It goes without saying that the global pandemic has had a profound effect on all of us—there is no one on earth who has been unaffected, no corner of the world untouched.

We see the effects all around us, not just in our daily lives but in the marketing realm as well. Spending 2020 in varying levels of quarantine has changed the way we interact online and what we want to see, particularly when it comes to social media platforms.

Let’s look at 7 trends you can expect to see on social media in 2021.

  1. Trust Reigns Supreme

Shady websites, weird friend requests from strangers, and the “fake news” narrative have customers more suspicious than ever. 2021 will be the year of gaining consumer trust, which means you’ll want to incorporate plenty of social proof into your social media this year.

According to HubSpot, 75% of customers don’t believe the claims in advertisements, yet 70% do believe customer opinions. Showcasing the positive reviews your business receives in social media posts and on your stories will go a long way in building trust with potential customers. If possible, tag the customer who left the review in your post—this gives them the opportunity to engage once again and further sing your praises.

  1. Engagement is Paramount

Speaking of trust, your followers need to know you’re going to respond if they take the time to engage you on social media. While it is hard to engage with simple likes, replying to every comment is essential (and I’m not kidding when I say every single one. Someone replies with a thumbs up emoji? You better hit that with a winky face reply…or whatever emoji floats your boat).

The more you engage with your followers, and the more they share your well-branded posts, the better you’ll perform amongst the social media algorithms. You’ll also get your business in front of fresh eyes, which always beneficial to your brand.

  1. Broaden Your Platforms

The pandemic had a profound effect on the social media platform hierarchy thanks to the juggernaut that is TikTok. With millions of people secluded in their homes and spending more time on social media than ever before, TikTok offered a novel way to consume hours of video snippets in 15 – 60 second bites. In March of 2020 alone, the app was downloaded a mind boggling 76 million times and has since gone on to change the way the world interacts with social media.

Because our ability to interact with customers on a face-to-face basis will continue to be limited for the foreseeable future, businesses should look to broaden their social media presence via different platforms (keeping in mind that user demographics fluctuate between platforms, so it is important to know your customer).

  1. Live Streaming Videos

Aren’t we all missing human connection now that we’re one year into a pandemic? The popularity of live stream videos certainly speaks to our lack of connection with others.

Posting videos allows you to put a face to your business. It also allows you to share information about your business with your followers, whether that’s an “About Us” video explaining where you’re located and what services you offer, or a “behind the scenes” shoot that exposes how the business works. You can also post videos of interviews you host with industry experts to legitimise your expertise.

Don’t forget about live streaming events—they’re a great way to generate revenue during the pandemic. Showcasing featured products, including raffles for prizes, and offering those who register a sneak peek and exclusive discount on the product or service can drum up interest and increase sales.

  1. Short Form Videos

The TikTok effect is real—just ask Instagram who, after seeing the raging success of TikTok’s short-form videos, launched their similarly short Reels feature in August of 2020. Instagram, along with Facebook, also included a Stories feature to their platforms to take advantage of the short-form trend.

Short forms take some practice to get right—you don’t get much time, which means you need to hook followers in the first couple of seconds. This could be as simple as an eye-catching background, a memorable song, or a funny catch phrase. The goal is to get followers to pause and learn something that adds value to their life.

  1. Multi Image Posts

Gone are the days of getting by with a single, well-crafted image or graphic. 2021 is the year of the carousel posts—those with multiple images requiring viewers to swipe to see everything. With each flick of the finger, viewers become more engaged with your content and, with each swipe, they are exposed to more information about your brand and services.

This does not mean you should throw up a random slide show of disjointed images. Your carousel should take viewers on a journey and share a story. Perhaps it’s a few images from your new product launch. It might be a couple of graphics showcasing a lengthy positive review in a beautiful font with a lovely background that closes with a photo of the happy customer.

The point is to post relevant content that will draw your followers in and encourage them to share on their own pages.

  1. Consider a Podcast

Before you go running for the hills, consider this—in 2020, more than 155 million people listened to podcasts every week. If you can get comfortable with the sound of your own voice and with interviewing the occasional guest, there’s a real opportunity to build your brand and grow your audience through podcasts.

Getting started doesn’t have to be expensive—you’ll need to invest about $100 in a USB microphone, choose a hosting service, and download audio software…and that’s about it. If you’re interested in incorporating a podcast as part of your marketing strategy, check out the incredibly thorough How to Start a Small Business Podcast post by Southcoast FM.

The biggest advantage you have as a small business owner is this—no one knows your customer better than you. While these trends for 2021 aren’t all a perfect fit for every business, I hope you’ve seen something that inspires you to branch out and take advantage of the post-pandemic marketing shifts. After all, COVID-19 took so much from so many of us last year…I think it’s about time we take a little back.