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Breaking Down 2021 Social Media Trends

My top 5 takeaways from the Hootsuite Social Trends annual report for 2021.


As a Public Relations student at Champlain College I have the opportunity to take courses with some amazing PR mavens. My PR, event management, and marketing courses have never failed to open my eyes to the industry and enable me to learn skills through certifications, case studies, guest speakers, and relevant lessons. These courses make me confident working with real clients through Maple Street Media and recently I worked on something in one of those classes that I could not wait to share with our staff, clients, and PR community!


Currently I am enrolled in Business of Public Relations in which I recently analyzed the annual Hootsuite report on 2021 social media trends. This blog post runs through my 5 takeaways regarding social media trends heading into 2021 as much of the world remains in quarantine, uncertainty, and online.


Takeaway #1

Long and short term ROI can be garnered from strategic use of social media.


Social media can be utilized to bring both long and short term return on investments (ROI) if used strategically. The targeted nature of social media allows for short term ROI and building a brand identity and trust enables the long term.


I found this powerful because it reminded me of the concept of micro-influencers and how many times they can be powerful and more effective than traditional internet influencers.


Social media can be viewed as working very similarly to word of mouth marketing, where broadcasting is less effective than relationship building and targeted messaging that resonates with your audience. I felt this trend reflected that well in 2021. I also thought that the “multiply ROI by adding more channels” was interesting because typically the advice I have seen is to stick to 1 or 2 and do them well. In 2021 it seems like consumers are expecting companies to be much more tech savvy and have a presence on more platforms.


Takeaway #2

Instagram and other platforms are demanding more advertising dollars, Snapchat is losing them.


Over 60% of companies reported they are increasing their Instagram budget in 2021 and Snapchat saw the fewest companies planning to up their investment. The entire chart showing which social media platforms companies are investing in demonstrated where the market is shifting.


I chose this takeaway because despite not being one of the 5 trends explicitly listed I think it provided a lot of insight into what is most effective when it comes to connecting with people via social media. For example, Snapchat was the lowest scoring platform and the way Snapchat enables companies to engage is via stories which are broadcasting messages and content with almost no opportunity for direct engagement between the business and consumer via comments or other methods.



Takeaway #3

Waiting and watching how your audience reacts to situations before acting is paramount in building customer relationships.


This goes back to the age old advice that a brand must know their customer deeply to be successful. Brands have been miscalculating the type of content people want to see because they don’t have a strong sense of purpose on social media and don’t understand their audience’s goals. Something I noticed among the examples of the trend in action was the watching and waiting approach that successful companies took. Everyone knows that research is golden, but watching people’s reactions to viral events and situations is research just as much as surveys and traditional data reports.


I chose this trend because it identified a disconnect I had felt but not yet quantified between businesses and consumers. I like how it provides context for some of the more successful brands during a sensitive period like this pandemic and contrasts them with those that failed, the evidence is very convincing that this trend is a big one for 2021.


Takeaway #4

Youth marketing will focus on purpose and social missions coming from brands.


Purpose is everything for brands and it can be a huge asset or a massive liability. Heading into 2021 we saw a huge uptick in Gen Z’s being vocal about their support of socially conscious brands. My takeaway is that the nitty gritty do’s and don'ts are important, but looking at your company in the larger picture and identifying purpose and values is what really attracts support on social media.


This takeaway is one I know I saw happening in 2020 and I agree that it is only growing heading into 2021. With so many ‘cancelling’ moments and influencers popping in and out of powerful headlines constantly, understanding this trend is paramount for any business utilizing social media successfully.


Takeaway #5

The pandemic trends and increased social media use are not going away.


The pandemic changed social media, and we are not going back. This was an overall takeaway I had after reading about all of the trends and though it is simple it is very powerful and something I think companies need to pause and really take stock of. Social media became a bridge between people when they were stuck at home giving it more power and relevance than ever before. It went from a want to a need in that way. Though the pandemic will fade away and people will return to in person connections it does not appear that social media will lose any of the capital it has gained in the last year. The power and presence of social media is here to stay and businesses better learn how to use it and not think they can ride it out.


This takeaway was really powerful to me as a commentary on the entire marketing and public relations industry. Despite being a seemingly vague takeaway from the entire trend report I think the power of this fact warrants the moment I took to really let it sink in how integral social media has become and that this is the new normal.


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Marketing and public relations is an ever-changing industry, and if 2020 taught us anything it is that we will never be able to predict every changing trend. What are your thoughts on these trends for 2021? Which way to you think the internet winds will blow post pandemic?



About:

Maple Street Media is a student-run public relations firm operated through Champlain College's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). The firm draws on the talents and experiences of students from all different walks of the college to provide services in graphic design, social media marketing, copywriting, and more.


Maple Street Media provides a unique service offering short term public relations solutions within each clients budget


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