2020 was a heck of a year. If there’s one thing to take away from it, it's the importance of being prepared. For both the expected and unexpected.
With discussions of COVID-19, plus the subsequent social and economic repercussions, looming over everything we do, we look towards 2021. With insights from experts, influencers, and industry professionals on what you need to know to be ready for the year ahead.Download Social Media Trends 2021 Report
This year, we’ve teamed up with HubSpot to create a free Social Media Trends for 2021 eBook, that includes:
User-generated content is nothing new. But the way it’s created is. Remixing is on the rise, through apps like TikTok or Koji. Taking existing formats, templates, or ideas, and recreating them to express a user’s own personality or ideas.
Expect 2021 to bring even more opportunities for remixing, with brands taking the opportunity to use it to engage with new audiences and create additional content for their brand.
Gordon Glenister notes that it’s video driving this user creativity, while Ben Jeffries tells us why remixing is so enticing for younger generations.
“I can see interactivity rising in 2021. After personalized web experiences, interactive video content is something that has been rising - like Ask Video. Produced as short and engaging, it’s perfect to engage with younger audiences.”
Marketing Consultant and Founder of Creative Impact co
“User generated content will be the “crown jewel” for great brands in 2021. The best pieces of content will be the ones marketers don’t create, but facilitate. At a time where consumers’ lives have changed dramatically, they look to people, not brands, for inspiration about products and services that fit within their new lifestyles post COVID-19.”
Strategy Leader, IBM Cloud and AI, Middle East and Africa
“No surprise for many, but I think video will dominate social media engagement, we've seen the growth in Tiktok and Youtube and now Instagram Reels. The pandemic has proved that with so many of us online, we’ve been exposed to creative, entertaining and thought provoking video content and we want more of it.”
Global Head of Influencer Marketing Branded Content Marketing Association
“Video and music editing tools and effects available on TikTok and Koji mean that creating remix content is both simple and fun, and that is why these apps have become popular destinations for entertainment amongst Gen-Z audiences worldwide."
CEO at Influencer
“In 2021, we will see a huge influx of user generated content enabling brands to really propel themselves. The rise of online selling will only increase and it will become the norm to curate UGC. After all, there is no better social proof than your audience talking about your brand.”
Even if the pandemic is resolved in 2021, the repercussions will be felt for years to come. The shadow cast by coronavirus will most likely linger, making it hard for consumers to simply forget its consequences.
Brands will need to adapt their communications with this in mind - with the tone of 2021 shaped by the 4 Cs of coronavirus content:
Janet Machuka discusses the importance of adapting brand messaging to suit the crisis, while Lilach Bullock considers the broader changes on people’s lives, and how that will affect marketers.
"An important social media trend to watch in 2021 will be the evolution format for events due to the pandemic situation. I think a business plan needs to be adaptable to create a format that mixes the online and offline opportunities, and is able to replicate the networking moments in a meaningful way.”
Facilitator and Digital Connector at In Sprint Srl
“We’re seeing a rise in edutainment on social media platforms. Long-form educational content is condensed into bite-sized storytelling across the newsfeed and Instagram stories, feeding audiences that are now willing to spend more time consuming content that adds value and feeds their curiosity.”
Marketing Manager at Kerning Cultures
"It’s not 'Finger Lickin' good anymore as KFC temporarily dropped its iconic slogan because, with a pandemic going on, finger lickin’ is ""not currently advised"" and because of that, they have released a tongue-in-cheek campaign to go with it.
As the 4Cs of COVID-19 (Cleanliness, Contactless, Community, Compassion) continue to be the new normal in marketing, it’s bound to change how message is relayed. The effects of COVID-19 will be felt for months to come. Brands need to consider the 4 Cs in future marketing & PR efforts."
Founder ATC Digital Academy
“Across the MENA region, we expect to see the prominence of cash decline as the preferred payment method, in favour of digital payments. With this, brands should consider how they can build trust in digital payments with consumers.
Be prepared to redefine who you think your consumer is. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online and with it, your typical customer is likely to have changed. Research from Checkout.com suggests that most demographics, including older age groups, have shifted to eCommerce from offline commerce since the start of the pandemic.
Not only do they have higher disposable income, but also exhibit higher levels of brand loyalty. Brands will do well to consider their checkout experience for this demographic. Assess your payment options, security measures and customer support functions to best serve this emerging demographic.”
