How to Utilise Social Media Trends as a Small Business in 2021

Social media is an ever-changing dynamic field with rapidly changing trends. What is trending today, may not be popular tomorrow.

As a business, especially a small one, you constantly have to review the trends and alter your digital marketing strategy to keep yourself on the frontline.

Here are some of the top trends on social media to watch to help your business grow and accelerate your sales.

 

Ephemeral Content

Ephemeral Content

Instagram Story – @urbanxadventurer

 

Ephemeral content is a content with very limited lifespan, such as Instagram Story. This type of content is typically live for 24 hours before disappearing.

According to Instagram, there were over 500 million active Instagram Story users in 2019. (Instagram, 2019). 58% of people interviewed said they became more interested in brands/products after seeing them in Stories. (Instagram, 2019). What makes this information more interesting is the fact that 90% (!) of Instagram users follow brands. (Facebook for Business, 2021). If you are not currently using Instagram Story, it’s time to consider inserting it into your social media plan.

In 2019 a survey of Facebook for Business’ revealed that people appreciate interactive features in Instagram Stories, such as polls, GIFs, countdowns, Q&As and “raw unpolished content”, for example, short videos about the business’ everyday life or sneak peeks. (Facebook for Business, 2019)

The optimal number of Stories within a day is up to 6 Stories, points Social Insider in their survey in 2020. This is the number where engagement rate is higher than 70%.  (A., Jipa, 2019)

 

Video Content Will Dominate (in Stories too)

IGTV Video

IGTV Video – @urbanxadventurer

 

Using video content is a must-do for small businesses. Why?

Online video demand has accelerated since the COVID_19 outbreak in 2020. People forced to stay at home to help stop the virus spreading. As a result, the demand for home entertainment, information and communication rocket-fuelled.

According to Limelight Network’s survey, in 2020 people watched nearly 7 hours and 55 minutes of online videos globally on average per week. This was a 16% rise compared to 2019. (Limelight Networks, 2020)

This trend will continue to explode in the following years. According to a Cisco study, 82% of ALL online content will be video content by 2022. (Cisco, 2020)

Thanks to the rise of video platforms like Tik Tok and new features like Instagram Reels or Instagram Stories, video content has a massive demand and has significant role in businesses’ revenue growth.

 

Tik Tok Video Content

Tik Tok Video Content – @urbanadventurerldn

 

Did you know that using video in Instagram Stories can massively increase engagement rate? According to Social Insider, images in Instagram Stories get more drop offs compared with videos. (A., Jipa, 2019)

If you haven’t done so, include video into your content strategy. Start creating videos around new product launch, create sneak peeks and behind the scenes videos or video tours.

Utilise new social media features such as Instagram Reels and IGTV Video (Instagram TV), use more video content in your Feed and Stories and map out new video based social media channels relevant to your business such as YouTube or Tik Tok.

Bonus Tip: Did you know you can tag products in your Instagram Reels? (Here’s how.)

 

Live Streaming

Instagram Live

Image from Pixabay

 

In 2020 live streaming saw a massive explosion due to pandemic outbreak. Lots of businesses needed to rethink their entire business model and make online and social shopping available to their customers, start online events and webinars.

Social Bakers found that Facebook live was far the most popular format from 1 October, 2020 – 31 December, 2020. (T., Bern, 2020)

 

Facebook Live Stream

Image Source – Social Bakers

 

Traditional social media platforms experienced a stratospheric increase in their live streams in 2020. According to Influencer Marketing Hub by mid-December 2020, these social media channels experienced a 67.1% increase compared to 2019. (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2020)

As a small business owner, you can easily utilise live streaming by creating how-to video tutorials, unboxing videos, live shopping events, Q&As or shop tours.

Live streaming could work extremely well for you because it attracts lots of potential customers without the price tag.

Bonus Tip: To make to most of your live event, make sure you record it and reuse the video by cutting your best moments to bite-size bits to be shared later.

 

Social Commerce

Instagram Shop

Instagram Shop – @wbtourlondon

 

“Social media will become a top channel for purchase, instead of just discovery.” – states Forbes Magazine in one of their recent articles about social trends. (H., DeVries, 2020)

Long gone the days when users were hanging on social media to connect with their friends and find their old classmates. Social media has gone through massive changes over the decades.

Today, according to Statista (Statista, 2020) the main reasons people are using social media are to stay up to date with current news (36.5%), to be entertained (35%), research and find products (27.5%)

 

The most popular reasons people use social media in 2020

Image Source – Statista

 

Sprout Social found that the top four reason consumers follow a brand on social media in 2020 are:

 

  • To learn about new products and services
  • To stay up to date on company news
  • To learn about promotions and discounts
  • To be entertained

(Sprout Social, 2020)

 

Why Consumers Follow Brands on Social Media

Image Source – Sprout Social

 

The top four reason consumers unfollow brands:

 

  • Poor quality of product or support (49%)
  • Poor customer service (49%)
  • Irrelevant content (45%)
  • Too many ads (45%)

(Sprout Social, 2020)

 

As we can see, one of the top reasons for consumers to follow a brand is to learn about their products or services and to inform about promotions. Facebook Shopfront, Instagram Shop, shoppable posts, just to mention a few features a small business can utilise to easily reach out customers with their products/services and boost their sales.

Instagram Shoppable Post

Shoppable Post on Instagram – @wbtourlondon

 

Shopping on social media have shortened the customer journey as shoppable posts or social media shops allow customers to buy a product without leaving the platform. Customers have no longer have to search for a product on your web shop, instead, they can buy it straight from your social media. Plus, this is likely to reduce abandoned shopping carts.

 

Facebook Shop Front

Facebook Shop – @theroyalmint

 

Creating social media shop fronts and shoppable posts are definitely one of social media best practises in 2021.

 

Customer Service

Social Media Customer Service

Image Source – Unsplash

 

As a business, you might have noticed that more and more people try to reach you and seek assistance on your social media channels because it is a more direct way to get response.

Hootsuite says, “70% of people expect to message businesses more in the future for customer service questions.” (C., Newberry, 2021) According to Forrester’s prediction, this number will be likely to increase by 40% in 2021. (I., Jacobs, 2020)

According to eMarketer, 60% of Internet users say bad customer service is a concern when shopping online. (S., Lebow, 2021)

As the above stats show, today it is significant for a brand to treat their customers right on social media by providing good and fast customer service. Customers like sharing their experiences with a brand, good or bad.

In a report by Microsoft of global consumers shows that 96% (!) of surveyed customers say customer service plays a role when choosing a brand and their brand loyalty. The same survey revealed that 57% of UK consumers marked customer service as ‘very important’ in their choice of or loyalty to a brand. (Microsoft, 2017)

Good customer service’s 3 pillars are speed, tone and result. – Buffer states. (A., Read, 2020) Customers want quick response, empathy and effective problem solving.

To provide great customer service, work out a social media guideline and make sure you train your team on how to communicate with your customers, reply to negative comments or tricky questions, and solve issues on social media.

 

Timing is Key

Timing on Social Media

Image Source – Unsplash

 

As a small business owner, what would you answer to the following question: ‘What is the best time to post on social media?’ Many small business owners may reply: ‘When I have time.’

Wrong.

Timing is key!

You need to be there when your audience is there.

Posts have different lifespan on different social media channels. For example, the average lifespan of a Tweet is 20 minutes before it sinks into the endless flow of content. (M., Tamblé, 2020)

Whenever you share a post on social media, only a fraction of your followers will see it. Those who are on social media at that certain time. Thus, the outreach rate of your post depends heavily on what time you publish it.

So, when is the best time to post on social media?

Well, it’s different from channel to channel. For example, from 7am to 10am on Monday is a great time to tweet something on Twitter but it’s the worst time to share something on Facebook. (M., Tamblé, 2020)

Reading relevant blog posts and articles is the best way to learn about when is the best time to share a post on different social media channels.

Blog2Social, for example gives you a comprehensive picture of each leading social media channel from Facebook to Pinterest.

 

Show Your Business Personality

Show Your Business Personality

Image Source – Pexels

 

Know your brand voice and use it. Ideally your brand voice should be in line with your customers’ tone, vocabulary and style.

A survey of Facebook for Business found that 32% of the respondents said they like to see content that showcases the brand’s personality. (Facebook for Business, 2019)

What’s your tone? Playful, informal, formal, informative etc.

What are your business values?

Who are your target audience?

How can you segment your audience?

What differentiate you from your competitors?

People often follow a small business because they are authentic, offer something different and show the human side of the business much more than big companies do.

According to Facebook for Business53% of people surveyed said they’ll follow a brand for the content alone, as long as it resonates with them.” (Facebook for Business, 2019)

The top 3 preferred content type are: fun (55%), real (53%) and creative (53%). (Facebook for Business, 2019)

 

Augmented Reality (AR) & Virtual Reality (VR)

 

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technologies are on the rise on social media. Although, VR technology is still at a nascent stage, we cannot say the same about AR technology.

AR technology is already being used on social media. Just think of the fun face filters on Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, or Instagram. Remember Pokémon Go? That was AR technology, too.

Augmented Reality is not just about fun photo filters or games, though. You can enhance shopping experience with it. For example, you can let your customers try your product before buying it.

