What are the new social trends

Social media trends 2021: everything different on social platforms?


The corona pandemic has seen an increase in social channels like it has not for a long time. The social media management provider Hootsuite states that all platforms have gained around 450,000 new users in the past twelve months. This corresponds to an annual growth of more than twelve percent and reflects pretty much what we experience in our everyday life: Personal encounters are increasingly shifting to the digital. Reduced real contacts make the urge to exchange ideas in other ways greater. And this is increasingly taking place on social channels. According to the study, a new social media account is created every 14 seconds. For companies, this means enormous potential to reach new customers and strengthen existing customer relationships.

For its study in autumn 2020, Hootsuite asked around 11,000 marketers to assess their trends and then conducted interviews with dozens of industry specialists to shed light on the results. These five trends emerged from the surveys:

Trend 1: Focus limited to short-term (and short-term) measures

73 percent of the marketers surveyed named acquiring new customers as the most important goal of their social media activities in 2020. This corresponds to an increase of 58 percent compared to the previous year. Companies are obviously trying to generate new income as quickly as possible in order to compensate for the losses in brick-and-mortar retail. A development that is not surprising in the crisis. It is worrying, however, that only 23 percent are still primarily working on improving their customer experience. And only 15 percent use social media to better understand the needs of their target groups.

Companies can increase their ROI through social media ads in the short term, but they shouldn't neglect long-term measures for customer loyalty, advise experts.

Because customers miss precisely what many companies are currently saving on: Innovative shopping experiences. Local shops are closed, shopping trips are canceled, there are hardly any on-site consultations and the goods are difficult or impossible to examine live. In short: Customers demand personal experience when shopping, not purely business transactions.

Recommendations for action:

  • Record multiple channels to increase your ROI by up to 35 percent.
  • Integrate user-generated content from social media e.g. B. in their email marketing campaigns.
  • Use Pinterest or Instagram Live as virtual sales rooms for some shopping fun.
  • If possible, offer virtual consultation or demo appointments in which, for example, influencers * present their products to a live audience.

Trend 2: Just shut up ... and listen

On average, 32 percent of Gen Z and X, millennials and baby boomers in the Hootsuite study stated that they use social media primarily for fun and entertainment reasons. Advertising especially motivates them to buy if they are useful and entertaining, because the longing for light-heartedness and normalcy is growing ever greater.

Especially at the beginning of the pandemic, however, large companies were campaigning past their target groups by sending exaggeratedly sentimental We-hold-together spots through the airwaves. Not only did the content of the individual companies hardly differ from one another, the messages completely ignored the needs of the customers.

Forrester's Jessica Liu says:

In the social media networks, brands have no feeling for what they actually want to achieve or how they should address the target groups they are courting. "

Because people want to communicate primarily with people, not with companies. As a result, 68 percent of respondents in the Hootsuite study said brands and companies simply didn't share good content. The experts advise companies to listen rather than wanting to follow every alleged trend verbatim.

Recommendations for action:

  • Don't underestimate passive content consumption. Hootsuite found that the average Facebook user only shares a single post in 30 days - which isn't bad. It is more important to assess when engagement as a KPI makes sense at all and when, for example, reach says much more about the success of a post.
  • Include other sources of knowledge than social media in your strategy: Analyzing search queries, for example, can be a good measure to find out what people think when they are looking for your company or service portfolio.

Long neglected and still there: the baby boomers

"OK Boomer"? You could say that. The older generation is making a big comeback: 70 percent of all Internet users between the ages of 55 and 64 made an online purchase in the past month and 37 percent want to continue doing so in the future, according to the study. The target group is slowly switching from TV advertising to online. And marketers are making a grave mistake if they ignore this development. Because the baby boomers are financially strong. Although the pandemic did not leave them without a trace, they came through the crisis more financially than the younger generations.

According to a study by GlobalWebIndex, the proportion of baby boomers discovering new brands and products on social media has increased by 66 percent in the past four years. Even so, only 15 percent of adult ads in the US show that target audience - ups.

Recommendations for action:

  • Keep investing in Facebook because it's the baby boomers' favorite platform, according to Hootsuite. New trend platforms for the younger target group, such as TikTok, are rated as surprisingly inefficient by those surveyed and are accordingly less relevant for marketing activities.
  • Don't address baby boomers by age, but by hobbies. Relevant topics include DIY, travel, art, gardening, recipes and animals. The second most used network of this generation is - you might have guessed it - Pinterest.
  • No clichés, please: The baby boomers consider themselves neither ‘old’ nor backward ’. So, understandably, they don't want to be addressed like that.
  • Make more use of online reviews, for example via Google My Business. For this generation, these play a particularly important role in purchasing decisions.

Trend 4: Who is writing to me? Link engagement and identity

Talking about social media trends and not really believing that activities on social platforms will bring anything at all? This is the case for a surprising number of marketers and social media managers. Over half are actually not convinced that their social media followers are of any use to them - a full 54 percent consider them to be just as valuable as customers, with whom they never interact at all.

69 percent of those surveyed in the study stated that the social networks had definitely helped them to maintain their customer relationships during the pandemic. Social media is still the strongest direct connection to customers. Then why is it that those responsible are so unsure of what their social media measures will bring them?

The problem lies in the often inadequate data integration. Only 10 percent of those surveyed stated that they were working with a well-engineered system. The rest of them had no way of differentiating who they were talking to on the social platforms: existing or new customers? Critics? Ex-employees? In contrast, 85 percent of the few companies that integrate their social media data with other systems trust that they can precisely quantify their ROI.

Recommendations for action:

  • Establish meaningful KPIs that contribute to your business goals.
  • If you haven't yet implemented a working data integration (and you won't be able to do so anytime soon), it's best to start by integrating your paid and organic social media activities. This is how you make sure at least once that you are delivering your content to the right target groups.
  • So don't do without social media ads: "Companies that only have an organic social media presence will find it extremely difficult to do any kind of attribution at all" (Jerry Daykin, GSK Media)
  • Work with UTM parameters to keep track of the data from your campaigns.

Trend 5: Courageous brands are already proving themselves at board level

Not only since the pandemic have marketers been exposed to the pressure to react to political issues or to position themselves on social events. This development has also been exacerbated by the pandemic. The younger target group in particular has a more pronounced social awareness than, for example, the baby boomers. According to a Deloitte survey, 60 percent of Gen Z and Millennials said they would prefer to buy from companies that looked after their workforce and had a positive impact on society during the pandemic.

The prognosis of the Hootsuite study is also corresponding: According to this, those companies that are oriented towards societal goals will benefit in the long term. Brands that have been doing this for a long time are currently in the lead thanks to the authenticity bonus. Companies that reflexively express themselves on topics such as sustainability, diversity and climate protection only in response to public pressure, but do not even have these on the agenda internally, are quickly exposed as hypocrites. Social media makes this particularly easy.

For this reason, the responsibility to really anchor such topics in the corporate culture lies with the boardrooms - and not with the marketers or social media managers. Consumers now judge companies more based on what they really do than on their tuned phrases on social media.

Recommendations for action:

  • Optimize your social media guidelines. Also note how your employees should use the social platforms.
  • Establish a crisis communication workflow. To be on the safe side, in case a shit storm brews despite the best of intentions.
  • Find out what the mood is about your brand through social listening. And observe whether there are trending topics that you can really contribute to - without usurping the discussion.

To ask? You can download the entire study from this link. Our experts are available to answer any questions you may have about social media.