How has social media changed

Another boring what's in store for you? No: Because everything is really different this year. Contact restrictions and the use of new technologies in the field of digitization not only had an impact on many people's everyday lives, but also on social media. New trends have emerged and will continue to develop. Read our predictions for the social media year 2021.

Current Social Media Trends: How Digital Culture Is Changing

A lot happened in 2020: The Covid 19 pandemic has reached its peak so far and has changed the way people deal with digital media. Many personal encounters had to be avoided and contact at work and in leisure time was largely shifted to social networks.

At the same time, new media formats have emerged: TikTok conquered the American and European market more and more, while the established networks with functions such as Instagram reels responded to the new competition.

The biggest Challenges for companies lie not only in the new formats, but also in dealing with social changes and the growing political awareness of young users. But it is also clear: With the skilful use of social media, just as many opportunities arise from the increased requirements.

So that you recognize your options in good time, we are investigating which trends are currently developing: What will the social media landscape look like in a few months? Which values ​​are important to the next generation? And how can you use all of this for your brand communication?

10 social media trends for 2021

Which Trends in your social media strategy for the coming year, you will find out below.

1. Remixing: How brands let the new generation speak for themselves

Apps and functions such as TikTok, Koji or Instagram Reels have created a completely new culture of "remixing". It's not about mixing music. Rather, it describes the way in which users convert existing content on the Internet in such a way that something new is created.

Basically, this practice is nothing special: Pop culture itself is based on the transformation and interpretation of already existing individual parts into a new whole. What is new, however, is the target group and the availability: The growing social media generation in particular uses the technical possibilities of the apps to express their interests and personalities and then to disseminate the content quickly.

Online marketing is still in the starting blocks to take advantage of this trend, but successful campaigns should only be a matter of time. The prerequisite is that brands are able to provide (branded) templates for users. On this basis, the target group can create their own content and thus not only spread their ideas, but also the brand message of your company.

2. A new set of values: The "4 C's" of Covid-19 content

Covid-19 will affect people's lives and the media landscape at least into 2021. Brands have to adapt their communication accordingly. The resulting model with the "4 C's" of the content is new. They are:

  • Community

  • Contactless

  • Cleanliness (hygiene / cleanliness)

  • Compassion

These values ​​are reflected both in the way of marketing and in the content itself. Anyone who thinks about these four points and incorporates them into communication is not only a good partner in a difficult situation, but also benefits from the zeitgeist - many companies have already recognized this.

Kaufland provides a good example with a post at the beginning of the corona pandemic:

Source: Instagram

3. Memes? Yes, but with monitoring please!

Granted, memes are really nothing new. Nevertheless, the image content created by users continues to gain in importance. 43 percent of 16 to 29 year olds regularly share the pictures and videos, 37 percent are convinced that they are art. Companies will therefore try more and more to make use of memes in the future.

It's not that easy. Sensitivity and caution in dealing with the often political internet (sub) culture are required. Otherwise it can go the same way as with Wendy's, who in ignorance shared the anti-Semitic coded Pepe the Frog. To prevent this from happening, marketers can find explanations of current memes on knowyourmeme.com.

A good example is Vodafone, who manage to bring the entire brand message to the point in a humorous way in a simple image.

Source: Twitter / Vodafone

Ideally, the community disseminates and exploits brand messages independently. Social media monitoring of the images is very important - otherwise companies lose sight of the marketing results, trends and possible sources of risk.

4. Everything was better in the past: nostalgia marketing is coming back

Around the digital world is the In the mood for retro and nostalgia large. This is shown by successful series such as Stranger Things or the return of the flip phone by Nokia. It is nothing new that people fondly think back to the "good old days" and are even willing to pay more money for a product when they feel like they are back in time. But this need is likely to be particularly great in times of crisis.

The nostalgia will also be increasingly felt in marketing: companies will present their products as carriers of the very values ​​that were supposedly lost in 2020 - specifically security, freedom and health.

Incidentally, this is neither a cause for concern nor a new phenomenon: Advertising always used the nostalgia factor, but intensified during the economic crisis of the 1920s and the great recession at the end of the 2000s. Companies are therefore also allowed to use their content in old times in 2021 indulge and will have success with it. But what you have to pay attention to: Often the content only works for one age group within the target group.

5. Chatbots as intelligent and personal companions

Marketing has not only been dependent on dialogue since yesterday. However, social media has moved a lot in recent years and has also created a relationship between companies and consumers in digital environments.