Mo Ali Yusuf
VP at Checkout.com
“The biggest social media trends of 2021 will definitely be influenced by the COVID-19 crisis. Because of the huge, worldwide scale of this issue and the way that it's affecting absolutely everyone's lives, it's impossible to leave it completely out of your marketing campaigns or your social media strategy.
But perhaps even more importantly, it's affected the way people lead their lives: from their Internet usage, their buying habits, their priorities, their spending power... everything is affected in some way by COVID-19. I think that 2021 will be a year of experimentation: a year of trying new strategies, new approaches, even new products and services, in order to keep up with this new world order.”
Business Success Coach & Consultant, Content Marketer
“Social commerce will explode in western markets. Forward thinking brands will quickly embrace tools from social media networks to sell products in their native apps. Some will use live-streamed video content featuring social media influencers. Consumers will lap this up as the growth of eCommerce skyrockets following COVID.”
CEO at The Social Store
“2021 will be the year of minding your own business, just to stay in business. Retail's not the only sector hit hard by the pandemic. B2Bs that relied on trade shows and conferences for deal flow will have to reinvent themselves online. And it all starts with optimizing the user experience by analyzing the data. Because whoever controls the layout, controls the payout.”
Digital Marketing Consultant
“KOL Commerce. KOLs also known as social influencers are taking social commerce by storm. The rise of social commerce has been phenomenal in Asia, fuelled by the pandemic. The influencer marketing model has quickly evolved social commerce into the space of live commerce, powered by influencer marketing scaling across social platforms.”
Managing Director PHD Malaysia
“Based on the expectation that Covid-19 will stay longer, the behaviors of the ‘society,’ ‘corporation’, and ‘customer’ are changing. With an uncertain future, customers demand more reliable and real information about companies and products.
However, the truth is advertisements don't always provide real information that is why the customer tends to trust word-of-mouth more than company-produced ads. Making sure that your brand communications reflect your consumer’s perspective is more important than ever.”
Forget emoji. Bin the GIFs. Memes are now the way to communicate. They’re spreading across the internet as a fun way to engage communities. But, it’s not just cat pictures. As per any communication, they can be used to manipulate the mindset of viewers. They can be used to normalize extreme behavior, like external agencies interfering with elections or other major events. In 2021, you need to be ready to protect your brand from memes.
“Talk about the last 10 years or the last 6 months, there has been immense fatigue in the content listed on all kinds of social channels.
Consumers are evolving and their options are ever-growing, hence it is important that a touch of innovation is constantly there in content marketing charters. Memes have evolved from simple stickers to GIFs and now video memes. The old school style of satire is the new-age catalyst in marketing.”
Head Content Marketing & Storyteller at Ferns N Petals
"Given the current business environment and the herculean task of charting the road to recovery, social and influencer commerce leveraging each platform's native features will become a top priority for brands and businesses.
The boom in short video content space has opened up massive engagement opportunities for creators. Expect brands to learn the craft of short stories and personalize content at scale.
Lastly, in the past few years we have seen the rise and rise of moments & memes. We will see more and more consumer brands acting and behaving like memers in the coming times!"
CEO at Social Samosa
It’s easy to look back on 2019, and think how much better it was. The positive emotions connected with the “good old days” help boost current emotions. And that’s where the power and the appeal of nostalgia marketing lies. It connects strong positive emotions to your brand. It gives it a sentimental boost.
During times of uncertainty and economic downturn, it appears more frequently as consumers look to connect with happier times to distract from current situations.
“After 2020, we need to remind our community, how precious a world full of freedom was. With some nostalgia marketing, we can create fun campaigns and look back to the good old days. The world is changing, and we never know when it's over. Staying positive is the best way to live with this pandemic.”
Head of Social Media & Content Marketing, Home Credit Indonesia
“Nostalgia marketing campaigns work especially well with Millennials as they mainly focus on purpose also because a good marketing strategy should always have a purpose. Reliving positive memories and beloved icons from the past can feel good. We are all so busy with hectic schedules every day that fond memories that make us smile leave us open to brand messaging.”
CEO @ Elle Innovation Consulting I Co-Founder @ Growence I Digital Strategy Consultant I SpeakerI Lecturer
“Totally and why not! We've seen times where we were #inittogether and togetherness leaves a plethora of memories behind. Business leaders should make sure each social media share has that little emotional edge that captures the attention of their target audience.”
