The coronavirus pandemic has fast-tracked digital transformation, with everyone turning to the internet for some sense of normalcy when strict lockdowns were implemented. In UAE, internet user growth rose to 1.3% while social media usage increased by 6.3% compared to 2019.
The influence of social media grew at lightning speed; everyone was online not just to catch up with peers and to post daily updates anymore. Baked treats and simple craft projects eventually dominated the feeds, more and more people began filming themselves while playing computer games, and brands suddenly popped up in Instagram filters.
To say that 2020 changed consumer behavior in UAE and the rest of the world is an understatement, so what can businesses and organizations do to keep up with the shift? VOUS Digital Marketing Agency lists down the top social media trends in 2021.
Geo-tagging became part of every business’ social media strategy this 2020. This cost-effective feature allows customers to access posts and stories within their vicinity, which makes local brands more discoverable. Similarly, this feature also enables businesses to reach their target audiences in specific localities.
From the word itself, ephemeral content is classified as something that is only viewable for a limited time, usually within 24 hours of posting. Their duration – usually less than 15 seconds – satisfies the short attention span of viewers, while their being temporary creates a sense of urgency that keeps people on their toes.
With the success of Snapchat in the early 2010s, Instagram Stories followed suit. Currently, this feature is being used by 500 million people every day. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have also introduced ephemeral content into their platforms.
Live streaming was often associated with the gaming community, however in 2020, even home shopping channels popped up on Twitch. In December 2020, the leading live streaming platform reported that a 1049 billion minutes were watched by their users for the whole year – a whopping 67.1% increase from 2019.
Through live streaming, customers get the opportunity to interact with brands and personalities in real time. Even the e-commerce giant Alibaba thinks that this trend is here to stay by planning to recruit and train more video influencers to sell through AliExpress.
With over 9.7 million active users, it comes to no surprises that the number of social media influencers in UAE is continuously increasing. What started as a way to pass the time has turned into a full-blown profession for a handful of these online personalities.
After becoming common practice in 2019, influencer marketing eventually evolved beyond follower count. Micro-influencers and niche bloggers became in demand since people find them more genuine and relatable. Endorsements are no longer limited to posting a single product photo – this year, we saw brands and their endorsers put out detailed paragraph-long captions, how-to guides, and even reaction videos.
According to a recent Stack report, 90% of consumers rank authenticity as the highest factor when supporting a brand. With social media users in UAE spending a daily average of 2 hours and 57 minutes online, brands have turned to their tech-savvy customers to post content on their behalf, be it through hashtags, giveaways or contests, or even as a form of feedback.
User-generated content (UGC) is not just a practice to cut marketing costs, it also makes customers feel seen and valued, which further boosts engagement. Moreover, by encouraging your audience to express themselves freely, they become your business’ most reliable source of information – further supporting your brand’s trustworthiness.
From livestreaming to eight-second clips that disappear in 24 hours, it’s no secret that all types of video content reigned supreme in 2020. According to a Cisco study, internet video traffic is expected to grow fourfold by 2022, which roughly translates to 82% of online content.
In fact, according to a 2020 study released by Social and Hootsuite on digital media statistics in UAE, YouTube is the country’s second most visited website (next to Google) with over 117,700,000 monthly traffic this year. Given that video is also the second most engaging type of content in social media (just a few points lower than photos), you may want to incorporate some in your brand’s content strategy.
Back in November, gamers all over the world were able to surprise and confuse their followers by posting photos of the PS5 console ahead of its November 12 and 19 official release. Everyone caught on with the prank eventually – it was a highly-realistic Instagram filter by augmented reality (AR) creator @aroneverything, who shared that he did it to uplift people’s spirits during the lockdown.
Although it was not an official promo from Sony, it sure got people talking. Augmented reality was first popularized by Instagram and Snapchat through photo filters (remember the dog and flower crown filters?). Now, brands are starting to use the technology to provide improved shopping experiences to their customers.
Take Sephora for instance. A renowned retailer of beauty products, the brand developed an AR experience, the Virtual Artist mobile app, that allows customers to see how the product will look on their face without trying it on in person. It also helps them identify the tools they will need to apply the product.
Gone are the days where small businesses had to choose between building their own website or posting in e-commerce websites to sell their products and services. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram now double as retail channels where consumers can buy products in a post without getting redirected to a different website.
Not only does this spell convenience for both the business and the consumers, it’s also a significant opportunity for entrepreneurs with small followings in ecommerce platforms or those without their own websites to still effectively reach their target market online.
Social media has become an integral tool for businesses and organizations to interact with their audience. From being mere platforms for product advertisement, Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram eventually evolved into customer service channels, as more and more customers realized that social media allows them to get in touch with brands faster and more directly.
Aside from convenience, customer service via social media is almost always available 24/7 – either through real-time agents or chatbots that offer quick responses. Either way, both approaches are better than sending an e-mail and wondering whether someone read it at all.
You don’t necessarily have to follow all these social media trends to ensure your strategy’s success for next year. We can help you identify which of these align with your brand and will help you achieve your business goals!
Leave it to the leading digital marketing agency in the UAE. Get in touch with VOUS Agency at +971 4 580 3378 for a thoroughly planned and well-executed social media strategy in 2021!