5 Important Social Media Trends Startups Should Watch for in 2021

Nitish Menon

How they can tap into these trends and stay ahead of their competitors

The world of social media is always fascinating. The trends are ever-changing and endless. And as the year-end approaches, you may look back at your social media plans and goals for this year and wonder, maybe they could use a facelift.

In this ever-evolving industry, major social media networks consistently pivot, refresh, or introduce new features that require startups to change their strategy consistently. Stating that people don’t spend a good part of their day on social media is not acceptable, at least not in today’s world.

Social media has become such an integral part of people’s lives and daily routines. Some are addicted to it so much that the first thing they do after waking up is check their social feed. I plead guilty.

Given the importance of social media in consumers’ lives, startups now flock to these platforms in the hope of connecting with their target customers and engaging with them. However, there is always the issue of content overload on social media, which can prove to be extremely difficult for you to stand out unless you have a well defined social media marketing strategy.

Staying updated on the latest social media trends can help fuel that marketing strategy and help you stand out in the crowd. Here are five important social media trends that you need to be aware of for 2021.

#1) Ephemeral Content Will Dominate

Ephemeral content will continue to gain popularity in 2021. It is basically content that is available only for a short duration of time and disappears afterwards. Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat Stories are perfect examples of this type of content. Until recently, Twitter also added Fleets and LinkedIn added LinkedIn Stories, which changed the way people use these platforms.

Today, consumer’s attention spans are extremely short and limited, the also have a preference in the way they like to consume content. This is why content formats like Stories have become popular. They are short, engaging, and addictive in a way that people can spend hours scrolling through them.

This is clearly evident by the substantial rise in Instagram Stories’ daily active users, as shown in this report.

Pro tip — Startups must take note of this trend and leverage it to their advantage. Ephemeral content marketing will help them connect with their customers in a new way via storytelling. Ephemeral marketing plays on the concept of fear-of-missing-out to drive this strategy, which explains why the world is filled with signage touting clearance items, today only, and once-a-year sales.

#2) The Rising Climb of Video Content

Video content is climbing at an alarming rate and is considered as one of the most engaging forms of content. It will most likely dominate social media as a clear winner among all other forms of content. Startups have recognized this growth and are jumping on the bandwagon.

It can be short-form videos like TikTok, Reels or Stories or long-form content on YouTube, or going Live with different people. According to a recent Cisco study, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video content, which clearly means that video content is here to stay.

Pro tip — As a startup, if you’re not currently creating videos, it is time that you include it in your content strategy. You can begin by using the Stories feature for both, your social media content and for advertisements. You can also add videos to your social media posts, even on platforms that were traditionally dominated by image or text content.

#3) Influencer Marketing Will Still Be Relevant

Influencer marketing is not necessarily a new trend, but is one that is going to stay for a while. Today, social media is dominated by various influencers who are getting paid exorbitant amounts to promote their brand or affiliated brands.

We can look at this trend and its popularity from two perspectives. One can be seen by the sheer increase in the number of influencers on social media. Second can be seen by the increase in marketing spend on influencer marketing by startups.

Most startups are not just collaborating with 1–2 influencers now, but are working with a whole network of small, relevant, niche influencers. This kind of influencers get much higher engagement and cost much less. In 2021, more startups will use this strategy of working with multiple smaller influencers.

Pro tip — Investing in influencers is much cheaper than running paid ad campaigns or working with a single celebrity, and yet it delivers good results. Moreover, influencers can help marketers achieve a variety of marketing goals and not just generate leads. These are the two main reasons why startups must capitalize on this popular trend for their marketing initiatives.

#4) User-Generated Content (UGC) Will Still Be Popular

Startups leveraging user-generated content is a new trend that is still going strong. The only thing that has changed is the rate of adoption, with more and more marketers utilizing UGC.

Some startups motivate their customers to create content and tag the brand for a chance to be featured on their page. Some, bigger brands like Starbucks or Dove, run relevant marketing campaigns that encourage people to submit their entries to be a part of the whole campaign.

Pro tip — UGC should always have a place in your content mix. It is free and considered much more authentic than branded content. It can help your brand seem more trustworthy and can do wonders for your image. So, startups if you have never experimented with UGC for your social media, it’s time that you start leveraging it.

#5) Personalization Is Everything

Personalization is a fairly recent trend for social media. Some might argue that brands can’t exactly personalize their social media content for different consumer segments. True. But, they can still customize their social media ads for as many target segments as they like.

The key aspect where startups and marketers are leveraging the personalization trend is in their delivery of social media ads. Social media platforms have started providing advanced targeting and customisation options for marketers. These let you show the right ads to the right people at the right times.

Personalisation has reached a level that these social media platforms now also understand the type of products you like. And, they show you ads for similar products from different brands. Don’t believe me? Try clicking on any ad on Instagram and within minutes, you will see ads for similar products all over your feed.

Pro tip — Startups, it’s time to include your audience in the content planning process. With your paid social budgets, use the retargeting functionality offered by these social media advertising platforms to reach an audience who has already indicated their interest, maybe by visiting your website. It’s easier to sell to an audience that are already halfway down your marketing funnel.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the trends that will dominate the social media landscape in 2021 and beyond. Startups should leverage these trends to their advantage to stay ahead of their competitors. Social media is a dynamic and competitive space, so keep abreast of the latest developments around these themes and use them for your next social media initiatives.

However, there is no crystal ball in this industry, as there is no way to guarantee the plans we put forth today will result in the outcomes we predict tomorrow. Every startup marketer or social media marketer understands this nuance and embraces it. Well, at least most of them. By reading this post you’ve already set yourself apart by staying one step ahead of the masses.

Article originally published to Medium

Written by Nitish Menon