We consume social media like we consume our coffee in the morning – it has become a consistent and natural part of our daily routines.  

Because of how integral social media is in today’s world, it is important to be on top of what trends are working and rising in popularity – especially if you work in marketing or own a business. Here are five social media trends that have shown to be popular in 2021 and are expected to continue to be successful. 


1. Livestreaming 

Livestreaming took off in popularity in the early 2010s, when websites like YouTube and Twitch ascended to popularity. In 2021, many brands have looked at the success live streamers have had and implemented those strategies into their marketing. Social media strategist Bryan Kramer describes livestreaming as an inexpensive “key marketing and communications tool that helps brands reach their online audience.” 

Why is this trending? In 2020, as lots of brands were forced to move their events to the virtual space, it’s not surprising that live streaming has increased in popularity. Now, many brands use Facebook, Instagram Live, and Twitter to live stream events and other types of content. Many brands live-streamed their shows and events so that attendees who couldn’t make it in-person didn’t miss out on the experience. Our client NTCA implemented livestreaming on Facebook during their Fall Conference event this year. 

Livestreaming keeps followers engaged and makes them feel more connected to the brand by allowing them to get a front-row seat no matter where they are. As our clients head back to live events, and with many people still unable to travel, we expect livestreaming of conferences to continue to play an important role. Even if you can’t afford to livestream your full event, consider “going live” for brief periods of time to give people a sense of what they are missing.   


2. Selling on Social 

Brands have been using social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook to promote and sell their products for years. More recently, brands have started to use TikTok as an additional selling avenue.  

Why is this trending?  The simple answer: consumer and brand convenience. Consumers can buy a product seen in a post without even leaving the app that they’re on. Similarly, brands that might not have the capabilities to build their own e-commerce store can use social media as an alternative avenue to sell their products. 

Some ways that brands use social media to promote their products include using polls to allow users to vote on product styles, applying large and aesthetic graphics to attract viewer clicks, and using celebrities/influencers to endorse products. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) used this tactic to promote their National Pet Owners Survey. This particular campaign resulted in multiple conversions, resulting in a positive ROI.  

What does this mean for associations and trade shows? It may be time to consider updating your registration process and/or your association’s online store. Consumers expect the ease of commerce they experience in their personal lives to translate to their business lives, so removing barriers to registration, lengthy demographics questionnaires, or multiple logins is essential. 


3. Video content will continue to take center stage 

If we learned anything from the extreme success TikTok has had over the last few years, it’s that video content is hot and here to stay. In 2021, the U.S. average for video consumption is 209 minutes per day. That adds up to roughly 24 hours per week! 

Why is this trending? Video content is easy to digest, entertaining, and engaging.  

As other major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter continue to amp up their video capabilities, marketers can expect high video consumption to continue to grow in the coming years. Incorporating video into your marketing strategy is expected and essential to growing your audience and building engagement. Bonus points if you post natively to each platform to ensure the greatest exposure to your audience.  

Video CSG created for IAAPA Expo, promoting the return of IAAPA Expo this fall.


4. Influencer Marketing 

Social media influencers are not a new trend, but they are here to stay. Social media today is dominated by influencers who are getting paid to promote brands and their products.  

Why is this trending?  Investing in influencers is cheaper than running paid ad campaigns and delivers the same (if not better) results. Moreover, influencers can help brands achieve their marketing goals and bring in an audience that might otherwise not use that brand.  

Something else that is expected to become more popular is the use of “micro” influencers – influencers with smaller platforms (fewer than 25,000 followers). According to studies, micro-influencers tend to have a higher engagement rate with their followers than macro-influencers, which is why businesses are giving them a closer look. By utilizing micro-influencers, brands will be able to stretch their marketing budgets wider while still getting great results. 

Does your industry have a micro-influencer you could lean into for conference or event promotion? We have seen success with referral campaigns but connecting with well-known thought leaders in your field may garner even better results.  

While our clients haven’t had an influencer campaign yet, we have tried several influencer-like campaigns such as toolkit exhibitors like this SHOT Show one. 


5. Ephemeral content 

You may not have heard the term ephemeral content before, but you have most likely spent hours scrolling through it. Ephemeral content is content that is available for a short duration of time and then disappears. Two big examples of this type of content are Instagram stories and Snapchat. Ephemeral content is short, engaging, and addictive in a way that people can spend hours scrolling through stories on their feed. 

Why is this trending? The FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Effect. Since ephemeral content is only available for a limited amount of time, people are quicker to view it so that they don’t miss it.  Because of this, more and more people are consuming and creating short-lived content on social media. 

Pro Tip: As you do your daily scrolling you may have noticed that many creators link their stories to their feed posts, with the algorithms changing on what seems to be a daily basis, this cross-posting ensures your followers know when you have a new post. If you click and engage with it, you are more likely to see those posts in the future. 

Glossier is one brand that consistently posts engaging ephemeral content on their Instagram account. In the example shown below, they used a series of photos to promote their new eyeshadow palette. They presented this ad as an interactive experience where users could tap to see different eyeshadow shades pop up and how they looked on different models. 

While trade shows, events, and membership organizations can’t offer interactive makeup posts, there are several opportunities to provide glimpses to “behind-the-scenes” content, messages from speakers, exhibitors, or attendees.   


These are just a few of the many trends that are popular across social media platforms. Social media is a dynamic and competitive space, and the good news is you don’t have to do it all or go at it alone. We advise our clients on what trends are right for them and their audience and help implement a content strategy that keeps engagement high.