Marketing Communications at Bizongo
Marketing is now a two-way street. Brands can no longer shout their messages at their audience and hope for the best. Instead, it’s about conversations and connections - having conversations with consumers to build those relationships. And create sales.
The pandemic has brought this to the forefront. Sales are no longer top priority for customers - it’s information, engagement, and social issues. Connecting with those stories will be key for engagement.
With insights from David Berkowitz on how omnichannel social media will connect conversations across all media, and Mireille Ryan on why shopping will connect to stories even more.
“Revealing the human side of the brand: Smart businesses will understand that being transparent, authentic, and even vulnerable is smart marketing in 2021. People connect with people. This means the brand should be personified in a way that reveals who they stand for and what they stand for. Get more faces out there, create more video, and talk about what matters to your core tribe.”
Michael A. Stelzner
CEO & Founder, Social Media Examiner
“In 2021 a focus on original & authentically branded content will dominate the next wave of marketing. Defined brand voices will ultimately assist in better-developed chatbots and voice search leading to growth in strategic marketing, and a demand for technology to feel more human in its engagement with the end consumer.”
“Marketers will gain appreciation for Omnichannel Social Media. This means that social media messages will extend across platforms and even channels, reaching audiences and customers by amplifying social messages across various touchpoints. There is much more opportunity for social media to be tied into all media, and the unpredictability of 2021 will accelerate that shift.”
Founder, Serial Marketer
"I think livestreaming will EXPLODE even further in 2021 and beyond. It's definitely a trend worth tracking. Streamyard, for instance, allows up to 10 presenters to stream to 8 sites at once and record continuously for 8 hours. What's not to love?"
Twitter Video Marketing Specialist, Keithkeller.com.au
“AI marketing is revolutionising how brands do business. Efficiency, streamlining and cost-effectiveness are becoming watch words for brands to help them cope with changing market needs as they adapt to doing things differently. Understanding customer behaviour has never been more important, and this is where AI marketing has the opportunity to excel.”
Founder of Leap Comms, KF.Solutions, 16 Secs, and Kundera App
"Marketing Automation via Conversational Commerce will be more important than ever in the years to come. With time spent on messaging growing exponentially; 68% of users choosing texting as their preferred way of communication and solutions like Google Duplex already hitting the market (check the Google Duplex A.I Assistant video on YouTube), brands should seriously start building their conversational funnels online."
Founder and Head of Product Marketing XYZ Lab
“The new business model for writers and content creators will be to monetize their individuality through social media platforms that provide direct access to a smaller, more engaged audience which will continue to upend the media landscape.”
Head of Product Partnerships, Quora
“Driving engagements through individualization to build sustained conversations that stay relevant and engage en masse.”
VP Marketing at Clevertap
“As the world moves increasingly online there's a lot more competition for attention and retention. The key for 2021 is making your content work hard to grab and maintain an audience. It’s essential to be entertaining, compelling and to understand human behaviour.”
Senior Social Media Manager at Guinness World Records
“Social media has played a key role in how many small medium enterprises (SMEs) have remained connected to customers during the pandemic. 2021 will be the year that social commerce takes off. More small businesses need to change up their usual marketing tactics and connect with customers on social media channels to stay ahead.”
Head of Marketing, Mudah.my
“Community building is going to be one to watch out for! Lots of brands ramped up demand gen and brand-building activities during COVID-19. 2021 is the time their activities will move further into fruition; they should push the throttle on this - it always reaps rewards! Communities build brands, who build business.”
Brand Storyteller and Community Builder, Solopreneur
“Brands need to be more human on social media, inviting the world to your dinner table for a meaningful and engaging conversation. You are your fans’ greatest fans and need to embody that no matter what social media channel you live on. Emote, respond, recognize, relate, be engaging. We’re not robots.”
Director of Social Media & Community
"With the introduction of LinkedIn Stories to some areas earlier this year, storytelling through ephemeral content is not slowing down. As we have already seen, this kind of storytelling is really powerful and allows brands to peel back the curtain to really share their personality with their audience. And audiences love that they can share in the moment and interact and engage with their favorite brands and companies.
With a quarter of Millennials and Gen Z users looking to stories for information about brands and products, and with social media platforms exploring more and more ways for users to connect shopping to this experience, I only expect it to grow over 2021.
The biggest challenge for brands is to look for new ways to create innovative content that will stand out and stop their followers from scrolling."
