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The year 2020 radically upped the demands for businesses serving customers online.

Suddenly, every business was required to operate online. Many retailing models were forced to implement big changes to enable people to shop. Even determining how a customer should review a product has become a tricky undertaking.

Since the pandemic has spurred so many people to participate in Zoom calls, one thing is for certain: Live streaming is here to stay.

The same type of wholesale change has happened in business.  Customers have become accustomed to interacting with brands online in real-time. They can now examine a product for purchase without leaving the comfort of their home.

Live streaming, such as Zoom, is a new form of social media. This form of social media has surged in popularity because of the pandemic. Twitch is a live video streaming service. In December of 2020, Twitch participation had increased 67.1 percent in a year’s time, and the number of monthly streamers, 6.7 million, was up 84 percent on the year.

Live streaming used to be associated with gaming. Now, all types of interpersonal events are happening via live streaming including major shopping events or opening up a bank account.

Taking into consideration that live streaming has changed how we live, and that it is essentially a form of “social media,” here are the top social marketing trends for 2021 that businesses should be aware of.

Increase in the use of traditional social media for customer service

Traditional social media has morphed from people sharing content with friends and family into a retail platform. Traditional social media is increasingly being used to feature products and provide customer service.

This change happened as brands began to notice customers reaching out to them on social media. In the early going, brands responded to these customers and referred them to the “proper” channels.

Today, the number of interactions between customers and brands taking place on social media has expanded exponentially. So much so that brands recognize social media as a fundamental service channel and one in which it is important to handle customers well—the potential downsides of poor customer service on social media are scary.

Personalizing social media will become more and more important

How can brands “personalize” their social media? One answer is by customizing their social-media advertisements.

Social media advertising now offers advanced targeting and customization for businesses. It enables businesses to display the right ads to its target markets at the right time. Social media also understands the type of products customers like and will display ads for similar types of products from different brands.

If you doubt this capacity, check out an ad on Instagram. Within moments, you will see similar ads running throughout your feed.

Local targeting will increase

In the same way that search engine optimization helps local brands generate increased organic traffic, social media marketing is using more and more local targeting.

A variety of brands use local targeting to engage and attract customers from a specific geographic place.  One way that brands do this is by geo-tagging posts. By adding a location to content, it brings in a local audience.

Some social media platforms allow users to search posts by location or nearby spots. By adding locations to your content, your brand will appear in local search results.

Promoted posts or Tweets effectively help brands to geo-locate audiences. By using Facebook’s “boost post” option, your posts will appear in the locations you’ve selected.

More and more, location-based marketing will increase on social media. Success is just a matter of knowing how to do it.

Tiktok is undergoing a meteoric rise

Tiktok’s phenomenal rise will continue throughout 2021. Thus far, the site has two billion downloads. Each day, Tiktok users watch one billion videos.

If your brand is interested in participating in Tiktok, it’s useful to review a breakdown of the age groups of its users. Thirty-two percent of Tiktok users are aged 10-19 years old. Twenty-nine percent are 20-29. Sixteen percent of Tiktok users are 30-39. Thirteen percent are 40-49. Seven percent of users are over 50 years of age.

Brands will re-evaluate their social-media metrics

Vanity metrics versus value metrics: Too many brands have confused the two.

Far too many brands are participating in social media without establishing goals or grading their performance against valuable metrics. In trying to gauge the success of their efforts, many brands look to vanity metrics such as their number of followers.

Social media marketing is growing up. This year will see brands make better use of metrics. They will focus on metrics that demonstrate how social media improves their bottom line.

These new metrics cover key portions of the social media funnel: awareness, engagement, conversion, and consumer.

  • “Awareness” is brand awareness and this is typically gauged by mentions, shares, links, etc. This indicates how quickly your audience is growing and your brand’s reach and potential reach.
  • “Engagement” is demonstrated by likes or favorites as a percentage of all of your followers. This is also characterized as your applause rate, average engagement rate, or amplification rate.
  • “Conversion” is a metric known as conversion rate, click-through rate, bounce rate, or cost-per-click.
  • Finally, “customer” equals your brand’s customer satisfaction score. It includes such things as customer testimonials.

Commerce is increasing on social media channels

Buying continues to increase in social media channels. Here are the statistics. Fifty-five percent of consumers purchased a product on social media. Fully 87 percent of customers claim social media helped them make a decision regarding buying.

And more and more social media platforms are including an e-commerce element. Of course, Facebook and Instagram have already done so.

The use of videos continues to grow

Watching videos is another trend that will continue in 2021. Four times as many people prefer watching YouTube as participating in non-video social media channels. Sixty-eight percent of consumers watch YouTube in order to make a decision about buying. Eighty-four percent of consumers purchased a product after seeing a promotional video.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are becoming more prevalent

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) appear to have a real future in social media marketing. Sixty-five percent of Americans identify as visual learners. By 2024, the global market for VR and AR is projected to be 73 billion.

In 2020, there were four times as many searches for virtual reality as in the previous year. Three-dimensional products typically provide a more intensified and improved online purchasing experience.

Social conversation will continue to increase in importance

Because social media conversation will continue to increase, it is important to know what people are looking for. People use social media content for entertainment: 32 percent use it to find something funny. Sixty-eight percent of consumers say companies don’t share interesting content. Finally, tone matters a great deal in social conversation: 32 percent of Americans are more likely to purchase from optimistic or comforting advertisements.

Social media marketing is a dynamic and competitive space. By leveraging these emerging trends to your advantage, you can stay ahead of your competitors

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