Social Media Trends For 2021: Vertical Posts

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to highlight what I think are some of the top social media trends to watch for in 2021. By no means is the list meant to be exhaustive. These are just a few trends that I’ve noticed over the last year, and could be trends to watch in the year ahead. Enjoy!

Trend #1: Vertical Social Media Posts

If there is one social media skill you may want to practice for 2021, perhaps it should be creating and editing content for vertical social media posts. That’s because this style of content — introduced by Snapchat, copied by Instagram, and tweaked by TikTok — is spreading across social media, and beyond. Even Netflix is experimenting with this style of online entertainment viewing. So whether you like it or not, vertical posts are now officially a thing. Let me explain. 

Jumping on the vertical-post bandwagon

Creating social media posts in a vertical orientation — the way in which we all hold our phones — is definitely not new. Instagram famously copied Snapchat by introducing Stories in 2016 (and are now also available on Facebook). More recently, Instagram launched TikTok copycat Reels in August 2020. Reels and Stories both offer vertical posting opportunities, but differ in that you can add music and use other types of editing tools, such as countdown timers, in Reels.
But even outside of Reels, 2020 saw a number of other social media companies invest in new vertical posting features. This includes:
Snapchat also just launched an in-app TikTok competitor called Spotlight.

Instagram pushes Reels

Not only are more social media platforms investing in the vertical-post trend, but some are also putting it front and centre. For example, Instagram recently announced a major update to the home screen navigation to make Reels (and Shopping) more prominent in the platform. Now Reels is a tab in the bottom navigation. That means some of the other options — such as notifications and content creation — has also moved. And while some aren’t too happy about the change, to be fair, it may just be that Instagram realizes this is the future. 

Big growth on vertical channels

And not only are social media companies investing in vertical posting features, but platforms that mainly offer this type of content — like TikTok and Snapchat — are growing strong communities. Short-looping video app TikTok, which launched in August 2017, reached two billion downloads in 2020. And the app can also now put aside any fears over a U.S. ban now that President Donald Trump will be moving on in January. Meanwhile, posting and messaging app Snapchat just recorded its best Q3 since 2017. It says that 249 million people used Snapchat daily during the third quarter.

It’s all about entertainment

Part of Snapchat’s success is due to the original short-form shows it offers on the platform (which increased 50% year over year in Q3). And many recognize that this type of content is really about entertainment — and that includes streaming giant Netflix. It first embraced vertical video in 2018. But according to a recent article in TechCrunch, the company is now experimenting with a TikTok-like feed of funny content. Fast Laughs will offer short clips of comedy. It’s similar to TikTok in that it is full screen, offers engagement buttons on the right-hand side, and you swipe vertically (BTW: Snapchat is also testing vertical swiping).

Next steps

All of this just proves that this is a trend that can’t be ignored. And while you don’t need to necessarily rush out and get a TikTok account today, you might want to start thinking about how to adapt your content for this style of post.