After we all predicted 2020 flawlessly, we at bbd have dusted off the crystal ball, read a whole load of dull trends reports and reflected on what this year’s client campaigns have taught us to pull together our Guide to Social Media trends for 2021.

So what did we find? 

We were getting to that but yeah, point taken. Based on our blood, sweat, tears, late nights and quarantine madness (you don’t care do you..) we can proudly announce our 3 main trends for social in 2021 are:

Do something, don’t just say it

Gen Z are the first generation to grow up on social and they lead the way in seeing the positive impact it has had on their life. They believe they can be an impact for positive change and rebuilding society. 

They want to see purpose over politics and they are leading the charge in changing how brands behave online. If you want real impact have one cause you really champion and own. Have a real impact not just virtue signalling ads – Patagonia and Ben & Jerry’s are great examples of this approach.

This extends further than saying what you stand for. On social we often think of the content format and the final video over the idea. The idea should be the centre of what we do. And you can do something. 

What better way to engage people by doing something and filming it? Be it random acts of kindness or asking strangers opinions in the street, we love looking at people and things that have happened. 

Maybe rather than thinking about messaging and what we should say on social media we should structure our social campaigns by asking – What should we do?

Entertain me

Social algorithms prioritise engagement with content, after all great content is what keeps us on the platform. It gives the people what they want/keeps them on the platform. The main reason most people from Gen Z and Gen Y are on social media is to “fill spare time” and “watch funny and entertaining content”. This comes above keeping up with news and what we all think social is about: keeping up with friends. We need to give the people what they want.

“My mate from school ran a marathon, So what?! Give me more cat videos!”

As marketers we all know from the million conversations we’ve had with friends in pubs (remember pubs… and friends… good times) that people will always say “I hate ads” when they hear what industry you work in. 

“WASSSSSSUUUUUP”, “Tick follows tock”, “Old Spice Guy”, “Dollar Shave Club”, “Holidays are coming” “John Lewis”….. etc. etc. What people hate is bad ads, beige ads, boring ads. Entertain me!! Social is no different.

Engage me

Social is about me. Not you. Not your brand. It is about me and my thoughts, likes, opinions and personality. My newsfeed is tailored to me to engage me and my voice, opinion and creativity matters.

As marketers we often talk about social listening but we rarely use social like a human would for our brands. We have tools to schedule, tools to listen, tools to analyse but how many of your social media managers open up your brand’s newsfeed and start liking, commenting and sharing as a human would? Social is about humans, not brands. We need to be more human.

Social is designed for human behaviour rather than brand behaviour. No matter how much us marketers spend that isn’t going to change as we need the people to be engaged on the platform to make running ads worthwhile. It is why LinkedIn is so expensive and ineffective as a channel to advertise on in a lot of instances – people spend an average of 19mins a month on the platform compared to over 30mins a day on Facebook or Instagram. The number of impressions you can therefore sell on Facebook/Insta is vastly bigger.

We need to consider how a user will interact with the campaign or content we are creating. What interaction can we encourage? How can they own this idea? We need to design campaigns that can go wrong, out of our control, that have a core idea that we give to others to own. We need to let go.

These are our 3 key trends on social for 2021. Take them and do social better. 

Download the 2021 social trends deck

In the full deck you can learn more about these 3 key trends, the smaller trends driving them and how to start putting them into practise. To see the detail (you’re not the sort of person not to check the detail are you?) and get more inspiration around these trends for 2021 download the full deck here. 

Read the 2021 Social Media Guide

The guide also contains:

  • How social works
  • Where & Why we are on social
  • The psychology of sharing
  • Key emotions for 2021 
  • The 3 Macro trends (Entertain Me, Do Something, Engage Me) 
  • The microtrends driving them
  • Case studies, examples & inspiration

Get the 2021 Guide Today

We also sum up 2020 in a tweet, give you some simple things to do to make your social better and give you some starts to throw in to conversations with the cool kids at the watercooler (if we are ever allowed to see other humans again) or even just to use when arguing with people on the internet.

Get in touch 

We hope the guide gives you some ideas,  ammo, stats on how to improve social in your organisation this year or maybe just some pre-prepared slides for that big meeting with Jeff & Debbie (if you want the slides in an editable format please email  

Download the 100% guaranteed, definitely right social media guide to 2021. If anything in this guide isn’t a trend next year then that is the fault of the universe or people in general (aren’t they the worst) not the guide. The guide was sound.

Or if you want any help, advice, soothing noises or just to argue about any of the above trends get in touch: