social media marketing

9 social media trends that dominating 2021

social media trend

The fourth quarter is always a good period in online marketing land. Very busy, but above all a time to look back at the developments of the past year and to look ahead to the next year. In recent years, I have described a list of social media trends for the coming year for Frank watching. This year we will simply keep that tradition alive.

But first I would like to look back with you for an eventful and interesting year. Around the same period, our list of 10 social media trends for 2019 came online last year. Which of those trends did indeed materialize, and on which points were I possibly completely wrong? Several conclusions, without discussing every point in detail.

social media trend
  • Which social media trends came out and which did not?
  • And now the social media trends for 2020.

1. TikTok as the challenger.

2. Creative content at the top of the agenda.

3. Focus companies also on stories.

4. Private is the new default.

5. Social media platforms as publishers.

6. Social media in gaming.

7. Big influencers in a corner.

8. AR goes mainstream in social media.

9. Localization of content and campaigns.

Which social media trends came out and which did not?

Shift to e-commerce.

The line had already started in 2018 and has certainly continued in 2019. Social media is increasingly becoming an e-commerce channel for brands. Although not a purely last-click channel, the networks (in 2019 with LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest in the lead) will continue to launch new features that link content (influencer & brand) and the user’s purchasing behavior.

For example, Pinterest announced a scaling up of shop functions in September, and it also proved to have a major influence on the purchase intention for home products. We can therefore say that this trend has continued.

Stories are the new benchmark.

Unfortunately, we have to be a little more careful about the emergence of this trend. On the user side, the trend has become a complete reality. Stories are bigger than ever and the social networks have full focus on them. Even YouTube introduced a story’s function. However, as is often the case, companies are lagging. Without a doubt, there is more and more focus on stories, but at the same time it recently turned out that the largest spend still runs via the Facebook timeline. Time for marketers to scale up considerably.

Anxiety slows down the growth.

Yes. Definitely yes. Facebook in particular has been hit hard in 2019. Not so much by GDPR, but more by various scandals. This has slowed adoption and growth within brands. In the meantime, it seems to be recovering reasonably well, but there was a lot of doubt sown last year. Will 2020 be the year of recovery, or will it be another giant next to Facebook under scrutiny next year?

The revival of groups.

What began to appear in 2018 is increasingly becoming reality. Social media as a channel will become more closed and private. Small groups form the basis for social media in the coming years.

Commercialization of direct messaging.

This has already become reality for Facebook Messenger. Various commercial options are already available for this. And, it took a while, but WhatsApp also recently announced that it will now really (in 2020) come with WhatsApp ads.

Voice makes its appearance.

A trend that, in my opinion, has not got off the ground this year is the role of voice in social media. Although podcasts are on the rise and you will also experience that more and more use is being made of voice recordings within WhatsApp, it has not gone as fast as I expected. So the use is certainly increasing, but not at the rate as is happening in the US, for example. The expectation is that by 2020 the share of voice in the search will already be 50 percent. Impressive!

Blockchain in social advertising.

Last year I also described the possible role of blockchain in making the (social) advertising world more transparent. It is certainly likely that it will play a role in the future, but this was not the case in 2019. I do not expect many developments in this area in 2020, but who knows, we may be overtaken by reality.

And now the social media trends for 2020.

Enough about the past. The gaze is moving forward again! I want to start with several developments that, in my opinion, we should no longer label as trends. Purely because they already play a central role. I am talking about developments such as chatbots on social media, the use of video as a content form, the mobile-first philosophy, and the use of vertical content formats. I think these developments have already been discussed sufficiently.

But what are we looking forward to? These are the 9 important social media trends for which we expect strong development in 2020.

1. TikTok as the challenger.

TikTok as the challenger

TikTok is growing very fast worldwide. The video network would already have about 80 million active users in the USA. It is no longer a small player. Proof that even the gigantic Facebook sees TikTok as an important factor was shown in Zuckerberg’s leaked speech. He says, among other things:

TikTok is really the first consumer internet product built by one of the Chinese tech giants that are doing quite well around the world.

