2021 has both been a challenging and interesting year for digital marketers, especially within the sphere of social media marketing. All estimates had earlier predicted that SMM will grow further as we progress through the 21st century but no one had predicted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The YOY growth of the number of social media users by end of July 2020 was over 10%. The pandemic caused 3.96 billion people to come active on social media worldwide, spending an average of 2 hours daily. As of April 2021, that figure rose to 4.33 billion, with consumer behaviour changing with every new million active users.
Social media has never seen such unprecedented growth in its history. Naturally, the marketing strategies surrounding it have changed, closely fueled by the algorithm changes made by the giants. Here is how SMM stands now and should remain so as we move forward.
The big players are no longer that big
Just 5 years back, most of our social media marketing strategies revolved around Facebook and Instagram, and maybe Twitter but 2020 created a new hero that the young crowd embraced with open arms. TikTok saw a staggering 76 million downloads in March 2021 alone and the user base was aged between 16-24 years old. In contrast, Instagram had over a billion users. But the users were much older. No longer could brands just leverage Instagram to attract young customers.
In 2021, diversification is the key. Yes, Facebook and Instagram are still important but we must also prioritise TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, YouTube and more.
Trust on social media is a massive issue
As people have started spending more time on social media, the consumer-brand relationship matters now more than ever. Estimates say that almost 75% of active users do not believe in the authenticity of social media advertisements but places more trust in customer reviews, ratings and opinions. And a whopping 90% shop from brands that their friends recommend or they see other people using the brand’s product/service.
Digital marketers should have a second look at Influencer Marketing in 2021. More than paid advertisements, influencer marketing has the potential to bring home better ROI.
Silent brands are a thumbs down
Social media became a platform of expression in 2021 for almost every active user. As people could not take the road and organise gatherings, social and political issues were discussed vehemently on almost all platforms. This caused people to expect brands to participate as well. Studies show that 56% of social media users do not shop from brands that remain silent on social issues that they feel are important.
Customer engagement has changed in 2021. Likes, comments and shares are important but our SMM strategy should include speaking out on issues that people are currently resonating with.