US Social Trends for 2021

eMarketer’s Predictions for the Year Ahead

About This Report
From the growth of TikTok and of social commerce to the challenges of brand safety and the cookieless future, 2021 will be another year of big stories for social media.

Executive Summary

After a tumultuous year that included a divisive US election, a pandemic, and racial justice protests, will 2021 be quieter for social media? It’s not likely. Here’s what we expect to happen.

What one word is at the heart of three of the biggest trends in social media in 2021?

That word is “video.” From user-generated short videos on TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Snapchat Spotlight to livestream commerce to the evolution of social media Stories, we’re expecting video of one form or another to be central to the next generation of social media content.

Will there be another social media ad boycott?

Brand safety will remain top of mind for social media advertisers, and we think at least one major marketer will let their money do the talking by cutting ad spending on some platforms (even as others, such as Unilever, return). But completely abandoning a platform like Facebook will be difficult, especially as the cookieless future draws near.

What will happen in social commerce?

We’re expecting lots of developments as the social platforms evolve their commerce offerings. But we don’t expect many consumers to complete transactions directly within social media.

How will influencer marketing evolve?

In our inaugural forecast on the topic, we expect that more than two-thirds of marketers will use influencer marketing in 2021. Influencers will play a strong role in marketers’ livestream commerce activities and will continue to be go-to partners for user-generated content (UGC) marketing initiatives.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report features our 10 predictions for social media in 2021.

KEY STAT: As the social entertainment trend takes root, more than one-third of US social network users will use TikTok this year.

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Debra Aho Williamson


Blake Droesch
Junior Analyst
Jasmine Enberg
Senior Analyst
Andrew Lipsman
Principal Analyst
Natalie McGranahan
Senior Researcher and Taxonomy Manager
Rini Mukhopadhyay
Forecasting Analyst
Nicole Perrin
Principal Analyst
Peter Vahle
Forecasting Analyst