Social media has proven an incredibly effective way for brands to reach their target audience, build a community, and directly market products and services. While the major platforms like Facebook and Twitter are more than a decade in age, social media usage continues to rise each year.
According to Statistica, 2020 saw more than 3.6 billion people using social media worldwide — and that number is expected to increase to 4.41 billion users by 2025. Making the most out of social media is more crucial than ever for businesses looking to grow and compete in the busy online world.
How will social media change in 2021 and, more importantly, what trends and features should your brand be paying attention to? Here is what you need to know to succeed on social in 2021.
Following in the steps of other social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn recently added LinkedIn Stories to their platform.
LinkedIn Stories allows users to share time-sensitive images and videos that expire after 24 hours. Post short videos and images overlayed with text, stickers, tags, and questions to engage your connection or share a behind-the-scenes peek at your professional life.
Currently, you can only post and view LinkedIn Stories from the mobile app. Here’s an example of what LinkedIn stories look like:
Stories allow you to share a more authentic side of your business or personal brand and engage followers in a new way. While not all brands are active on LinkedIn, it is an ideal platform to connect with others in your industry and build a personal brand.
Use LinkedIn stories to share stories about personal development, post hiring updates, or ask questions and poll your audience. Just make sure to keep it professional — despite this casual feature, LinkedIn is still a platform for interacting in a professional manner.
Pinterest Story Pins
LinkedIn is not the only platform jumping on the stories train. Pinterest recently added Story Pins, which allow creators to add multiple images, videos, or lists to a single Pin. For example, you could create a step-by-step guide, highlight a recipe, or share multiple clips of a longer video.
Here’s a peek at what the new Story Pins look like:
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Note that not all accounts currently have access to Story Pins. This feature is slowly rolling out and is currently only available to a limited number of business accounts in the United States. If you’d like access to the new feature, apply for an invite here.
So, what businesses should be paying attention to Story Pins? If you are already active on the platform, Story Pins can help you increase engagement and grow your audience. If your business isn’t active on the platform, consider building an audience before diving into new features like Story Pins.
Keep in mind that the demographics of Pinterest are changing. While 71% of Pinterest users are female, a growing number of Pinterest users are male, located outside the United States, or between 19 and 29.
Instagram Reels is a new short-form video feature launched in the summer of 2020. According to Instagram, reels “invite you to create fun videos to share with your friends or anyone on Instagram.”
Reels are 15-second (or shorter) videos with special creative tools. For example, you can add AR effects, include songs from the Instagram library, speed up or slow down your video, or combine multiple clips into one video.
Here’s a look at how Instagram Reels in the app:
How are Instagram Reels different from standard posts or Instagram Stories? Unlike Stories, Reels don’t expire. But the biggest difference is Reels can reach a global audience through the “Explore” feature, rather than only being seen by your followers. Note that Reels follow your privacy settings, so if you have a private account, only followers will be able to view your Reels.
Use Reels to expand your Instagram audience, share interesting content, and engage with your target audience. For example, you could use Reels to share tutorials, launch new products, or post user-generated content. Reels are also a great place to repurpose content from other platforms like LinkedIn, TikTok, or Snapchat.
Facebook Dynamic Ads
Facebook dynamic ads leverage machine learning to automatically deliver relevant ads based on a user’s behavior, interests, or actions. Rather than creating thousands of ads for thousands of different situations, dynamic ads allow you to create custom ads for each user based on actions, such as what page they viewed on your website. Dynamics ads are continuously optimized, which means you can spend less time on ads and more time taking care of your customers!
One of the most effective use-cases for dynamic ads is pairing them with retargeting, also called remarketing, which allows brands to customize ads for users based on their past actions. For example, if a customer ads a pair of shoes to their cart but doesn’t check out, you can use retargeting and dynamic ads to display an ad of those same shoes while they browse Facebook!
Automation is taking over a variety of tasks, from marketing to steering cars. In social media, automation can reduce the amount of time you spend on time-consuming tasks like scheduling content, curating posts, and even offering customer support.
For example, a Facebook chatbot allows you to respond to customers around the clock — without paying to have customer service agents monitoring your page 24/7. You can also use social media scheduling tools to post content when your audience is most active — even if it’s the middle of the night for you.
Automation can even make it easier to run contests by choosing the winner or automatically sending data about contest applicants to your CRM.
Making the most of social media should be a top priority for businesses big and small in 2021. Social media is constantly changing, which means staying competitive requires paying close attention to changing social media trends and new features like:
- LinkedIn Stories
- Pinterest Story Pins
- Instagram Reels
- Facebook Dynamic Ads
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