An excellent example is Sunglass Hut that created a filter that allows users to try their sunglasses on before buying. Even the name and type of the sunglasses are written on the screen, so customers will know exactly which sunglasses to ask for at the shop or order online.

 

Filter – @sunglasshut

 

It is worth to keep an eye on AR and VR technology and learn how to incorporate them into your digital plan as they could be the next biggest social trend. (H., DeVries, 2020)

Did you know that anyone can create their own filters for Instagram and Facebook? Simply download Spark AR to your computer and start creating your own filters. Your imagination is the limit. You can find step-by-step online tutorials for beginners and intermediate users on their website.

The benefits of using an AR filter are:

  • Increase brand awareness (audience can try your products before buying it or play funny games)
  • Boost engagement (people are likely to share their AR videos and tag you)
  • Helps your business standing out (AR filters can help your brand to showcase why you’re special)

(B., Evans, 2020)

 

Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing

Image Source – Unsplash

 

According to Mediakix, an overwhelming 93% of marketers have used influencers as part of their digital marketing campaign, and 90% (!) of US surveyed marketers named Instagram as the most important social media platform for influencer marketing. (Mediakix, 2020)

The Mediakix survey also found that 8 marketers out of 10 found influencer marketing to be effective. Furthermore, influencer generated contents generated 8x more engagement than brand content.

There are 5 types of influencers:

  • Mega-influencers – superstars/celebrities with millions of followers.
  • Macro-influencers – influencers with between 100,000 and 1 million followers.
  • Micro-influencers – influencers between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. While they have smaller follower base compared to mega or macro influencers, their authenticity is high.
  • Nano-influencers – influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers. Typically, these influencers are expert of a particular field, thus they have stable and loyal follower base and high engagement rate.

(Influencer Marketing Hub, 2020)

 

As a small business it’s worth to consider start working with either nano or micro influencers. They won’t take much from your digital marketing budget, yet very effective way to gain more audience, fans, followers, likes and most importantly revenue.

Influencers can help small businesses not just generate more followers but also can help marketers achieving a variety of marketing goals.

Madiakix found that 82% of social media users are likely to follow micro influencer recommendations, and micro influencers can reach up to 7x more engagement with their followers compered to influencers with large follower base. (Mediakix, 2020)

Finding the right influencers is not easy. Take your time to find those niche influencers relevant to your business and try to identify fake influencers who gained their follower base by bots.

Use influencer finding tools – free and paid – such as Influ Data, influence.co, or BuzzSumo. Influence.co even has a free Chrome extension, called ‘Influencer Engage’ to give you instant access to influencers’ social profiles, stats and even contact info in many cases.

 

 Determine Which Metrics Matter

Social Media Metrics

Image Source – Unsplash

 

Whether you use Google Analytics, Facebook Insight or any other tool, make sure to determine which metrics matter for your business. Don’t caught up on ‘vanity metrics’ that make you feel good but don’t actually help you in decision making or don’t serve your goals. – warns Buffer in one of their recent articles. (A., Read, 2020)

As a small business you heavily rely on local customers. Therefore, want to keep an eye on is your local followers among your average follower base.

If you have an online shop, look for stats such as how many customers landed on your website from social media and ordered something or made a booking, instead of just counting likes and comments on your posts.

Use your reports to analyse what’s working and what isn’t. Compare metrics and decide what type of content resonates the best with your audience.

 

(Local) Targeting

Local Targeting

Image Source – Pexels

 

Local targeting connects to the previous subtopic. As a small business you rely on your local audience. You need to attract local people primarily.

The best way of making sure you are targeting the right audience is running social media ads or boosting your best performing posts. Social media ad such as Facebook ad allow you to micro-target your audience, so you can be sure you’re talking to the right people.

Micro-targeting means you target people from your tightest local area, town or city; that you target those people who are likely to visit your shop. You can micro-targeting by geographical region, age, gender, interest and even exclude those you definitely do not want to reach with your message.

This makes your advert as cost effective and as precisely targeted as possible.

 

Bonus Tip:

Did you know that adding the exact physical location to your posts will promote your business locally? According to Sprout Social Report, geo tagged posts have 79% more engagement. (J., Chen, 2020)

Geo Tag on Instagram

Image Source – @urbanxadventurer

 

Create Your Own Social Media Community/Group

Social Media Group

Image Source – Pixabay

 

Social media groups are not new but definitely are getting more popular than ever.

Brands can easily utilise social media groups by creating their own group and invite their followers to form a community of like-minded people with similar interest. A place where your followers and fans can exchange thoughts, ask questions, and share ideas.

