New Year, New Social and Digital Media Trends

The desire for authentic, value-driven, connected content continues to be a mainstay.

2021 in balloons

New Year, New You… as the saying goes.

Here we are in 2021 and as I reflect back to 2020, I’m met with memories of uncertainty, pivoting quickly and often, creating lots of social media updates regarding operational status and impacts, doing our best to connect with audiences and keep them informed of rapidly evolving information, the countless Zoom/Teams meetings, and all of the other challenges that go along with communicating as a brand during a pandemic. But we made it work. It wasn’t easy. And it still isn’t but I’m forever grateful for my team and campus colleagues for working collaboratively to create an environment of digital togetherness during the COVID-19 era.

The #CSUSocial team took most of 2020 as a hiatus from our Social blog to focus our attention on COVID-related content but we are back and ready to write!

New Year, New Blog Design

A benefit of taking a many months-long hiatus from blogging gave an opportunity for our site to undergo a design refresh. Big shout-out to Devin Koncar on the CSU Web Services team for designing us a beautiful new site and for Arnesh’s work to optimize it.

New Year, New Content

The #CSUSocial team will aim to bring you our takes on social and digital media industry trends, emerging practices and strategies, and pointers and resources delivered to your inboxes on a monthly basis. We’ll provide some framework for basic social media management hygiene along with advanced resources for SEO and social media strategy.

New Year, New #CSUSocial Team Members

Thrilled to introduce Hannah Tran as our team’s newest member. Hannah is an extraordinarily talented visual storyteller and I look forward to sharing her work with CSU’s social audiences (and you!). In addition to Hannah, get to know the Social and Digital Media crew including our brilliant team of student interns and vloggers.

New Year, New Trends

2020 was a year that drove people to connect virtually more than ever before. Here in 2021, the desire for authentic, value-driven, connected content continues to be a mainstay. I really do enjoy reading digital communications trends forecasts at the start of each year. The following three trends stand out as areas of opportunity for #CSUSocial and the broader higher ed communications space.

LinkedIn a Key Connection Tool

“LinkedIn has gained more traction in the last year, becoming a space for community and conversations through shifting dynamics. With so many people looking for new work opportunities, they’re joining the platform to market themselves and their skills. Because it is so professionally-focused, you can target users in your advertising more confidently. LinkedIn is the platform to watch for generating awareness of your organization.” – Jarrett Way, Mighty Citizen

LinkedIn continues to be an engagement powerhouse. While not as flashy or exciting as some other social media platforms, LinkedIn is a key connection platform for CSU, particularly with alumni. We’ve seen steady increases in our monthly page views and impressions, and are always quite amazed at how many comments we get from our LinkedIn community. The types of content that get the most engagement are typically feature stories that spotlight members of our community and university rankings and accolades. Beyond an organic content strategy, we are experimenting with paid social ads in this space to raise awareness of the university’s profile and academic offerings.

I also thought it was interesting that the Mighty Citizen article pointed to the growing distrust of big tech including Facebook and Google as a possible influencer in LinkedIn’s growing traction.

Instagram’s Carousels Drive Engagement

Nearly one in five Instagram posts today are published as carousels, and they will keep being a top engagement driver. A carousel post is when you can post a mix of up to 10 photos or videos as a single carousel that users can swipe through on Instagram. Beyond serving as a clear engagement driver, it enables brands to share more imagery and context within a single post. Carousels are a regular tool in our #CSUSocial toolkit for Instagram. Recent CSU Instagram carousels include Fall 2020 Commencement and public health reminders.

Short-Form Video Content on Instagram Stories and Reels

“While Instagram Reels is a new feature, Instagram users have already shown that they enjoy bite-sized content: there are over 500 million daily Instagram Stories users. The shift to short-form video content could be an effect of shorter attention spans, the ease of shareability, or the ability to go viral. With Instagram Reels, brands and creators and create educational content, showcase their products or services, and have fun in a creative way.” – Monique Thomas, Later

Stories are extremely helpful for increasing your brand’s awareness and reach on Instagram. #CSUSocial’s Instagram Stories content calendar gets booked quickly. During the school year, nearly every weekday is scheduled with new Instagram Story content. We have found Stories to be a critical way to connect and inform students of campus-wide updates. We also collaborate with campus partners on Instagram Story takeovers which are quite popular.

This year, we are looking to build out an Instagram Reels strategy. The pandemic has impacted campus visits and tours and we think we can show snippets of the university using Reels as a way to bring campus views to folks scrolling on their devices. We recently published our very first Reel courtesy of Hannah. More to come!

2020 was no doubt one for the history books. Looking forward to seeing how the social and digital comms environment continues to evolve in 2021.