With just nine weeks left in the year, we think it’s safe to say that most everyone is looking forward to 2021. While there’s certainly no way to predict what the future will hold, there are some clear trends and shifts emerging that will impact how businesses market to consumers going forward. 

The team from Talkwalker recently partnered with HubSpot to interview 70 global experts and frontline professionals who identified 10 social media trends for the year ahead. Taking it a step further, they surveyed consumers to rank the trends in order of which they think will be the least impactful to the most impactful. Below is a summary of the results: 

10. Remixing is the new user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) refers to any content—including text, videos, images, reviews, etc. —that have been created by people, rather than brands. For many companies, UGC has long been an important part of their digital marketing strategy. But, in 2021, experts predict remixing—the art of taking existing formats, templates, or ideas, and recreating them to express a user’s own personality or ideas—will continue to grow in popularity thanks to TikTok and Instagram Reels. 

9. Coronavirus content will focus on the 4 Cs

It’s become pretty evident that we’ll continue to see the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic well into 2021 and maybe even beyond. In their search for information, consumers are turning to brands for information and reassurance relating to the crisis. 78% of which have said that brands should help them out in their daily lives. To not only be part of these COVID-19 conversations but also ensure their communication is relevant, brands will need to focus on the 4 Cs—community, contactless, cleanliness, and compassion. 

8. Messaging will become more memetic

Memes are here to stay with 55% of 13-35-year-olds sending them every week. Mentions of memes increased over the last 13 months, from 19.8 million mentions in August 2019, to 24.9 million in July 2020 (+26%), with a peak of 28 million during April 2020. While many are entertaining and created in good fun, memes can influence the mindset of consumers. Expect to see them used more in marketing and advertising campaigns. 

7. Nostalgia marketing will engage your audience

Naturally, the pandemic has left many of us reflecting on the ‘good old days.’ Nostalgia marketing is based on the premise that connecting with positive memories from the past helps people disconnect from their current struggles. Experts suggest that connecting that positive memory to your brand will build an emotional relationship with consumers. By making them feel good, consumers will associate your brand as being a good brand.

6. Conversational marketing will drive sales

The most successful companies in 2021 will be those who invest in building relationships and increasing consumer engagement through conversational marketing. Conversational marketing includes building relationships through personalized, one-to-one content such as chatbots, social messaging, calls, and more. 

5. The line between social media and gaming will blur

Over the last 13 months, the number of people who identify as gamers (include references to gaming as part of their social bios) has increased from 31.1 million in August 2019 to 41.2 million in July 2020 (+32%), with an immediate uptick shown during the lockdown months. In 2021, we can expect the stigma associated with gaming to erode as brands become more focused on the value of the online communities gamers have built. 

4. Old-school marketing will be the new ‘new’

Like fashion and popular culture, marketing trends are often cyclical. In 2021, experts predict we will see a rise in “old-school marketing” as brands switch back to tried-and-tested methods of engaging consumers. 55% of Americans now listen to podcasts, while newsletter mentions were

up 14% during the lockdown. 2021 will see continued growth in these areas. We’re also seeing a shift back to increased voice communication, not just with calls but voice search, voice notes, and now voice Tweets.

3. Social media giants will adapt to the new normal

Tech giants including several of the large social media platforms have faced significant scrutiny this year. But, they’ll continue to be just as significant in the new year. Experts attribute this to the fact that these larger platforms have the size and capabilities to adapt quickly to

changing trends and consumer habits. By incorporating new features like Instagram Reels or Twitter voice tweets, they’re able to pivot their features to counteract the popularity of growing channels, while at the same time reacting to the trends to counteract disinformation and engage

socially conscious audiences. So, while the way consumers use these platforms may change, social media will continue to be a significant part of our daily lives.

2. Digital disinformation will be tackled

Among many other issues, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the issue of disinformation to the forefront. As a result, consumers are demanding more accountability, authenticity, and transparency. Expect 2021 to be the year brands and social media channels focus on highlighting the truth, and silencing ‘fake news.’

1. Audiences will be more socially conscious

If there were any doubts before, 2020 made it clear that this generation (and the future Generation Alpha) are more socially conscious than their predecessors which has had a notable impact on brands, politics, and society as a whole. Companies will have to engage more

with topics like mental health, inclusivity, and social justice, or face becoming irrelevant and potentially obsolete in 2021. Cause-driven messaging will be the biggest trend we see in digital media in the coming year. 


Of course, each of these trends are simply expert predictions. And if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that it is important to be flexible. When it comes to social media, and digital media in general, the only permanent thing is change. The platforms themselves and their best practices are always evolving based on consumer behavior. 

At TargetMarket, we stay on top of the changes so that you don’t have to. Schedule a free consultation to learn more about how you can get ahead of these trends with a custom digital marketing strategy. 

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