The Power of Foresight – Facebook’s 2021 Topics & Trends Report

Every year, Facebook surveys thousands of Facebook and Instagram conversation topics from around the world to understand what is on the cusp of going mainstream in the coming year. This year the social media company looked at behaviour changes during Covid-19.

Gabriel Gontijo, Head of Client Insight at Facebook presented the results of the latest study during MRMW North America 2021. Covid-19 brought a strong and drastic change in people’s lives, also impacting their behaviour. The vast majority, 98% of users say they have changed their bevahiour in some way. 90% believe the changes that developed during the pandemic are here to stay. (Facebook IQ, Covid-19 mindset)

For this year’s survey the company identified three categories where it sees the biggest shift in the United States. This will help marketers to better connect with their audiences.

Sustainability & action:

The recent survey showed a heightened interest in electric vehicles and also more support for brands that demonstrate environmental efforts. Sustainability reflected not only on cars but also fashion brands where consumers focus on brands that do not harm the environment.

“In the commitment to more sustainable alternatives consumers are supporting brands and retailers that are trying to reduce waste” Gabriel Gontijo, Facebook

Racial justice, for example represented through the black lives matter movement grew particularly strong in the US. The black lives matter movement is now being represented in over 2000 American cities. This growth is reflected by the growth in conversations over time about racial inequality showing a 4,4X growth rate. But consumers are not only talk but also action. Many users have donated to racial justice causes and campaigns on Facebook and Instagram alone raised 50 million USD.

So the recommendations for brands based on the above findings are:

  1. Take a stand by finding a cause that you can authentically support
  2. Be ethical and ensure your internal practices are aligned with your outward messaging
  3. Enable dialogue by engaging with your stakeholders in interactive formats


Consumers are increasingly looking at technology to help them run their daily lives. Especially during a phase where many are trying to reduce personal contact and avoid big crowds. A new way of shopping through direct selling and social selling is seeing a big growth. This is also reflected by the amount of time people spend online shopping. A study suggests that 41% of shoppers having tried one new digital shopping platform between September and October 2020. Conversations about contactless shopping have also grown globally – as much as 10fold in the US. In addition to shopping, Americans are also turning to mobile banking.

So how can brands tap into this new trend?

  1. Make it productive – people look to tech to stay productive and carry out daily activities
  2. Turn mobile into the watercooler – word of mouth is increasingly passed on through mobile
  3. Build empathy with simplicity – find way to build simplicity and convenience into your experiences


With less time spent in the office and physically at work, 25% say they are spending more time on hobbies during the stay-at-home period. Many say they are becoming more serious in their hobbies and aim to retain this for the future. Domestic travel is growing, since far to reach destinations are currently hard to achieve.

Another big trend Facebook discovered is audio. From the re-emergence of independent music to an increased use of podcasts. Many consumers also use music as background to other activities which is reflected by the strong growth that activity related playlists have seen. Gardening takes the top spot here with a growth of 440%, followed by music for baking at 120%.

These findings lead to the following recommendations for brands:

  1. Give people an insight into your product design work to tie them stronger to your brand
  2. Creative immersive experiences using technologies like AR, VR or podcasts
  3. Engage your customers into your design processes by letting them contribute their own ideas

To watch the full presentation, visit the MRMW video library containing hundreds of case studies from our MRMW events. Find additional case studies and the latest information about upcoming MRMW conferences at Sign-up to receive our regular newsletters, updates and special offers!

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Jens Cornelissen

Jens Cornelissen has been writing for over two decades – initially for general newspapers in his home country Germany. After receiving an MA degree in Communications, he joined a new media start-up in Amsterdam as consultant on new media technologies and country editor for two daily newsletters. In his current day job, Jens runs the global conference division for Merlien’s dedicated marketing research events. Jens is a trained journalist with a BA in Journalism from Westminster University in London and has authored several media industry reports and articles on mobile and media technology.

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