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New report: 2021 social media marketing predictions

Including research, data, and insights from a new report from Talkwalker and HubSpot, as well as thoughts from IMPACT experts. 

New report: 2021 social media marketing predictions Blog Feature

Katie Pritchard

VP of Services, 8+ Years of Client-Facing Project Management & Digital Marketing Expertise

November 10th, 2020 min read

It’s not really a stretch to say that 2020 has been a wild year. But we have to acknowledge it, as we look ahead to 2021. How many of you had carefully crafted plans you had developed in 2019 that had to be thrown out in some part — if not entirely — as well as adjusted numerous times once you got into this year? 

Although this year may have been more “extreme” in some ways — OK, a lot of ways; I’m looking at you, COVID-19 —  in terms of adjusting making plans, was it so different from every other year? Even in more “normal” years, we can rarely (if ever) consider our plans set in stone.

As events and data roll in, we adjust our plans and make different (better) decisions and pivots. That's just a fact of life.

🔎 Related: Online community management getting started guide for brands

So, whether we’re talking about last year, this year, or the next, we must do what we’ve always done — see what data is telling us, build a strategy, and plan to adjust as time goes on.

But how do we apply that logic to our social media strategies?

What data do we have at our fingertips now?

What changes should we expect in the new year?

Luckily, the teams at Talkwalker and HubSpot collected data and have predictions for social media in 2021 — so, there’s an opportunity to take a look at where trends are headed, and strategize for the upcoming year.

🔎 Related: View all of our social media marketing insights

This report is an analysis from more than 70 global experts — from frontline industry professionals and social media managers, to CMOs — to help pinpoint the trends they think will be the most significant next year.

Every data point is certainly not universal, so take what you need to make a better experience for your customers, and keep in mind what you/your team is capable of.

Social media 2021 prediction highlights

As brand marketers and business leaders, this new social media predictions report highlights the 10 key trends you need to be aware of going into the new year:

social-media-2021-predictions-marketing

Image source: Social Media Today

Keeping SMBs in mind, I found the following highlights from the report to be the most thought provoking when considering how to build your 2021 strategies.

Old school marketing for a new market

According to the report, tested and proven methods of engaging with your audience is a ‘safer’ way to set strategies during uncertain times. Brands are looking for simpler ways of engaging audiences, and consumption trends like Podcast listening are on the rise after several years of lower listener-ship. 

The report says: 

“Old-school marketing tactics such as newsletters and podcasts may lack the finesse of more recent methods, but they’re easy to establish by marketers and most importantly, easy to consume by customers.”

With this in mind, what have you done that’s worked in the past? Is it time to revive an old podcast, youtube series or blog series that could provide value to your audience? Creative strategies don’t always need to be bright, new, shiny things. 

Social media giants adapt to the new normal

It’s unlikely that social media giants will disappear or decrease engagement greatly in 2021, so you should proceed with the Facebook or LinkedIn strategy you’ve been considering. What we can likely expect, though, is that Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., will continue to make community guideline adjustments this upcoming year. 

The report expects more social media regulation, and that platforms will integrate shopping further to capture buyers where they are.

A little more conversation(al) marketing

With more people spending time online and engaging with brands digitally during the pandemic, conversational marketing has proven to be an expected norm with consumers. Not only is it expected that chatbots ai will continue to improve, but buyers will continue to expect simple, one-to-one, on-demand communication with your company. 

🔎 Related: 4 site pages you should put conversational marketing chatbots on

Bringing a human element to your marketing has to be incorporated into your 2021 strategy, or else you risk losing to your competitors that care about building relationships, not just sales. 

Our social media marketing predictions for 2021

Talkwalker and HubSpot may have compiled the report, but given that we’re immersed in social media and news constantly, here’s our take on what to expect in 2021.

Liz Moorehead, IMPACT's editorial director:

“As consumers, we've been using social media for years as a means to share moments in our lives and connect with other brands. In 2020, however, everything escalated. Social media, for many, became the primary way they could foster human connections and make sense of the world around them. (As a single cat lady living alone, I count myself among these masses.)

But beyond that, social media has become the only way for many of us to interact with the brands we know and love. To support them, to see whether or not they're open, what new restrictions may be in place, etc.

I would encourage business owners to understand that social media is a powerful way to continue to truly humanize your business, empathize with the consumers in your community, and keep everyone informed. Also, go for more unscripted moments, unpolished images, and more 'behind-the-scenes'-style content your audience can relate to.

I've noticed with myself and others I know, that we get turned off by brands who are acting as if life hasn't fundamentally changed. Acknowledge the moment we're in, don't deny it. Even though we're seeking normalcy, your ideal buyers are exhausted and don't want false mirages of normalcy either.”

Ramona Sukraj, IMPACT's managing editor:

“Social media has to be more authentic. With everything that's happened this year, social media remains as one of the few ways we have to connect as human beings. It needs to be 'social' again, though, and not about ads or self-promotion. Instead, brands need to focus on values, emotion, failures, wins... LIFE.”

Stephanie Baiocchi, IMPACT’s director of community and events:

“I think one of the most important functions of social media for business in 2021 will be that of customer service. Tensions are high and people are stressed. 

When they turn to social media to vent or for customer support, they expect a quick and helpful response and the absolute best thing you can do is to consistently provide that support. 

When others see your speedy and consistently helpful responses to others they’ll be more likely to trust you and do business with you.”

There’s no crystal ball on what is guaranteed to work in 2021, or what may come our way and change our plans, but we can still control how we intentionally build social media and digital marketing strategies. 

Data and user trends are essential at a time when the world has been flipped upside down, so let this report help you shape your strategies for this upcoming year.

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