TikTok is here to stay and therefore in 2020 a channel to keep an eye on as a marketer. Do stay alert to the privacy and security around TikTok.

2. Creative content at the top of the agenda.

In recent years, social media has become more and more a numbers game. Conversion, traffic, e-commerce. Although that is of course still the case, we see a clear trend in which creative content, in particular, is again high on the agenda for brands. In a world with more and more content, creativity within the available frameworks remains crucial to the success of your brand. There will be more focus on this in 2020.

That creation is gaining in importance amidst the advertising violence, which is also evident from the fact that networks such as Facebook and Snap are investing more and more time and effort in supporting brands and agencies in the creative field. Through workshops, but also, for example, through extensions of the creation studios.

3. Focus companies also on stories.

The conclusion was already mentioned earlier in this article: the user has fully delved into story formats and the networks themselves are also placing stories more and more at the center of the user experience. Brands are lagging somewhat behind. We are seeing a shift towards more content on the available story features.

Whether the turning point in favor of stories versus the timeline will take place in 2020 is not certain. We carefully dare to note a ‘yes’, given the speed with which the change has taken place from the user. The omens are certainly already presenting themselves.

4. Private is the new default.

‘Is social media going private?’ is a very relevant and justified question for the coming years. There are plenty of signs that there will certainly be a shift from standard ‘open’ to standard ‘closed’. In America, more than 50 percent of users indicate that they have settings on ‘private’. At the beginning of 2019, Zuckerberg also indicated on behalf of Facebook that the future of social media will be much more closed and private than before. Driven by the recent scandals, which could of course also reappear in 2020, this trend is accelerating.

5. Social media platforms as publishers.

This trend has been going on for a few years and can therefore no longer be called new. An acceleration has taken place in 2019, which in my view will only grow in 2020. Social networks increasingly see themselves as a publisher of unique content, in addition to user-generated content. Think of sports content, but also programs, series, and films. One media deal after another is being closed, for example recently by TikTok and YouTube. Facebook is also busy shifting its focus to (local) news provision and is investing millions in this.

6. Social media in gaming.

social media gaming

Social media and gaming are becoming increasingly intertwined. For example, chat functions in online games are increasingly common and many games are played via social media platforms. And what about the big influencer scene that focuses on social media on esports and the rise of Twitch? But it continues. Social media, gaming, and e-commerce will also find each other. For example, it was very recently announced that Snap has facilitated ‘ in-game’ purchases for Adidas for the first time. Next level e-commerce.

7. Big influencers in a corner.

It’s been playing for a while. The credibility of many major top influencers is under pressure, partly because of publications such as those of Rambam in January of this year. The match with your brand is also not always optimal. Also, rates have risen sharply in recent years. Increasingly, the use of multiple small and medium-sized influencers, who often have an even greater degree of credibility, is being considered more and more often.

Influencer marketplaces, where influencers and brands can find each other, are becoming increasingly popular. There you can genuinely look for logical and appealing collaborations. The influence of influencers is not in question, but also look further than the people with the largest network.

8. AR goes mainstream in social media.

Augmented reality is actually on every trend list every year. Rightly so, of course. In practice, the development is of course there, but the adoption is not always flawless. Still, I think that AR will finally become more and more mainstream in 2020. Not least because of the introduction of numerous new features that focus on AR. Often linked to e-commerce in the form of ‘shop the look’ options. For example, Instagram recently launched a cool new augmented reality shopping solution.

9. Localization of content and campaigns.

There is a large surplus of content on various social media platforms. It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for brands to be relevant, but also for the networks themselves to keep the attention of the public. Context is then crucial. And that context is often your local environment. That is why we see a clear development in the use of social media marketing towards localization.

Naturally, this applies particularly to retail brands, which also have a local physical presence. Ads with store traffic as the objective, such as Facebook’s store visit ads, are therefore increasingly used. Besides, it has also been mentioned earlier in this article that Facebook itself is committed to local news. If Facebook bets so heavily on this, you as a marketer can also draw your conclusions about the importance of localization.

I am very curious about your opinion about the developments of social media in 2020 and 2021. If you miss social media trends, please let me know.

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