5 social media trends for 2021

Some 300m social buyers contributed to 11.6% of retail ecommerce sales in 2020 Shutterstock

Some 300m social buyers contributed to 11.6% of retail ecommerce sales in 2020 Shutterstock

While 2020 was a year of disruption, also for social media, 2021 should see additional rise in e-commerce, ephemeral content and more. Falcon.io director of community & events Dino Kuckovic provides his insights. 

Falcon.io is an integrated management platform for social media. Kuckovic, who is based in New York City and got his start in fashion, gave a masterclass as part of this year’s virtual Web Summit. 

Here are the five trends he predicts for 2021. 

1. There's a rising tide of social commerce.

The covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns helped to create what Kuckovic calls a “perfect storm for social commerce to flourish,” which he says has been accelerated by five years, with some 300m social buyers contributing to 11.6% of retail ecommerce sales in 2020. 

And the figure is only expected to grow, with Chinese companies in particular “rushing in” to the trend. The global value of social commerce this year is estimated at $89.4bn, but has been projected to reach $604bn by 2017.

Kuckovic praises Instagram as the “undefeated winner” in this realm, although Snapchat and TikTok have creatively used augmented reality and shoppable ads as well. The main point: “Brands acting now can capitalise on this massive tailwind.”

2. Ephemeral content has authentic appeal.

Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and even Pinterest have all taken cues from the likes of Snapchat and Instagram to offer users the possibility to post ephemeral, “stories”-like content. Some 86% of Instagram users post stories (70% daily). On one hand, Kuckovic says, there is a raw, unfiltered and authentic appeal to such content, but he questions: “Are we going into the direction of all networks looking and feeling the same?”

The quick pace of the interactions of ephemeral content provides more touchpoints for reaching audiences, plus it’s in a good format for mobile users. But Kuckovic says, ultimately, “the key is ‘fomo’ [fear of missing out], since stories will eventually disappear … from a marketing perspective they can have a similar effect as a countdown timer.”

3. Niche platforms should be considered.

The health crisis has changed how people are connecting, and Kuckovic says “branching out and building a presence on niche networks can be the key to unlocking valuable audiences.” A copy-paste technique across various platforms is a “huge no-no”, and organisations should strive to understand differences across platforms, tailor accordingly and not just follow current hype.

On niche platforms, he says, “it’s easier to rise through the ranks before these platforms get too crowded,” adding that benefits can include cheaper ads, positive ad sentiment, higher organic search. 

4. Take personalisation (and privacy) into account in advertising.

Consumers are becoming increasingly sceptical of the ads they see, with only 14% trusting them as a valid source of information about a company. And, while 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when given personalised experience, 76% of internet users aren’t comfortable with how tech companies are handling their personal data.

Certain data and cookies are, of course, required to make an experience and ad personal. With this evolution, some are indeed willing to share. “It must come from a place of trust and transparency,” Kuckovic says. “Marketers are really tasked with winning sceptics over, but the question is how?”

5. Social media should be considered PR 2.0.

Kuckovic questions whether modern PR and social media are even separate these days, adding that it’s important to see the former from a PR perspective. Through platforms such as Twitter, for example, content is being co-created and “social media has given a tremendous amount of influence to those who can now be heard.” Thanks to this democratisation, he says, “PR and word-of-mouth are key for growth and positive perception”. 

Falcon.io is holding a free virtual summit in February 2021 centred on digital trends in the year ahead, with longer webinars dedicated to each of these topics and beyond. More information here.