Searching for the latest social media trends for your business? There are plenty of ways to tap into the moment to set your business up for long-term social media success.

In 2020, social media was pretty much the only way small businesses could keep in touch with their customer base. As a result, small business owners became uber-focused on trending topics. What they saw was mostly divided into two trends: radical authenticity and pure escapism. Pure escapism led to short-term boosts in metrics, while radical authenticity helped those gains last and made followers more loyal.

How can you harness both to gain the advantages of these trends?

1. Show, don't tell.

A picture is worth a thousand words, and nowhere is this more evident than on social media. The Content Marketing Institute notes that adding images to Facebook posts yields 2.3 times more engagement, and adding images to tweets generates 1.5 times the engagement.

You probably have a photo and video studio right in your pocket (hint: it's your smartphone), and freemium tools like Canva and Animoto can help you create visually dynamic content that's ripe for sharing. The trick is to think about the most visually dynamic aspects of your business, then share those.

If you own a restaurant, the choice is obvious: your food. If you own an auto body shop, though, you might think about sharing pics of that great custom Cadillac you're working on. (As long as you have the owner's permission, of course.)

Taking a visual-first approach to social media is a great way to inject a sense of fun and escapism into your content.

2. Highlight your community.

If 2020 taught us anything, it's that the communities we belong to sustain us through tough times.

What your community means to your business is unique to you. You could be all about your ZIP code and making a difference where you live. For businesses owned by people of color, "community" might be about being part of a larger collective.

Whatever it means for your business, it's important to show how you relate and connect to your community. Advocating for your community can help nurture strong ties. Nobody likes a business that's just in it for the money.

Community-focused content is hot in the small business social media space. As a small business, you might not have the reach of a large corporation, but reaching a smaller, more loyal audience will create repeat customers and brand advocates.

Approach social media authentically, and you'll see rewards.

3. Showcase your support for social responsibility.

Purpose-driven businesses are all the rage, and nowhere is this more evident than in online communities.

Businesses that demonstrate that they don't exist simply to sell products but to leave a lasting impact on the communities they operate in are well-positioned for success. Even before the pandemic, this was a megatrend. More than 80% of consumers would pay higher prices if a brand were to pay its employees more or put the proceeds toward environmentally and socially responsible practices, according to a 2019 Deloitte poll.

Even if consumers aren't willing to shell out a few more bucks, they expect their favorite brands and small businesses to remain ethical. To tap into this, think about creating content that shows your business's approach to being eco-friendly or your support for Black- and Latinx-owned businesses and communities.

Content that taps into these themes can encourage engagement and shares, as consumers are keen to hear these stories and actively participate in them.

4. Show off your fun side.

There's nothing more cringe-worthy than a business that is trying too hard to go viral. How do you avoid looking desperate for likes and retweets?

Focus on the fun. Creating social media content should be about sharing stories and creativity with your followers, not how many likes you get. Your followers will pick up on what you're putting down if you're having fun and actually enjoying creating the content you're putting out—they'll also be keen on participating.

Having fun while you create your content—whether it's silly or serious—is a great way to ensure that it remains true to your brand.

5. Sync your social media strategy with an email marketing strategy.

If there's one social media trend that can provide your business with measurable value, it's acknowledging that data is power.

Small businesses are evolving how they showcase their brands on social media, but the platforms hold all the power, as any business that's tried to grow its reach organically over the past three years would know.

It's why many small businesses are turning to the humble email—with a data-driven twist. Many small businesses are using email marketing platforms connected to customer data to push out the right offers at the right time.

Which social media trends you participate in is up to you. Just keep your brand and authenticity top of mind—your customers will thank you in the long run.

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