By Spencer Weinman, CRO at QuickFrame
Last year was predicted to be a major one for social media, but the coronavirus pandemic catalyzed the anticipated growth trends and blew them through the roof.
According to eMarketer, nearly half of the world’s population—an estimated 3.23 billion people—used a social network at least once per month in 2020, an 8.1% increase from 2019. This year, the number of users on social is expected to grow an additional 3.7%
Social media platforms have become the default community space in a socially distanced world. Users have flocked to social in search of information, entertainment, and human connection. And though there’s hope that in-person gatherings will return this year, the pandemic’s effect on human behavior is expected to last.
Today, consumers are living more of their lives on social channels, so to win their loyalty, brands must speak consumers’ language by crafting innovative, on-point, and platform-specific digital experiences.
The challenge for advertisers, however, is that social media is more crowded than ever before.
As a marketer in a saturated landscape, playing the social game can sometimes frustratingly feel like random experimentation to see what sticks. But we all know that’s not sustainable.
To help you make the right moves in this pivotal year, QuickFrame recently released our 2021 Guide to Social Media Video Marketing. I’m highlighting the 5 key social media trends from the guide and spotlighting platform-specific creative best practices that will help you win the battle for attention units.
Key Trends in Social Media Marketing for 2021
TikTok was the social star of 2020 as users across all demographics flocked to the music and UGC-heavy video platform. Trends are big there, and TikTok is setting them, too.
Instagram launched a competing video-creation hub—Reels—and LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest all diversified their content with new video features. It’s not a coincidence. Video is the most engaged with content type across all social media platforms.
We’re sure to see a forefronting of video content and greater investment in video tools across all major platforms as they vie for audiences.
With many public gathering spaces off-limits in much of the world, social media kept us connected. 2021 promises an increased social media fluency amongst consumers of all demographics.
Audiences historically difficult to reach via social (e.g., Baby Boomers) will continue to seek information, entertainment, and connection online—on a wider array of platforms than ever before.
With audiences scattered, marketers will have to diversify their social mix. Diverse audiences are gathering on platforms such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest, presenting affordable growth opportunities for marketers.
Each platform has a unique audience mix and its own targeting advantages, so publishing across several will be key to growing, converting, and retaining your audience. The content environments across platforms are different, however, so you must make sure to produce platform-specific creative that feels native to each social media channel you’re advertising on.
With changes to data privacy laws set to ramp up this year (say goodbye to the third-party cookie), digital targeting is going to get complicated.
As Merkle put it, social platforms, however, are a world of verified users with advanced audience targeting capabilities. In the landscape of social, you can leverage platform data in order to serve-up audience-specific content that’s more likely to make an impact.
Platforms are going to continue building out their social shopping experiences as online shopping becomes more of the norm.
Facebook is set to expand on the introduction of Shops on Facebook and Instagram last year. TikTok is also expected to make eCommerce a focus this year as the majority of the revenue generated last year by its local Chinese counterpart, Douyin, was attributed to in-stream purchasing options.
As users get accustomed to social commerce, brands will find success converting audiences with lower-funnel content on platforms that were primarily used for upper-funnel marketing in the past.
Opportunities and Creative Best Practices by Platform
QuickFrame helped Gobble merge a recipe concept with an approachable UGC-style to make the approach feel fresh.
Publishing video content on Facebook and Instagram is an absolute must. According to an Instagram rep, the algorithm rewards consistency and diversity of content, meaning running across multiple ad placements simultaneously can work in your favor.
Build a multivariate performance marketing testing plan to methodically test which creative variables resonate most with your target audiences across your various placements. The mistake many marketers make is producing and running just one or two ad creatives at a time, making testing costly and inefficient.
At QuickFrame, we take a streamlined approach to testing. Each new iterative creative does not need its own shoot. With thorough pre-production planning, you can capture an array of footage in a single shoot and then leverage post-production editing techniques to shape, sharpen, and reinvent your creative.
Additionally, you’ll want to revamp your UGC-style approach. TikTok’s popularity has heavily influenced the type of content that works with audiences, even on Facebook and Instagram. UGC-style (User Generated Content) has seen increased success on the paid side on both Facebook and Instagram.
