Social Media Trends: 10 Predictions for 2021

Another boring what’s in store for you? No: Because everything is different this year. Contact restrictions and the use of new technologies in digitization impacted not only many people’s everyday lives but also on social media. New trends have emerged and will continue to develop. Read our predictions for the social media year 2021.

Current Social Media Trends: How Digital Culture Is Changing

A lot has happened in 2020: The Covid 19 pandemic has reached its peak so far and has changed the way people deal with digital media. Many personal encounters had to be avoided, and contact at work and in leisure time was largely shifted to social networks.

At the same time, new media formats have emerged: TikTok conquered the American and European markets more and more, while the established networks reacted to the new competition with functions such as Instagram Reels.

The biggest challenges for companies lie in the new formats and in dealing with social changes and the growing political awareness of young users. But it is also clear: With the skillful use of social media, just as many opportunities arise from the increased requirements.

So that you recognize your possibilities in a good time, we are examining which trends are currently developing: What will the social media landscape look like in a few months? Which values ​​are important to the next generation? And how can you use all of this for your brand communication?

10 social media trends for 2021

Find out below which trends you should incorporate and implement in your social media strategy for the coming year.

1. Remixing: How brands let the new generation speak for themselves

Apps and functions such as TikTok or Instagram Reels have created a completely new culture of “remixing.” It’s not about mixing music. Rather, it describes the way in which users convert existing content on the Internet so that something new is created.

Basically, this practice is nothing special: Pop culture itself is based on transforming and interpreting already existing individual parts into a new whole. What is new, however, is the target group and the availability: The growing social media generation, in particular, uses the technical possibilities of the apps to express their interests and personalities and then to disseminate the content quickly.

Online marketing is still in the starting blocks to take advantage of this trend, but successful campaigns should only be a matter of time. The prerequisite is that brands manage to provide (branded) templates for users. On this basis, the target group can create their own content and thus spread their ideas and the brand message of your company.

2. A new canon of values: The “4 C’s” of the C ovid-19 c ontent

Covid-19 will affect people’s lives and the media landscape, at least into 2021. Brands have to adapt their communication accordingly. New is Resulting from this model with the “4 C’s” of C ontents. They are:

  • Community (Community)
  • Contactless (contactless)
  • Cleanliness (hygiene/cleanliness)
  • Compassion

These values ​​are reflected both in the way it is marketed and in the content itself. Anyone who thinks about these four points and allows them to flow into communication is not only a good partner in a difficult situation but also benefits from the zeitgeist – many companies have already recognized this.

3. Memes? Yes, but with monitoring, please!

Granted, memes are really not a new phenomenon. Nevertheless, the image content created by users continues to gain in importance. 43 percent of 16 to 29-year-olds regularly share the pictures and videos, 37 percent are convinced that they are art. Companies will, therefore, try more and more to make use of memes in the future.

It’s not that easy. Sensitivity and caution in dealing with the often political internet (sub) culture are required. Otherwise, it can go the same way as with Wendy’s, who, in ignorance, shared the anti-Semitic coded Pepe the Frog. To prevent this from happening, marketers can find explanations of current memes on knowyourmeme.com.

A good example is Vodafone, who manages to bring the entire brand message to the point in a humorous way in a simple image. 

Ideally, the community disseminates and uses brand messages independently. Social media monitoring of the images is very important – otherwise, companies lose sight of the marketing results, trends, and possible risk sources.

4. Everything was better in the past: nostalgia marketing is coming back

In the digital world, there is a great desire for retro and nostalgia. This is shown by successful series such as Stranger Things or the return of Nokia’s flip phone. It is nothing new that people like to think back to the “good old days” and are even willing to pay more money for a product when they feel like they are back in time. But this need is likely to be particularly great in times of crisis.

The nostalgia will also be increasingly felt in marketing: companies will present their products as carriers of the very values ​​that were supposedly lost in 2020 – specifically, security, freedom, and health.

Incidentally, this is neither a cause for concern nor a new phenomenon: Advertising always used the nostalgia factor, but intensified during the economic crisis in the 1920s and the great recession at the end of the 2000s. Therefore, companies are also allowed to use their content in old times in 2021 indulge and will succeed with it. But what to watch out for: Often, the content only works for one age group within the target group.

