Digital Marketing Trends and Predictions: What to Expect in 2021

Social media marketing trends 2021

2020 has come and gone, but the year has left a trail of social media marketing trends behind it. We saw an acceleration of business services as brands pivoted to eCommerce as they weathered the pandemic. In 2021, many of these trends are here to stay in addition to an upcoming, new wave of trends that you can’t ignore.

Wondering how to make the most out of your digital marketing campaigns in the coming year? We’ve gathered insights from our industry experts to understand what top social media marketing trends to expect for the remainder of the year.

From increasing mobile consumption habits to adopting BOPIS in retail, here are the social media marketing trends and predictions for 2021.


2021 Social Media Marketing Trends

Insights from Lauren Cody, SVP Business Operations, AdParlor

Lauren Cody

What was your biggest learning from 2020?

Things can change at any moment and we all have to be ready. Flexibility and the ability to move quickly was crucial to surviving 2020. While the challenges of 2020 have required brands to make major shifts in strategy, we also learned so much. We know going “back to normal” is not going to happen. “Normal” has shifted and will continue to do so. More than ever, strategies built to allow for quick pivots will be the only strategies that survive.

What are some of your predictions for social media marketing in 2021?

  • Traditionally brick and mortar stores will increasingly lean into the shift to online shopping with both curbside and in-app shopping like Instagram Checkout and Snapchat Brand Profiles.
  • Brands will have to be more transparent with what they stand for. Putting themselves out there in a more vulnerable way that allows potential customers to know who and what they stand for will be important. Being silent will be perceived as a negative.
  • More creative: Videos, GIFs and an increase in text (yes, bigger, bolder use of text). Creative beyond static images with very limited characters will be big in 2021.
  • A struggle with a shift to a cookieless world. No one knows how this will pan out or what the timeline even looks like. We’re already seeing the big players disagree on the best approach to increasing privacy for people. This will be a topic to watch.

We’ve identified a few eCommerce trends in 2020, such as curbside pickup and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store) that has helped retailers pivot and stay afloat during this time. Where do you see the future of BOPIS going beyond COVID-19?

BOPIS is here to stay! Actually, talking about how there’s no “normal” is our current reality. Even as health and safety restrictions become less of a reason for BOPIS, the pure convenience of it will lead to this trend becoming the norm. Throw in the fact that increased online shopping has led to longer and more expensive shipping, BOPIS allows customers both the convenience and control they are used to.


Insights from Ryan Santoro, Partner Manager, Global Marketing Solutions, Facebook

What was your biggest learning from 2020?

Since 2020 brought an abundance of learnings, it’s challenging to select just one. However, from an overall standpoint, the biggest takeaway that I’ve seen is how 2020 has accelerated existing consumer trends in a more rapid way than what would have happened naturally. The explosion of eCommerce is one of the best examples this past year, and one that I don’t foresee going backward. While I’ve been extremely impressed with how fast traditional, offline brands have been able to pivot to online, it’s clear that digitally native brands had a first-mover advantage given the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are some of your predictions for social media marketing in 2021?

Generally speaking, I believe a lot of the trends we saw in 2020 will continue to shape the industry in 2021 and beyond. A lot of trends that were picking up steam in the past year were greatly accelerated during the pandemic.

To name a few, mobile consumption habits drastically grew in 2020, and I would expect this to continue to grow over the next few years. Digitally native brands who were already prioritizing mobile optimization seemed to have an inherent advantage over the last year. For brands that weren’t designing for mobile in the past, it’s something they will likely be doing moving forward. 2020 showed the importance of having a mobile optimized experience, so if brands weren’t prioritizing this before, it’s something they should begin thinking about immediately.

Similarly, video is another medium we’ve seen grow drastically in 2020 and in particular, video on mobile devices. According to eMarketer, 79% of all mobile data traffic globally will be video in 2022. As I’m sure we can all agree, consuming video on mobile is much different than how individuals historically watched video on their TVs. Therefore, it will be important for brands to build for mobile vs. repurposing historical TV or video assets as they adhere to the current consumption habits of the specific platforms they’re running on.

We’ve identified a few eCommerce trends in 2020, such as curbside pickup and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup in Store) that has helped retailers pivot and stay afloat during this time. Where do you see the future of BOPIS going beyond COVID-19?

It’s funny because a few years ago most people would’ve probably never heard of the BOPIS acronym. However, similar to everything else, 2020 quickly changed that. I definitely foresee BOPIS adoption continuing to grow in 2021 and beyond. For the retailers that have yet to adopt BOPIS, it’ll likely be something they are or will prioritize for 2021. For retailers that already have adopted BOPIS, I see them continuing to make this as frictionless of an experience as possible.

Learn more about AdParlor’s advanced media buying capabilities here.


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