Social media had a big year in 2020. With the arrival of COVID-19, social media platforms were given a rapid push from being a leisure activity or guilty pleasure to the primary way that humans interact around the globe. 

Toss a vitriolic presidential election into the mix, and you’ve got an explosion of new trends and tactics. Some were good, some were bad, and some were downright ugly

But one thing is for sure. There’s no going back to the pre-COVID days for marketers. Video marketing on social media will be forever changed by the events of this year. 

What have we learned from 2020 that we can take into 2021? We’ve analyzed the most successful trends in video marketing this year to prepare you for what’s coming next. 

If you haven’t started experimenting with the following video styles, it’s time to start. 

Animated Video
Personalized Video
Ephemeral Video
Shoppable Video
VR Ads

5 Video Marketing Trends on Social Media in 2021

1. Animated Video 

Animated video boomed in 2020, and it will continue to do so in 2021. 

Animation is nothing new, but it became a popular go-to for advertisers once on-site shoots became impossible due to the pandemic.

But then something unexpected happened. Marketers realized that animated videos were outperforming their traditional video content. Why is that?

Animation is more eye-catching than non-animated content on social medial. Your video content is interspersed between real users’ posts, and most of those users are posting real-life video and photo content. When an animated video pops up, it is automatically differentiated. The “hook” you need to get someone to stop scrolling is practically built-in. 

Just take a look at this Sherwin-Williams ad. This ad is for paint. PAINT. Probably the most boring thing ever. But the animation is captivating enough to stop anyone’s scrolling for 30 seconds. 

Animation also has the advantage of speed. You can move characters and whirl colors to keep up with today’s scrollers (whose attention spans are shorter than ever). Creating dynamic, fast-moving content may be the key to grabbing attention, especially in younger audiences. Even sitcoms like Brooklyn Nine-Nine and The Goldbergs feature lightning-fast dialogue just to keep modern viewers engaged. 

You don’t have to create a digital jungle world like Sherwin-Williams to make effective animated ads. There are plenty of apps and agencies that make simple animations. Then, you just need to incorporate your brand and add some free sound effects to complete your scroll-stopping video. 

2. Personalized Video

When you send emails to your subscribers, what do you almost ALWAYS put in the subject line?

Their name. 

People respond to personalized content, especially when you call out their name or show them an image of themselves. Video marketers are starting to do this as well, with instant scroll-stopping success.

This type of video started a few years back with Facebook’s “anniversary” videos. You know, these videos

Facebook has the advantage of having every iota of everyone in the universe’s personal data, but it doesn’t mean you can’t use simple personalization tactics to drive engagement. 

Forrester Research found that using basic personalization in videos can improve customer service and boost conversions up to 12%.

Here’s how to get started.

Start by taking stock of the data you have on most of your customers. That might include:

  • Name
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Physical address
  • Purchase history

Next, choose the information from that list that you can use in a video in a non-creepy way:

  • Name 
  • Purchase history

Now, you’re ready to make personalized videos featuring your customers’ names and showing a catalog image of a past purchase. Your script could read:

“Hi, [name], we hope you’re loving your [product]. We wanted to remind you that a new update is available. Click the link to access tons of new features…”

And so on.  

Here’s an example of a creative personalized video from Barclay’s. They appeal to the viewer by using her name in text and speech, which is quite powerful. They also provide some personalized incentives based on the data they have on the viewer.  

3. Ephemeral Video

Ephemeral video was made popular by Snapchat back in the day when everyone thought Snapchat was going to be around forever. 

Ephemeral videos only last for a certain period of time, whether it’s an hour or a day, and then they are gone forever. 

These fleeting videos will only increase in popularity now that brands like TikTok are booming. They will be especially popular with small brands and start-ups, as they require little editing and don’t cost much. They can also be produced very quickly. 

The most well-known types of ephemeral video today are Instagram Stories. These videos have a 24-hour lifespan and benefit from scarcity. Viewers know that they can only see the video for a limited time, so they’d better click.

But does that really work? Do people really care about an ad just because it’s fleeting? 

Not necessarily. That depends on the content. If your ephemeral videos often contain valuable information, discount codes, or entertaining content, users will be more likely to watch your ad on the off-chance it will offer them some value. 

If you post infrequently or make boring content, your stories will be passed up. Remember, your ephemeral content has to compete with hundreds of other Stories on your target’s feed every day. 

Here are a few ways to make your followers want to watch your ephemeral videos:

  • Tell a story: Real people, real stories. That’s what social media is all about. Nike does it well with stories like this
  • Offer a deal: 24-hour deals for 24-hour videos. Make your customers know they have to watch your stories to get lightning deals. 
  • Use influencers: Change up your videos by using influencer marketing. Publishing often means you need to be dynamic.
  • Be real: Stories are not polished ads. They engage with your target on a real, nearly live level. 
  • Encourage reposting: Just because your video’s lifespan is short doesn’t mean it can’t go far. Engage with your audience’s stories, and they’ll be more likely to repost yours.

4. Shoppable Video

One of the biggest trends we’ll see from more established brands is expanded shoppable video. This type of video content allows users to shop directly from the video. 

