5 top social media trends for 2021

The only way to market effectively on social media is to stay ahead of its ever-changing trends. Originally highlighted by Nathan Murray, Social media strategist at Lloyds Banking Group, here are our top five predictions for the year.

📉 Continued fall in LinkedIn organic reach

For several years, adding user-generated posts on LinkedIn has been a fantastic way to increase the number of people who see your content without paid distribution, known as organic reach.

But the effectiveness of this technique has started to wane on LinkedIn in recent months. We have noticed this at Kurtosys and have heard the same from others.

Due to changes in the way LinkedIn organizes its content, only the most engaging and high-quality posts will gain traction in future. The platform probably made these changes because advertisers were finding it more effective to post free content than pay for adverts. It might still be possible to go viral on LinkedIn, but it will be harder.

👯‍♂️ TikTok becomes big league player

TikTok went mainstream in 2020 – with hugely popular content from the Ocean Spray guy to countless dance challenges. By mixing short videos and chat, it became the perfect lockdown time filler – and the most downloaded app last year. In 2021, TikTok is predicted to hit 1.2 billion users and place itself firmly in the big league. This will help it attract increased advertising spend and social commerce (see below). Watch this space – we will start posting blogs on how to use TikTok soon.

🤳🏻 Rapid gains in social commerce

Social commerce – sales that take place entirely within a social media app or website – will streamline consumer journeys dramatically this year. According to marketing agency Fanbytes, 55% of US consumers have bought products online after seeing them on a social app like TikTok and Instagram; and 30% of users want to complete purchases entirely within apps.

TikTok is moving into social commerce in a big way, with initiatives such as shoppable hashtags and calls-to-action for in-app checkout under videos. It has also partnered with Shopify to allow sellers to make videos and customers to buy products in-app. TikTok’s revenue was around $500 million last year, but Fanbytes says integrated commerce will push this much higher in 2021.

🎙 Audio turns up the volume

With the rise of audio platforms like Twitter Spaces and Clubhouse, voice will play an increasing role in social media. Sound branding agency Amp predicts companies will respond by investing more in sonic user experience (UX) with human and artificial intelligence generated voices that interact with audio social platforms.

Brands will likely introduce more voice recognition, and aim for more authentic engagement with consumers, for example, through voiced chatbots. A range of techniques for developing unique audio brands will likely evolve.

📰 More scrutiny and ‘free speech social media’

The intense scrutiny of social media providers by governments and regulators will continue. In response, platforms will take more visible action against anyone posting fake news, hate speech and incitement to violence. The last few months have seen a rise in the popularity of ‘free speech’ social media platforms like Parler. This became known as a home for those with extreme right-wing views forced off mainstream platforms. In January, Parler went dark after being cut off by major service providers – sparking an ongoing debate about freedom of expression. But it may well rise again along with other ‘free speech’ platforms.

Neil Thornburn