5 emerging social media trends taking center stage in 2021

What’s “in” and what’s to come in the social world? 

By Samantha Capone

Changing social media platform features can shape the way we tell stories and engage with followers online, so brands must keep up to stay connected to their audiences. As we move into the second half of the year, leverage these key trends and updates. 

More Profile Personalization 

Social media apps are continually updating their products to be more user-friendly, engaging, and inclusive. One of those key areas is personalizing your profile. 

  • Instagram and LinkedIn now let users include multiple pronouns: Users can select up to four pronoun choices, such as “her,” “his,” “they,” “xe,” “pers,” and “fae,” among others. On Instagram, users can choose to show pronouns only to followers, providing even greater control over personal information sharing. When responding to user comments, take the time to use the person’s name and pronouns correctly. 
  • Giving users more control over post reactions and engagement: Instagram and Facebook allow users to hide like counts to make sharing and consuming content more enjoyable and less competitive. Twitter is testing the possibility of enabling emoji reactions to tweets—an exciting move for marketers, since research shows that adding emojis to tweets can improve engagement by around 25%

Given the widespread adoption of these updates, we expect more profile personalization additions in the future. 

Focus on Increasing Engagement Through Stories

With the sky-rocketing popularity of ephemeral stories, social media apps continue to upgrade the “Stories” experience for users. Increase your reach and engagement by posting original content to Stories and sharing from followers and partners. 

  • Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn all offer disappearing story content, though LinkedIn’s only works via its mobile app and Twitter is replacing Fleets with Spaces (its version of audio chat rooms). 
  • Instagram is focused on increasing engagement and creative opportunities on Stories through:

It’s clear Stories will maintain its reputation as a space that enables businesses, influencers, and individuals the capacity to connect with each other in unique and profitable ways. 

Competition on Live Audio Chat Features Increases

The introduction and popularity of the new audio-based chat app Clubhouse (which just opened access for anyone to join) has caught the attention of many social media enthusiasts. In becoming a space that “allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas…and meet people around the world,” social media giants are also testing features that compete with Clubhouse’s power.

  • LinkedIn: Many argue that one of the largest advantages that Clubhouse presents to users is networking—a practice that LinkedIn founded its success on. It was no surprise then when LinkedIn announced that it was testing for a new audio communication component within its app. They will look to outperform Clubhouse by connecting this feature to users’ professional (instead of personal) identities.
  • Spotify: The already audio-based app just combined with Locker Room to release Spotify Greenroom to allow users to distribute live audio shows and optionally turn them into podcasts afterwards.
  • Facebook: Last month, Facebook tested its first live audio rooms in the U.S. 

Despite some issues with abuse and (lack of) moderation on Clubhouse, live audio chat room experiences seem to be the next big thing. 

Get in on the JokeAppropriately 

You’ve seen the trends—the Bernie mittens meme, #DollyPartonChallenge, “My Plans vs. 2020”—people appreciate humor, and the accounts who can join the conversation appropriately. If you’re going to join in on a joke, make sure you weigh in when it’s still relevant (usually within one to three days of a meme making the rounds), that the content is appropriate and connected to your brand, and that the content is in good taste. If done well, capitalizing on humorous posts can propel engagement with followers. 

Upping the Storytelling Game with Video

Savvy marketers and influencers are harnessing the power of video on social media: 60% of marketers say that videos drive more engagement than photos, and live video holds viewers’ attention 10-20 times longer than pre-recorded videos.

  • TikTok: the short-video social media app that grew its average users an astounding 75% from January to September 2020 has exploded into a platform for fun and functional content. Known for its fast-moving content, many were surprised to learn that TikTok would be testing longer format, three-minute videos. This could really change the storytelling possibilities on this platform. 
  • Instagram: Through its Reels and IGTV features, Instagram offers both short- and long-form video options. Reels has its own tab and IGTV house longer and previously recorded live-videos.

Overall, live-stream watch time has increased by 250%, and professionals expect 82% of internet use to be for streaming videos by 2022. It’s clear that whether a raw original, polished production, or remixed challenge, video is upping the storytelling game. 

Reach and Inform Audiences in New Ways 

For an increasing share of users, social media platforms have become the contemporary medium for news and important information. This is an opportunity for brands to spread awareness about their work. 

E-Commerce Skyrockets on New Platforms

Easy-to-use in-app shopping and one-click purchase features are behind a significant rise in e-commerce. Virtual browsing and purchasing skyrocketed during the pandemic—E-commerce grew 20% in 2020 and 62% of US shoppers assert they shop online more now than they did pre-pandemic.

Through advertisements, sponsorships, and influencer promotions, finding and purchasing from brands through social media has never been easier. Brands that can harness seamless in-app marketing and shopping functionality through Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook will see a rise in profits. 

What are your favorite trends or updates on social media platforms this year? What are you anticipating in the upcoming months? Whether you’re a social media expert or novice, #TeamMoonsail would love to hear your thoughts!