This year’s changes were also hard-felt on social media platforms all over the internet.
For example, Twitter got a fresh, new look by introducing “voice tweets” as well as its latest feature, “Fleets,” more of a story-like tool first brought up by Snapchat.
And TikTok really took advantage on the COVID-19 pandemic: The social media platform soared in popularity, a growth spotted by Instagram, who then took on attack and introduced “Reels,” which, essentially, is like TikTok.
But, honestly, a major change we are yet to get used to, is the Shopping tab on Instagram. How do you even use it properly?
Based on all this, we are making some predictions on how social media platforms would be changing in 2021.
Some experts forecast that the addition of extra features, such as Instagram’s shopping tab and Reels, could see platforms moving towards a one-app-fits-all approach.
James Read, founder of digital agency Giant Peach, said this is already common in other parts of the world, like China.
‘If you look at China, WeChat already encompasses that ‘one-app-fits-all’ approach with the chatting app also allowing stories, updates and buying. However – as much as western social media platforms will inevitably try to follow that platform, it’s unlikely that they will be allowed to play the role fully as in China,’ he told UNILAD.
Data privacy concerns and increased regulations could be a good thing for platforms, so they would not be in much control, he added.
In China, it’s common to not only buy everyday items through social media, but also invest in big purchases such as a house or a car simply after watching a live stream, Domenica Di Lieto, CEO of Emerging Communications, said.
It’s ‘absolutely’ possible that we will see our social media channels shaped like those in China in the future, she told UNILAD.
That’s where we are headed for, but we are a long way behind.
I think this year has been fairly instrumental in speeding up technological advancement in Europe because people have consumed more social media in lockdown, but also the need to track where people are because of coronavirus.
Sunil Singhvi, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Instagram, told UNILAD that the introduction of Shops was a response to a ‘global change in online and social media culture’ amid the pandemic.
‘We responded to evolving needs with products like Shops to support small businesses who found our platforms to be business-critical during the pandemic,’ he said.
‘Creators were a major part of the cultural shift as people increasingly found comfort and connection in individuals. More people than ever are discovering brands and shopping for products via their favourite creators; this is set to continue,’ he added.
Like we said before, the introduction of the Shopping tab on Instagram has not received the proper welcome users have given to other great features, and Twitter became the place to sound it.
Read said this reluctance will soon fade, as users will ‘adapt without even knowing they are adapting’.
Can you remember a time without Instagram Stories? We remember their introduction and the aversion to them – now it’s rare to go a day without uploading to stories.
It’s easy to see that the shopping tab will soon become the go to place to check what products are ‘hot’ right now, what influencers are wearing or using and brands will advertise for their customers to shop through there.
COVID-19 pandemic has disclosed two things really important for us as humans: Our natural desire for social connection and the necessity of strong communities.
Twitter told UNILAD that Twitter ‘communities’ and ‘dedicated spaces’ for topics is something it is keen to develop in the new year.
‘Communities and dedicated spaces for people to talk about what’s happening is something we’re looking at – community spaces where people should feel safe, comfortable, heard, and connected within their communities or shared interests,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Everyone around the world should be able to see what’s happening online and participate in the global conversation no matter where they are or what language they speak,’ they added.
The next year could also see the rise of longform video on our social media networks, Alistair Reid, senior social account manager at Mighty Social said.
And, as the world pplunged into lockdown, 315 million new users saw on TikTok a way out, as reported by SensorTower.
This trigerred the introduction of a slate of new features, such as the ability to go live for content creators.
One recent notification sent out to some TikTok users suggests that the platform will be rolling out the ability to create longer videos.
As TikTok remains shut to reveal more than needed, the social media platform said 2021 will bring an increased focus on its “live” function.
‘Despite the challenges this year has brought, we’re so proud that TikTok has been a home for community, creativity and joy in 2020,’ Rich Waterworth, general manager of TikTok in the UK and EU said.
‘Looking to 2021, we expect to see even more of this on our platform, whether it’s creators using our LIVE function to connect with new audiences, or new and exciting product features, like updates to Duet and Stitch, which enable even greater creativity,’ he added.