This trend was started a few years ago by Instagram when it introduced the “swipe up” feature. This took users directly from a Story to a brand’s product page. This led to the later creation of Instagram TV, and now, brands like Amazon and YouTube are launching shoppable video platforms to compete. 

In 2021 we’ll see this grow to new heights.

The time is ripe for shoppable video content, as the COVID-19 pandemic has hammered the nail in the coffin of many brick-and-mortar retailers. People who didn’t prefer shopping online before will have explored new shopping media and will likely prefer buying online going forward. 

We’re also seeing shopping brands that sell exclusively via video. 

Brands like Shoploop have launched social apps that merge the entertainment of scrolling with endless shoppable content. We’re bound to see a social media platform dedicated solely to this type of shoppable content become a major player soon, and it will likely be in 2021. You’ll need to be ready with shoppable videos if you don’t want to get left behind.

And finally, we’ll see the advent of shoppable entertainment. These will be long-form videos that engage viewers, likely by including celebrities and story elements, to sell products during the video. 

This was attempted by Amazon recently with a shoppable fashion show called Making the Cut. Hosted by fashion giants Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, the show was considered a failure—but only because the products were in such high demand that they sold out almost instantly, leaving most viewers with nothing to buy. 

Luckily, you don’t have to hire Heidi Klum to have a successful shoppable video. Start by including a drop-down menu within the video on YouTube or a swipe feature on IG. To go further, explore the publishing options on IGTV, Amazon, and YouTube. 

Their shoppable platforms will provide you with the tools you need. It’ll be up to you to get your viewers clicking. 

5. VR Ads 

A lot of people brush off VR ads because they’re a hassle. You have to put a mask on to engage with them. But in 2021, most people will be used to wearing masks. 

We kid. 

But really, 2021 will be the perfect time for VR ads. Here’s why:

  • The PlayStation 5 and XBOX Series X (and S) just launched in November 2020, ushering in a new age of VR technology.
  • People aren’t scrolling on the go nearly as much, because people aren’t going anywhere—they’re locked down at home. 
  • People are engaging more on VR-friendly devices like TVs and gaming consoles during the pandemic.
  • Staycations and digital vacations are booming. VR videos offer the escape that many crave. 

VR ads are not easy to make, but they have one huge advantage: When a user commits to viewing your VR ad, you have their complete attention. 100%. 360˚. And you’ll probably keep their attention for a lot longer than you would with a standard video ad. It’s an incredibly rare thing for a social media marketer to command the full attention of a scroller. 

If you do it right, it could be like hitting the jackpot of brand awareness and engagement. However, if your VR video sucks, the user may view your brand more negatively, as they will blame you for wasting their time. 

To do VR ads well, you need to create a 360˚ environment. Nobody wants to put on a VR headset for just a panoramic view. To do this, you need a VR camera, or you need to create a digital 360˚ world using animation or photos. 

Photos might work for giving a basic tour of a location or facility, but if you want your ads to really pop, you’ll need to put in the investment for real video VR content. You can get the blender app to help render some immersive worlds at a lower cost, though there is a learning curve to the tech.

Is it really worth it to make VR ads? Will VR ads stick around?

It’s hard to say if this will be a permanent or temporary trend in video marketing for social media. But we know it will have the benefit of being a novelty when ads start to appear on feeds. It doesn’t matter what you post. People will want to engage with a VR ad if they’ve never done it before. That’s the power of curiosity. The first good ads are likely to generate a ton of media attention too, so why not get at it? 

Will You Find the Next 2021 Video Marketing Trend?

The list above is far from exhaustive. There are so many more video marketing trends on the cusp of becoming viral gold. These include:

  • Interactive video: Become an actor in a video as you watch by choosing where to move the camera or what product to interact with. 
  • Deep fakes: Will they be banned or will they be the next big thing in viral marketing? We’ll find out soon. 
  • Live video: It’s not just for influencers anymore. Long-form live content will be the new digital storefront. 
  • Live filters: Would you let your camera interact with your feed? If so, videos could interact with you as you scroll. 

The top 5 on our list are just the trends we think are most likely to make a big splash in 2021. 

But the real winners in 2021 will be the same as the winners in 2020: the innovators and the risk-takers. 

Which trends will you choose to tackle? 

For small firms, we recommend animation and ephemeral content. It’s easy and cheap to produce, so you can keep a steady output even with a low budget. Remember, brands that post often are viewed more favorably, according to research done on Instagram. If you need a tool that can help you manage your social media post scheduling and analytics all in one place, you should take a look at our list of social media management tools for businesses.  

For larger firms, we recommended diving into shoppable video and personalized video at the same time. These often intertwine, so you can cut costs by producing them together. 

And for the real risk-takers, someone has to create the first great social media VR video. Will it be you?

See also: Video Marketing Trends in 2020

Adi Domocos is the Founder of Hot in Social Media. After working for several years in different international companies from Marketing Manager to Country Manager, he decided to launch a site in a field he really loves: Social Media Marketing. He’s a social guy who tries to help and cheer up those around him.