December 23, 2020 6 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.

2021 promises a return to a semblance of normalcy, and this is a reason to look forward to the New Year. By the end of 2020, many companies will have to count their losses and redefine their strategy for 2021.

2020 was not easy for anyone, but studying the course of the year gives valuable insight into developing your social media marketing strategy for the new year. One factor was overwhelmingly clear; There has been a lot more engagement on social media due to COVID-19.

The trends in 2020 are not all revealing. The year also covered some really interesting social media developments that every business owner should be interested in, especially when it comes to social media marketing.

Here are some ideas and suggestions that would help brands position themselves for success in 2021.

Relationship-based social media marketing

Maintaining engagement and growing the fan base in 2021 will be a lot harder than sticking to the same routine strategies we used in the past. 2020 was a revolutionary year and only your agility as a brand would support you in the future.

A few months ago, a study showed that around 75% of respondents did not consider advertising to be the truth. This is worrying, but also understandable as social media users are increasingly skeptical. Given the rise in fake news allegations and the explosion of unethical marketing practices, this trend is hardly surprising.

It seems that the only followers you can cultivate are those you have developed a relationship with and the only ones you can acquire are the ones you have real relationship with. Trust has never been such an important marketing factor as it is in today’s social media.

In 2021, marketers should focus more time on building relationships with their employees, customers, and niche relevant influencers.

This is the time for marketers to increasingly cultivate user-generated content as well.

Studies show that 70% of customers trust other consumers more than advertising. This makes perfect sense, and that’s why word of mouth ads and referrals have remained one of the most effective marketing tools over time.

Related: 5 Social Media Marketing Mistakes You Must Avoid

Add some platform variety to your strategy

In March 2020, TikTok peaked, reaching around 76 million downloads. This was amazing and far ahead of 2019 predictions. Obviously, they were inspired by the extra time locks given to people, but their unique approach to community engagement should also be recognized for their success.

People want to consume different types of content as the speed increases. It seems that the shorter this video content, the better, and this fact plays a direct role in TikTok’s strategy. Facebook has followed suit, unleashing Facebook stories and Instagram roles. Even YouTube has built in its Snap video feature.

The massive popularity of this content suggests that marketers need to rely on it to market their brands. This also suggests that integrating some of these newer, fast-growing platforms could potentially shake up your brand.

This is important for many brands in 2021 if they want to escape the aging they have seen with traditional Facebook and YouTube marketing.

While you need to adjust your marketing across platforms, it may also be time to start creating new content on new platforms. The reason is that the millions of mostly 16- to 24-year-olds who enjoy TikTok are not necessarily active on Facebook or Instagram.

Take advantage of the surge in live streaming

Another fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns is an increase in live video consumption on social media. Live video has been used to fill the void created by physical absence from meetings, family gatherings, and other events.

While live video was used this way, it also opened an interesting door for marketers in 2020 and through 2021. The significant dedication to watching live video has resulted in live video taking the lead as the most watched video content on social media.

This effectively sparked the event marketing trend that had subsided in late 2018. Buffer has published an interesting list of potential events that can be shared via live video that is guaranteed to wow and delight your audience. Office hours, Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes moments, production processes, interviews and experimental content.

Content like this feels like inviting your audience over to your home and giving them a big tour. Given current live video consumption rates, many are likely to accept this invitation, which is an important way to nurture relationships and build loyalty.

Related Topics: Live Streaming Video: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Grow Your Brand Fast

Generate social content and engage in social activities

The social impact trend started in 2019, before the pandemic began. The trend soon exploded as the demand for social content rose to an all-time high.

We are now in a place where brands that appear calm on relevant societal issues are viewed as irrelevant or irresponsible by a growing population.

According to Merkle’s Media Insights Report for the fourth quarter of 2020, 56% of consumers said that they show neither respect nor loyalty to companies that remain silent on important topics. That is today’s reality. As the world and the United States are changing dramatically, politically and otherwise, as a result of the events of 2020, your business strategy must include an opinion.

Your point of view on issues gradually becomes part of your brand identity and helps consolidate your base. Hence, you should be careful when choosing your statements.

Your considerations should consist of both socially relevant and business considerations. In many cases, you could do the minimum and provide useful information on social issues that would appeal to a wider audience rather than take sides on partisan issues.

Whichever path you take, it is clear that your marketing efforts in 2021 and beyond will be largely influenced by brand identity and brand identity as you contribute to social issues.

2021 is about to be an interesting year, a year of healing and resetting for many brands, but it could be another challenging year for brands that choose not to be agile and flexible enough.

Related: 6 Steps for Better Social Media Engagement