Social Media Predictions for 2021

The Growth Report #38

Happy Friday!

You know what’s funny?

To me, the first 80% of a project or task always seem super easy. I get started, I am full of motivation. But then, as I embark on the last 20% shit gets hard. 💩

That’s how it went with today’s publication. I got up this morning, made myself a cup of coffee and started to happily type away. Towards 11am it was 80% written up. But the agony of writing these very last words for the intro, checking the whole document for mistakes and pressing send got procrastinated until this very last moment.

Why is starting something so easy and finishing something so hard?

Probably a topic for next weeks Reflections from the Trenches. 🤔

Anyways, now that you know how hard it was for me to get to the end of this sentence, I hope you appreciate today’s newsletter even more. 😘

But now, without further ado…


Today's topics:

📈 Marketing Trends
Social Media Predictions for 2021

⚒️ Tools of the Trade
Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

⛑️ Reflections from the Trenches
The Benefits of Constraints


📈 Marketing Trends

Social Media Predictions for 2021

It's the end of what has been a historic year on every dimension possible. Which also means, there is a lot of change ahead.

This week I read an interesting article by Greg Isenberg, who sold two community-based companies to WeWork, is a VC, as well as a growth advisor at TikTok. He talks about where he thinks social media is headed in 2021 and beyond.

Here is a short summary of the most important points:

1. There will be more censorship (Twitter) and less censorship (Parler)

While Twitter and other companies have been purveyors of free speech for decades, the current misinformation campaigns and fake news waves have forced these big companies to take on the role of deciding what information is correct and what is not.

And according to Greg, this will only increase over time:

What you are seeing is just the large social incumbents growing up from an untamed teen to a grown adult.

This in turn has led to a plethora of new companies sprouting up that operate with a radical “zero censorship” approach. Examples are Parlor, Gab, and Ello.

2. Community and commerce will converge

The places we hang out at online are becoming the same places where we discover and shop for products as well. Instagram Shopping is expanding and companies like Popshop (think Instagram TV turned shopping channel…seriously go check it out) are growing like crazy.

In Greg’s words:

The social internet will look a lot like the shopping mall of the 1990s. Is the shopping mall a social hangout or a place to transact? It's both. The social internet will make it natural to pay and play in the same place.

3. Audio Social Networks are Arriving on the Stage

I am incredibly bullish on this one. Apps like Clubhouse and Chalk have garnered world-wide attention (and millions of people on waiting lists) and are just opening up to the public. Also Twitter just announced they are beta-testing one as well. And there are dozens of new ones coming out every month. Like Angle in Switzerland.

And Greg predicts that there will be two major category players emerging: One for creators and companies who want to connect with their community, and one for audio conversations between friends and friends-of-friends.

4. Paying for social will become the norm

Greg comes storming out of the gates on this one:

Ad-models are out, paid social apps are in. We're going to see social apps that charge $5-5,000/month (yes, $5,000/month).

This has been a trend since 2018 and will accelerate like crazy in 2021. What's new is that there will be more of it, and people will pay more than you could ever imagine for a subscription to a community. For comparison: I am currently in three communities for different purposes and I pay a total of 20 bucks per month for them (not including some of the courses that have an attached community). It's just the most effective way to connect with peers and learn from people who have similar goals and interests.

Summary: It's getting "stretchy"

And this is the brilliant summary from Greg:

Everything is starting to stretch to the extremes; either extremely censored (i.e: Twitter) or non-censored (i.e: Parler). Extremely free (i.e. very obviously and unapologetically subsidized by ads, like FB) or extremely paid (i.e: OnlyFans). Extremely asynchronous or extremely synchronous. Extremely active or extremely passive. Extremely visual or extremely audio.

I know I hate predictions too and I am very reluctant to share them on here. But honestly, I am very confident the above ones are already happening at a big enough scale and with enough consumer momentum that we will see them come to fruition.

Whether that's gonna happen exactly in 2021 or not doesn't matter, but start thinking about those trends and you'll be ahead of the curve.


🛠️ Tools of the Trade:

Educational Resources and Inspiration for Marketers

Quote of the week:

“I’d estimate at least half of my frustrations with others are actually frustrations with myself for failing to set clear boundaries and stand by them.” - Scott Galloway

(more on this topic in the next section ⤵️ )

Marketing Education

  • The Flywheel - A fantastic publication that breaks down the growth mechanisms of companies like Zoom, Peloton, Stitchfix and Zillow.

