Social Media Trends 2022: What You Need to Know

pink binoculars with a blue background for social media trends
pink binoculars with a blue background for social media trends

Social media plays an increasingly important role in Marketing and Sales for companies across the globe. However, the social platforms do not stop updating and releasing new features. 2021 has been full of updates from our favourite social media platforms; think Twitter Fleets and YouTube Shorts. That’s why we researched and explored what the social media trends of 2021 will look like, so your social media strategy can stay up to date and successful throughout the year.

With these changes, it's likely they that they will impact how businesses and marketers tackle social media marketing in 2021, and beyond. In this blog, we'll look at the new social media trends of 2021 and how we can consider using them within our strategy!

Table of Contents

Social Media – Status Quo 2020

Before we get into the current social media trends of 2021, here's a summary of the 2020 social media updates:

Instagram:

  • Automatic closed captions for IGTV videos
  • New in-app checkout for Instagram Shops
  • Introduction of IGTV ads
  • Greenscreen in Instagram Stories filters
  • Instagram Guides
  • Branded Content ads

Twitter:

  • Labelling tweets with misleading or false information around COVID-19
  • Introduction of Fleets
  • Carousel ad format
  • Prompts encouraging users to read more than the headlines and links in tweets before retweeting
  • Users choosing who can reply to their tweets
  • Tweets with voice recordings
  • Users reacting to direct messages with emojis

Facebook: 

  • Mobile-friendly Facebook Shops
  • 3D image posts
  • Messenger Rooms
  • Care reaction for posts

TikTok:

  • Growth in TikTok Live usage
  • Viral TikTok challenges
  • TikTok memes

LinkedIn

  • LinkedIn Stories for mobile
  • Audio name announcement
  • Updated reaction options
  • Skills quizzes
  • Polls for LinkedIn posts

YouTube

  • Video chapters
  • Adjustable timestamps for video copyright edits
  • New Creator Studio features, including comment filter and new upload workflow

So, what social media trends will we be seeing in 2021?

Virtual reality is gaining popularity

With social distancing and stay-at-home practices spilling well into 2021, people have been looking for ways to meaningfully connect with others and virtual reality (VR) has become the answer. 

It's this experience of feeling like you are actually with someone, even though the physical distance may be far, that has seen VR make quite the explosion in the social media landscape. We can definitely expect this new social media trend to gain more popularity, as apps and brands and constantly finding ways to incorporate VR into their marketing strategies.

Take the fashion industry for example, and more specifically, Sephora, who introduced Sephora’s Virtual Artist. This allows customers to put on digital makeup and then tap the selected product to purchase it, all in the comfort of their home.

sephora virtual artist for virtual reality as a social media trend for 2021

Advantages of using VR:

  • Offers an enhanced consumer and user experience
  • Can be used for content marketing
  • Increases brand awareness because of its uniqueness

Learn how to create immersive experiences for your customers to take your marketing to the next level.

Social commerce is on the rise

Another social media trend that marketers can expect to continue lifting off is social commerce. Facebook and Instagram have particularly been investing this social media trend as we see more features in these platforms that support an easier shopping experience.

pinterest shop feature for social media trends 2021

Brands like Vans have already set up their Facebook Shops and marketers may find this feature to be the perfect tool to drive more online purchases. Consider the fact that having a Facebook Shop can shorten the customer journey, since audiences can buy the products that they like on social media right on the platform. This is as simple as adding a "Buy Now" button (although there are some extra steps to successfully setting up your social media store).

Advantages of social commerce for your business in 2021:

  • Provides an enhanced and seamless customer experience
  • Increased sales via mobile consumers
  • Increased audience engagement and traffic

Augmented reality continues to grow

This current social media trend is based on a more technical basis: social networks are increasingly posting content that offers an augmented reality (AR) benefit via the link with the smartphone camera, thereby promoting a (visual) product – for example make-up and clothing. The user can “try” the product on and through this visual interaction experience what it could potentially look like on them.

Back in 2015, the world went crazy for Snapchat's AR filters. However, even if Snapchat isn't the go-to app for AR filters anymore, AR certainly hasn't gone away. Facebook has partnered with more than 700 brands to expand their AR capabilities, and it's likely that in 2021, we'll see more AR features being released across our favourite social media platforms. In turn, we'll also see a lot more marketers utilise AR in their digital marketing campaigns and advertising.

social media trends facebook updates and augmented reality ads

Estee Lauder is a great example of this new social media trend, as they have used AR to allow audiences to try different lipstick shades within Facebook Messenger. This is an example of one of the ways that we will see brands using Facebook's AR features throughout 2021.

Screenshot Chatbot

Advantages of using AR in your 2021 social media strategy: 

  • Personalised user experience
  • Allows users to experience your product
  • Encourages sharing & user-generated content

From 2021, it’s all about vertical and video content

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it seems like video might be worth even more.

Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, recently announced that Instagram would no longer be a square photo-sharing app, but that it was gearing itself to become more focused on video content. So we can expect more Instagram Reels to appear on our timelines, more features for Instagram Stories and increased ads in IGTV. 

