Video marketing

Top 5 Social Media Video Marketing Trends for 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a deep, lasting impact on human behavior. When #StayAtHome and social distancing directives reordered public life in 2020, social media platforms became the new default community hubs. We flocked to these digital spaces in search of not only information and entertainment, but human connection. Simply put: we’re more online than ever before, and that presents a unique opportunity for social media video marketing.

Social media was set to have a major year in 2020, but the pandemic catalyzed the expected trends and blew them through the roof. Video in particular contributed to historic traffic records across social media and streaming. 

These platforms aren’t just a way to interact with friends, family, and influencers anymore. They’re a tool brands can use to connect with consumers living a majority of their lives online. If brands want to win loyalty, they must speak consumers’ language through innovative, on-point, and platform-specific digital experiences optimized for video.

It’s exciting to be in the thick of an evolving social media landscape. The challenge for advertisers, though, is that these platforms have never been more crowded. Social channels eased the barriers to entry for competitors of all sizes and audiences are increasingly dispersed.

In a digital landscape flooded with competitors, playing the social game can honestly feel like random experimentation to see what sticks. We want to help you make the right moves in this pivotal year so you can get ahead. 

Here are five key trends you should keep in mind when planning your social media video marketing strategy in 2021.

RELATED: Top 6 Video Marketing Trends for 2021


#1 Video Will Be the Dominant Communication Currency on Social Media

This year video will crystallize as the dominant way we communicate online. We consumed video at unprecedented levels last year. This growing appetite comes at a time when social media platforms have made it easier than ever for users to generate their own viral video content.

This unlocks unique opportunities for brands to capitalize on these cutting-edge social media video tools to reach whole new audiences. And with the emerging popularity of video-focused social platforms, it’s never been more important to make video a cornerstone of your social media marketing strategy. 

Leading the charge is the social star of 2020, TikTok. Notable for its trendsetting ethos, users across all demographics flocked to the music and UGC heavy platform last year primarily because it makes video a focal point. Where other major social channels are historically text and image based–but now embracing video–TikTok stands apart by fundamentally being a video-only platform that seamlessly turns its users into viral content creators.

TikTok’s popularity pushed other platforms like Instagram and Twitter to launch their own competing video-creation hubs. Now users can find similar video experiences on different platforms, from Instagram Reels to Twitter Fleets, giving brands new ways to organically interact with their audiences directly. Expect all platforms—including Pinterest and LinkedIn—to invest in their video features this year. 

It’s not a coincidence that video is emerging as the primary means to connect with consumers as it continues to be the most engaged with content type across all social media platforms. 

Social Media Video Production and Marketing Tips

  • Audiences have been conditioned to expect storytelling and entertainment from their social feeds, especially on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, so simple UGC-style (user-generated content) will no longer cut it. Focus on putting a fun and snappy spin on your UGC-style creative to make it feel new and different.
  • This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to raise your production budget or make all of your creative high gloss. Instead, focus on the storytelling arc of your creative. Human psychology craves narrative, so a clear story is a surefire way to leave a lasting impression.
  • Audiences will see right through insincerity, so avoid overly pushing your product on platforms that are focused around connection and fun. Associating your brand with a positive creative experience will pay off in the long run in establishing your unique voice.
  • Understanding what sonic elements are appropriate for different social media channels is crucial to successful content. Do videos auto-play with sound off or sound on? Are captions necessary? Strategize your video creatives based on the native experience of the platform.

Firstleaf elevated the UGC-style customer testimonial with a clear story, b-roll, and unboxing footage. 


#2 Digital Communities Will Grow and Diversify

With public spaces mostly off-limits last year, social media became a conduit to help us adapt to an increasingly digital way of life. As the globe slowly bounces back from the pandemic, these communities will continue to thrive as they bring a human touch to our online spaces. This allows for more unique, targeted social media video marketing opportunities for brands to leverage in the coming year.

Now that everyone and their grandparents are living in the digital realm, social media fluency across all demographics will see a continued increase. Audiences typically difficult to reach, like Baby Boomers, are now spending as much time on social media as Millennials. They are also consuming content on a wider array of platforms, too.

With these burgeoning communities, brands must ensure their video content feels organic, using creative languages familiar to each platform. One way to do this is by getting in early on emerging trends and conversations. Producing on-trend creative allows your brand to embed itself in social communities solely through the content you’re promoting.

Community: Video Production and Marketing Tips

  • Embed your brand in the communities you’re targeting—and remember that each platform requires a unique approach. Users on platforms like Reddit, for example, are notoriously suspicious of advertising on the platform. This means brands need to lay a lot of groundwork to gain consumer trust. Identify online communities that align with your brand and audience, and then work to get a feel for their voice and culture before publishing content. 
  • Social trends are so much more than sea shanties and Ocean Spray Challenges. They can be a stylistic approach, like the way text or audio is used, or a narrative arc that’s repeated and morphed over time. Trends form the creative language of each platform, which your creatives must adhere to in order to resonate with your audience.
  • Community trends can be short-lived, so don’t be late on jumping on new bandwagons. Stay on the pulse of what’s happening online and act fast to produce content that feels relevant. Nothing will make your brand look more out of touch than reacting too late to a popular viral trend. 