Well-known platforms such as Facebook or Instagram and trained employees are not even necessary for this. Because now chatbots are developing so quickly that more and more companies are implementing the automated conversation partners in their own website or social media messenger with little effort.

Under the keyword Conversational Marketing (i.e. the dialog with the user when he visits the website) more and more intelligent, personalized and automated "conversation partners" are used. The sales pitch that normally took place in the downtown shopping mall will in future be replaced more and more frequently by dialogues on the website - and that will be completely automated.

6. Social gaming: creating brand experiences through gamification

Not only did the sales pitch fall away more and more often in 2020. Many events in which a brand could meet people in person had to be canceled. So how do companies create the framework for new experiences that convey the brand message?

One answer that the New Year should give is Gamification. Not least because the community has grown significantly, marketing is likely to take the scene more and more seriously. The number of people who describe themselves as gamers rose from 31.1 million in August 2019 to 41.2 million in July 2020.

Companies outside of the gaming industry are also discovering games for themselves. Then creative ways are called for: The Papa John's pizza chain, for example, celebrated success in the United Kingdom by calling out the “Score Twice Half Price” prediction game on Premier League match days. If you bet on a team that would score two goals and were correct, you received a voucher.

7. Back to the future: The "old" marketing measures are becoming more relevant again

It may sound paradoxical at first, but in addition to newer marketing and social media trends such as gamification and chatbots, some of the well-known digital measures are in demand again. Why is that?

People are at home a lot and want relevant and profound information. As a result, newsletters and podcasts have again increased enormously: Almost half of the participants in a survey among podcast users named the corona crisis as the decisive factor for increased use. And email usage has also increased by 40 percent in the meantime.

What is exciting is that there has been an increase in voice and video calls as well as webinars at the same time. Companies can use the online measures of the "older semester" more extensively for themselves - and thus also appeal to younger target groups.

8. The established social media platforms are consolidating their position

Any hype about a new network leads to some voices predicting the demise of established networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. However, the actual development shows something completely different: the importance of the major social networks continues to grow.

You have the capacity to adapt the functions of the new platforms quickly and easily and thus to outperform the competition. This became clear after Instagram added Reels, a new function based on the TikTok principle. As before, Facebook still has a certain monopoly on data, which results in an advantage for companies in target group targeting that can hardly be shaken.

The credo in 2021 will therefore be to intensify rather than dismantle social media measures on established networks.

9. Transparency and responsibility score points between fake news and conspiracy theories

The year 2020 is unfortunately also one of the conspiracy theories and misinformation on the net. Fortunately, most users still know the only antidote that helps here: information and education.

Social media users appreciate transparent and responsible handling of information. One of many examples is provided by Twitter: After Donald Trump published false information about Covid-19, Twitter simply deleted the post and received approval and applause (from the vast majority of sites).

Companies that share these values ​​and are committed to doing so score points these days. It will become increasingly important to select content and influencers based on authenticity, transparency and responsibility. At the same time, these principles must of course also be lived in the corporate culture.

10. Future First: Communities and brands are sustainable

The most important thing at the end: Probably the strongest trend is the political positioning of companies. Marketers are realizing that the Generation Z and the next generation Alpha are socially and environmentally conscious are. To pick this up, it is necessary to become more familiar with topics such as inclusion, social justice, mental health, equalityg and last but not least Environmental and climate protection too busy.

Source: Nike

One of the better-known examples from this year is certainly Nike with its campaign as part of the international movement “Black Lives Matter”. But other, smaller companies have also shown their attitude in many cases. In the future it will probably happen more and more frequently that they take a position on social issues.

It must be questioned whether the positioning on political issues is really always based on conviction or whether the focus is on the pursuit of financial interests. But in the future, one will no longer be so easily possible without the other. The biggest challenge is to go beyond lip service and seek real change - because empty phrases will sooner or later be debunked on social media.

Work in the end three essential points on the social media trends 2021 a: The change in usage behavior due to Corona, technical progress and the growing up of a new generation.

Companies that keep the following questions in mind will be the most successful on the social web: How has the customer situation changed? What are the needs of the target group? And how can a brand itself be authentic, honest and convincing? Not only the new generation of social media will reward good answers to these questions.

Cover picture: puhhha / Getty Images

Originally published October 28, 2020, updated October 28, 2020

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