By Charlotte Nichols, managing director of Harvey & Hugo
As a public relations agency specialising in social media, we always keep on top of what is trending to keep our campaigns relevant.
The digital landscape changes from year to year, with new platforms launching, new features being added and new types of content finding favour.
So what’s on the cards for the rest of 2021 and beyond? Let’s take a look.
Less is more
While consistent, regular posting is still important, 2021 is all about quality rather than quantity; no more posting for the sake of it.
Today’s followers care less about how much you post and more about what, so use your content wisely. Consider using video to create behind-the-scenes content or customer reviews. It may seem like more work in the short term, especially if you’re used to bashing out a quick two-sentence tweet, but it’s a more effective use of your time and resources.
And before you start, research your algorithms – different platforms have different requirements regarding frequency of posts, so make sure you’re hitting the sweet spot.
However, with technology bringing us ever more advanced functions, brands need to take full advantage of all the tools out there, such as animations, shopping links and AR to stay one step ahead.
While many brands inspire fierce loyalty among their fans, nothing compares to the trust between family and friends.
That’s why user-generated content (UGC) is an important tool to allow companies to demonstrate their authenticity while also directing consumers toward products.
A 2020 survey by UGC specialist Stackla found that 79 per cent of people said that such content highly impacted their purchasing decisions.
Also bear in mind that social mistrust and general wariness has grown over the past few years; a quick look at the comments on promoted ads will verify this. More than ever, posters will be asking if anyone ordered from the company or if the product does what the video claims.
Just a taster
In the midst of a global pandemic, nobody had the attention span for long-form content in 2020, instead preferring a brief escape from reality. The rise of TikTok and Instagram Reels and continued engagement on Stories content from Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, led to more and more brands creating short-form pieces of content to reach consumers.
It’s not just the short and snappy element that’s appealing; ephemeral content – that is, content that only stays visible a short while – is popular for a couple of reasons. One, it appeals to audience’s FOMO; they need to catch it before it goes. Secondly, its ad hoc, rough and ready nature adds an extra element of authenticity, which consumers love.
So, as social media attention spans continue to shrink and more people scroll mindlessly through feeds while bored at home, don’t expect short-form content to lose steam anytime soon.
Here’s where videos and infographics are a great idea; they stop the scroll and can be used to impart a lot of information without a wall of text.
Data from GlobalWebIndex on consumer trends in 2021 found that 29 per cent – so, nearly a third – of internet users across seven countries said they would frequently watch live streams from influencers they follow. Furthermore, among those users, 80 per cent say they’re likely to buy a product from the livestream.
Audiences love to feel as though they’re part of something, so help them feel included by going live. Broadcasting live video content also allows your followers to engage with your brand in real time – and everyone loves that interactive element.
Forget e-commerce, there’s a new kid on the block – social commerce.
As the name suggests, social commerce is the increasing ability of brands to sell through social media alone, without sending customers to a website. It is forecasted that by the end of this year, the global social commerce market will increase by about 34 per cent.
With 70 per cent of consumers searching for products on Instagram and Facebook, anything that makes it easier for them to make a purchase will be welcomed by brands. Such frictionless commerce reduces the click rate and makes conversion more likely.
Another trend that looks set to continue well into 2021 is brands taking a stand.
A study by Accenture found that 62 per cent of consumers want companies to advocate for the issues they’re passionate about. Furthermore, 33 per cent of consumers would deliberately buy more from a brand that voiced an opinion that aligned with their beliefs – no matter how controversial.
Think of Nike (never one to shy away from controversy) adding its voice to the Black Lives Matter campaign or Ben and Jerry’s repeated support for causes it believes in; sure, both may have alienated some customers, but they inspired increased loyalty among those who stayed. And that’s not to mention the increased (free) publicity the campaigns brought about.
Social media is one of the best tools brands can employ, being easy-to-use, low-cost and high impact, which is why it’s important to keep up with the latest trends – and your competitors.