SodaStream tapped into TikTok-specific video style trends in a recipe-based TikTok ad. 


#3 Diversifying Your Platform Mix Will Be Key to Reaching Your Entire Audience

No one is just on one social platform anymore. Since audiences are scattered across the new social landscape, marketers must diversify their platform mix to reach audiences everywhere they gather

Platforms with diverse audiences such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest present an affordable growth opportunity for marketers. A year ago you may not have thought you could use TikTok to reach a target audience like Gen X dads. But as we saw through 2020, users of all ages are continually adopting social platforms typically dominated by younger generations of consumers. 

Each social channel has a unique audience mix and targeting advantages, so publishing across several will be key to growing, converting, and retaining your entire audience. If you want to stay engaged with the conversations your audiences are having online, your brand must have a powerful presence on every platform they reside.

Diversification: Video Production and Marketing Tips

  • Your video creative should be as diverse as the social channels you advertise on. Each video must feel platform-native, delivering the experience users are expecting within each platform’s trademark environment.
  • Identify the social media platforms that are hospitable to a wide array of content and use them to your advantage to capture users’ attention. Employ visually dynamic production approaches like stop-motion to further captivate your audience on text or image-heavy platforms like Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Stop-motion is a super cool technique that turns photos into eye-catching, satisfying videos.


#4 How You Target Audiences is Changing in a Big Way

Data privacy laws are set to change drastically this year (see you later third-party cookies!), meaning targeting audiences, even on social media, is going to get more complicated. 

These changes are happening at a time when social media has never been more saturated with users and video content, surfacing unique challenges for brands. However, social platforms are a world of verified users with advanced audience targeting capabilities. Opportunities still exist for you to serve up audience-specific social content that can directly impact the communities you want to reach.

With less analytical information to help you shape your social media video marketing strategies, your creative now must resonate with a much broader audience. Because you’re unlikely to know whether you’re reaching someone for the first time—or the hundredth—upper-funnel targeting becomes far more important

Look broadly at your social media video marketing strategy and invest in creative content that amplifies your brand’s identity. This will help establish a hallmark experience that consumers will begin to associate with your brand.

Targeting: Video Production and Marketing Tips

  • Since key audience-targeting data points will be unavailable, implement a multivariate testing plan to get a more granular understanding of how your social media video marketing is resonating. Testing different types of content and creative variables will reveal which video approaches are most effective with your target audiences. 
  • Think critically about your brand’s voice and image. With decreased targeting capabilities, you’ll need to reframe what your brand represents to appeal to a wider audience without compromising your campaign goals.

Hairstory partnered with QuickFrame to execute a performance testing plan, surfacing platform-specific learnings for Facebook and Instagram.


#5. Social Media + eCommerce = Social Commerce

The pandemic drove the world online, and we took our wallets with us. Throughout 2020, eCommerce growth surged by 30%, accelerating shopping trends by more than two years

This rise is cementing eCommerce as the preferred shopping experience of the 21st century. We’re not just buying luxury items online anymore; we’re buying necessities, from groceries to toilet paper. This has pushed traditional brick and mortar stores into the digital sphere to create shopping experiences that meet customers where they are: at home, and on social media. 

To serve users’ evolving lifestyles, every major social platform will continue to invest in building out their social shopping experiences in 2021. This means more opportunities for you to ideate lower-funnel video content tailor-made for each channel. 

Shops on Facebook and Instagram will continue the expansion they began last year. Pinterest proceeds to roll out a slate of new features encouraging in-app purchase behavior to streamline buying paths for users. TikTok is expected to rack focus on eCommerce throughout 2021, building on major revenue streams generated last year by their Chinese counterpart Douyin.

Social Commerce: Video Production and Marketing Tips

  • Bridge the gap between online and in-person shopping experiences by creating social videos that offer a dynamic look at your products. Since you can’t physically touch merchandise online, these videos can provide a more comprehensive perspective of your product than static images.
  • Keep your eCommerce eye towards the horizon as shoppable live streams become more common in 2021. Wal-Mart recently partnered with popular talent on TikTok for a variety show where notable personalities promoted private-label and national brands available from the retailer. We predict this new eCommerce experience growing in popularity as retailers look for out-of-the-box ways to drive sales on social.

Bring dynamism to your product-centric creatives by associating aspirational imagery with your product using on-screen talent. 

Top 5 Social Media Video Marketing Trends for 2021: The Takeaway

The past year has been rough, and we’re not yet out of the woods. Be sensitive to consumers’ mindsets and rethink your value props to fit contemporary trends and lifestyles.

Be vigilant in staying up to date on what’s hot – and what’s not – online. This’ll ensure your social media video marketing strategy is attuned to what modern consumers expect in our ever changing digital world.

GET MORE SOCIAL TIPS:  The 2021 Guide to Social Media Video Marketing


Driving eCommerce with Video

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