2021: Social Media Trends and the Leisure Industry

A very happy new year to all our clients and readers! To kick-start January for you, we’re sharing some of our opinions and insights into upcoming social media trends in 2021 and what these might mean for us in the leisure industry. Which platforms will people be using, what content do they want, and how can we best use social media to reach our customers?


Will leisure operators start using TikTok?

With a growth rate from five hundred million to one billion users in the last twelve months, TikTok looks like an opportunity not to be missed. It has topped the app download charts several times in the past two years and enjoys the highest engagement rate per post across all social media channels. Its reach is highest amongst 18-24 year old females, so the platform looks ideal for engaging with generations Z, C, and Alpha.

‘Tiktok’ by Solen Feyissa. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

TikTok is not without competition, though. Instagram have launched their Reels product, a very similar copycat product on its well-established platform. With TikTok banned in some countries, like India, Reels will almost certainly see a huge uptake in certain regions.

Businesses are beginning to harness the power of TikTok, and the platform has responded by creating a business arm, much like Facebook’s, which enables brands to create and run advertising campaigns featuring their own TikTok videos.

Of brands using TikTok, PPC Specialist Ashleigh Brown says: ‘success on TikTok comes from product placement, branding, viral content, influencers and soft-selling techniques. Paid advertising is a new thing on the network and brands are still finding out what they can achieve with the products TikTok provides’ (The Drum). With Costs per Click averaging around £7.50, it’s an expensive place to experiment.

There hasn’t been a big uptake in TikTok by leisure operators yet, but they’ve also had other priorities to distract them in the past nine months. A potential barrier to TikTok is that its effective use requires those familiar with the channel itself – those who use it on a day-to-day basis to either browse and/or post. Younger members of a leisure team are more likely to understand the platform and have the best ideas for content, so look to engage with these staff for their input and get on a new channel that will talk to an audience you might be struggling to reach.


Another social media trends we’re going to be hearing more about is Facebook’s plans to integrate its three messaging platforms, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and eventually WhatsApp. This last step will see them secure end-to-end encryption on all their messaging platforms.

Uniting the platforms is taking place to enable a simpler customer journey when it comes to messaging, requiring the use of only one app instead of having to choose between three. As well as simplifying the messaging process between friends and family members, this merger will also make it easier for consumers to contact brands and businesses.

Leisure operators need to prepare themselves for an increase in enquiries on these channels and to ‘meet people where they are’. Facebook’s gold standard for response times is within 15 minutes, but operators should be aiming to get back to customers within an hour. Operating procedures may need looking at to ensure this level of responsiveness, alongside some additional staff training.


The final social media trend for 2021 that we’ll be looking at is the growth of eCommerce on social channels.

Facebook is currently rolling out its Shops feature, which makes it easier for brands to operate an eCommerce site within the Facebook and Instagram platforms. Businesses can create a ‘shop’ for free, which can then be hosted on Facebook and/or Instagram for users to purchase from. It’s an entirely separate entity from the business’s website.


Further, Instagram has recently introduced its Product Tagging feature, which allows business to tag a product featured in their Instagram content (be that a grid post, story, or Reel), so long as it’s able to be directly purchased through the company’s Instagram Shop or website.

With 55% of online shoppers making a purchase through a social channel in the last 12 months, it is certainly worth exploring how your online processes could be improved. Is there an opportunity to vend short term impulsive membership options alongside your regular online joining options, for example? When was the last time your reviewed your online sign-up process?

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