Social Media Trends for 2021: Heartwarming Content

In the first part of this series on social media trends for 2021, I shared Trend #1 — vertical social media posts. This week, we’re going to look at another trend that reflects our 2020 reality, but will continue to be just as important in 2021. Enjoy!


Trend #2: Heartwarming Content

When the @TwitterMktg account recently asked people to submit the best brand moment of 2020, reading the replies was enough to make me a little bit teary. That’s because many of the ones that people mentioned were heartwarming, emotional, and provided a light in the darkness that was 2020. 

You might remember some of these videos: Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” campaign honouring frontline health-care workers, Nike’s “You Can’t Stop Us” campaign that combined footage of sports superstars and everyday athletes, and Barilla’s “Tennis on the rooftop” with Roger Federer and two young fans.

On social media, we can’t forget to mention the most-liked tweet ever honouring the recently deceased actor, Chadwick Boseman. And then there was the time that Burger King UK, which asked people to order from McDonald’s to support restaurant staff.

Courage is Beautiful

But my favourite has to be the unexpected trio of Ocean Spray, Fleetwood Mac and Nathan Apodaca.

The video, posted on TikTok, featured Apodaca (@420doggface208) on his way to work.

His car battery had died so he grabbed his longboard, which he rode while lip-syncing to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac and drinking cranberry juice.

Not only did the post spawn a viral challenge that the Ocean Spray CEO joined (and many others), but sales of Ocean Spray went through the roof, and Apodaca (now an influencer) was given a vehicle by the company and made enough money to purchase a house. (Read the full story in the Huffington Post).

What do these examples have in common?

They are all heartwarming, and hit you in the feels. The entire world is going through an experience together that is challenging, stressful and makes everything feel a bit unstable. And while vaccines are in the works, there’s no sign that we’ll be able to throw off the masks any time soon. 

And so heading into 2021, social distancing and having to limit our face-to-face interactions will continue to be a challenge. This means that heartwarming content will continue to have a particular significance moving forward — and what better place to share that type of content than with your online community.

For brands, this means that if you can figure out how to join the conversation in a thoughtful, meaningful way that is on-brand, that social media content will resonate that much more with your clients and potential clients. Note: It does not mean just jumping on an issue or hashtag just because it’s trending. 

Some things to think about

Is there an opportunity for you to solve an issue for someone? Ocean Spray stepped up to help Apodaca get a car. Meanwhile, Apodaca’s post helped amplify the brand (which helped cranberry farmers) and brought Fleetwood Mac back to the top of the charts on Spotify.

Has anything happened in the news that you can comment on and offer your brand’s perspective — or help? Ice cream maker Ben and Jerry’s stepped outside of their regular brand posts to take a stand on the Black Lives Matter Movement. It’s help catapult the brand beyond it’s regular customers.

What are some pain points your clients have that your brand can speak to?For example, I have one client with an IT outsourcing company who created a Zoom vs. Microsoft Teams video in the early days of the pandemic. The video got thousands of views, and continues to be watched even now.

People are looking to connect with a brand that understands how hard things have been this year, and can provide some light and purpose. How will your brand show its human side?