In addition, Instagram Stories are considered a cross-platform: they become a constant dominant in cross-media communication. Zuckerberg responded to a general development among the target groups: While the Millennials are still 48% on Facebook, 59% on Instagram and 52% on Snapchat, Generation Z actively uses 34% Facebook, 70% Instagram and 72% Snapchat. Zuckerberg tried to counter this and, with the help of the Story function, drives a fusion process of the Facebook Universe.

In the meantime, Facebook has now integrated its own Story application, with a user's Instagram Stories automatically being shared on Facebook. On WhatsApp, a status feature was also introduced, where users can post their everyday life, news or experiences in a story-like format. 

So how can you include new social media trends like Stories in your 2021 social media strategy? Make sure that the content you share is valuable to your audience, but don't be shy to make them as engaging as possible through gamification.  For example, use Instagram's poll feature to gamify your posts and increase engagement with your audience.

Tip: Learn more about current Instagram trends.

Instagram Story Screenshot

As well as more brands utilising Stories in 2021, we'll probably see more video content across more platforms. TikTok will naturally dominate in this arena, with Instagram Reels closely trailing behind and YouTube Shorts being used by creators. 

As for vertical content, naturally, this social media trend continues to remain prominent as people generally spend around 3 hours on their mobile devices. Since the launch of IGTV and most recently, Reels, 2021 is going to feature much more mobile-first vertical content. Marketers should start creating mobile-first, vertical content to effectively reach their target audience. Don't leave out Facebook, TikTok and YouTube when thinking about which platforms to distribute your vertical content on.

Tip: Find out what TikTok is all about and how to use TikTok for businesses.

screenshot of facebook video content

Advantages of using vertical and video content:

  • Interactive, immersive and more engaging
  • Can have a higher reach than actual posts
  • Perceived as less polished but more authentic
  • Convenient (Snap on your mobile & post)

2021 is the year of inclusivity, authenticity and transparency

Sparked by online movements such as #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter, along with transparency around how inclusive brands really are, this year has been one where making more meaningful decisions and actions around diversity and inclusion was the name of the game. 

With purpose-led marketing taking centre stage, online audiences now want to put their money behind the brands and businesses that align with their values and show true investment in addressing social issues. This means that staying silent about issues that your target audience passionately cares about should be avoided. 

In the same breath, audiences are standing behind the brands who are authentic and can be transparent with them. Owning up to mistakes and allowing your brand to be authentically "human" when a crisis strikes on social media can go a long way in the eyes of your audience. Use Meltwater for real-time alerting, so you can pick up on brand mentions during a crisis, then respond in a prompt but transparent way. 

On the other hand of the spectrum, audiences are also becoming more aware of performative activism, and are simply not going to accept it. Thus businesses need to ensure that their content and brand messaging when addressing such issues is be well-informed. 

When it comes to inclusivity, a brand that marketers can take a page from is Fenty Beauty. This beauty brand has become known for being inclusive - both in who the target audience of their products are, as well as the influencers used for campaigns and the repurposing of user-generated content from their inclusive audience. 

Dove is another great example of being authentic and diverse in their marketing campaigns. Their Real Beauty Pledge aims to appreciate women of all ages, sizes, and races, highlighting their desire to be more diverse and inclusive. By featuring real women, instead of models, in this campaign, their brand messaging of building body confidence in young girls and women remains authentic and genuine, which resonates well with their target audience.

Advantages of being more inclusive, authentic and transparent:

  • You earn the trust and respect of audiences
  • Higher reach and increased customer pool
  • Builds stronger connections with audiences

Live streaming isn't going anywhere

Video content has firmly cemented itself as a strong social media trend for 2021, but with less physical events, live streaming concerts and brand events has come into the fold as a trend on social media as well. 

In a study from Livestream, they reported that 80% of audiences would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog. To add to this, Influencer Marketing Hub recently revealed the following stats on live streaming:

  • The online live streaming industry has grown by 99% between April 2019 and April 2020
  • By 2026, the live video streaming market is expected to grow to $149.34 billion
  • Twitch has more than 15 million unique daily visitors and 3 million content creators, or broadcasters, as well as 500,000+ active daily streamers
mobile phone live streaming a concert

If you are yet to utilise the latest social media trend that is live streaming, consider this your nudge to go for it. Going live on social media has been one of the most popular ways for people to consume content and brands can truly benefit from this trend to grow their online presence.

Advantages of going live: 

  • Prioritised by Facebook and Instagram's social media algorithm
  • Inexpensive
  • Creates high audience engagement
  1. Don't ignore virtual reality
  2. Make use of social commerce
  3. Augmented reality is a game changer
  4. Use vertical and video content 
  5. Be inclusive, authentic and transparent
  6. Go live

With media intelligence, Meltwater can help you implement and develop your social media strategy in 2021. We'll be keeping you up-to-date with all of the latest social media trends for the year, so remember to subscribe to our newsletter!

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If you'd like to learn more about capitalising on the trends discussed above for your own brand, fill out the form below and we'll be in touch!

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