The Future of Social Media Marketing: 11 Trends You Need to Know in 2021
About 68% of Americans use Facebook and 73% use YouTube according to the Pew Research Center. Over time, social media has evolved into a great tool for marketing. Just like other forms of marketing, the social media landscape is changing at a quick pace. This makes it important for you to keep up with the latest social media trends.
You also need to future-proof your social media marketing strategy. It needs to be reviewed to see what works for you and what doesn’t on the various social media platforms. This can help you optimize your social media posts to get the best results possible on each of the social networks.
So, which social media trends might affect the future of social media marketing?
Disclosure: This content has a few affiliate links, which means if you click on them, I will get a commission (without any extra cost to you).
Table of Contents
1. Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing has become popular on social media very quickly. It has even beaten print marketing in terms of popularity on Google Trends. People with thousands of followers can leverage their social media presence and collaborate with brands.
Image via Google Trends
Influencers get paid by the brands to promote their products to their audiences. Brands, on the other hand, are looking for reliable influencers to collaborate with to reach their target customers.
However, it’s not only the influencers with massive fan-followings who can reap the benefits of influencer marketing on social media. As its popularity soars, big influencers are becoming expensive for SMEs.
So, what can small businesses do?
This has led to the rise of micro-influencers.
Micro-influencers have fewer followers than big influencers but they have the advantage of higher engagement among their audiences on social media. Additionally, they charge significantly less than popular influencers for their sponsored content. This makes it affordable for SMEs to collaborate with micro-influencers and promote their brands to their audiences for business growth.
Just like micro-influencers, there are also nano-influencers. These influencers have less than 10k followers. While brands may not be able to reach a huge audience, they can benefit from the tightly-knit audiences of nan-influencers. And it doesn’t require a large budget to collaborate with these smaller influencers on social media platforms.
As they may just be setting out on their influencer marketing journeys, they may seek a stable partnership. It could be a great starting point to form a long-term partnership with such social media influencers.
However, finding reliable social media influencers can be quite a challenge given the number of fake accounts on social media. You need to thoroughly analyze each social media profile and their social media usage to figure out if it’s genuine or not.
So, what can you do to make this process quicker?
To avoid this issue, you can use influencer discovery platforms. They can make the entire process of finding an influencer extremely simple. I recommend using Fourstarzz Media for this.
It has a database of over 750K social media influencers and you can search for them based on hashtags, username, location, engagement rates, niche, and more.
2. Chatbots and AI
Chatbots are one of the latest trends on social media. It has become increasingly simple for people to reach out to brands through social media.
This makes it very important for brands to respond to their queries on social media as quickly as possible. While it can be a difficult task to get a human to respond instantly, chatbots can come to the rescue in such situations.
AI is the future of social media marketing and with it, you can have conversations with your customers. Chatbots powered by AI are being used on Messenger by many brands to promote their products and even resolve customers’ issues.
A great chatbot you can use for your business is Collect.chat. This chatbot can help you schedule meetings and collect leads on social media with ease.
You don’t require any technical knowledge to build this chatbot. It can be built using its easy-to-use drag and drop chatbot builder.
Mastercard, for instance, has its own chatbot that talks to you about your expenditures and finances.
Image via Mastercard Newsroom
Due to improvements in AI, more brands are switching to this mode of customer service to improve customer satisfaction levels. It can come in handy to answer common questions which may not require any human intervention.
At the same time, the quick responses also result in immediate problem resolution for the customers.
With a lot of ongoing development in the field of AI, it can be safely assumed that chatbots are here to stay.
3. Employee Advocacy
With the rise of influencer marketing, there has been a rise in the number of fake influencers too. These people fake partnerships with brands to promote themselves and become real influencers.
Brands need to put a lot of resources and time into analyzing influencers and their social media presence to figure out their authenticity. In a time when it can become difficult to trust influencers, employee advocacy will rise.
Your employees can become influencers for your brand among their circles on social media. You can encourage your employees to talk about your brand on social media to promote it among their own groups.
One way of doing this can be by giving some shareworthy social media content to them. Alternatively, you can give them some incentive to promote your brand on social media as well.
So, how can you get your employees to post about your brand on social media?
You can employ tools like DrumUp. This platform lets you release company updates to employees and makes it easy for them to share them on social media. Employees can schedule the social media posts with a single click and help spread the word about your brand online.
This platform also helps you incorporate an industry news stream so that you can keep your employees updated with the latest news in the industry.
Employees can be viewed as trusted sources of information for a brand. Getting them to promote your brand can help you gain traction on social media. This trend may dictate the future of social media marketing and influencer marketing.
4. Driving Sales Through Social Media
While social media has long been used to generate engagement and sales, the latter is becoming a solid trend. Brands are provided with the necessary tools to promote their products on social media to get sales.
With advanced tracking tools such as the Facebook Pixel, it is possible to chart out the buyer journey as well.
However, for this, you need to keep publishing good social media content regularly.
So, how can you achieve this?
