Social Media Marketing Trends 2021

The Future of Social Media

Updated 03/12/2021

Social media continues to evolve and with it, so do our strategic recommendations for how to use it — both personally and professionally. A few months into 2021, here’s how our team responded to the most commonly asked social media marketing questions.

What’s new and different about social media?

  • Two words: TikTok and Clubhouse. Both of these platforms are ripe for evolution and are changing the way users and brands interact in this medium. 
    • By now we’re sure you’re familiar with TikTok but if you haven’t heard of Clubhouse yet let us introduce you to the newest way to elevate your business and social media. The easiest way to describe Clubhouse is as a live podcast that you can join in on. Find conversations on topics like Health, Lifestyle, Tech, Hustle and more. An example set up of a “room” would be the leaders who might be industry professionals, social media influencers, business owners, etc. They chat about a subject amongst one another and if you, a listener in the room, want to pipe up and talk you can raise your (virtual) hand and a leader will let you speak! The app has proved successful for small business owners wanting to connect and learn more about how others run their businesses, trend forecasting and having meaningful conversations. 
  • The Instagram infiltration of memes. Both private and paid meme accounts have increased as has the mass resharing from these accounts.  As a result, brands are collaborating with popular meme accounts to create re-sharable content that immediately reaches a follower base that’s eager to share the quippy, relatable life observations, tagging their friends, sharing in stories or even as a post. We’ve got our eye on how to best strategically leverage these ourselves too. 
  • A trend we’ve seen building over the past few years is the “casual” Instagram persona. It started with Gen-Z mega-influencers, like @emmachamberlain, who post pictures that classic “Influencers” wouldn’t dare to share– think no make-up, blurry, unedited pictures and posting five times in a row. Recently, we’ve noticed a change in celebrities’ Instagram posts from highly edited, professional shots to those that resemble more of the laid-back, casual and unedited pictures that uber-popular Gen-Z influencers are sharing. Also, many celebrities have adopted second Instagram accounts for their more casual film photography pictures which is another big trend. Check out Gigi Hadid’s or Joe Jonas’s film accounts. 

What do you anticipate changing the way consumers and brands interact with social media?

  • As we’ve seen, user experience and consistency have been make-or-break factors for brands and consumers alike. For example, consumers on Instagram revolted when the platform attempted to change its browsing model from scrolling to swiping – and within a day, Instagram returned to its normal format. Likewise, when Facebook changed its algorithm so posts began reaching a much more narrow swathe of users, many businesses factored the platform out of their marketing strategy, choosing instead to focus on where they can still easily reach their target audiences.
  • We’re going to see more regulation in ads and privacy policies that will change the way we interact with social media. Whether it’s from a new administration, the platforms themselves or elsewhere, we predict there will be stricter rules about how to use consumer data derived from social that will (hopefully) protect the consumer.
  • We see consumers becoming warier of influencer marketing. Because of this, brands will need to reevaluate how they interact with influencers and move toward connecting with real fans. 
  • Those people and brands that lead with authenticity will be the most successful in driving engagement and growth.  People are seeking these kinds of real relationships. 

What’s your strategic advice for friends / businesses related to social media?

  • More and more, social media users are seeking accounts that aren’t afraid to stand for something. For instance, when AXE Body Spray came forward as an unexpected LGBTQA ally with THIS tweet, consumers and media alike loved it. Sure, when people are scrolling social media they enjoy seeing the people, brands and products they love, but what they love more is when those things align, unabashedly, with personal values. 
  • You don’t need to be everywhere, on all channels. If your core audience is not teenagers and twentysomethings, do you need to be on TikTok? Maybe not. Focus your efforts where it counts instead of spreading your social media energy too thin. 
  • Engage in social media as it authentically serves an intended purpose. Don’t engage because everyone else is or because you don’t want to miss out, engage when you have something to say, something to stand for, a reason for people to want to engage with you -- because you have an intentioned reason to be there. 

How do you use social media / how do you anticipate this changing

  • We use social media as an opportunity to stay engaged from afar with our personal social circles, as well as to stay up-to-date on news and attuned to the social conversations and movements that often start or grow on social. We increasingly see the value of cultivating a more thoughtful online presence, particularly in social spaces where the conversations that are important to you are happening. 
  • We used to use social media apps like Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, and Tumblr to talk to my friends. Now that every app has a messenger service built in, I feel like I’ve gone back to the basics – texting and calling. Social media will continue to be more about content, images and videos, but will never replace the original methods of 1:1 communication.
  • We engage to keep abreast of what’s current and how people are engaging with people and companies.  It’s much more of a social experiment. Some of our team has also recently begun to leverage social media for thought leadership so they can firsthand understand the strategy, value and outcomes.

Do you shop from social media? If so what compels you?

  • We occasionally shop from social, under two general instances. The first is when exciting new products from brands we know and love show up in our feeds. The brand already has our buy-in and trust, and clicking through to shop the product that we didn’t know we needed until right now is the definition of instant gratification. The second, less common instance is when ads for new brands catch our attention. It’s rare, but occasionally the data that social platforms pull from your internet activity really nail what you’re looking for. “Oh, you need an emerald green floor length bridesmaid dress for under $150? Here you go!” Is it creepy? Definitely. But we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t sometimes convenient.
  • Occasionally we’ll shop through an influencer who we’ve followed for a long time and trust posts about a brand they love. 

What brands do you think are doing a great job in social media?

  • @asos and, of course, @glossier do a great job mixing product pics and posts from high-profile influencers and authentic fans. This combination helps the brands seem aspirational and attainable at the same time. This strategy also encourages micro-influencers or people with smaller online communities to tag brands in their posts for a chance to be featured on their page, leading to greater, earned exposure for the brand.
  • Those brands that are tapping into what their followers want from them - those that listen and assess content feedback to produce content that increases engagement.  Brands that use social media to tell their story, through a combination of pictures, people, words and tone. People connect with people and stories, not products and things. 

What are you seeing on social media that’s exciting and new? What advice do you have for brands? Share your feedback with us on Instagram or Facebook, or email us at connect(at)