Social media has evolved from a way to chat with friends or share content and into a fully-fledged business engine capable of marketing, selling and advertising. In 2021, there’s plenty of social media trends to take advantage of, otherwise you could be left behind.

This evolution and expansion of social media’s capabilities is a boon for the small business owner, who can tap into a vast array of business tools and platforms – usually for free.

It would behove the canny small business owner with a social media marketing plan – who’s out there looking for every business advantage they can get their hands on – to closely monitor social media marketing trends and swiftly put them to work.

Social eCommerce

Social media eCommerce has been bubbling for some time but has begun to hit its stride.

The availability and scope of selling directly through social media platforms has ballooned and consumer uptake has matched this expansion.

Sites like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest have all embraced buying and selling directly through their platforms.

While linking to an external eCommerce site is still common, people often prefer to stay in the app they’re already on. Features like Facebook Marketplace are an extremely viable and accessible way to not only market your products but to concurrently sell them directly to your audience in the app.

Stories continue to rise above traditional posts

Short form video posts with a limited shelf life (dubbed ‘stories’) are booming in popularity on social networks.

Stories often feature above other types of content, holding primacy of attention, and should be highly considered when creating a marketing mix.

We have Snapchat to thank for them as the original pioneer, but ‘stories’ have now been adopted almost across the board, including Instagram and LinkedIn.

According to Facebook, across its product family (which includes messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp):

  • there are one billion stories shared every day across its apps
  • there are over 500 million people who interact with stories every day
  • one-third of the most viewed Instagram stories are from businesses.

‘Stories’ have been seen to increase engagement and accounts for a higher click through rate than traditional ‘feed’ posts.

If you aren’t already, you should definitely include a ‘stories’ component into your social media marketing strategy. Types of social media that offer ‘stories’:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Facebook
  • WhatsApp
  • YouTube

Diversity and inclusion

While not a ‘trend’ or something you would callously class as a ‘marketing strategy’, there’s a rising social consciousness toward what should have already been centre stage – inclusion and diversity in media.

Representing an array of people and identities which accurately reflects the spectrum of people in our society should be displayed by all businesses.

When you’re considering including photos and videos of people in your social media marketing, try and do a little better than focusing on a particular race or gender. Your target audience is more diverse than you might realise.

As Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sanberg notes:

“We are building products that people with very diverse backgrounds use, and I think we all want our company makeup to reflect the makeup of the people who use our products.”

Social media SEO

While search engine optimisation (SEO) has been a necessity for web content such as blogs and pages for well over a decade or two, it’s now beginning to matter more on social media.

Sites like Instagram are paying more attention to the searchability of its hosted content and this means including relevant keywords in your captions.

In fact, in November 2020 Instagram explicitly told the market that searchability of its hosted content, without the use of hashtags, would come into sharp focus.

“Now you can search beyond usernames and hashtags for interests on Instagram”

Vishal Shah, VP of Product at Instagram.

This means, for your business to remain seen and searchable, you’ll need to pay attention to SEO for your social media posts as well as your web content.

Livestreaming will continue to grow

While livestreaming (or live video) is a mainstay for social media addicts the world over, originally it was the individual who got onboard to tell a live personal story or share an incredible experience.

Now, businesses are increasingly using live streams to diversify their social media marketing and content marketing.

The benefit of livestreaming for business is that your audience experiences an immediate and more authentic connection with your brand sans postproduction. Authenticity in marketing is highly valued.

If you have the gumption to go live, it’s a very tempting and rewarding way to cut through the curated chaff on social media channels.