Five social trends for 2021: Marketers must exercise restraint to succeed

Five social trends for 2021: Marketers must exercise restraint to succeed

Brands that listen, avoid social media stereotyping, deliver on promises and provide engaging customer experiences will succeed in 2021 as the world reels from the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Hootsuite.

From the emotional fallout of COVID-19 to the uprising against racism and police brutality, marketers have faced untold pressure this year to address these world-defining moments.

As a result, a great deal of meaningful change has taken place, and consumer demands have reacted accordingly. In fact, for 55% of people, it’s important to them that a business operates according to its core brand values, proactively makes the world a better place (53%) and sets an example for other businesses (45%).

This is according to Hootsuite’s Social Trends 2021 report, which explored the emerging trends in social, to help brands navigate the changing (and challenging) landscape in 2021.

If 2020 was dominated by reactivity, 2021 is the year for restraint as brands work to get their strategies in order and take the pressure off front-line social teams. This cannot happen without a top down approach from CMOs, in a truly-purpose driven organisation.

Other key findings from the report include

  • Instagram’s advertising reach grew (7.1%) more than three times as much as Facebook’s (2.2%) between July and September. However, Facebook is still seen as the most effective for reaching business goals (78%) — this is key for brands to know where to invest their time and money
  • More than half of all businesses (60%) are planning to increase their Instagram budget in 2021, and almost half are planning to do the same for Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn. While a hot topic, only 14% of businesses are planning on increasing their TikTok investment, suggesting brands are still not seeing the platform’s worth
  • 73% of all marketers ranked ‘increased acquisition of new customers’ as their top outcome for social in 2021, compared to only 46% last year
  • Multichannel marketing campaigns are far more effective than single media, with ROI and effectiveness increasing by up to 35% per new channel added
  • Forrester predicts that spend on loyalty and retention marketing will increase by 30% in 2021

Hootsuite’s fifth annual Social Trends Report, shines a light on emerging trends in social media to help brands navigate the fast-changing consumer landscape in 2021.

The new findings from Hootsuite reveal the shifts marketers must make as the world becomes more digital after a year that redefined social media—with 4.1 billion people now using social worldwide.

“As much as we all would like to forget 2020, it has reshaped the world of social and business. In a year marked by a global crisis, social unrest, and widespread mistrust, Hootsuite’s Social Trends Report is an optimistic forward look into the future of social media,” said Henk Campher, VP of Corporate Marketing at Hootsuite. “Every second of every day, 14 people create a new social media account—and amidst physical distancing across the globe, the need for brands to pivot, adapt, and overhaul to keep up with complex consumer lifestyle shifts and expectations has only increased.”

Hootsuite’s guide to navigating social in 2021 pairs salient findings with quick wins and industry examples. Based on a survey of 11,189 marketers in Q3 2020, the report features insights from primary interviews with dozens of industry specialists, as well as published reports and data from Deloitte, Edelman, eMarketer, Forrester, GlobalWebIndex, The CMO Survey, and others.

Although it can’t predict the future entirely, the timely industry analysis discovered that:

  • Customer acquisition is social marketers’ top goal: 73% of all marketers ranked “increased acquisition of new customers” as their top outcome for social in 2021, compared to only 46% last year, marking a 58% year-over-year increase.
  • Instagram reigns: More than half of all businesses (60%) are planning to increase their Instagram budget. And though Instagram leads the charge in attracting marketing spend, almost half are planning to do the same for Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
  • Social data builds confidence: 85% of organisations that integrate social data into other systems have confidence in their organisation’s ability to accurately quantify the ROI of social media.

Here are five key trends that emerged from the report’s data, with insights on the most effective ways to bring new customers through the door:

  • The race to ROI: Social bridges the gap to a new customer experience

Deliver short-term return on investment with targeted performance marketing tactics while building innovative digital experiences that win long-term loyalty by bringing discovery, connection, and fun back to the customer experience.

  • Silence is golden: Brands find their place in the conversation

Smart brands sit back and listen, then win with creative, original ways of fitting into the social conversation to break through the wall of indifference.

  • Way more than OK: A generation overlooked by digital marketers booms on social

By using smart segmentation and thoughtful representation, marketers who include baby boomers in their digital strategies can leapfrog those still stuck in stereotypes.

  • Do I know you? Tying engagement data to identity gives advanced brands new momentum

With renewed momentum and executive attention on social media’s ability to retain critical connections with customers, now is the time to take steps—big or small—to bridge the gap between engagement and customer identity.

  • The perils (and promise) of purpose: Bold brands start in the boardroom, not the front lines of social

Instead of using social as a mouthpiece for empty promises, strong CMOs will use the intelligence gathered by social media teams in 2021 to help the organisation adapt to new buyer beliefs, new ways of doing commerce, and the new path to growth.

“In 2020, our customers did a phenomenal job of quickly adapting their digital strategies to include a more integrated and imaginative approach to social,” said Campher. “With Social Trends, we hope to give them the confidence they need to navigate a dynamic new phase of global social growth in 2021.”

Get the full analysis, brand examples, and strategies for 2021 in the full report.