Long gone are the days when social media was just for socializing. In our digital-first world, it’s a non-negotiable part of any brand’s marketing strategy.
Having a strong social media presence is essential for every part of the customer journey. Research shows 52% of new brand discovery happens on Instagram—suggesting this is a consumer’s first port of call before even a company’s website! Social media also allows businesses to communicate directly with their customers and vice versa, which helps create trust, engagement, and ultimately, brand loyalty.
That said, the world of social media moves rapidly. In order for brands to use digital platforms effectively, they must stay on the pulse of the latest social media trends. Innovative companies like Facebook and Instagram continually keep marketers on their toes by releasing new features or changing their algorithms.
Not only that, but new platforms seem to pop up every other week! While some quickly fade into oblivion, others come along and completely change the status quo. Take TikTok, for example. The bite-sized video platform only launched in the US in 2018 and has already hit more than 1.5 billion users, meaning that 32% of the internet has downloaded the app. It’s estimated to be neck in neck with Instagram for total users and outperformed Facebook last year in downloads. Social media trends in 2020
Now more than ever, people online are craving authenticity, community, and connection. Read on for 10 social media trends for 2021 that will help you give your audience just that.
Research shows that in 2020, 60% of businesses use interactive elements like stickers in their Instagram stories—and for good reason! They’re an excellent way to boost your engagement and generate conversation with your audience. This goes not only for photo content but video too. In fact, analytics show that videos that have stickers perform better 83% of the time.
Stickers like location, mentions, and hashtags have been popular ways to increase your stories reach for a while now. However, there’s also a whole suite of new stickers that have been introduced over the last year. These include Questions and Polls, which are both excellent tools for encouraging interaction from your audience. Another newer sticker is the ‘DM me’ tag, which opens up a direct conversation with your account when clicked.
Instagram also recently released the ‘Support Small Business’ sticker in response to COVID-19. As you can see in the above example, this allows accounts to give shoutouts to businesses they love, showcasing three of their posts. This is a great way to collaborate with others in your community or industry.
While the popularity of stories has skyrocketed in recent years, the grid is where it all started on Instagram. They remain a great way to visually represent your brand and share your unique message. However, with the like count no longer visible on Instagram, posting pretty photos should no longer be a brand’s sole focus.
Now, engagement should be at the front of the mind when posting on the grid. That means getting creative with text-focused layouts that encourage comments, shares, and saves. Last year, we saw the Twitter-inspired layout take over our Instagram feed, pairing the ‘tweet’ format with a colored or pattern background. In 2020, we’re seeing a slightly different take on this—the Google search graphic.
You can see this in action in this Instagram post from the Australian skincare brand Go-To. They have overlaid an illustration of a Google search bar to encourage their followers to ask questions about the topic of free radicals in skincare. This is a clever way to not only generate more engagement but to also ensure they’re providing their audience with information that is actually useful to them.
Want to use this comment-worthy layout in your own Instagram posts? Check out the Blue Ocean Summer Instagram post template in Canva.
There’s no doubt that TikTok is taking over the online world right now. But thankfully, this doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon your other platforms where you’ve been tirelessly building a following for years. Instead, what we’re seeing is brands and individuals resharing their TikTok videos across other platforms to make their content creation efforts go further.
TikTok offers the functionality to create snappy, short-form videos that you can’t find internally on any other social media platform. Increasingly, we’re seeing marketers share their videos made natively within TikTok across their Instagram, Facebook, and even Twitter accounts. Even the world’s top TikTok stars regularly re-post their content on Instagram, reminding us of the importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket.
With people finding themselves with more time on their hands than ever, brands have found creative new ways to entertain their followers. One social media trend we’ve seen emerge through this is gamified content—, especially on Instagram. Whether it’s quizzes, bingo, or ‘choose your own adventure’ style posts, these are a fun way to encourage interaction on your posts.
One popular format that has exploded during the social distancing era is ‘stay home with’ posts. As you can see in the above example from Teen Vogue, this prompts followers to choose their ‘houses’ based on which people are in this. In this instance, this post prompted thousands of comments from people keen to share their picks.
Want to skyrocket your engagement on Instagram? Check out Canva’s range of gamified content templates, including the Bingo Instagram Story Template.
While Instagram’s video feature IGTV had a fairly slow up taking, it’s been on the rise in 2020. More and more brands have been taking to the tool to create long-form video series on the app—and with the recent addition of branded partnership tools, it’s likely to only become more popular.
Instagram also recently made some updates to IGTV to make it more appealing to consumers. They redesigned the homepage to feature a creator up the top, tailored to each user based on whom they follow and whose content the app thinks might interest them.
In order to get the most out of IGTV for your brand, be sure to shoot your content in a vertical mode in order to ensure it’s the right dimension. You may also want to optimize your content for silent viewing on your feed by adding subtitles, as can be seen in the above example for The K Guy.
