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The 12 social media trends marketers have to know

Social media trend

Social media is always changing at a rapid pace. Working in such a fickle industry, the only constant is to be prepared for both the expected and unexpected as we can never tell what will go viral or flop tomorrow.

Take Snapchat for example, it was once the most popular social media channel that rose rapidly in early 2016. But as soon as Instagram Stories was launched, its user growth was put into the coolant. As of October 2020, Snapchat even needed to take not losing (also not gaining) any active users as a win.

Snapchat's user growth

To succeed in the game of social media marketing, it is of utmost importance for us to stay ahead of the curve and understand the latest social media trends. Let’s reveal what is shaking up the social landscape nowadays!

Is social media a trend?

Social media refers to the websites and applications that allow users to share real-time content quickly and effortlessly. They encompass a wide range of functions, for example, Twitter specializes in sharing links and short written messages, whereas Instagram and TikTok are built to facilitate the sharing of photos and short videos.

To ensure that feeds are relevant and useful to the audience, social media often uses algorithms to determine what and how the content appears in users’ first page. Since different social media serves multiple purposes, there are countless algorithms behind social media platforms. Facebook is known for familial and friendly posts, so a high engagement rate is key to its algorithm layout. Meanwhile, given that Pinterest users normally get online to find ideas, it will keep pushing topics that have been previously viewed so as to guarantee the content is more likely to be consumed and pinned.

Not only does this mathematical set of rules help users to obtain read-worthy content, but it also provides merchants with clearer guidelines to streamline their advertising practices. Through understanding how each social media platform works individually, marketers can think strategically about how to create and distribute content that will ultimately contribute to their brands.

As a matter of fact, it’s high time for businesses to start establishing a strong social media presence. Ever since Facebook, Instagram and all the other social networking sites began to explode in popularity, there has been a tremendous shift in how buyers are researching and buying. According to an ODM Group study, 74% of customers count on social networks during their buying journey. HubSpot’s report also backed this up, showing that over 70% of consumers are more likely to make purchases based on social media referrals.

Social media and likelihood of purchase

As 2020 closes out, marketers across the globe are looking forward to their 2021 social strategy planning. No matter what business you are in, you should take a look back to the past 12 months: what worked, what didn’t, and where to pivot.

Below is our breakdown of the current social media trends based on recent research and happenings worldwide.

1. Ephemeral content

“Ephemeral” means “lasting a very short time”.

Modern people have the shortest attention span ever. As such, the way they like to consume content has also changed.

Ephemeral content can take many forms, including photos, live-stream videos, product demos, narrative stories, and more. It is a rich media that only stay temporarily, after 24 hours, it will disappear forever. They are short, engaging, and addictive in a way that people can spend hours scrolling through one story after another without being bored. With its short-lived nature, it creates urgency, fueled by the fear of missing out, which is certainly a powerful motivator of purchase decisions.

With reference to research conducted by Hootsuite, 64% of businesses have either implemented Instagram Stories into their social strategy or plan to do so. Are you part of them?

2. Micro-influencers

When a consumer is scouring the internet to find related reviews, many are turn to micro-influencers for reference.

Micro-influencers are those who excel in their respective niche. They are happy to share their opinions about products or services, making the buying process easier for their followers. However, they only have between 10K to 50K followers.

Instagram Influence Tiers

Still, these smaller, more focused niche experts manage to connect on a deeper level with their audiences. An interesting statistic showed that influencers with 1,000 followers generated 85% higher engagement than those having 100,000 followers.

When planning campaigns, marketers can consider hiring a micro-influencer to improve the quality of outreach. Unlike well-known or celebrity influencers, micro-influencers are more affordable for brands, most importantly, are viewed as more trustworthy by consumers, which are more likely to drive better results.

3. Live streaming

Today, more and more vloggers, social media marketers and influencers are using live streaming to interact with their audience in real-time without needing support from a teleprompter or visual cues.

As a game-changer in social media marketing, there are few fascinating facts about it. First of all, DaCast revealed 92% of mobile users share videos, while live streaming has 114% more mobile views than other forms of content. Also, as reported by Wowza, the promotion rate of live videos is 78%, surpassing the overall video posts on Facebook.

Launching a product using live streaming is an incredible way to streamline your sales instantly. So many brands have done it right: Google, Apple, Honda. Apart from attracting attention to the event, the brand, and the product, it can also deliver authenticity by demonstrating the real reactions of people behind a brand name.

4. Instagram is removing 'Likes' on posts

To reduce the competitive pressure among people on the photo-sharing service, Instagram has been hiding the number of “likes” in some markets since April 2020, beginning in Canada, and later expanding to Japan and Brazil.

Needless to say, this will dramatically impact all aspects of the social media marketing industry, from influencer discovery to campaign recaps. The good news is that “likes” count is not the only metric. Instead of focusing on “likes”, marketers should put more attention to the action-based metrics. For example, look at how many swipe-ups stories receive or how often a promo code or affiliate link was used. These data are far more important than “likes” since it allows brands to see how many people actually made it to their site, began the checkout process, and actually placed an order.

