Top social media trends to drive your 2021 marketing strategy


How can marketers prepare to take on 2021? This year has been a rocky one for many businesses globally, and some of the business trends we see today are likely to continue in the coming year. While a complete recovery might take some time, it is still important for brands to equip themselves with a robust marketing strategy for 2021, based on data-driven insights and consumer trends. In this article, we look at three social media trends that are expected to drive the most impact in 2021, according to both the experts and consumers. These are trends which marketing professionals should definitely leverage and weave into their marketing strategy in 2021.

Download the Talkwalker Social Media Trends 2021 report for the full list of trends that will shape the scene in 2021!

The impact of socially conscious audiences

Consumers today are more socially aware than ever before. Generation Z and Alpha actively engage in conversations surrounding social issues like mental health, equality, education, and climate change. They consciously search for brands with social values that are in line with theirs, while avoiding those which aren’t.

“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.”
Roha Daud, Wellness & Food Sustainability – Brand Consultant

2020 saw people around the world being negatively impacted by the pandemic. This, along with other significant 2020 occurrences, led to consumers being even louder in speaking up regarding the issues affecting society today.

Conversations surrounding these issues will very likely continue in 2021, especially on social media. Hence, brands need to regularly engage in discussions regarding topics that matter most to their consumers, while ensuring that they actively create a positive social impact. It is also crucial for brands to be discerning in identifying issues most relevant to their target audience in the region.

“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.”
Lee Nugent, Chair PRCA SEA & Regional Director (APAC), Archetype

The rise of digital disinformation

While the problem of “fake news” has been plaguing social media for the past few years, 2020 saw this issue being brought to the forefront due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to high levels of uncertainty, consumers were desperate to obtain, as well as share, COVID-19 related information. But it was not always accurate.

The spread of such misinformation could bring about some serious implications. In Singapore, around 40 instances of fake news related to COVID-19 were debunked between the start of 2020 till May 2020, prompting the Singapore government to activate the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act in order to curb the spread of false information.

In light of the rise in digital disinformation, 2021 will see the major social media channels taking active steps to curb this trend through means such as labeling of social content that is deemed to be inaccurate or misleading. Hence, brands need to adopt a culture of transparency with consumers to reduce the chances of people filling information gaps with inaccurate news regarding their brand. Businesses should also practice brand monitoring to detect any instances of fake news being tied to their brand and address the issue before it becomes a full-blown PR crisis.

“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.”
Tim Williamson, Managing Director, APAC, Telum Media

Conversational marketing

Conversational marketing is all about engaging customers and building relationships through personalized content. Brands today can no longer simply put out messages, and hope for the best. There is an increasing need for brands to establish a 2-way conversation with consumers, and connecting with them on matters that are most important to them. Especially during a crisis, sales are no longer a priority for consumers. Rather, genuine engagement and relationship-building are the key factors in creating a robust customer experience strategy.

“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 in 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.”
Mireille Ryan, CEO, Social Media Marketing Institute

Brands should leverage tools such as chatbots, live-streaming video platforms, and social channels to build authentic connections with consumers while showing them the human side of the brand.
They should also conduct social media listening in order to create a single source of truth – an integration of various sources of customer data – and then use the information to optimize the consumer journey.

The 3 trends above highlight the importance for brands to put consumers at the center of every marketing initiative. To do this successfully, it is crucial to stay on top of the latest industry trends that will shape consumer behavior in the upcoming year. For insights into other social media trends that will impact in 2021, download the full Social Media Trends 2021 report by Talkwalker.

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