You only had to look at your Instagram stories tab to see how the popularity of lives exploded during COVID-10—it seemed like every person and their dog was going ‘live!’ In April, an Instagram spokesperson revealed that the app had seen a 70% increase in live-streaming over the last month. This was likely boosted by the platform introducing the ability to watch lives on desktop as well as just on smartphones.
However, it’s not just Instagram users that have been going crazy over live streaming. Many brands have been making use of this feature on Facebook, on pages as well as inside groups. Even LinkedIn has hopped on the live bandwagon! The career networking app rolled out they're ‘LinkedIn Live’ feature by application only last year—and say their broadcasts generate 23 times more comments and 6 times more reactions per post than native video.
LinkedIn also recently took its broadcasting functionality to the next level with ‘Virtual Events.’ Merging their ‘events’ and ‘lives’ features, this will allow approved users to Livestream their events from within their event page, as well as on their company page. It’s set to be a handy feature for brands who want to maximize their LinkedIn reach and broadcast their virtual summits or workshops to a wider audience.
Last year, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that ‘groups’ would be a major focus of the app in the near future. This is evident in their recent redesign which sees the ‘group’ section front and center of the interface.
As of late 2019, more than 1.4 billion people used Facebook groups. Our global search for connection and community during COVID-19 has only seen this social media trend proliferate even faster in 2020. More and more companies are taking to Facebook to set up private digital ‘communities’ for their brand.
With the Facebook algorithm making it difficult to get organic content seen—typically, posts on your Facebook page will only be seen by 5.5% of your audience!—groups offer a stellar antidote.
They’re a way for brands to get their content in front of the people who actually want to see it, meaning it’s far more likely to actually show up on their timeline. Research from Facebook shows that users are open to seeing content from brands in groups, so long as they’re adding value and not just self-promoting.
The more targeted and specific the purpose of your Facebook group, the more it’s likely to attract an engaged audience. The Digital publishing company UNILAD’s Adventure Community is a great example. They have over 100,000 members in their closed group—and counting! While their overall brand covers many different topics, the purpose of the group is clear—for users to share their travel videos, pictures, and stories. The Facebook group banner immediately makes this purpose clear to anyone who visits.
Want to create an effective banner for your own Facebook group? Canva’s Mountain Photography Studio Facebook Cover is the perfect starting point.
With over 500 million people using Instagram Stories every day, it’s more important than ever for brands to stand out. One way companies brands have been creating thumb-stopping content is through the use of AR (augmented reality) filters. This allows them to layer interactive designs and other visual elements when taking a photo or video in stories mode.
Not only is this a great way to create beautiful content, but it’s also excellent for increasing brand reach and visibility. Companies can create their own AR filters and upload them not only to their own profile, but also the broader filter library. This would allow billions of users to use their filter on their own content, with your brand’s name on it!
Canadian fashion boutique Aritzia is an example of a brand that has done this well. Their branded ‘Super Glow’ filter has been popular on Instagram and promotes brand awareness without feeling too promotional.
Brands can create and submit their own Instagram AR filters using Facebook’s AR Spark Studio. However, you can use Canva’s design tools as a starting point for your visual creations and patterns, before turning them into 3D elements!
With such a focus on authenticity and connection, it’s no surprise that consumers are craving more personal interactions with brands. One way this is manifesting on social media is through the growing popularity of direct conversations. We’ve seen this not only through the introduction of the ‘DM’ me sticker on Instagram, but also the increasing popularity of brands using messaging tools like Telegram and Discord to communicate with their customers.
Fashion publishing company Man Repeller has taken this one step further and launched a text messaging service, Thoughtline. This tool sends subscribers tips, articles, and networking opportunities from the site via SMS. It’s an interesting new trend that allows brands to cut through the noise of social media and communicate with their customers in a way that feels more personal.
Want to launch a messaging service for your brand? Take a leaf out of Man Repeller's book and make a dynamic video advertising it. Canva’s Orange And Blue Edgy Fashion Feed Ad will help get you started.
Pinterest is by no means new—it’s been around for more than a decade. However, increased time spent at home during COVID-19 has breathed new life into this old-school platform. The use of the app skyrocketed globally during self-isolation, hitting its record weekend for saves and shares in late April. This led to Pinterest to introduce its ‘Today’ tab, which made it even easier for users to find ideas that are relevant to them.
In 2020, Pinterest holds immense potential for brands and marketers. It operates less as a social media platform and more of a search engine, meaning that users go there to search for a specific topic—and are open to discovering new brands that can provide them with solutions. In fact, research shows that 75% of people on Pinterest are open to learning about new products, compared to just 55% on other social media platforms.
With video really just starting to take off on Pinterest, this is a great way to take advantage of the benefits of this platform—whether that’s through tutorials, product tours, or even just making more eye-catching pins.
Want to get started with using video on Pinterest? Check out Canva’s stunning Brown and White Pinterest Travel template.
While these 10 social media trends are new and noteworthy, they’re unlikely to go anywhere anytime soon. Far more than just passing fads, they’ll continue to pave the way for new innovation in digital marketing—in 2021 and beyond!