Social Media Trends for 2021

Dec 17, 2020

Social media has become an even more integral part of our lives in the last 12 months.

More than half of the world’s population now uses social media. User numbers grew by more than 10 percent in 2020. According to Hootsuite and We Are Social this took the global total to 4.57 billion in July.

So, how will social media evolve in 2021?

As we put 2020 behind us, it’s time to predict our social media trends for the year ahead.

1. Social Media ROI 

In the aftermath of 2020, we will see many businesses using social media to generate new leads and acquire new customers.

Social media will be expected to work a lot harder to generate a return. We are therefore going to see better measurement and analysis particularly when it comes to proving ROI.

Marketers will be looking to report on direct results from influencer marketing campaigns, social media advertising campaigns, and creative content such as TikTok or Reels.

Metrics such as Cost Per Acquisition, Return on Ad Spend, and Assisted Conversions will be the focus over Likes, Follows and Shares.

2. Authentic Video

Video is our top trend once again. In 2020 we saw a huge rise in authentic, unpolished, raw video. From TikTok to Instagram Live, and of course Zoom!

Lo-fi video saw a huge surge this year. We all became content creators from our homes, and consumers have reacted well to unedited and truthful brand updates.

Brands embraced IGTV, Live and Reels on Instagram to update customers on behind the scenes and offer unique experiences. During lockdowns, we saw brands share key skills such as flower arranging, cookery and exercise. Drinks brands including Naked Wines and JING Tea offered live tastings on Zoom and Facebook.


Connecting with customers through video allows marketers to share impactful brand stories and customers to enjoy memorable brand moments.

We have also seen more user-generated content being used as part of major ad campaigns. Tesco’s Food Love Stories TV advert for example used clips filmed from customers at home.

2021 will see the authentic video trend continue as brand marketers become more confident using some of the latest platforms and tools.

3. TikTok

TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2020 and has really had a cultural moment during the pandemic. The app is set to grow further, with some predicting it could reach 1.2 billion monthly active users in 2021.

TikTok is no longer just about dance routines and challenges. It has become a huge source of educational, entertaining and useful content. Take a look at accounts such as Garden Marcus, The Royal Society of Chemistry, or Women’s Health who all share interesting and valuable videos.

Garden Marcus Tiktok

TikTok offers a unique opportunity for marketers to reach younger demographics in an extremely playful and energetic environment. Brands don’t need to invest a huge amount in TikTok, as raw, unpolished videos perform best. The app creates a level playing field for marketers as accounts with low to zero followers have an equal chance of going viral. (Huge thanks to the algorithm).

Take a look at our In-Depth Look at TikTok Marketing.

We’re going to see some big changes on TikTok in 2021. Rumour has it they are testing even longer content (three-minute videos) and are set to integrate social shopping via Shopify.

4. Brand Challenges

While discussing TikTok, it’s worth adding that it’s the home of the hashtag challenge. This is a task set by a brand, influencer, or user for their followers to try.

We will see far more of these in 2021, as many brands get to grips with TikTok. It’s a brilliant way to spread awareness quickly and crowdsource content. It’s also a fantastic way to get social media users excited about your brand, products, and story.

Brand challenges on TikTok have performed incredibly well during 2020, with the most notable being the E.l.f cosmetics #eyeslipsface campaign which saw over 4 billion views and 5 million video contributions. Adweek has named it the most successful TikTok marketing campaign to date, with celebrities including Reece Witherspoon and Lizzo joining in.

Guess’ #InMyDenim branded hashtag challenge was another success story. The brand called for consumers to show their fashion style in denim. By partnering with influencers and creating on-trend videos, Guess saw amazing results with their 6-day challenge. Over 5K videos were created, resulting in 10.5 million video views, a 14.3% engagement rate, and 12,000+ new followers for Guess’ business account on TikTok.


5. Social Shopping

With the closure of physical stores and the cancellation of major shopping events and festivals, social shopping became a part of our everyday lives.

Instagram has made huge strides with shoppable storytelling, adding shoppable tags to many of its in-app features including Stories, Reels and IGTV. This links very well with the app’s drive to attract the best content creators and encourage brands to work in partnership with them.

2021 will see further acceleration for social commerce, with TikTok announcing a major partnership with Shopify. Will other platforms launch shoppable tags within their content streams?

6. Crisis Communication

Marketers have been forced to improve customer experience in 2020. Many of us have had to adapt quickly, anticipate change, and react fast in social media. This has led to many brands improving their processes around crisis communication and becoming more confident at reaction-based social media marketing.

From live updates from CEOs and founders, to quickly creating graphics and videos showcasing Covid-secure venues and procedures.

We’re excited to see what else 2021 has in store for us. Here’s to year ahead!


What social media trends do you predict for 2021?

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