Social Media Marketing Institute
“Honest, personalized conversations. We need to put customers at the heart of the messaging strategy and the best alternative to meeting them in person, is with video. Brands need to humanize this virtual relationship and create emotional connections. It is time to listen more to customers and less to shareholders.”
Founder of Rantau Golin
“The most important social media trend to watch in 2021 will be community-focused activity. Groups and building a community around your brand will become more prominent as businesses struggle to learn new ways of doing things.
Sharing our knowledge, assisting others, and webinars will become essential as we navigate our way around working from home and remote working options. There are so many companies out there who are still new to social media, and the companies who will stand out will be the ones who offer demos and add value with content that inspires, gives hope and educates.
Let's mind each other more this year and walk the walk, helping each other with RTS and sharing each others' content.”
AKA Tweetinggoddess and CEO of Women's Inspire Network
“With social media ad platforms continuing to get saturated, producing innovative, 'stand out' creative is going to be more important than ever. If your ad creative looks like everyone else's, you're doing it wrong. How will you stand out in 2021?”
Co-Founder & CMO, Knowlton
“I expect collaboration to become much more prominent, not just among influencers as we know them, but also brands, agencies, business leaders, and independent talent alike. I believe in collaboration and 'collective spirit’, and think it’s about time like-minded brands and people show more openness to collaborations that would’ve previously been shunned by those with a little too much red tape.”
CEO, Truffle Social
“We all have felt the tremendous upheaval in our lives that 2020 brought. Not only COVID-19, but #BLM has really prompted the world to wake up and listen.
A huge portion of our lives (and therefore the forums of discussion) are now online, meaning that conversations on social media are beginning to change, reflecting the intensities of 2020.
Living in what is now known as "the new normal", many brands are reporting a whole new quality and volume in online communication with consumers. It is important now, more than ever, to understand the changes in conversation and language taking place in your industries and categories.
The voices of the people have to be continually picked up and analyzed to inform your strategy for tomorrow.”
Head of 65dB TOKYO
"In order to gain market shares, brands will need to be at the forefront of one's mind, inspire trust immediately, anticipate the problem to solve, and provide an immediate solution for their existing or potential customers.
Gathering deep customer data will help them master the conversational intelligence needed to be relevant, trusted, and to provide exceptional customer service."
Digital Marketing & Brand Manager
Koch & Co
As lockdown took hold, people turned to video games as another form of distraction. Yet gaming is no longer just about playing to win. Communities have risen within and around games, creating entire communities dedicated to the various fanbases.
Plus, as we learn more about how players benefit from games, developing relatable skills that are valuable within the real world, in 2021 we should see the stigmatism associated with gaming lift, and brands become more focused on these relevant communities.
Eunice Yin Ern sees gaming as vital for creating great consumer experiences, while Rahul Pillai thinks entertainment will be a big driving force behind content creation.
"Technologies like AR and VR will help in creating a social media virtual reality world where people can connect, play games, and explore.
Brands started recognizing social media as customer service channels, since customers try to reach out to them on social media. Social networks and regulatory bodies will tighten their norms."
Director and Founder, Newness
“The blurring of lines between social media and gaming platforms will be something to watch out for, as these two communities continue to evolve, and merge.”
Jheric Delos Angeles
Head of Marketing & Partnerships at Amanotes
“Gaming audiences is still a largely untapped but potentially effective avenue for brands to drive innovative forms of social engagement. To succeed, brands should go beyond just integrating products & key messages; and focus on the experience they want to build; that’s unique to their brand essence & core values.”
Social Strategy Lead at Digitas
“Gen-Z audiences use gaming and social media in equal measure, and that is why these worlds are beginning to merge. As the gaming industry is set to be worth $94 billion by 2024, brands should consider implementing marketing strategies on gaming sites to complement their wider social media strategy."
CEO at Influencer
“The biggest trend that I see is user generated content and gaming interactive form of contents. The reason for this trend to grow is because most of the online users like to interact and engage with content that has entertainment.”
Senior Social Media Analyst, Freelancer
Some trends come and go overnight. Some circulate, bouncing back into the social consciousness every now and then.
Marketing is no different. Techniques we shunned before, can suddenly reappear, especially during times of uncertainty - with comms professionals switching back to tried-and-tested methods over disruptive ideas.
Because of this, in 2021 we will see a rise in “old-school marketing” as brands switch back to a simpler way of engaging consumers.