To simplify publishing on social media, you can leverage platforms such as HubSpot. It allows you to create and publish your campaigns directly on social media. You can also schedule your posts well in advance so that you can publish them exactly when you want them to be posted.
Using the tool, you can also monitor your social mentions and engage with your audience. This can help you increase your sales.
According to Kleiner Perkins, about 55% of people who found a product on social media purchased it later. Among social media channels, Facebook is the leading platform for product discovery. Instagram and Pinterest are closely catching up in this trend as well.
Image via Kleiner Perkins
This means that you can promote your products on these social media platforms to generate consistent sales. It is not necessary to rely on sales pitches anymore.
With social media, you can catch the attention of your target consumers and get them to purchase from you. Paid promotions on social media for your products should definitely be a part of your social media marketing strategy.
5. The Importance of Engagement
Engagement has always mattered on social media. However, with the change in Facebook’s algorithm that emphasizes meaningful interactions, it has become even more important. This means that content that starts genuine conversations has become more favored.
So, what should you do?
In order to improve your organic reach, your content needs to be highly engaging. That means it should be interesting and appealing to your target audience too. It’s not enough to just ask people to like, share, and comment on your posts on social media.
You need to change your approach and move away from engagement baiting techniques. Genuine content is the key to success in the future of social media marketing.
6. The Rise of Groups
Groups on Facebook have new features such as live video content, story updates, and participation as a business page. With the changes in the algorithm of Facebook, Groups have become the go-to place to connect with your audience in the current social media landscape.
Through Groups, you can not only get feedback about your products but even generate additional engagement.
A similar effect has been noticed on Instagram where influencers have started making their profiles private. This is done to avoid the effects of the Instagram algorithm.
An influencer, Sonny, turned all of his meme accounts private and found that the growth rate was far better than when he kept them open.
Instagram Stories also have a “Close Friends” feature. Through this, brands can showcase their Stories to a select few people to give an insider look. This can even give people a more exclusive feel and they’d feel privileged to be able to see these Stories too.
Such segmentation trends can be expected to grow and shape the future of social media marketing.
2018 was a year filled with privacy issues on major social media platforms such as Facebook. GDPR also came into effect to protect the data that websites took from customers.
According to Sprout Social, only 55% of customers felt that brands were transparent to some extent on social media. On the other hand, only 15% of them felt that they were very transparent.
Image via Sprout Social
This powerful statistic shows that there’s a lot that brands need to do to grow their transparency on social media. And millennials expect brands to be the most transparent on social media. This means that you need to up the ante by admitting your mistakes or at least give honest responses to them.
What’s more, you ask?
The same survey also found the top desire of consumers is for transparency from brands. That includes business practices, the company’s values, and product changes. This means that you should share changes to your products and give a behind-the-scenes look of your company too. You can do so with image posts, video content, and live Q&A sessions.
The greater your transparency on social media, the more consumers trust you. And trust can translate into greater sales. That said, transparency is definitely the way ahead in the future of social media marketing.
Stories started out on Snapchat. However, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp quickly adopted this feature too. These primarily vertical Stories usually last 24 hours and give people tremendous opportunities to create different types of content.
About 500 million people watch Instagram Stories every single day. Similarly, Facebook stories can be seen on Messenger and Facebook on the desktop too.
They are highly engaging and due to their interactive nature, they have caught the attention of millennials. As many as 60% of them consume Stories on Instagram, 53% on Snapchat, and 48% on Facebook.
Image via VidMob
Due to this level of engagement, they have become a popular marketing tool for brands. Additionally, they are easy to create and don’t require a lot of post-processing.
The main reason for their success though is that they aren’t too long to watch. This makes it very convenient for people to watch them on the go.
Recently, even LinkedIn joined the Stories bandwagon. This goes to show their effectiveness. It is thus safe to say that Stories is a powerful trend in the future of social media marketing.
9. Live Videos
Live video content is another popular trend on social media. Live videos were launched first on YouTube in 2008 and then on Facebook in 2016. Even Instagram added this feature later on.
What’s more, you ask?
A study conducted by Brandlive noted that about 95% of marketers were planning to add live videos to their social media marketing strategies. There’s a lot of things you can do through live videos such as launching new products.
You can even demonstrate your products and create how-to live videos. This can help your audience get acquainted with the product better too.
Image via Facebook
Tastemade, for example, used Facebook Live to create a how-to video for their products. A live video gives your audience the opportunity to interact with you in real-time and clear their doubts.
This can help generate additional engagement and make the interaction exciting for them too.
You can even give your brand a more human touch by creating Q&A live video sessions. These add a human element and allow the consumers to get their doubts solved during the video itself by talking to you.
Sephora frequently does Q&A live videos on Facebook to generate engagement and resolve their customers’ queries.
Image via Facebook
The rising importance of video marketing cannot be ignored and is definitely a trend that will define the future of social media marketing.
10. Importance of Messaging
Messaging apps have started giving serious competition to traditional social media platforms. People want to move beyond commenting on posts and want to interact with their close circles personally.
