2021 Social Media Predictions

In a year where 90% of social media plans were thrown out the window, we’re still trying to predict what major occurrences will happen in the months ahead. Some things might still surprise us (like the FTC lawsuit against Facebook that was issued last week), but there are some things in the social space that we can plan for based on key trends we saw unveil themselves this past year.

2021 Social Media Predictions

Below our agency has broken down several 2021 social media predictions, accompanied by valuable resources designed to help you set the foundation for your 2021 strategy. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to be flexible, and that’s exactly what we intend to do.

2021 Facebook Changes and Predictions

While Facebook is top of mind given the aforementioned lawsuit demanding Instagram and WhatsApp be sold off, there are some other major changes in the works for this leading network.

Adjustments to Targeting Capabilities

Next year we’re going to see a large shift in the way marketers and brands are able to program their social ads on Facebook. As cookie-tracking is phased out, the effectiveness of using the Facebook Pixel goes with it. Facebook has already built a new solution, the Conversions API, but with this comes another layer of complications for brands.

In addition to these changes, Facebook will also be phasing out the 28-day attribution window. This change was supposed to occur in early October but was postponed. While a firm date for when this will go into effect has not been released, sources at Facebook say changes could occur as early as January 2021.

New Ad Limits

Facebook first announced limits on the number of ads a page can run at any given time late last year. They’ve now recently announced new details about what those limits actually look like and as you can expect it varies by advertiser size. Facebook will place you in one of four categories based on your highest spending month in the last 12 months. The ad limits are relatively large; however, if you are running a hyper-local strategy with a lot of ads you might run into issues.

Facebook Ad Limites

Focusing on 1-1 Private Communications

Facebook made headlines a few weeks ago with the acquisition of CRM tool Kustomer. In addition to the recent Messenger merge, we predict that Facebook’s looking to prioritize and improve upon direct communications online instead of consumers needing to utilize phone support for customer service.

Social Media Stories Everywhere

Now that every major social media network has its own version of Stories (see how Stories differ from platform to platform here), what’s next? Apparently, they apply to more than just the social media world too as tools such as Slack announce their own version of Stories to come. That said, we shouldn’t expect these new formats to go away any time soon. Stories have become an immensely popular feature for Instagram, and as the other platforms test out this feature, new functionalities will likely emerge that continue to differentiate to content type across networks.

Instagram vs TikTok Battle Continues

While other networks have made moves to compete with TikTok this year, Instagram has most notably taken on the most downloaded app of 2020 with the addition of Reels. At first, most people were just repurposing TikTok content to IG Reels, but as time has continued, we’re seeing more and more Reels content continue to be produced. We expect Instagram to roll out some new features next year to help differentiate Reels and increase usage, but the competition is still fierce now that TikTok has signed a partnership with SONY for music rights.

TikTok vs Reels

TikTok Diversification

Additionally, be prepared to see TikTok make some big changes in 2021. Now one of the most popular networks, TikTok usage increased drastically this past year and the app is going to have to give the fans more than just funny dance videos if they want to continue to keep people engaged. Rumors of expanding video length from the current 60 seconds to 180 seconds next year have been released, but nothing has been confirmed by TikTok.

Instagram Shopping

Within the past few months, Instagram has made several UX changes to the app, most notably moving the “create” button and replacing the previous placement with a “shopping” tab. We feel this is a strategic move by Instagram to push the app more into a shopping platform. It could even evolve into a TikTok like experience where half of the users become “creators” and the other half “viewers/consumer” – very different from what we’re seeing today.

Influencer Marketing Continues to Evolve

With all the shifts marketers had to make in 2020, one of these we see continuing to evolve in 2021 is influencer marketing. With limited access to content studios and photoshoots, brands looked to hire influencers specifically for their content creation capabilities. As we move into 2021 and some businesses continue to work remotely, we expect brands to continue to partner with influencers for this type of business. We also see influencers continuing to stay on their toes and consider new apps and content types to help diversify their portfolios.

Normalization of Influencer Rates

We’re also hopeful that in the new year the industry will become more consistent when it comes to influencers rates and pricing models. Too often does our team reach out to several influencers who all have a similar follower count and engagement rate, for all of them to return drastically different rate cards. This isn’t always the influencer to blame, as brands are also often unsure of what they should be paying their influencer partner. Hopefully, this changes in 2021 and we have a set industry norm.

Video Content Continues to Reign

As people spend more and more time on social media these days, video content continues to be a popular and engaging content type. That said, moving into 2021 it’s important that your brand is implementing mobile-first best practices, such as using the appropriate size ratio, including branding, considering sound-on AND sound-off optimizations, and length. Here’s a quick guide on social-first video best practices that you’ll want to share with your social media teams.

Social Commerce and More Shoppable Features

In response to the pandemic, consumers have not only shifted their social media behaviors but their shopping behaviors as well… favoring eCommerce. Even more, a recent report from GlobalWebIndex found that 46% of internet users say they’ll be shopping online more after the pandemic is over. Social media networks have found a way to marry the two user behaviors and have rolled out more shoppable features than ever this year (check out the following post for a breakdown of what shoppable features are available on each platform). We expect in 2021 for social media purchases to significantly increase for this reason, so make sure you’re testing and taking advantage of these new types of content.

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Shift in Brand Strategy and Brand Voice, for the Greater Good

Last, but most certainly not least, 2021 is going to be the year of new voices across social media. In 2020 we saw social justice initiatives given a new platform for action through social media, and many brands took a stance on these issues in addition to the political and pandemic-related content audiences saw in the feed. We believe it is vital for brands to continue to remember what stance they made and ensure it’s not only something they continue to support in 2021 but that it becomes a more regular part of their social content strategy. As we kick off the new year with MLK day on January 18th, we’ll be able to see which brands learned from this past year and which may have been jumping on the bandwagon.

Did we miss anything? Do you have questions about any of the topics above that our team can answer for you? Are you looking for an agency to help guide you through best practices in 2021? Then contact our team of experts today. Alternatively, keep yourself up to date on the latest in social media marketing by signing up for our bi-weekly newsletter below.

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