Cheryl King highlights the importance of podcasts for building trust, while Leila Hamadeh looks at how they are perfect for targeting specific audiences.
“Micro > Macro: we will see a rising importance of micro targeting, micro influencer and small data. The little is the detail, the more is the value.”
CEO at Marketing Freaks
“Marketers need to be digital-first in mindset today. That's why 'old school digital marketing' is as important today as ever. From customer education through blog posts and email marketing to engaging with consumers in webinars, videos, and even podcasting, old school digital marketing is all the rage.”
Author, The Age of Influence
"As 90% of podcasts are listened to on a smartphone – essentially being ‘radio on demand’ – the creation of a series of podcasts to deliver business updates, to keep employees and staff motivated, and to update on the state of play, has proven to be an effective means to really resonate and build a level of trust with internal audiences in the absence of the physical office set up.
As we now come out of these few months and some of us move back into offices, whilst others stick to working from home, one thing’s for certain: how we communicate will never be the same again."
Managing Director, markettiers MENA
“From a brand perspective, studies show that podcast advertising is more effective than other forms of digital advertising thanks to deep audience engagement and strong host/listener rapport. So, when you look at the opportunities for custom-made podcast series and audio ads, the opportunity to reach a young, digitally-minded audience is absolute.”
CEO Finyal Media
"Today's marketer must understand that there is no longer "magic bullet". Especially when it comes to content.
In a "punch line" world, especially on social media, short content is the key even in B2B environments. However, be focus only on short content is a mistake.
The perfect mix would consist of long content like white papers, medium size content like articles and then short content or even #snackcontent.
For marketers, the complexity is to manage different content formats, adapted to each social media, a content more and more personalized and engaging. Today, it's crucial to try new formats of content like podcasts, vocal tweets, LinkedIn stories, in order to find the one that meets the audience expectations."
Director of Southern Europe Marketing Mitel and President of CMIT (a Tech French Marketing Association)
Often when reviewing social media trends, there’s some that will cry out that one platform is dying. Or that another will take over. For this trend, we predict that the dominant social media platforms of today will be just as significant in 2021 and beyond.
They may have new features and will adapt to the trends in their own particular way. But their significance is unlikely to dwindle in the coming years.
Matt Navarra expects more social media regulation, led by both government and user requirements. While Ashvin Anamalai predicts that the platforms will integrate shopping further into the social media landscape.
“I see a coming backlash to racial and other bias in marketing, unwittingly introduced by AI algorithms and the polarizing AI algorithms used by the social networking companies to slice people into groups, so they only see one side of an issue.”
Marketing Strategist and WSJ Bestselling Author of Fanocracy
“Social shopping will become more prevalent as Facebook rolls out (and optimizes) its Commerce Manager functionality for business owners. Also, virtual events will evolve to become more immersive experiences for social connection in our new COVID-19 world.”
Social Media Educator and Researcher, University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
“The era of discussing and debating regulation of social media will soon be over.
In 2021, tech giants such as Facebook will increasingly need to adjust to a new set of rules and restrictions imposed by governments and regulators.
Social media users will also have higher expectations in regards to the conduct and behavior of social platforms following scandals such as Cambridge Analytica. Those platforms that fail should expect limited patience or forgiveness by its users in 2021."
Social Media Consultant
“More than ever before, live-stream broadcasts have taken the spotlight on the list of social media trends this year. Live-stream viewership has risen by 50% since the start of 2020, coupled with higher rates of engagement compared to regular video uploads. As a practitioner, I’ve personally seen user preferences changing, platforms evolving, and new platforms coming into existence.
And the results? Fantastic.
Live streams are certainly exploding right now. They have been proven to be effective in maximizing engagement and driving optimal viewership, dominating the world of social media. Tools like Streamyard and Switcher are game-changers.”
Founder and Account Director at Nimble Marketing Consultancy
“Year 2020 has definitely been the year of changes in the digital space. With the ban of TikTok in India and the launch of Instagram Reels, plus the rise of lots of local players like Roposso, Trell etc., the influencer marketing ecosystem is definitely evolving. We still don't have a clear winner but it will be good to see who emerges as a leader post TikTok.”
Head - Influencer.in
“A trend that looks to emerge is social shopping. The majority of modern shoppers already use social media for product research and buyer sentiment, and brands will look to capitalize on this point of user contact by bringing the experience one step closer. E-commerce usage is already a part of our everyday lives, and social shopping looks to be the next big thing.”