Simple UGC (a continuous shot of talent speaking to the camera) will no longer cut it, however. Audiences have been conditioned to expect storytelling, entertainment, and a variety of video styles within a single creative. Employ b-roll, narrative, and relatable talent to make your UGC-style video ads feel new and different.
Even in as little as 6 seconds, you can craft a compelling narrative with your product as the star.
Pinterest rolled out a slate of new features last year to encourage in-app purchase behavior, linking products in Boards, Search, and Pins to streamline paths for users. And now, its Collections ad unit features video as the hero creative.
Product-centric, lower-funnel creative is a natural fit on the app. Simple product videos won’t work, though, in Pinterest’s story-focused environment.
Craft a narrative arc that makes your product the star. Grab attention in-feed with eye-catching motion and color, thinking of a motivating feeling you want to spark in your viewer so that they’ll take action.
Pinterest is an aspirational environment, so design your brand creatives with inspiration in mind. Connect with Pinners by featuring on-screen talent in your videos. Lifestyle shots with relatable talent can help drive narrative and encourage the viewer to strike a personal connection with your brand or product.
AR lenses have helped create a playful, interactive environment on Snapchat.
Snapchat has continued to hold its own, developing a loyal following among millennials and Gen Z. The platform has leveraged two major aspects to establish its own niche: Snap Originals and AR (Augmented Reality), infusing the Snap environment with the spirit of imagination and experimentation.
Most Snapchatters use the platform to send visual messages to friends, so brand creative with on-screen talent feels native and succeeds here.
Additionally, as a sense of play is key to Snapchat, embrace experimentation and search for novelty in your creative approach on the platform. Snapchat is hospitable to pretty much the whole array of visual styles—from live action, to animation, to AR. Adopt a test-and-learn approach to find which content formats and styles resonate most for our brand with your particular audience.
You don’t need to feature on-screen talent to take a UGC-style approach.
TikTok captured the zeitgeist as it turned everyday people into viral content creators. The platform’s users are fluent in the tools of visual storytelling—brands need to be aware that they’re advertising to an audience of content aficionados.
Trends and hashtags are a huge part of the TikTok experience. Participating in a trend not only makes a user feel like they are a part of a community, but also allows them to contribute to an overarching narrative, advancing and evolving a story that is built collectively.
With on-trend creative, your brand can participate in the conversation with content. A trend can be a stylistic approach (e.g., the way text or audio is used) or a narrative arc that’s repeated and morphed over time. Trends can be short-lived, however, so always stay on the pulse of what’s happening and act fast to produce content that feels relevant.
TikTok’s is a UGC-first platform, so brands must adopt a UGC-style in their video ads to feel native. UGC doesn’t always mean that talent needs to be visible on screen. You can take a UGC-style approach by making your creative look like it was filmed by hand.
Twitter & Reddit
Consider stop-motion to strike a visually appealing style with your video creative.
Twitter and Reddit are historically two lesser-leveraged social channels, but could be advantageous options this year as other platforms become competitively dense.
According to Tinuiti, brands in highly visual industries like apparel, fitness, or beauty will find an audience on Twitter that is actively seeking out video content. Fulfill these users’ expectations by contributing branded content to their feeds.
Stylistically, Twitter is hospitable to a diverse array of content. Because it’s a text and image-heavy platform, video content is already at an advantage when it comes to capturing attention. Employ visually dynamic production approaches like stop-motion to further captivate your audience.
On Reddit, you face a community that is notoriously suspicious of advertising. Brands need to lay a lot of groundwork with Redditors to gain consumer trust. But, because Reddit users are typically high-intent audiences, the payoff can be substantial.
Identify subreddits that align with your brand and target audience, and then work to get a feel for the culture of those communities. Content marketing efforts work well here. See what topics have the most upvotes (Reddit’s version of “likes”) to spark your creative brainstorming.
Get more production tips for every major social media platform: Download QuickFrame’s free 2021 Guide to Social Media Video Marketing.