In November, we launched our annual trends report - Think Forward 2021: The Social Reset. It features the six key trends that we expect to shape social media over the next 12 months. This post looks at the first trend covered in the report: The Simple Life. For more, check out the full Think Forward report here.

Lately, humanity has been pretty stressed out, and the events of 2020 have done little to ease the strain. As a result, the desire to pull back to protect what’s most important to us has been heightened.

People are investing more time in life’s simple joys – the calm of being in nature or the comfort of feeling part of a local community – and shifting the way they engage with their feeds, to complement and nurture these priorities.

Digital channels are being used to strengthen family bonds, from the surging trend for listening to podcasts together in the Middle East to the growing prevalence of co-creating TikTok videos in many parent–child relationships.

Meanwhile, Gardening TikTok (which sees people share tips and tricks for budding plant parents) speaks to a growing community of people who are translating ‘slow hobbies’ into the digital space.

Garden Marcus is leading the Gardening TikTok movement, which sees creators share tips and tricks for budding plant parents

The Behavioural Change
People are engaging more with their local communities via digital channels. Even as lockdown has eased, newly formed online spaces have been repurposed to organise neighbourhood watches, or simply to keep in touch.

People are escaping to simplified virtual realities. Those unable to escape the anxieties of life in the physical world are finding solace in virtual ones – from Facebook Groups where people pretend the pandemic isn’t happening to Animal Crossing – instead.

People are engaging with influencers who practise simplicity as a lifestyle. They're using social to share a renewed enjoyment of simple offline pleasures with global communities of like-minded others.

How can brands use it?
This shift calls for brands to demonstrate their own engagement with, and investment in, what’s important. On social, it’s an opportunity to use platforms to connect directly with consumers and what they care about. 

Brands can have cultural impact by celebrating the importance of the little things, not just the big things.

Digital channels are playing a growing role in how people engage with their local communities, so there’s also an opportunity for brands to celebrate and invest in those communities. Heineken has been using digital channels to crowdfund and keep independent venues afloat.

Heineken have been urging people during the pandemic to 'socialise reponsibly.'

Read about The Simple Life and five more trends for 2021 in Think Forward 2021. The full report is available to download now.