How 2020 consumer spending habits will change social media algorithms in 2021


The numbers are in, and Influencer Marketing just got a LOT more valuable.

Even in the midst of an economic downturn, America saw the highest-ever rate of online spending during 2020’s “Cyber Week” – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. According to data from Adobe Analytics, Black Friday hit a new record with consumers spending $9.0 billion, an increase of 21.6% YOY (online sales hit $7.4 billion on Black Friday in 2019). In fact, Adobe expects Cyber Monday 2020 to become the largest online sales day in history at $10.8 billion.

In a recent survey, 82% of consumers report they’ve either purchased, researched, or considered purchasing a product or service after seeing influencers post about it on social media. Of course, the pandemic has certainly accelerated customers’ comfort with shopping online and various product delivery and collection methods. What’s clear now is that comfort with online shopping and influencer marketing campaigns has translated to increased sales across every vertical, and marketing experts and social media platforms are rapidly adjusting to keep up.

It’s certain that all major social media platforms will expand their offerings and tweak their algorithms to respond to these new patterns of customer behavior. In fact, it’s already happening. We’re predicting the following social media shakeups are on the horizon as a result of new 2020 consumer spending habits – Here’s everything you need to stay ahead of the algorithm changes coming in 2021…

2021 Algorithms will heavily weight social shopping behavior

We already know that the Instagram algorithm weighs engagement, interest, timeliness, relationship, and app usage when deciding what content to serve a user. In 2021, expect social platforms to heavily weigh users’ social shopping behavior. Influencer partnerships can help brands leverage this upcoming algorithm change to drive more highly-engaged consumers to their social profiles.

When Instagram added the shop button to its home screen in late November, it was more confirmation of what we already suspected: the lines between social media and eCommerce will continue to blur.

With the launch of Facebook Shops back in May, Instagram and its parent company Facebook launched themselves into the world of eCommerce in a BIG way. Now, with the shop button so easily accessible on the Instagram Home screen, the Instagram algorithm will adjust to track consumer shopping behavior to better inform the platform what kinds of content and ads to serve.

Brands looking to take advantage of this new algorithm change should absolutely increase their investment in influencer partnerships. Content that comes from a trusted influencer that a user has chosen to follow is proven to drive sales as well as brand awareness. According to Geometry Globalconsumers are 94% more likely to trust the opinion of an influencer over their friends or family when it comes to making shopping decisions.

Bottom line: It’s easier than ever to shop on social media, and now, users will be able to seamlessly shop while engaged in their social media experience without having to go off-platform.

‘Live Selling’ will be the next frontier

Additionally, expect to see more algorithm and platform updates related to Live Stream Shopping. Live Selling is a $60 billion dollar industry worldwide, but the US only accounts for $1 billion of that total revenue. We’re predicting this is the next major frontier for social media platform giants and expect to see shoppable live streams on all platforms in future.

In a sense, live selling is already underway in certain arenas; YouTube is currently testing a program that allows select YouTubers to sell products in shoppable videos, Instagram recently introduced ‘badges’ that allow users to donate to creators during live-streamed content, and Amazon Live already has a robust following that’s growing exponentially month over month.

Learn more about Live Selling and its predicted impact on American consumerism for 2021 and beyond.

Short Form Video & the Rise of Shorter Ads

Even though consumers are spending more time than ever on social media, we’re also seeing attention spans become shorter and shorter. This has given rise to the star of 2020: Short form videos.

With the explosion of TikTok and the release of Byte, Triller, and Reelsshort form video content was King in 2020 and the algorithms are adjusting accordingly. Typically when Instagram and Facebook want to see wider user adoption of a new feature, they will weight that feature more heavily in their algorithm. That’s why ‘Reels’ are seeing much higher than normal engagement than in-feed videos and even stories on Instagram. We expect this trend to continue into 2021.

Shorter attention spans also mean shorter ads…six-second ads, to be precise. A recent study from Magna Global found that six-second ads are just as effective, if not more so, as their 15-second counterparts. Consumers reported 6-second ads were more memorable and less intrusive, making them much less likely to be skipped over than 15-second edits.

Speaking of ads, expect more of them, especially when it comes to influencer marketing. Earlier this year Instagram initiated a program that allowed creators to monetize their IGTV videos by serving ads to viewers. Expect adoption of that program to expand in 2021 and to see more brands investing in short-form ads on social media.

2021: Consumer is King

2020 has shown us that the world’s spending habits have changed forever. Remember: social media shopping is not new, it was simply accelerated by the pandemic. Now that consumers are used to ordering everything online from groceries to luxuries, expect social media platforms to respond by adjusting their algorithms and their features to support those behaviours.

Want to utilise the power of Influencer Marketing with your next campaign? The Allegiant Media team can help! Contact us today to learn more about Influencer Marketing.

This article was originally featured on on December 15, 2020.