Social media trends in 2020, and what to expect in 2021.

During 2020 social media as a means to market and engaging with customers really came to the fore. As we became more physically isolated from friends, family, businesses and brands, we used social media to bridge the gap and provide the connections that we missed.

We continued to see a rise in usage of social platforms, not only in terms of users but also time spent on platforms with baby boomers spending 1:11 (hrs:mins) per day versus Generation Z who spend 2.41 hours online per day. Not only are we are spending more time on social platforms, but we have also continued to multi-network, with the average user having more than seven active social media accounts.

1. Don’t forget the baby boomers

One of the biggest changes within social media last year was the growth amongst the baby boomers who spent longer periods of time on social platforms during the pandemic, with the average boomer now having at least five accounts. The ways in which they also use social media has changed over the last four years with a 66% increase in baby boomers discovering new brands and products through social media. Online consumers who are 65 or older were the fastest-growing age group during 2020, spending 49% more than they did the previous year prior as well as conducting 40% more transactions.

2. Evolving format of social media


During 2020, video and live-streaming really came of age, becoming the preferred content that users consumed. Due to the pandemic we saw many businesses going digital with face-to-face meetings turning into Zoom conference calls and live in-venue concerts becoming live stream online events, often with artists playing from their own homes. This trend is expected to continue even after all lockdown restrictions have been lifted, and according to a recent Sprout Social Index, 40% of consumers want to see more live video from brands. Whether this is only garden tips from your local garden centre or fashion sales events from your local boutique, customers want the convenience of content delivered online.

Socia Media Content

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

It is expected that the use of virtual reality and augmented reality for online shopping and events. Many brands are using AI filters to promote products and encourage audience interaction. Using AI not only lets users try-on products, but provides the opportunity to create entertaining content to make your brand stand out.

Using virtual reality can help give the impression of being together, something that many people have not been able to do one the last twelve months. Facebook Horizon is currently beta testing an Oculus VR platform where users can connect, interact, and explore a new world.

3. Finding your place in the conversation

Brands learnt quickly last year that it was important to find their place in the conversation. 2020 was a year of social change as well as social protest. Consumers are looking for brands that share their values and are authentic and are listening to their individual and collective voices. Consumers switched off to those brands that tried to hard sell their products, but rewarded those that showed leadership on social issues or those that provided entertainment!

Social media use has changed in recent years from primarily being about connecting with friends to also being both a source of information and news and a source of entertainment. Determining what your brand values are and what you are looking to achieve with social media is going to be important in 2021.

4. Social commerce to continue growth

Social commerce is where the entire shopping experience, from discovery to research to sales, is made through a social media platform. Social commerce makes the online shopping experience much more interactive, creating simple customer journeys from discovery to purchase at the click of a button. Social commerce is expected to increase ten-fold over the next three years.

Why consumers follow brands on social media

The growth in dedicated social media storefronts is set to continue and when you consider how important social media has become in the purchase decision-making process; 54% of social media users refer to platforms to research products, and referrals can influence the purchase decisions of 71% of users, most brands are looking for a piece of the pie.

Social commerce not only increases transaction speeds, but it also provides a readymade and immediate feedback loop, connecting your with your actual customers. For Generation Z and Millennials it is the modern mall.

Speak to hara to discover how we can help bring your online business to life.

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