trusting your gut instincts, and remember that not posting can be just as important as posting.

Ron Cacace, Digital Marketing Manager, Archie Comics

ron cacace, digital marketing manager, archie comics

Using Video for Success

Social media is becoming important now more than ever as more people are staying at home during the better half of 2021. 

Using videos in your social media strategy is key, especially a combination of both short-form videos (TikTok, Reels, etc.) and long-form videos (YouTube, IGTV, etc.). Videos have proven to be more engaging, increase your exposure, and improve your conversion, all while helping you reach a younger audience.

Chloe Harper, Social Media Associate, The Pokémon Company

chloe harper, social media marketing

More Humanity in Social Media Marketing

In 2021, social media will require marketers to be empathetic and to humanize the folks we’re in community with. 

Still in the midst of a global pandemic—and inundated with an ever-present, breaking news onslaught—we’re all overwhelmed. As marketers, we have to be cognizant of this and make our community members feel seen, known, and loved through our content and interactions.

Alex Lewis, Social Media Specialist, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

alex lewis, social media specialist

Top Social Media Marketing Skill: Critical Thinking 

I think the absolute most critical skill you can have as a social media manager in 2021 is critical thinking. 2020 was a year that really tested all of us who work in social – and 2021 is about building the boundaries back up and enforcing them. 

Think critically about every aspect of your role. What purpose is this serving? How does this connect to your overall business goals? Are your priorities on the right pieces of content? 

This will help you to not only continue to grow your social media program but also will keep a laser focus on what’s really important when it comes to social media content.

Jenn Crim, Entertainment Social Media Manager

jenn crim, social media manager

Three Big 2021 Social Media Trends

1. Trend – brands really leaning into cultural moments (like MLK Day) in ways that have to be deeper than surface level. No longer is sharing a passive quote or a simple tweet enough. 2021 demands direct action or informative action on how to stay/be educated.

2. More empowerment of minority voices. With all the 2020 highlighted the trend is to now have POC be not only a part of the discussion but also highlighted in ways that amplify them. Will be interesting to see what brands are doing this authentically or because “black” as a trend is hot right now.

3. Across the social media industry, mental health is increasingly becoming a concern. I think companies/leaders that are really able to understand that will empower their teams to do above and beyond.

Charles Etoroma, Social Strategist & Art Director

charles etoroma, social strategist

Authenticity Over Promotion

Creativity will (continue to) be key in 2021, especially on social media. I predict there will be more emphasis on humanizing communication online, and much of that will rely on influencer marketing or community engagement. 

Brands can no longer get away with selflessly promoting their products and content online without adding value to the consumer somehow, not if they want to grow and remain significant.

Joanna Rentería, Social Strategist

joanna renteria, social strategist

Walking the Talk

In 2021, social brands and organizations will have to look into being accessible and focus on being accountable. Brands need to make sure that not only finesse their content with ALT text, closed captions, and be more ADA compliant, but the way they present content to be relatable and authentic to various community groups. 

Brands and orgs will be accountable for how they present themselves on social media based on their social and political stances. Basically, they need to be walking the walk for the things they stand for, or progressively improving themselves to promote inclusivity and equity within their organization and amongst stakeholders. We have their receipts on how they responded to the Black Lives Matter Movement and other social and racial injustices that happened in our world. 

Angelo Jasa-Phillips, Digital Marketing and Social Media Professional; Digital Marketing Specialist, Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall; Co-Founder, Jasa Phillips Creative, LLC.

angelo jasa-phillips, marketing and social media professional

Diversity & Inclusive Marketing

2021 will be the year in which marketers will truly be put to the test in terms of being inclusive and accessible. Elevating marginalized voices will be crucial for the public at large to respect campaigns and businesses overall.

If companies haven’t begun their year with inclusivity in mind they’re already behind.

Linda Dianne, Freelance Social Strategist, #DiversifySocialMedia Co-Creator

linda dianne, social media strategist, #DiversifySocialMedia co-creator

EQ in Social Media Management

Be prepared for much more empathy in 2021 in social media. 

There were so many instances of unrest and instability in 2020 where brands chose to pull back and remain silent. That works in the short term, but when many brands began to turn their voice towards empathy, they found fans reacting positively. 

We’ll see higher levels of emotional intelligence in 2021 throughout the social realm—and that’s truly a great thing to be excited for!

JZ Jake Zachariah, Multifamily Industry Marketing Manager

jz jake zachariah, marketing manager

Read More: Recommendations from Marketers for Your Essential Reading List in 2021

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