Social media trends to look out for in 2021

From remixing UGC, socially conscious consumers, and focusing on social ROI, read about our top social media trends for 2021.

Published by 

Alexis Pratsides


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2020 saw a substantial rise in video marketing, introduced us to TikTok, and the addition of stories EVERYWHERE. But what social media trends will become of greater importance in 2021?

As the world was forced to do almost everything virtually, social media became more important than ever before, particularly for small businesses. People now use social media to discover, learn, and shop from brands that may have never had a physical store or even a website. With so many opportunities available to the mass, cutting through the crowd becomes ever so challenging as a result. In order to succeed, brands must be creative, authentic, and current. And to do this they must always be on top of the latest social media trends.

So, let’s take a look at some top trends we expect to see thrive on social media in 2021.

Need help keeping your business on top of the latest digital trends? Get in touch today.

Remixed user generated content

The rise of short form videos

This year brought the rise of the TikTok platform as well as the introduction of (some may say the copycat) Instagram Reels. These platforms allow users to capture, edit, and publish short-form videos. 

Video marketing has been a prominent trend on social media for some time now. But with short-form videos, users are much more likely to watch right until the end before moving onto the next piece of content where something new and exciting is introduced each time. Their attention never wavers, making these platforms very addictive.

You’ll just be in this pleasurable dopamine state, carried away. It’s almost hypnotic, you’ll keep watching and watching.

Dr. Julie Albright
TikTok UK Statistics 2020 by Social Films

The pandemic only increased the usage of TikTok this year as millions were left with more time on their hands being out of work. In the UK alone, there are now over 3.7 million users who spend an average of 41 minutes per day using the platform. This is just under the global average of 52 minutes per day. According to the Q4 2020 Global social report by Hootsuite and We are Social, TikTok ranks as the seventh most-used social platform globally with 689 million active users per month. Above them are:

  • Facebook: with 2.7 billion monthly active users
  • YouTube: with 2 billion monthly active users
  • Whatsapp: with 2 billion monthly active users
  • FB Messenger: with 1.3 billion monthly active users
  • Weixin / WeChat: with 1.206 billion monthly active users
  • Instagram: with 1.158 billion monthly active users

Given the scale, short form videos are something businesses definitely should be paying attention to.

What is remixed content?

These new platforms have also brought about the concept of remixing this year. Remixing is the art of taking existing formats, templates, or ideas, and recreating them to express a user’s own personality or ideas.  Whether these be dance routines, comedy led, or tips/quick hacks, TikTok users love to recreate the videos they watch and make them their own.

How can brands take advantage of remixing?

Some businesses are already taking advantage of the advertising capabilities of TikTok. But user generated content (UGC) poses as a huge opportunity yet to be fully pursued. 85% of consumers say that UGC is more trustworthy than branded content and it drives 28% more engagement on average. Brands should always be looking for new, exciting ways to encourage greater levels of UGC from their existing customers and/or audiences.

TikTok presents huge potential in this area. A successful TikTok challenge has the opportunity to reach millions of users, particularly among the younger demographics. Not only this but, the nature of these challenges is highly captivating given their short-form video format. This means users will be more inclined to join the trend themselves, publishing a new video that will reach even more people and so on, creating a ripple effect with huge potential. Their involvement in replicating the challenge also makes it much more memorable for them. And if these challenges were branded, consequently the brand would remain in front of mind too.

Particularly if your brand is unable to produce the short-form video yourself it will be crucial to provide creators with the digital assets, such as logos or branded templates, to help people create or remix effectively.

Brands should look to get creative in 2021 and make full use of remixing content. This is a social media trend that is still only just emerging and yet to be fully grasped by brands. Businesses should not only be publishing on their own accounts but encourage UGC by initiating unique branded challenges, hashtags, and templates which users will be excited to remix. As a result, they’ll initiate a ripple effect to get their brand in front of a substantial number of users at a minimal cost.

Socially conscious consumers

Today, consumers are more socially conscious than ever before. 

Between the economic and emotional fallout of COVID-19, the uprising against racism and police brutality, and climate change fuelling historic wildfires across Australia and North America, marketers were under significant pressure to publicly address issues that their organisations had never focused on or were only beginning to align with.

Hootsuite’s Social trends 2021 report

A recent study by Talkwalker took a look at what topics are being discussed on social media by Generation Z and Alpha.