Chief Strategist at Be Strategic
"Social commerce in 2021 will completely change the way in which we purchase through social.
Driving customers from social to websites has become increasingly difficult due to platform algorithms. Over the next 18 months we'll see purchases being made in App. Through Facebook & IG lives and TikTok's partnership with Teespring."
Co-Founder & Creative Director at Electric House
“The most impactful solutions still largely lie in the hands of the social media platforms, governments and regulators around the world are aware of this fact, and I expect them to start enforcing more strict regulations on the platforms to combat the mass addiction caused by their algorithms.
Phone makers like Google and Apple already started implementing screen time monitoring tools within their smartphone systems; it’s a good start to help users control their consumption but the biggest impact is still to be led by the social media platforms.
There are lots of dynamics to consider in the potential solutions here since the business models of all these platforms are built based on the very thing that is causing these issues — more consumption = more ads served = more revenue. But with all this in mind, now more than ever, it’s our collective duty to find and implement solutions that will help combat the negative outcomes caused by the excessive social media consumption.”
Social Media Manager at Spotify
Social media has always blurred the lines between fact and fiction - from the highly edited lives of some Instagrammers, to Twitter parody accounts.
But the coronavirus has brought the issue to the forefront. Society is facing an uncertain future. This uncertainty has created a hotbed of misinformation - with false stories leading to life-changing decisions. Expect 2021 to be the year brands and social media channels focus on highlighting the truth, and silencing ‘fake news.’
Joanne Sweeney believes digital disinformation will put more pressure on online comms, while Gini Dietrich thinks mitigating harmful content should be brands’ priority for 2021.
“We will continue to see the growth in creators in the social media space. Influencers will continue to be present, but accountability, authenticity, and transparency will be the areas brands and companies will use to determine who to partner with, and who to pass on. Empathy and advocacy will be elements that will be integrated within messages and purposes for creator campaigns. The days of "faking it till you make it" without any experience other than having lots of followers are over.”
Associate Professor of Strategic Communication
“The rise of digital disinformation will place extra pressure on government and public sector agencies as they step up their communications online. The COVID-19 infodemic in particular needs agile, responsive, trusted and transparent digital communications. Social listening is essential to capture public sentiment and to respond to fake news.”
Author & CEO at Public Sector Marketing Institute
“Because of the volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity of today’s very competitive world, misinformation and disinformation will not just be on the rise, but their distant cousin - malinformation - will rise as well.
And they will continue to wreak havoc if/when left unchecked by social media platforms. We are therefore faced with the most difficult task of carefully balancing when and what content to police, or when and what content to allow in the name of freedom of expression.”
Ron F. Jabal
APR, CEO PAGEONE Group
"The rise of deepfakes, misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and post-truth, often referred to as fake news, raises concerns over the role of the Internet and social media in building your brand and how your brand will be perceived in the future. Due to its rapid and widespread diffusion, digital disinformation has not only an individual or societal cost, but it can lead to significant economic losses.
Today, social media platforms miss an adequate regulation and their roles and responsibilities are still not clearly defined. A number of issues are still open, like the application of adequate data protection rules. Until this is rectified, prepare for a field day for the fakes."
Founder ATC Digital Academy
“The audience will show greater prudence in detecting propaganda and fake news - they have seen conspiracy theories fall flat in the year 2020 and are aware that the content on leading social platforms are not gospels of truth.”
Director - Marketing at Swiggy
“We’ve seen a massive shift online to "harmful content” or content that is meant to harm brands, either intentionally or not. Because of that, fake news, misinformation, lies, or QAnon will create crises for brands—without much warning. This is the most important place for you to spend your time in 2021.”
Founder and author, Spin Sucks
“The digital surge during the pandemic has put transparency, communication and trust under the spotlight. Going forward, consumers will continue to demand authenticity in everything, from information sources to experiences. That is why the future of social media will be user-generated and community-driven. By far more trustworthy than branded content.”
Managing Director at DIA Brand Consultants Malaysia
"I hope to see more efforts in minimising fake news, half-truths and hate speeches on all social media platforms.
If social media were to replace printed media like newspapers, they need to build credibility by fact-checking content on their platforms."