This makes messaging very favorable for them. WhatsApp, Messenger, and WeChat have garnered above 1 billion active monthly users.
Brands need to understand how people use messaging apps to get their desired reach and engagement.
Image via Statista
Many brands have started sending out messages to customers on WhatsApp to build connections on a personal level.
This includes Absolut Vodka, which launched a campaign for an exclusive party. To enter the party, people had to message an imaginary bouncer and convince him to let them in. This led to over 1,000 unique images, videos, and audios aimed at convincing the bouncer.
Image via YouTube
Owing to the ease with which it is possible to communicate with near and dear ones, messaging will remain popular. There are lots of marketing avenues that are yet to be explored.
WhatsApp Business is only the beginning and this trend may as well become the future of social media marketing.
11. Augmented Reality
We may not realize it but we’re already using AR when we use the filters on Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat. It’s possible to give your face different looks through it and click photos and videos. Facebook Messenger has even made it possible to use AR during video calls.
While it hasn’t been used to market products yet, there may soon come a time when we may have branded AR. For instance, you may be able to try on branded glasses and purchase them right away.
Instagram has already rolled out such features and we may soon see more brands adopting it on the platform.
Image via Medium
AR is not only fun to try and experiment with but is even actionable. This makes it a very useful tool for marketing. Facebook has already announced the introduction of such AR ads to make shopping on Facebook even more appealing. This might as well become a trend in the future of social media marketing.
Q1. What is the future of social media marketing?
A. Social media marketing is here to stay and grow. With the rise in popularity of AI-powered chatbots, augmented reality, and social commerce, many marketers are using social media as an effective marketing and sales generation tool, and you should do the same.
However, it is important to understand and leverage the new features of different social networks to stay relevant to the ever-evolving industry of social media marketing.
Q2. What’s the next big social media platform for 2021?
A. Instagram is the next big social media platform for 2021 with 61% of marketers planning to increase their investment in Instagram marketing.
Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn will continue to be other popular networks for social media marketing. However, even after all of the hype, TikTok has failed to make it to marketers’ preferred choice.
Q3. Will social media replace traditional marketing?
A. Social media can’t replace traditional marketing completely because there are many people who still don’t have social media accounts. Many social media users don’t actively engage with brands and others on social media.
But the usage of social media is increasing and so will the share of social media marketing in digital marketing.
Q4. What will marketing look like in 2025?
A. Marketing in 2025 will be more about personalization, customer-centric strategies and messaging, and leveraging data and analytics. Also, many tasks involved in digital marketing today will be either automated or no longer required by 2025.
To stay relevant, it is important for marketing professionals to consistently learn and adapt to changes.
Q5. What are the biggest social media trends for 2021?
A. The biggest social media trends for 2021 are as follows:
- Increased long-term influencer collaborations
- AI and chatbots
- Employee advocacy
- Live videos
- Augmented reality
- Remixing to encourage user-generated content (UGC)
- Brands finding their place in ongoing viral conversations
- Memes for marketing
- Conversational marketing
Q6. What are the most popular social media sites?
A. The most popular social media sites for 2021 are:
Q7. What’s the next big thing in social media?
A. It’s difficult to determine the next big thing in social media but rest assured that:
- User-generated content (UGC) will continue to grow.
- Brands will focus on highly-targeted campaigns.
- Niche social media platforms will perform well.
- Instagram will continue to be a favorite for consumers, content creators, and marketers alike.
- Social commerce will expand.
- Brands will continue using social media, AI, and chatbots for customer service.
- Video content will rise in popularity.
Q8. What is the #1 social media app?
A. Instagram is the #1 social media app for consumers, content creators, and digital marketing professionals.
Q9. What was the first social media platform ever?
A. The first social media platform ever was SixDegrees.com, which allowed you to set up a profile page, create lists of connections, and send messages within your network. It was started back in 1997.
Q10. How psychology will shape the future of social media marketing?
A. Understanding consumer psychology can help you persuade people to take the desired actions such as buying a product, visiting a landing page, or signing up for a webinar.
Here’s how psychological factors can impact your social media strategy:
- Emphasize telling stories
- Understand and capitalize on consumer motivations
- Write compelling calls-to-action (CTAs)
- Use reciprocity (giving small gifts, discounts, etc. before receiving)
- Use emotions as a powerful business growth tool
- Understand color effects
- Partner with trusted influencers and industry thought leaders
- Leverage the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) technique
Ready to Face the Future of Social?
Social media is an important part of any marketing strategy. Trends such as live video, AR, and AI-powered chatbots are here to change the future of social media marketing. Influencer marketing and employee advocacy can also help improve your marketing strategy.
It is important to be as transparent as possible and build trust with consumers. With the rise of messaging apps, marketing on them may be a possibility in the near future.
Which trend do you think is the most important to the future of social media marketing? Let us know in the comments.
Disclosure: This content has a few affiliate links, which means if you click on them, I will get a commission (without any extra cost to you).