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Social Media Innovations in 2021

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By: Harvey Morton, Digital Expert and Founder of www.harveymorton.digital

Writing about social media trends is a dangerous business. The trends come and go so fast that this article written today could look obsolete tomorrow. However, understanding the trends if you want to leverage social media for your business or become the latest influencer is essential. Remember how Snapchat, literally only a few years ago, leveraged that fear of missing out by having content disappear and Instagram and most other platforms host soon-to-disappearing content now too.

Even though it is a wild west rodeo ride, we need to look at what is new and predict what might be big. So, here, right now, are some of the innovations that seem to be making waves.

Live streams are here to stay!

There is some talk from commentators that people are exhausted by digital content. While the internet has saved us in the lockdown, we now crave physical, face-to-face interaction with people. Therefore, though live streams allowed artists from music to comedy to reach a mass audience, there will be counter-revolution back into the arena.

However, others are certain that the uptick in live streaming will remain, as people are now fully acclimatised to seeing famous people and brands live through their phone. The level of popularity during COVID was too high to see the reliance on this social media tool disappear. In one week in Italy in the number of Facebook Live views doubled.

Brands will likely continue to see the possibilities of live interaction through social media as a powerful drive. It is a great way to offer tips, tricks and tutorials that help people see the essential brilliance of your product or service. Joe Wicks established precedence for selling exercise through his social media platforms.

Storytelling is key to your strategy.

More than 500 million users interact with Instagram Stories every day. Just because a content format is dominant now doesn’t mean it will continue, so view this fact cautiously. However, when we feel isolated and disconnected, putting forward stories and connecting these with your brand are an excellent way to feed people’s desire for contact. People want to see the humans behind the product and feel a part of something. Therefore, it feels safe to predict that story as a content form is only going to grow.

What does this mean for businesses? It means you need an organised approach to your content plans. A story format requires planning and a great deal of strategic forethought. Unlike snapping your products or publicising your latest blog, which is done in an instance, a story needs depth. It is this depth that helps you connect on an emotional level with your market.

The rewards are great, though. According to one survey, stories have more than 5% higher tap forward than video. So, the number of people who looked at one story and clicked to see the next one is significantly higher than a form that is thought to be most sticky.

AR and VR?

People have been predicting the dominance of augmented and virtual reality for years and had egg splatter on their face. The tech has been around for almost a decade and has not gained much traction mainstream, barring a genius move by Pokémon.

However, this tentative prediction that this niche strategy will become more mainstream is based on the surge in popularity due to lockdown. Interacting with people through VR is the perfect way to connect while socially distanced. It has given Facebook, in particular, the chance to evolve its Oculus VR platform and fast track its beta tests.

It is more likely that augmented reality will trend up in social media, as it doesn’t require any additional tech than your phone. The experiences are interactive and are highly effective at engaging a mass audience. Therefore, it is easy to see how it will pay for brands to develop filters that promote new products. Look at how McDonald’s used the Spice Zapper filter, which allowed users to zap chicken nuggets from the sky.

And regulation.

While all the trends so far speak of opportunity, there are obvious risks to social media in the future too. The power that social media platforms wave around has raised significant concern in political fields. While many couldn’t argue with the banning of Donald Trump from platforms, it did raise the spectre of people like Mark Zuckerberg having more influence than the President of the United States.

So, while social media continues to excite, we all need to be aware of the likelihood of international regulation on the platforms. How this will influence marketing opportunities is difficult to predict but something that needs closely watching.

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