5. Private Channels

The biggest selling point of these channels of course is privacy. Snapchat, for example, is created for direct communication. Without being bothered by noisy and impersonal public feeds, the engagements feel more curated and personal.

A study by BI Intelligence discovered that the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social media, implying private messaging channels are becoming more relevant to the average social media users.

Messaging apps

Since many consumers feel the most comfortable in social media settings for both their personal life and customer experiences, brands need to adapt and meet the consumer where they are. In view of that, marketers should make very good use of direct messages and story interactions to offer intimate one-on-one communication.

6. Contest

Social media is now flooded with countless blogs, videos, photos and banner ads. To rise above the noise and get new customers outside of conventional traffic sources has become more challenging than ever. Luckily, with the help of editing tools, the old marketing trick of attracting people by giving something away still works.

BHU Foods received a 35% increase in online sales by adding social media contests to their marketing strategy. Another brand Hydroflask started on Instagram with as little as 300 followers and successfully gained over 200,000 followers on Instagram when they started to use giveaways as a strategy. Till this day, they still continue to use social media contests as their strategy to grow their brand.

Instagram and branding

7. Automation

As the number of users on social platforms keeps exploding, business owners are having a hard time to fully engage with their clients. However, customers don’t care how stuffed your inbox is, all they want is an immediate response to their problems which should happen in no more than an hour.

Thankfully, Chatbots can take a huge chunk of activities off your shoulders. Bots are best for addressing the most common customer queries, so real people can save time handling the more nuanced and complex conversations. Automation also includes scheduling social posts ahead of time or republishing popular articles.

8. Personalization

Personalization has changed marketing from the bottom up, improving the customer experience, and, in turn, making businesses more profitable. Still, successful personalization in the funnel is like playing chess, you have to think several moves ahead. Many companies failed at implementation.

According to research done by Marketo, 63% of consumers were highly annoyed with generic advertising blasts, and 90% claimed they were attracted by personalization.

Visual search has lifted up the user experience to a whole new level: People can upload an image to conduct a search and get more specific results.

Pinterest, as a visual-based social media, has come out with a visual search tool that allows users to take a photo of an item to find out where to buy it online, as well as searching for similar products or view pinboards of related items. As reported by VentureBeat, since the launch of the beta version, Pinterest’s Lens now recognizes 2.5 billion home and fashion objects that have inspired over 600 million searches on Pinterest’s mobile apps and browser extensions and have seen a 140% uptick from launch day.

As visual appearance becomes increasingly important. Your branding design is essential. Developing a brand guide and house style should be the first step before any content strategy. 

10. Micro-moments

Micro-moment refers to an intent-rich moment when a person turns to a device to act on a need – to know, go, do or buy. Below are the major moments people generally make instant decisions within: 

4 game-changing micro-moments

To win, marketers have to be there to meet customers at these micro-moments. Once you know what customers’ desired journey is, you should then apply design principles to each phase and appropriate channels. Understanding them and anticipating them can result in better mobile conversions and overall more brand engagement.

11. User-generated content

According to the Nielsen Consumer Trust Index, 92% of consumers trust organic, user-generated content (UGC) more than traditional advertising. In other words, if you know how to use this marketing goldmine, it can create a snowball effect of higher engagement and more social followers.

In 2018, Buffer grew its Instagram following by almost 400% – from 4,250 to 21,000 followers. And a large percentage of this growth was a result of embracing and sharing UGC. The execution is simple, users create and share posts featuring your brand, exposing your products and services to their audience. Better yet, you can share that content with your own audience, boosting your credibility in the process.

12. Local Targeting

Location-based marketing is a powerful strategy to explore opportunities based on the target audience’s location. It could be a targeted campaign for a location-specific audience, based on proximity, or contextual targeting based on history and customer behaviour. It helps you reach out to customers in real-time and enhance customer experience.

Brands can also use geo-targeting to get more people to attend their local conferences and brand events. Or, they can use location filters in their social media ads, to advertise only to a relevant, local audience.

Top 5 social media people are using

In the middle of the global movement towards a totalizing digital age, every business has to know and use a variety of social platforms to stay relevant. Below, you’ll find the 5 most popular social media in 2020. Some might be familiar, others may not. Let’s see if there is anything great for your brand but you have yet to explore.

Top 5 social media

#1 Facebook – 2.70 Billion Active Users

Despite the fact that some of the younger demographics are passing up Facebook in favour of channels like Instagram and Tiktok, Facebook remains the market leader. If you want your business’ content to reach consumers, having a presence on Facebook is still a must.

Facebook supports a great variety of post formats – text, images, videos, live videos, and Stories. These can be powerful ways to communicate with customers and potential customers, allowing them to see your product or service without having to visit your premises. You can also try adding call-to-action buttons to your advertisements so as to drive your audience to take actions you care about. While not every post needs to encourage action, actionable posts may increase engagement and provide business value when the action is directly related to your business goals.