Group Managing Director at Havas Immerse
“Trust and authenticity will be key themes. Weary consumers are gravitating to trusted media brands to help navigate uncertainty. The tech giants are under greater public scrutiny. There is an opportunity for brands and marketing and communications teams to build trust by engaging authentically with their audiences.”
Managing Director, APAC, Telum Media
“I see consumers becoming discerning on social media platforms - evaluating fake news, paid media, buzzy news vs some real conversations between brands and humans, engaging with authentic and more real content. Also social enabling some real human connections vs a ‘projected life.’”
Vartika Malviya Hali
Here it is. The number one trend as defined by our survey. We’ve discussed the rise of Generation Z in previous trend reports, but in 2020, it was clear how this socially conscious generation (and the future Generation Alpha) had an impact on brands, politics, and society as a whole.
Companies will have to engage more with topics like mental health, inclusivity, and social justice, or face becoming irrelevant - and potentially, obsolete - in 2021.
With input from Rob Carney on identifying your brand’s ‘why’, and Dr Jillian Ney, discussing how social data will help brands perceive the consumer perception.
“The rise of socially conscious consumers is only expected to grow with Gen-Z now moving towards adulthood and nearing their entry into the formal workforce. Known to be the most well-educated generation yet and one that mirrors similar values to those of Millennials, including their outlook on climate change, racial equality, feminism, educational and professional equality and much more.
Brands need to realize that they need to go well beyond just lip-service and do the work on creating an honest social impact. Based on a poll conducted by Forbes in 2019, 88% of consumers want to support brands that have social causes aligned with their product/service. Aside from it just being something 'nice' to have on your mission statement, it's now, also incredibly profitable.”
Wellness & Food Sustainability - Brand Consultant
“With the rise of social conscious audiences, brings complexities for the social media companies and entities such as NGOs who support social causes globally, for example, the global refugee problem. It is going to become increasingly difficult for some NGOs to raise awareness and funds through social media companies in 2021.
This will stem from the fact that there is more attention around political and social issues around the world, and the negative publicity or impact that social media companies like Facebook have received that comes across as interference in other countries' issues. NGOs supporting causes outside their own country will get caught in a situation where they may not be able to boost posts monetarily to raise awareness and funds any longer.
We are just starting to see this trend now and will only increase to the point where some NGOs may need to consider other ways besides social media to communicate to audiences who support their global missions in 2021.”
Digital Storyteller and Social Media Consultant
"The pandemic has changed a lot of habits, and digital consumption is the most drastic one. While social media was a platform to build conversations earlier, it now becomes a channel for brands to build their cultural identity, especially in the SEA region where the number of digital consumers will reach 310 million by the end of 2020.
This identity ensures that consumers remember a brand beyond their products, how they relate with them and consider them reliable. Lastly, to build a strong brand on social, marketers have to think beyond the generalisation of Gen Z and Millennials to create a brand which focuses on building a community of like-minded individuals."
APAC Marketing Director at OPPO
“Brands will have to find their place in public dialogue on social, particularly when it comes to social justice. However, words without action are meaningless: demonstrating commitment will matter more than ever when it comes to attracting (and retaining) employees, customers and other key stakeholders."
Director of Social Strategy, Operations & CSR at Hootsuite
"Short-form video will continue to rise in popularity, with more brands exploring TikTok and Instagram's Reels. Brands will be looking to create unique 15-second videos to ensure they are showing up where their audience is now spending time.
We will see more corporate, traditional brands launching eye-catching campaigns in this new medium in a bid to target Generation Z audiences. We are likely to see more recruitment campaigns for both career and education opportunities utilizing TikTok and Reels.
Savvy brands will enlist the help of food, beauty, fashion and sports influencers to create content on their behalf. These influencers will have technical know-how in using the full menu of effects, such as stickers, filters, and music to ensure their content stands out.
Global brands with a healthy advertising budget will explore paid opportunities amongst short-form video content, particularly when it comes to supporting large events such as the Super Bowl and rescheduled Olympics."
Social Media Consultant and Founder of Avocado Social
“In the coming year, socially conscious consumers in Asia will continue to impact on brand marketing decisions. But not necessarily in support of the same issues that western audiences engage with. While global topics such as climate change and gender equality are important, Asian consumers want to engage with issues that often feel more immediately ‘closer to home’ – poverty, clean water, healthcare, local democracy. Brands creating and engaging with a global purpose, need to be aware that one-size doesn’t fit all.”
