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What can social content marketers learn from Shutterstock’s 2021 visual trends?

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New Year. New Content!

That’s what many social media marketers are thinking about as we start 2021. And, as you think about new content ideas, you need to think about visuals as much as text (even more so, really).

And, what better place to turn than one of the biggest repositories of visuals on the planet: Shutterstock.

They recently unveiled their emerging visual design trends for 2021 based on hard-core search data from their users. These were interesting to peruse on their own. But, then I got to thinking: These trends can and should inspire social content marketers as you think about what kinds of visuals to use this year in your posts on Facebook, Insta, LinkedIn and other platforms.

Sure, you’re still going to use photos of your products and your people. But, that leaves a lot of room to refine your visual game on social platforms.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the visual trends I think could impact your content strategy in 2021:

#1 – Surreal faces

Might seem like a strange trend for corporate American to take advantage of, but I can’t help but think of what the Wall Street Journal did a couple years ago here. You know how they have those sketches of the reporters in their bylines? It’s a WSJ staple. And, they offered that up to anyone a while back and you started seeing those “portraits” as people’s social media profile pics for a while. I could see some companies doing the same thing in 2021. What about asking your design team to make face line art out of that boring team shot you want to feature on LinkedIn? Or, a face paint portrait of the exec leader who was recently recognized for a big industry award? Seems like a stretch, I know, but man, it would be creative, on trend and a big differentiator (and would get people liking, commenting and sharing!).

#2 – Tie dye

We know, based on 2020, that nostalgia is trending. Big time. What’s more nostalgic that tie dye! I could see brands using tie dye as backgrounds for social posts featuring quotes or clips from media placements. I could see companies working tie dye designs into branded templates. Lots of options to incorporate here.

#3 – Identity Unfiltered

You’re definitely going to see more companies featuring diversity in their people images in 2021–mostly in advertising. But, that should show up in social content, too. And, not just racial diversity, but gender and sexual diversity, too. Brands will start making conscious choices about what kinds of people to feature in their social content. This will be a big one–and it’s already happening in spots.

#4 – Inner Life

During the pandemic, it’s no surprise people are searching for more visuals featuring self-care and home hobbies, as noted above. So, why shouldn’t we see companies capitalize on that in the year ahead? I also think more of these visuals will be user-generated, as companies continue to struggle with sourcing photogaphy that hits on this trend.

#5 – Eccentric Animation

Animation might not be something every company can do–mostly due to cost constraints. But, it certainly is an interesting option at a time when many are struggling to produce original visuals. And, it’s interesting that the trend revolves around more fun, light-hearted animations–something many companies are usually loathe to do. The liquid abstract is another interesting visual trend I think companies could take advantage of–again, I’m thinking of post backgrounds and visual elements in branded posts here.

Note: Photo courtesy of Amy Hanson

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What can social content marketers learn from Shutterstock’s 2021 visual trends?

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