International social media analytics firm Talkwalker and Hubspot asked 50 social media gurus, industry experts and PR professionals from around the world to define the trends that will shape the social media industry for 2021.

COVID-19 expedited issues, ideas and initiatives that were bubbling away, but may not have happened quite so soon without the crisis.

Social Trends 2021
Todd Grossman, CEO Americas Talkwalker

“While 2020 was a year that no one could have predicted, with mentions of COVID-19 going from near zero in November 2019 to more than 1.2 billion so far in 2020, COVID-19 was a catalyst not an outcome,” says Todd Grossman, CEO Americas Talkwalker.  “It expedited issues, ideas and initiatives that were bubbling away, but may not have happened quite so soon without the crisis.”

This year’s Social Media Trends report ranked trends to look for in 2021 as identified by experts and by the audience as consumers were surveyed to rate the trends and see how they are impacting brands at the ground level.  The number one trend identified was focused on the impact of socially conscious audiences.

In 2020, it was clear how this socially conscious generation had an impact on brands, politics and society as a whole.  Companies will have to engage more with topics like mental health, inclusivity and social justice or face becoming irrelevant and potentially obsolete in 2021.

Brands must understand their audiences to identify the issues that matter to them.

“Brands must understand their audiences to identify the issues that matter to them,” says Grossman.  “But before engaging publicly, brands need to be earnest, ensuring they are tackling the issue across the whole company.  And go full throttle – you have to be committed to your cause but also be aware of any backlash by monitoring sentiment and ensuring that you are striking the right tone with your messaging.”

One example of a company embracing social consciousness in 2020 is Nike, which has never been a brand to edge away from politics. Following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement earlier in the year, Nike engaged with the topic quickly, drawing their line in the sand. This tweet quickly garnered attention.

With more than 7.8 million views and 326.5K engagement, the message resonated. Nike followed up with clear brand commitments, both financial and strategic, to support their employees, supply chain and communities. To date, #UntilWeAllWin has been mentioned 131K times, with 671K engagement. Their socially conscious strategy is making a difference with powerful messaging, like their You Can’t Stop Us campaign, already reaching nearly 58M views on YouTube alone.

Social Trends 2021Demonstrating commitment will matter more than ever when it comes to attracting (and retaining) employees, customers and other key stakeholders.

“Brands will have to find their place in public dialogue on social, particularly when it comes to social justice,” says Eva Taylor, Director of Social Strategy, Operations & CSR at Hootsuite. “However, words without action are meaningless: demonstrating commitment will matter more than ever when it comes to attracting (and retaining) employees, customers and other key stakeholders.”

Among the other social trends experts say to look for in 2021 and available in the full report are:

·          The Rise of Digital Disinformation

·          Social Media Giants Adapt to the New Normal

·          Old-School Marketing for a New Market

·          Social Gaming = Gaming Social

·          More Conversation(al) Marketing

·          Nostalgia Marketing

·          Memetic Media

·          The. Four Cs of COVID-19 Content

·          Remixing Is the New UGC

 

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