Chair PRCA SEA & Regional Director (APAC), Archetype
“Inclusive and intergenerational content: If we've been keenly watching 2020, we'll notice one thing. The year has been unraveling many truths. Truths that have been longing to get their due. 2021 will be the comeback that we've been waiting for. With shorter-form content still being the most shared format, we'll be seeing inclusivity with brands being more 'woke' along with consumers.
Brands must be careful of stepping on the thin line between actionism and activism. Speaking of inclusivity, intergenerational content will be mounting the hobby horse of popularity and help bridge the gap between generations, getting people closer as a result. Memes will continue to use truth as an icing, adding mirth to the laughter cake and facilitating micro-conversations. It's all about chattering with fingertips, with silent lips, and that will change the parameters for social engagement. Let me double tap that!”
Network Director, GetCraft Singapore
"Going into 2021, Team Carney recommends brands to embrace their ""Why"" with specifics. Consumers are paying attention, and actively choosing to support brands that align with their values. How would a brand or agency do this? Pick a side and lean into your values with action. Think Aerie's commitment toward using un-retouched images and diverse representation, or Patagonia's investment in renewable energy and its monetary incentive for employees to carpool.
At Carney, we help clients reach their "why" by kicking off any project with a Discovery Session. We dig deep into audience personas to formulate messaging that speaks to their material and emotional needs."
Owner of Carney; a digital agency that produces the marketing newsletter, The Daily Carnage
“The rise of socially conscious audiences - With an increased focus on well being of self and society, the relevance of brands giving back to society and environment has never been higher. Audiences are also connecting more with brands that have a cause or stand for initiatives that they relate to and this trend is going to grow even further in 2021.”
Co-Founder - Social Beat, Influencer.in & Digigrad
“The number of senior executives being fired for inappropriate tweets, the rising examples of brands coming under fire for putting advertising budgets behind questionable content, and corporations being punished in stock markets for unsustainable business practices, all point towards one thing – the rise and rise of socially conscious consumers.”
“Audiences, whether they be customers, employees, investors, or anyone who comes into contact with a brand, are increasingly expecting the brand to play a role in society, beyond simply producing a product or service. As if the brand were itself a person, it’s no longer enough to be a consummate professional.
How does the brand behave outside the workplace, what values does it believe in, and whose company does it keep? These are the questions that communications professionals are now having to address.”
Managing Director, Adfactors PR
“Brand responsibility is taking centre stage. Now more than ever, we’re demanding that our brands show up with purpose and meaning, beyond product marketing agendas. Those that do well will be the soul searchers who are committed to long-term understanding of their wider impact.
What’s exciting is that brands are using social data to fuel their responses with a true understanding of what’s going on, in real time, and how their vision fits. We’ll see more long-termism, less emphasis on product marketing and unprecedented investment in brand health mechanisms that offer consumers credible value. Well, for the brands that want to succeed in today’s business climate!”
Dr Jillian Ney
Digital Behavioral Scientist, The Social Intelligence Lab
“With the increase of social media activism and activists, we will witness a change in behavior in the way consumers interact with social platforms. They will be more conscious, and brands have to capitalize on this behavioral change with the content they produce.
It will mean brands can no longer be happy to remain neutral without opinions. Brands that take a stand will be loved and engaged with, versus brands that insulate themselves against any form of opinions.”
Vice President & Head of Digital, Dentsu Impact
“Trust is going to be imperative, so brands have to be honest, conscientious, and appropriately humorous. In a world where people feel that they have to compromise enough (in what we hope is a post-pandemic world), the last thing they want is for companies to be insensitive, or unethical to make a quick buck.”
Head of Communications at Spotify India
"The rise of socially conscious audiences should alert organisations to strive for consistency with their brand, values and actions.
Me too, social justice and sustainability, 3 areas where insincerity, or manipulation may result in significant and rapid damage that is difficult to repair. On a positive note, accountability is a great way to differentiate yourself from the competition and build customer loyalty."
Co-founder Business Sorter
Did you spot the ultimate trend for 2021? The pandemic has escalated one global change from a ‘nice to have’ to ‘an essential for survival.’ Christina Garnett hints towards it here:
“We will see a deeper focus on community building and audience intelligence. The pandemic has created new opportunities for us to connect, and brands are seeing the importance of fostering these bonds. Brands will need to do more social listening and research to better understand why consumers engage with them.”
Insights Strategist at VIZIT