Please be reminded that Facebook’s algorithm will always penalize brands that push sales too hard, therefore, your goal should be providing more value than promotional material to keep followers engaged.

Read more: Facebook Marketplace: The Ultimate Guide to Sell and Reach Potential Buyers on the E-commerce Platform

#2 YouTube – 2 billion active users

YouTube is a free video-sharing website where users can watch tons of videos every day. Each account can create and upload its own videos to share with literally everybody in space.

Videos are a great way to differentiate your business and stand out among your competitors online. YouTube is no longer perceived as a mediocre entertainment site, it has grown into an invaluable business resource. The platform is especially friendly to manufacturers, retailers, and service-based small businesses, they can demonstrate their unique market speciality products and techniques in a much colourful way. After all, who will choose reading an article or lengthy instructions over watching a funny short video?

Since the YouTube optimisation process begins with video keyword research, you first need to choose the right keywords for your videos. Here is one hack for you – YouTube’s Search Suggest feature. All you need to do is head over to YouTube and type in a word or phrase, then you will get a whole list of related keywords.

YouTube video keyword research

Because these are terms that people actually type into YouTube, you don’t have to worry about whether they’re popular or not.

#3 WhatsApp – 2 billion active users

WhatsApp has quickly emerged as the go-to messaging app in the past few years. It’s a fast, simple, and convenient way for family and friends to chat, create group texts, share photos and videos, send and receive documents, and engage in private, secure conversations with almost zero boundaries.

In 2018, WhatsApp released a business version which is exclusive to small and middle-sized businesses. If you are interested in introducing WhatsApp Business into your customer-oriented engagement strategy, let’s check out our Essential How-to Guide!

#4 Facebook Messenger – 1.3 billion active users

Yes, Facebook Messenger is a separate service from the main Facebook social network. As explained by Mark Zuckerburg, Facebook Messenger has to move out as a standalone app since Facebook’s primary purpose is its News Feed, and even though more and more people are messaging, the messaging feature was tough to get to, which created a lot of friction. With the purpose of offering a more focused messaging experience, Facebook Messenger was born.

Being in the top 5, it is proven to be a stellar platform for reaching new customers and nurturing existing ones. Businesses can advertise, create chatbots, send newsletters, and answer FAQs via Messenger. These features have given marketers a myriad of new ways to grow their business like never before.

#5 WeChat – 1.20 billion active users

Back when WeChat was first released, it was just a messaging app. But as time passes by, it has become an “everything app”, connecting users to gaming, ridesharing, shopping, and even government services, along with friends and family. WeChat users can now do everything on the app, from posting videos to filing for divorce.

Given that a Chinese business license is not required when creating an account, many non-Chinese brands have used WeChat’s Mini Programs and platform features to break into this enormous market. While WeChat is largely used in China, the app also has users outside of China. If you are doing business in those areas, WeChat could be a very helpful tool.

Top 4 social media with most Hong Kong users in 2020

Top 4 Social Media with Most Hong Kong Users in 2020

Does the result match your habits of using social media? Unsurprisingly, Facebook is Hongkongers’ favourite, 5.62 million people are using it which accounts for nearly 75% of the entire population.

Facebook Messenger is the third most popular. Although it requires users to take an extra step, it hasn’t lost its influence on the social media market. It continues to daringly shape the dynamics of how Hong Kong people interact online.

Hong Kong internet users also expressed a strong preference for Instagram and LinkedIn. Since we haven’t covered them yet, let’s dig deep!


In October 2020, the number of Instagram users in Hong Kong stood at 2.7 million. People aged 25 to 34 were the largest user group, which reflects that it really is a platform for young customers. Thus, if you wish to reach your younger audiences, Instagram is your go-to tool.

The Instagram algorithm in 2020 works by showing users the content they are likely to engage with. Your Instagram feed isn’t only based on who you follow, it’s also based on the accounts and types of posts you’ve liked historically. That being said, the more the Instagram algorithm thinks you will like a certain type of post, the higher it will appear in your feed. This is why consistency is so important. It sends positive signals to the algorithm and gives your audience more opportunities to interact with your content.


LinkedIn is a social network that focuses on professional networking and career development. It allows businesses to create company pages to define and promote their brands. Apart from it, you can research other businesses and people who have similar interests, strategies or profiles to yours.

Through LinkedIn, it is possible to promote your brand’s core values, nurture leads and of course, improve the visibility of any job opportunities currently available. In addition, to build a strong network of individuals who can add daily value as well as help develop a sales pipeline.

If you are at the beginning stage, you first need to figure out the goals your company wants to accomplish on LinkedIn. Are you going to use LinkedIn for business hiring, social selling, connecting with customers, or all of the above? You can then map out a content calendar, planning posts in advance so as to source images, write thought leadership articles, and prepare content accordingly. This practice can ensure all your LinkedIn marketing goals, from webinar promotion to engagement, are well covered.

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