5. Chatbots as intelligent and personal companions

Marketing has not only been dependent on dialogue since yesterday. However, social media has moved a lot in recent years and has also created a relationship between companies and consumers in digital environments.

Well-known platforms such as Facebook or Instagram and trained employees are not even required for this. Because now, chatbots are developing so quickly that more and more companies are implementing the automated conversation partners on their own website or social media messenger with little effort.

Under the keyword Conversational Marketing (i.e., the dialogue with the user when he visits the website), more and more intelligent, personalized, and automated “conversation partners” are used. The sales pitch, which otherwise took place in the downtown shopping mall, is likely to be replaced more and more frequently by the dialog on the website in the future – and this will be completely automated.

6. Social gaming: creating brand experiences through gamification

Not only did the sales pitch fall more and more often in 2020. Many events in which a brand could meet people personally had to be canceled. So how do companies create the framework for new experiences that convey the brand message?

One answer that the New Year should give is gamification. Not least because the community has grown significantly, marketing is likely to take the scene more and more seriously. The number of people who describe themselves as gamers rose from 31.1 million in August 2019 to 41.2 million in July 2020.

Companies outside of the gaming industry are also discovering games for themselves. Then creative ways are required: The Papa John’s pizza chain, for example, celebrated success in the UK by calling out the “Score Twice Half Price” prediction game on Premier League match days. Anyone who guessed a team that would score two goals and was correct received a voucher.

7. Back to the future: The “old” marketing measures are becoming more relevant again

It may sound paradoxical at first, but in addition to newer marketing and social media trends such as gamification and chatbots, some of the well-known digital measures are in demand again. Why is that?

People are at home a lot and want relevant and profound information. As a result, newsletters and podcasts have again increased enormously: Almost half of the participants in a survey among podcast users named the corona crisis as the decisive factor for increased use. And email usage has also increased by 40 percent.

What is exciting is that there has been an increase in voice and video calls as well as webinars at the same time. Companies can use the “older semester” online measures more extensively for themselves – and thus appeal to younger target groups.

8. The established social media platforms are consolidating their position.

Any hype about a new network leads to some voices predicting the demise of established networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, the actual development shows something completely different: the major social networks’ importance continues to grow.

You can adapt the functions of the new platforms quickly and easily and thus outperform the competition. This became clear after Instagram added Reels, a new function based on the principle of TikTok. In addition, Facebook still has a certain monopoly on data, which results in an advantage for companies in target group targeting that can hardly be shaken.

The credo in 2021 will therefore be to intensify rather than dismantle social media measures on established networks.

9. Transparency and responsibility score points between fake news and conspiracy theories

The year 2020 is, unfortunately, also one of the conspiracy theories and misinformation on the net. Fortunately, most users still know the only antidote that helps here: information and education.

Social media users appreciate the transparent and responsible handling of information. One of many examples is provided by Twitter: After Donald Trump published false information about Covid-19, Twitter simply deleted the post and received approval and applause (from the vast majority of sites).

Companies that share these values ​​and are committed to doing so score points nowadays. It will become increasingly important to select content and influencers based on authenticity, transparency, and responsibility. At the same time, these principles must, of course, also be lived in the corporate culture.

10. Future First: Communities and brands are sustainable

The most important thing at the end: Probably the strongest trend is the political positioning of companies. Marketers realize that Generation Z and the upcoming Generation Alpha are socially and environmentally conscious. To pick up on these, it is necessary to deal more intensively with inclusionsocial justice, mental health, equality, and, last but not least, environmental and climate protection.

One of the better-known examples from this year is Nike’s campaign as part of the international movement “Black Lives Matter.” But other, smaller companies have also shown their attitude in many cases. In the future, it will probably happen more and more frequently than they take a position on social issues.

It must certainly be questioned whether the positioning on political issues is always based on conviction or whether the focus is on the pursuit of financial interests. But in the future, one will no longer be so easily possible without the other. The biggest challenge is to go beyond lip service and seek real change – because empty phrases will sooner or later be debunked on social media.

In the end, three main points will have an impact on the social media trends in 2021: The change in user behavior due to Corona, technical progress, and the growing up of a new generation.

Companies that keep the following questions in mind will be the most successful on the social web: How has the customer situation changed? What are the needs of the target group? And how can a brand itself be authentic, honest, and convincing? Not only the new generation of social media will reward good answers to these questions.