Anna Willems
Anna Willems 17 February 2021

Five Trends That Will Shape Social Media Marketing in 2021

As we move into 2021, one thing has become more important than ever: connection. The events of 2020 kept us apart physically, and many turned to social media for human interaction, even if virtual.

Whether they’re interacting with friends and family or keeping up with their favourite brands, people want a genuine, personal experience on social media. In this piece, I will break down the five main trends we predict will shape social media marketing in 2021. 

Trend #1 - Social Commerce is the Future

The Covid-19 pandemic, which kept much of the world at home to avoid face-to-face interaction, accelerated the existing trend away from brick-and-mortar retail dramatically. Social commerce is an $89.4 billion market, and growing rapidly. That market share is expected to increase fivefold over the coming decade, and last year alone, Facebook advertising revenue leapt almost 30%.

There shouldn’t be anything surprising about the rise of social commerce. 60% of US millennials have Instagram accounts, and Pinterest’s user base is 322 million. We’re spending more time than ever online, and 30% of that on social media. Moreover, social commerce is a natural extension of user behaviour; consumers already use social media platforms for product research, especially Pinterest and Instagram.

Take the ‘social’ aspect of social commerce seriously. Your audience is likely already interacting with your brand on social media; use social listening tools like Mention to keep up with what they’re saying and improve their experience wherever you can.

Great social commerce is about your customers, but it should also be guided by who you are. Being yourself is paramount, so that your audience can recognize the brand they love.

Trend # 2 - Short-Form Video Will Explode Across Channels

The term ‘short-form video’ may seem self-explanatory. But on social media, this is a type of video content that’s not just short, but also informal, engaging and accessible. Last year, users showed us that they love short-form video content. Similarly to the past explosion of Snapchat followed by Instagram’s Stories feature, this year TikTok rose in popularity, then saw new competition from Instagram Reels.

This type of content is no longer the latest trend, but an absolute must to stay relevant. Furthermore, short-form video is the perfect way to offer audiences an intimate, personal look inside your brand - crucial in a time when consumers place much value on authenticity.

As video is rising in prominence, marketing teams and budgets are unfortunately getting tighter. But bringing video out of the marketing department and empowering your other teams to get involved provides an achievable way to create content that feels authentic, educational, and entertaining. 

Trend # 3 - Nano-Influencers Will Fuel Organic Social

Influencers are already integral to social media marketing. But in 2021, effective influencer marketing will turn everything we thought we knew upside down. Instead of seeking out influencers with the largest possible following, innovative brands are going the opposite direction, choosing nano-influencers with small, niche followings that are highly engaged. 

Smaller influencers are emerging as the prime solution to declining organic reach across all forms of social media. The perfect nano-influencer for your brand is already out there - it’s just a matter of finding them.

Even if you can’t find any influencers that are already talking about your company, you can still use social listening to your advantage. As we outline in this article, look for nano-influencers within your niche who may not yet be aware of your brand. Even if they’ve worked with your competitors, that shouldn’t be a deal breaker - rather, it may indicate that they’d be a good fit.

Think of nano-influencers as an elevated version of user-generated content (UGC) - a way to provide genuine, authentic content that feels social, rather than promotional.

Trend # 4 - More Personalized ads Target Growing Communities 

As online competition ramps up, ads are becoming more niche and personalised to effectively capture audience attention. Brands are communicating with their customers in more personalized ways, such as private messages, and customising the image, video and text content in their marketing content. The more tailored your marketing communications are to the potential customer receiving them, the more likely they are to break through the noise.

With the events of last year affecting many consumer’s financial health and discretionary spending, the stakes are high. 

For brands, what does personalized content look like in practice? Personalized marketing is all about quality over quantity; finding your audience and truly resonating with them, rather than trying to please everyone or reach as many people as possible.

Like other social media developments we foresee for 2021, this kind of marketing is all about keeping things personal and authentic. Everyone is looking for connection, and social media marketers need to meet that demand. 

Trend #5 - More Brave Branded Content that is Audience-Centric

In 2020, the terms of our engagement with social media changed. We stopped skirting around sensitive or contentious discussions, and started proclaiming our values loud and clear. 

A global pandemic, racial injustice, climate change... all of these issues became deeply embedded across the social landscape and into the daily life of social media marketers.

On Instagram, text graphics emerged as one way to spread important information, often shared as carousel posts of beautifully designed graphics that are both informative and visually appealing. Instagram described this type of content as ‘info-social’ - and consumers displayed a surprising appetite for this content on the primarily image-based platform.

While this can be uneasy territory, brands need to take the leap and ensure that all their content, overtly promotional or not, aligns authentically with their values. Certainly, we saw many brands falter on social media during this past, pivotal year. 

To speak out confidently, you’ll need to know where you stand — and where your audience stands, too.


​In 2021, the social media landscape will keep evolving, but social media marketers are used to keeping up with rapid change. These new techniques and strategies may have a learning curve, but they’re all just ways to deliver what consumers want: a personal, human connection. 

If you’re not sure how to get started, just jump in and try things out. 

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