How digital trends are evolving in 2021

How digital trends have been shaped by the pandemic

By Nicole

With the pandemic in the air, the start to a new year has felt far from a fresh start, and it can be difficult to feel excited about the future. In many ways, diving into this topic of digital innovation sparked feelings of inspiration, excitement and motivation for me, as it reinforced the wealth of opportunity within this industry and the challenge of keeping up with trends that I love so much.

We found these trends so interesting that we decided to share them with the public, and held our first webinar. If you’re interested, you can watch the recording here:


Let’s dive into how digital trends are evolving in 2021.

1. Covid-19 behavioral change

Why social media users are searching for value

Lockdowns around the world have sparked behavioural changes by forcing people indoors and online. We’re spending so much more time on our screens, but exactly how much time might surprise you.

  • The typical global user currently spends around 40% of their waking life using connected tech, with the latest data showing that people spend an average of more than 6½ hours online each day.
  • With our regular freedoms stripped away, connectivity is helping people all over the world to make their lives easier and better. Think about how relieved you were when you ordered your first batch of groceries online, and everything arrived perfectly while you remained safely in your home.
  • The real opportunity for brands here is to deliver similar benefits and outcomes via your digital marketing activities as well. When crafting your social media strategy, think about whether or not your content provides value to your target audience.
  • Users are also engaging more with content rooted in a lighter mood, due to the existing oversaturation of heavy-hearted news online.
2. Social media platforms

Why it’s time to purge your social media platforms

It’s no news that people are using a wider variety of social platforms than ever before, and the number of profiles each person is on has only increased as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns. But what does this mean for brands?

  • Brands no longer need to be on every social media platform just for the sake of reaching new or different target audiences.
  • This is because social media has grown to the extent where most users will have all platforms (we did an office poll to see how many of our parents were on Instagram now – and most are!), so you’ll already have the potential to reach almost all social media users by using just one or two of the larger platforms. So be smarter and more strategic, focusing your organic social media efforts on fewer, bigger, better platforms.
  • If you do decide that all platforms are the way to go, be wary of audience duplication. Users don’t like ‘repetition pollution’ (when they see the same content on all their platforms), so keep that in mind when you’re planning and sequencing your content.

What came as a bit of a surprise, is the resurrection of Pinterest. Pinterest’s user base has been growing quickly in recent months. Top local online stores like Superbalist are using the platform in very interesting ways. This is largely due to lockdown behaviour.

2020 was also a massive year for LinkedIn. The platform rolled out LinkedIn Live, Events, Polls, and Stories. Professionals working remotely are engaging with conversational content because it mimics the team environment they’re missing. Conversations on LinkedIn, typically a place where conversation centres around business, have recently been focused on public, political, social, and economic issues.

Instagram’s audience size has grown 39% larger than Facebook.

3. Search behaviour

How is Alexa changing the way we write website copy?

The amazing Alexa is able to play music, provide information, deliver news and sports scores, tell you the weather, control your smart home and even allows you to order products from Amazon. What people mostly use it for however, is to search for things online, using their voice.

  • With the help of Alexa, and many other similar technologies, the ways in which people search for things online are evolving. Almost half of all the world’s internet users already use voice search and voice commands. This means that more natural language is being presented to search platforms, as opposed to the sharp keywords that people might use in more text-based environments. And this means that web content written in more natural language structures may achieve a higher SEO ranking. To give you an example, a search phrase in natural language would be something like “Alexa, what’s the weather like in Paris today?”, whereas if you were typing into a search bar you’d simply write “Paris weather”.
  • Social networks are now the second top search tool for brand research amongst the world’s internet users. People in developing economies have been quickest to adopt these new behaviours.
    • Very few brands are optimising their social media activities for social search, and they are missing out.
    • We recommend optimising your existing strategy for your audience’s social search behaviours.
    • One of the most important ways to achieve this is through the use of hashtags, which work in similar ways to how keywords work in more traditional SEO. Although it is still recommended that you include brand and campaign-specific hashtags, you need to make room for generic hashtags as well, so users are able to find your brand when using hashtags to search on social media.
    • Users also navigate to brand websites through social media, so make sure your bio has all the correct information.
    • Profiles need to be optimised too. In November 2020, it was officially announced that Instagram would become more search-friendly. Now, if you search for a keyword in the search bar, relevant videos, profiles, and posts should populate.
    4. Video

    Believe it or not, video content is getting even shorter


    • With the rise of Tik Tok and Instagram Reels, video content has become more fast paced. 15-second content pieces outperform 30-second content pieces. This short-form video marketing is the sweet spot.
    • Adding text to your video content can increase watch time.
    • Facebook and Instagram stories created a culture of no sound scrolling, but Tiktok and Reels have turned that around. Scrolling with your sound on is also a likely side-effect of people working from home, as we find ourselves in personal spaces where we can watch videos with sound on.
    • Longer videos perform better on Facebook than Instagram, Tik Tok or Twitter.
    • Think of your own behaviour on Instagram – you are probably using the explore feature page to scroll much more than the regular feed. This is because we are used to absorbing so much information at once, that seeing one post at a time in the regular field has started to feel quite boring.

    Examples: Jerusalema challenge on TikTok, Netflix SA on Instagram Reels

    5. Facebook ads

    Facebook ad spend is higher than ever before


    • With so many more brands using Facebook ads, the online marketplace has become more saturated and competitive. This also means that the cost of advertising on Facebook continues to rise. In my personal experience, the average cost per click on Facebook in 2019 was around R1 and now it can go as high as R3, and even R15 for lead ads.
    • What this means for brands is that returning to the foundational aspects of running ad campaigns on Facebook and Instagram will be critical to success.
    • Central to ad success will be accurately assessing the customer life cycle and the average customer value so you know how much you can pay for a lead and still remain profitable.
    • Video ads convert better than image ads.
    • Facebook has removed the 20% text rule from its platform for image ads. When revealing this fact to the Pomegranite team, there was a bit of an uproar as we’ve spent years trying to persuade clients to accept that they can’t have too much text on ther images.

    Examples: Hello Fresh video ad, Nintendo Switch

    So there you have it, the 2021 digital trends we found the most interesting as a team. With all the gloom in the world right now, I hope that this blog sparked some excitement for your digital marketing efforts in 2021 and left you feeling less uncertain about the year ahead.



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