Social Video Trends To Keep An Eye On In 2021

2021 has arrived, and things are beginning to ramp up!

Last month, we published our first annual State Of Digital Video Creative report—summarizing the trends, predictions, and best practices that we believe will play an influential role throughout 2021. 

To supplement this report, we want to dive deeper into the many video trends that will play out in the year ahead. By understanding these trends, we hope that you will be able to plan video campaigns that are new, innovative, and more relevant to 2021’s social media audience.  

First things first...


Common key trends

Before we get into the specifics for each social media platform, we first need to set the scene by discussing four major trends that are applicable to a number of different platforms. These video trends should be core to advertiser’s social campaigns throughout 2021.   


Common video trends 2021


1. Ephemeral video

Transient, short-form video content is spreading from platform-to-platform. These formats are transforming the visual language online—an influence which is spilling over into video advertising.

These formats have proven to be extremely popular. There are 500 million & 238 million daily users of Instagram Stories and Snapchat respectively—and with both Twitter and LinkedIn announcing their own ephemeral formats, this way of consuming content is set to define 2021 and beyond. 

The vertical nature of ephemeral video, along with the short, snappy, and authentic storytelling that they encourage, is helping brands to communicate to their audience in a way that resonates, helping brands to boost engagement and forge stronger relationships with their audiences.


2. User-generated, branded content

The lines between user-generated content (UGC) and branded content are being blurred, with brands now developing campaigns that mix these two components in order to build trust and communicate authentically with their audiences.  

In the video realm, influencers and creators are often brought in to help set these conversations into motion encouraging users to participate in campaigns with an aim of virality. TikTok’s Branded Hashtag Challenge is an example of an ad format specifically designed around this objective.


3. Increased adoption of Augmented Reality (AR)

Augmented Reality (AR) is no longer a futuristic idea or gimmick—it has arrived—and for many it  has become a part of everyday life. This is causing advertisers to develop new, creative ways of integrating AR into their digital video campaigns. 

From fun filters, to full product tours and games—the functionality of AR is virtually limitless. A number of the leading social media platforms are helping brands to explore the AR frontier. Facebook’s Spark AR, and Snapchat’s Lens Studio will continue to be core focuses for both platforms in 2021, as they seek to enable brands to connect with audiences in interactive, highly-engaging ways.


4. Video is becoming Shoppable

Social media is a place where people go to discover and learn about products before buying. For this reason, social media platforms have become important drivers for e-commerce, helping brands to quickly grow by accessing the huge user-bases. 

You can see this influence everywhere on social channels, but from an advertising perspective, the most obvious examples are through the Shoppable Ad Formats that have been developed by many of the leading social platforms. From Collection Ads to TrueView for Shopping, these formats help brands to streamline the purchase process via a “digital storefront”.


Facebook & Instagram Video Trends


Interactive ad formats on the rise

Polling Ads, Instant Experiences, and Playables will experience higher adoption as brands seek new ways of driving higher levels of engagement. 

This diverse range of interactive ad formats that are offered by Facebook, provides brands the tools necessary to deliver fun, hands-on, immersive ad experiences to their audiences. 


In-Stream Video Is Growing In Popularity

Facebook Watch has been rapidly growing in the video streaming space, with a reported 1.25 billion people now tuning in on a monthly basis. Advertisers should take note, and consider how In-Stream Ads could be used to reach this huge video audience that now resides on Facebook. 


Spark AR is broadening its scope

Augmented Reality (AR) has proven to be a hit across Facebook and Instagram, which has encouraged Facebook to ramp up their activity in the AR space. The relaunch of the Spark AR partner network, along with more tools and functionality being added, means that we are likely to see more and more interactive digital effects popping up across Facebook’s family of apps, giving brands an engaging, cost-effective way of immersing audiences


TikTok Video Trends 2021


Brand communication shaped by trends

In order to be authentic and consistent with TikTok’s unique visual aesthetic brands need to be attentive to the trends playing out on the platform. By tapping into such trends, you can communicate more effectively with your audience.

Along with tapping into existing video trends on TikTok, brands can also start the conversation through Branded Hashtag Challenges—a format that will help brands in 2021 to foster co-creation along with creating deeper personal relationships with their audiences by speaking their language.


Video ads to help boost e-commerce

October 2020 saw TikTok announce a partnership with Shopify, a move that will allow e-commerce merchants to easily reach TikTok users by seamlessly integrating their Shopify dashboard with TikTok’s Ad Manager, enabling the deployment of Shoppable In-Feed ads. 

TikTok’s young audience base makes it a natural fit for e-commerce, and we are likely to see these integrations grow throughout 2021 along with the effect that they have on both organic and paid TikTok video content.  


YouTube video trends 2021


Purchase decisions are being influenced by shopping-themed videos

Hauls, product reviews, and gift guides make up an extremely popular genre of YouTube videos. These videos are also extremely influential in the purchase decision making of audiences. YouTube is now a go-to site for researching the quality and benefits of a whole range of different products—especially clothing, cosmetics, and electronics.

For advertisers, this poses an opportunity to drive online sales. Why not speak to consumers in the space in which they are actively shaping their purchasing decisions? You can do this by placing performance-focused TrueView for Action ads amongst relevant video content, allowing audiences to take immediate action.


YouTube video watch time is increasing on TV devices

Over 100 million people now watch YouTube on TV screens each month, a number that has been growing as audiences move away from traditional Linear TV. For brands, this has resulted in a necessary ad budget reallocation in response to the changing audience behaviour.

To reflect this, YouTube is now making it easier for brands to specifically target TV viewers with their ad campaigns, which allows for video creative to be developed that is specifically tailored towards a TV audience. 


2021 Snapchat Video Trends


Fostering content discovery & virality

Snapchat’s new Spotlight feature was developed to encourage Snapchat creators to create viral video hits worthy of reward. The feature, with its dedicated tab on the platform will open up a new space of content discovery for Snapchatters where they can enter a “lean back” viewing mode and consume the best content on offer. 

Advertisers should take note, as Spotlight is likely to become an additional ad placement on Snapchat, where brands will be able to complement their existing Stories and Discovery ads, leading to higher reach and frequency.


Pushing AR to its limits

Snapchat is without a doubt one of the key industry leaders in the AR space. Over 180 million Snapchatters engage with AR on a daily basis, with 2020 seeing a massive uptake from retail brands utilizing the format to offer audiences virtual try ons whilst at home. 

The popularity of AR from both users and advertisers has lead Snapchat to make AR a continued core focus in 2021, with higher amounts of investment being funnelled into their Lens Studio in order to breed innovation.


Pinterest Video Trends 2021


Video content that inspires

Pinterest is unique in the fact that Pinners use the platform to actively seek out and be inspired by products that could benefit their lives. Pinterest prides themselves on this and strives to be the platform that offers the most inspiring and actionable content. This has naturally led to a greater focus on video content on the platform. 

Q3 of 2020 saw a significant 7x increase in video uploads year on year, indicating that their efforts are working successfully. This rise in video content is likely to continue with the recent addition of Stories Pins which enable users to “to tell dynamic and visual stories with videos, voiceover and image and text overlay.” 

Expect to see video play a prominent role in Stories with creators using the format for multi-part video tutorials, how-to’s, and workout routines.


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Video will play an increasingly important role 

Traditionally, Twitter has been a text-oriented platform. However, video is beginning to make its mark both with higher volumes of video content being seen within feeds, but also with the recent role out of the ephemeral video format: “Fleets”. 

Brands should already look to utilize Fleets as a communication tool with their existing Twitter audience, however, as the format gains traction we can expect to see the ad inventory offered in the placement which will enable advertisers to speak to a much larger audience.

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