Data from Talkwalker’s 2021 Social Media Trends report

These generations believe in building a better normal. Whether they are talking about political issues, discrimination, or mental health to name a few, they will stick by their beliefs and are not afraid to vocalise them, as the data shows.

Brands looking beyond themselves and campaigning for an issue which closely relates to their audience even if not directly reflecting their products is nothing new. For example, take Dove’s Real Beauty campaign, advocating feeling comfortable and more so beautiful in your own skin. Or, Always’ #LikeAGirl, dismissing the typical stereotypes the phrase holds against gender biases. or Nike’s ‘One Day We Won’t Need This Day’ promoting female empowerment as part of their International Women’s Day campaign.

Being in touch with what your audience really cares about and advocating a source of acceptance and an aim to ‘do better’ has been prevalent for years by big brands. But now, as consumers become even more socially aware, this will become an expectation from all brands. 

What does more socially conscious consumers mean for brands?

This movement cannot be ignored by brands. Gone are the days of pure product marketing with no greater added value or brand beliefs.

Brand responsibility is taking centre stage. Now more than ever, we’re demanding that our brands show up with purpose and meaning, beyond product marketing agendas… What’s exciting is that brands are using social data to fuel their responses with a true understanding of what’s going on, in real time, and how their vision fits. We’ll see more long-termism, less emphasis on product marketing and unprecedented investment in brand health mechanisms that offer consumers credible value. Well, for the brands that want to succeed in today’s business climate! 

Dr Jillian Ney, Digital Behavioral Scientist, The Social Intelligence Lab 

Companies will have to engage more with topics like mental health, inclusivity, and social justice, or face becoming irrelevant and potentially obsolete in 2021.


Content must move away from mere product marketing and messaging must focus on the bigger issues to gain customer loyalty. Not only that but it must be authentic. Consumers will be quick to call out those brands who do not reflect what they say into their actions. Following through will be crucial to maintain authenticity and create meaningful connections with your audience. Brands should be listening to the conversations in their industry and reflecting it in their own brand values. Failure to do so will lead to them facing greater scrutiny heading into 2021. 

Balancing short term social ROI to long term brand building tactics

The pandemic, unpredictable markets, budget cuts and altering consumer behaviours have put increased pressures on businesses in all areas to remain profitable. So, it comes as no surprise that many working in social are also having to adjust their goals to become more sales focused and provide ROI in unconventional ways.

Social media goals for 2021

Taking a look at Hootsuite’s recent poll, we see that ‘Increased acquisition of new customers’ is the number one aim for social with ‘Increased brand awareness’ ranking second and ‘Drive conversions’ in third. Things such as brand protection, improving customer insights improving brand competitive advantage sit towards the bottom of the pile.

60% of Instagram users say they discover new businesses on the platform. With this in conjunction with the current climate it’s unsurprising that many businesses want to improve their social ROI in 2021. They are heavily focused on their short-term goals and how to go about some quick wins.

Short term tactics to increase your social ROI

So you need to increase your social ROI? Here’s a few quick wins which could help on Instagram:

  • Ensure your social shops are fully operational and kept updated
  • Tag feed posts with shopping tags
  • Use shopping stickers on stories
  • Try out UGC for shoppable posts to test if they are more effective in bringing conversions
  • For those who have over 10,000 followers, make use of the swipe-up feature on stories to link to your website and product pages
  • Host a shopping event through live streaming on IGTV, think QVC meets social media!

All these tactics may bring a source of sales in the short term which for many may become crucial in the current climate.

Balancing the short and long-term social tactics

As addressed in the socially conscious consumer trend, brands must focus on much more than just product marketing. Though the tactics mentioned above may bring sales in the short-term, businesses shouldn’t allow themselves to get overconsumed by this. The best brands will simultaneously work on deploying tactics which will enhance their brand perception, trust and loyalty which will maintain effective post-pandemic.

Brands should use their time and assets carefully to introduce sales streams and simplify purchase journeys for their consumers on social. But, simultaneously, they must show that they value more than the bottom line. Brands should be publishing content that provides value to their users and stays true to their core brand values.


These are just some of the social media trends that will shape the virtual landscape in 2021. Businesses should reap sales where they can through social platforms by implementing short-term tactics but while staying true to their brand and offering content of value. They should also look to reach new users and grab attention through making use of remixed content, a tactic which may be difficult to grasp but can lead to huge pay offs with minimal investment.

What do you think will be the biggest social media trend for 2021? Let us know though our social channels!

Have you read our other trend articles for 2021?

Created by

Alexis Pratsides

Published at 

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