Top 8 Social Media Trends and Trending Features for 2021

According to Statista, there are 3.78 billion social media users worldwide in 2021. This number will rise to 4.41 billion by 2025, which is more than half of the world population. Social media is undoubtedly an integral part of our lives where we can message or call our loved ones, find groups based on interests, read news and informative content, watch entertaining videos, sell and buy stuff, etc. The number of opportunities and purposes of use is endless, what makes social media change and gain new features so quickly and creates a need for personalization for each user.

Under these circumstances social media trends are undergoing speedy evolution, which puts pressure on everyone involved to be constantly aware of them. Based on our research and experience in MarTech&AdTech we’ve prepared a comprehensive list of trends to choose from for every particular person and business. Whether you are a marketer who is searching for new ways of product promotion, an app owner who is thinking of new features to introduce or an inspired entrepreneur wishing to create a new popular social network, you will find this article helpful!


1. Live streams

The global crisis of 2020 saw not only businesses but all our lives going digital. Work meetings turned into Zoom conferences, gym trainings became online personal trainings, concerts turned into live streams of musicians playing from studios or their own homes. Many social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok) introduced their own live streaming services to keep their users on the platform. This allows for streaming events and watching favourite content creators, which greatly increases engagement.

While more popular with younger generations, social live streaming has also attracted older generations - 25% ages 16-34 and 20% ages 35-64 use social media for live streaming according to Unscreen. People got used to such an easy way of interaction with influencers and brands without leaving their homes. Depending on the industry and TA, it could be expert talks, live FAQ sessions, entertaining content or helpful tutorials.


2. Short and FOMO-content

During the information age competition for users' attention is getting crazy, as the attention span is short and there is not much time to attract new users. Snapchat got popular because of its disappearing, FOMO-content and there were not many networks excited about this feature a few years ago. Now, over 500 million people use stories on Instagram every day and more and more platforms are introducing such features. 

The same is happening to short-form videos as a content type, so it’s time to add more user-generated content, behind-the-brand videos and ads - all in the form of short videos.


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3. Video content

According to a Cisco study, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video content. Video content can help businesses and brands showcase how a product works, build trust (with video testimonials and user-generated content), share educational and helpful content, which all facilitates while making a purchasing decision. 

Whether it’s a short-form content like TikTok videos or Stories or long-form content on YouTube or your own platform, videos are the most popular content type on social media. Even in Stories videos have a 5,65% lower tap-forward rate and less drop-offs than images, which proves that engagement rate for videos is higher. 

And of course 32% use social media for finding funny or entertaining content, which is mainly represented with video format. Don’t pretend you never watched funny videos of cats and babies for a few hours.


4. Audio content

This is the type of content that can be easily integrated in our modern life, thanks to the popularization of smart speakers, headphones, earbuds, and other audio hardware thought houses. During the pandemic our screen time increased, so many people are trying to decrease it while still consuming content with the help of audio. 

Many experts even claim that the future of the Internet is audio. This idea doesn’t sound weird if you think about the advantages of the audio format: convenience (you can listen to it anywhere while doing anything), intimacy (listeners are building their own images in mind), immediate connection to listeners. No wonder podcasts and streaming music platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, Yandex Music) with their personalization have gained such popularity.

The audio social media has been also taking over the market:

  • Clubhouse - a perfect place for great collaborations, no filter talks and influencers cultivation thanks to its simple features and open chatrooms.

  • Twitter Spaces - a Twitter’s service with the same idea as Clubhouse - live audio conversation.

  • Discord - a service with voice-over-IP software that translates spoken chat into text (in 2020 it was decided to pivot from an audio platform for gamers to an audio platform for everyone).

  • Cappuccino - a service that is keen on keeping in touch with your loved ones. The users can record short voice memos (‘beans’) for their family and friends sharing life updates or jokes and then every morning the service creates a mix of beans for each user.

  • Chekmate - a “text-free” dating app that connects users through voice and video. As the founder says, the app is “catfish-proof” and encourages users to be themselves without judgment.

The only disadvantage of the audio content is that it’s still unclear how to moderate, filter and control it to avoid harassment, violence and misusage.


5. Nostalgia

There’s something comforting about the past, isn’t there? People use the internet to go analogue and purchase old clothes, old music, to look for archive images and movies. Netflix’s success with 80s nostalgia series ‘Stranger things’, entire accounts on Instagram with images of celebrities made in 80s, 90s and early 00s, engagement with the social media’s feature ‘on this day’, Deep Nostalgia service for family photos animation - this all is a proof of nostalgia being a trend that can be marketed. No wonder millennials are called the most nostalgic generation ever.

Connecting with positive memories and familiar things from the past prevents people from feeling bad about their current life. This is a good explanation for an already popular social media Dispo by David Dobrik. Originally called Disposable, the app is aimed to be an alternative to Instagram that lets you create and share photos that arise nostalgic feelings associated with using a disposable camera. This is showcased in the app’s design that is meant to imitate getting a photo developed before being able to view and share it. Those who have already tried this beta version really adore its simplicity and the possibility of displaying more spontaneous images rather than the perfect instagramable ones.



6. VR and AR

While staying at home, people started to look for more meaningful virtual interaction, which can be provided by VR. 2021 is likely to VR getting even more popular as social networks are integrating it in their platforms. For instance, Facebook Horizon - a whole virtual world that allows people to explore, connect with others, and play games.

AR is also keeping up and helps to create highly interactive and engaging content. As an example, Instagram filters and ‘try on’ AR for better shopping experience.

Facebook and Sephora partnership


7. Social commerce

The role of social media in shopping is rapidly increasing. 54% of social media users research products using social media and social media referrals can influence the purchase decisions of 71% of users, which makes influencer marketing so important.

It’s easy to get used to something good and convenient, so nowadays users are expecting features for quicker and more entertaining shopping from every platform: ‘buy’ buttons added right to posts on social media, easy checkout without much info asked, all the product details described and found without any effort, etc.

Good customer service is also a big users’ expectation and social media can be a perfect channel for that. Customers reach out to brands right on social media, tag them in posts and stories as well as ask/complain about products. 2021 is expected to give us even more social commerce features for a better shopping experience.


8. Inclusivity, personalization and transparency

Social media and the Internet itself made our lives more transparent and vulnerable. Users and businesses should think twice before sharing some info or speaking up about some issues, in order to not wreck their reputation. Socials themselves should overthink their policies and correspondence with regulations and morality. 

So these are the trends people expect to see on social media:

  • Inclusivity, diversity and activism. Companies are expected to not only talk about social problems, but also show meaningful actions and support vulnerable members of the community. 74% of respondents in a Twitter survey want brands to showcase acts of kindness and an Accenture study found that 29% of all shoppers would switch to a brand that’s committed to inclusivity and diversity.

  • Transparency and security. Not only businesses should be open and real with their customers and users on social media, but socials themselves should care more about the security of users’ data. No wonder Telegram and Signal are getting more audience after Whatsapp policy update.

  • Personalization and privacy. Content is getting more and more personalized, so do services themselves. Even though social networks are open platforms, people are trying to create private space. That’s why there are such things as stories for close friends on Instagram, personalized ads, closed groups on Facebook and fee-based communities (OnlyFans).


Final words

Nowadays people are keen to try something different than social media giants. They are open for new features and engaging content more than ever before. That’s why there is plenty of space for experiments and innovations, and it doesn’t have to be something complicated!

We hope that you got inspired by this article and will use something in your marketing strategy or even build new game-changing social media. Fingers Media team is here for you to help and share more expertise!

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