As a business you can use groups to launch new products, give early access to new products to group members, seek customer feedback, and get valuable insights. (Influencer Marketing Hub, 2021)

Create a close-knit loyal community and reward them for their loyalty by sharing unique contents, running exclusive sales events and giveaways, give coupons or give priority access to a newly launched product or service.

OK but what community should I create?

Examples: as a food business, create a vegan community; as an event organiser, create a brides-to-be group; as a clothes shop, create a group around vintage clothing; as a craft shop, create a group around hand-made gifts; as a souvenir shop, create a group for solo travellers etc.

 

Conclusion

 

Social media is the most effective way to promote a small business and reach out potential customers without breaking the bank.

Social media is an ever-changing and competitive space where trends are coming and going. Make sure to keep up to date with the latest trends and features to keep your business on the frontline.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

A., Jipa (2019) Social Insider “[Instagram Stories Research] We Analyzed 135,976 Instagram Stories. Here’s What We’ve Learned” [Online] Available at: https://www.socialinsider.io/blog/instagram-stories-research/#tapforwards [Accessed 16 February 2021]

A., Read (2020) Buffer “Social Media for Small Business: A Guide for 2021 and Beyond” [Online] Available at: https://buffer.com/library/social-media-for-small-business/ [Accessed 18 February 2021]

B., Evans (2020) Hydrogen “How to use Instagram AR filters for marketing” [Online] Available at: https://www.wearehydrogen.com/post/how-to-use-instagram-ar-filters-for-marketing [Accessed 19 February 2021]

C., Newberry (2021) Hootsuite “Social Media Customer Service: Tips and Tools to Do it Right” [Online] Available at: https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-customer-service/#:~:text=Social%20media%20customer%20service%20stats,-Why%20should%20you&text=1%20billion%20messages%20are%20exchanged,message%20than%20call%20a%20business. [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Cisco (2020) “Cisco Annual Internet Report (2018–2023) White Paper” [Online] Available at: https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/executive-perspectives/annual-internet-report/white-paper-c11-741490.html [Accessed 16 February 2021]

Facebook for Business (2019) “How to Take Your Instagram Content to the Next Level” [Online] Available at: https://www.facebook.com/business/news/insights/how-to-take-your-instagram-content-to-the-next-level [Accessed 16 February 2021]

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H., DeVries (2020) Forbes Magazine “Seven Digital Marketing Trends For 2021” [Online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/henrydevries/2020/12/16/seven-digital-marketing-trends-for-2021/?sh=697b10ff6d56 [Accessed 18 February 2021]

I., Jacobs (2020) Forrester “Predictions 2021: It’s All About Empathy, Digital, And Virtualizing Customer Care” [Online] Available at: https://go.forrester.com/blogs/customer-service-predictions-2021/ [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Influencer Marketing Hub (2020) “80 Influencer Marketing Statistics For 2020” [Online] Available at: https://influencermarketinghub.com/influencer-marketing-statistics/ [Accessed 19 February 2021]

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Instagram (2019) “Instagram Business – INSTAGRAM STORIES” [Online] Available at: https://business.instagram.com/a/stories [Accessed 15 February 2021]

J., Chen (2020) Sprout Social “Important Instagram stats you need to know for 2020” [Online] Available at: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/ [Accessed 19 February 2021]

Limelight Networks (2020) “STATE OF ONLINE VIDEO 2020” [Online] Available at: https://www.limelight.com/lp/state-of-online-video-2020/ [Accessed 16 February 2020]

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Mediakix (2020) “INFLUENCER MARKETING STATISTICS EVERY MARKETER NEEDS TO KNOW” [Online] Available at: https://mediakix.com/influencer-marketing-resources/influencer-marketing-statistics/#effectiveness [Accessed 19 February 2021]

Microsoft (2017) “2017 State of Global Customer Service Report” [Online] Available at: http://info.microsoft.com/rs/157-GQE-382/images/EN-CNTNT-Report-DynService-2017-global-state-customer-service-en-au.pdf [Accessed 18 February 2021]

S., Lebow (2021) eMarketer “The customer is always right: The reason why 60% of internet users hesitate when shopping online” [Online] Available at: https://www.emarketer.com/content/customer-always-right-reason-why-60-of-internet-users-hesitate-shopping-online [Accessed 18 February 2021]

Sprout Social (2020) “Sprout Social Index” [Online] Available at: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/data/index/ [Accessed 16 February 2021]

Statista (2020) “Most popular reasons for internet users worldwide to use social media as of 3rd quarter 2020” [Online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/715449/social-media-usage-reasons-worldwide/ [Accessed 16 February 2021]

T., Bern (2020) Social Bakers “Social Media Trends Report: Key Insights From Q4 2020” [Online] Available at: https://www.socialbakers.com/blog/social-media-trends-report-q4-2020 [Accessed 16 February 2021]