Brands and Products that caught my eye

  • Zero Egg - You know I'm a sucker for well-executed food and beverage brands. "The Egg for Everyone". Just love their copy and visuals!

  • Perfect Recall - Lets you make highlights and video clips from Zoom calls. A dream for user research interviews and for extracting customer testimonials!

  • Fellow Ode Brew Grinder - All coffee aficionados will know the folks from Fellow. Well, they just came out with a good looking coffee grinder. What a beauty!

Interesting reads

  • Single Tasking - A worthy read on the topic of focusing on one single task at a time.

  • The Data of Long-Lived Institutions - Fascinating read on what enables companies and other institutions to survive for hundreds of years. Cliffhanger? 90% of them has less than 300 employees!


⛑️ Reflections From the Trenches

The Benefits of Constraints

Constraints are frustrating. Why should we constrain ourselves?

For many of us, freedom is the highest good.

We romanticize the ideal of ultimate freedom, infinite choice and being able to do anything at any time.

I know I have for a long time. But especially since we have started our company, I am starting to realize that this ultimate freedom can actually be detrimental to achieving anything meaningful. Because all of a sudden anything seems possible. We can work when we want, on what we want, and with whom we want. And on top of that, the more we do the more opportunities we get.

But as we all know, Barry Schwartz's Paradox of Choice says that as we increase the number of things to choose from, we increase the anxiety levels of whomever it is who has to choose.

In this case, ourselves.

The human mind is not suited to continuously decide among such a plethora of options.

Every shiny new opportunity that comes our way is a potential detractor from what we want, ESPECIALLY if we have not defined what we want.

And that's where self-imposed constraints come in.

Why and where to set constraints

Let's take the ice hockey field in the picture above. Without the boundaries there is no field, and ultimately no game of hockey. The boundaries define the rules of the game.

But it's important to note that it's all arbitrary. We make up the rules. There is nobody out there (who has the right) to tell us what our boundaries are. HOWEVER, if we don't define the game that we are playing and the rules of that game, somebody else will surely do it for us.

Not only do constraints reduce the cognitive load and anxiety of choosing, but they are also forcing us to make conscious decisions on what it actually is that we want. Constraints let us choose the "games" we want to play.

We can make constraints or set boundaries on all kinds of things:

  1. What to eat - "I don't eat animal products"

  2. What projects to work on - "I only work with non-VC funded companies"

  3. Whom to hang out with - "I only spend time with people around whom I like myself"

  4. Which media to consume - "I don't watch the news"

  5. What kind of content to produce - "I only write newsletters"

By setting those constraints, we automatically discard all future decisions (or at least make them a lot easier!) when it comes to those areas in question. Meaning, we don’t need to decide over and over who we are, what is important to us and what games we want to play.

And to augment the list above: In a recent conversation, Seth Godin laid out what he thinks are worthwhile boundaries or constraints we can set for ourselves before we start a new project:

  1. What are the resources you are willing to put into this? - money, time, emotional risk tolerance

  2. Who do you want your customer, user or beneficiary to be? - if you hate who you serve, you'll hate your project or business

  3. What do you want to get out of this? (side income, big cash out at the end, doing good in the world, just for your own enjoyment...)

These constraints are not at all about our ideas, projects or whatever. The constraints come first and then we can determine if and how our idea or an upcoming opportunity fits in there. If we do the reverse, the constraints are defined by the idea and not by what we actually want and by how we choose to live our lives.

Seth makes a good example regarding freelancers:

If you’re really a freelancer, you have no employees. You only sell your X number of hours a week. That’s all you get. But if at the same time you want to make $10 million a year, you’re going to be unhappy because you can’t really be a sole practitioning freelancer who’s making $10 million a year. So which is it? Let’s get really clear about why you’re doing this, who it’s for and what it’s for.

So what I have come to grip with, is that while constraints limit our overall pool of options, they actually increase our freedom within the few options that we do consciously choose.

And just as the edges of a puzzle lets us see the whole picture, self-imposed boundaries and constraints allow us to explore the edges of the map we are walking on without the risk of getting lost.


That's it for this week.

Enjoy your well-earned weekend 🏡

See you next week,

Sandro