With most people vaxxed just in time for summer, we’re all emerging from our homes and trying to remember how to socialize again. Getting back to “real life” can feel strange, but it’s important to remember we’re all going through it together.

Now is the perfect time to regain a sense of community in our lives and rekindle social connections, both online and in person. Brands that are paying attention can capitalize on this shift by stepping up their social media presence.

Ready to get back out there? We’ve compiled the top social trends of 2021 to help your brand get back on track in a big way.

Trend #1: Livestreams

Livestreams gained popularity in 2020 as companies and employees worldwide went fully digital. People have become accustomed to interacting with brands online, so we expect live video to continue gaining traction post-pandemic.

Data shows that users are simply more interested in consuming video content if it’s happening in real time. It makes people feel like they are part of a larger community, and we could all use more of that these days. Brands are taking to platforms like Facebook Live to livestream concerts, workouts, Q&As, and so much more. It’s all right at your fingertips.

Trend #2: TikTok & Reels

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the latest video platforms taking the social world by storm. Video content continues to outperform static images, so this trend isn’t all that surprising. Although it can be intimidating to try to understand TikTok if you’re not a Gen Z-er, brands stand to gain A LOT of followers by creating content in these spaces.

Both TikTok and Reels offer viewers short, bite-sized videos for their scrolling pleasure, but content creators are really the ones benefiting. Forward-thinking brands can capture a younger audience’s attention by giving tips, sharing recipes, creating memes, and more—all in the name of building brand affinity.

Trend #3: Instagram Stories

This trend has already taken root in mainstream social media practices, but the content delivery format only continues to grow in popularity. As we mentioned, video content is outperforming static images, so we can expect to see an increase in videos through Stories. Instagram Stories offer an easy and interactive way to increase engagement with followers and gather information about your audience through the use of polls, survey questions, and more.

Plus, Stories disappear within 24 hours, which encourages more consistent engagement with your audience so they don’t miss a thing (FOMO is real). But here’s the most important rule to follow: Just have fun with it!

Trend #4: VR/AR

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have grown in popularity thanks to last year’s stay-at-home and social distancing orders during the pandemic. Brands were forced to pivot their marketing strategies and get creative to continue selling products completely online. That’s where VR and AR entered the chat.

Warby Parker developed a VR try-on tool that lets shoppers “try on” different frames in real time to see how they will look on their face. IKEA lets you see how furniture will look in your home pre-purchase. And makeup brands like Urban Decay allow shoppers to see how different shades of eyeshadow look on them, without a trip to the store.

Another fun and simple way brands can interact with customers is by creating fun, interactive branded AR filters to play around with. When someone posts using your filter, that’s some free marketing for your brand!

Trend #5: Authenticity, Inclusivity & Purpose-Driven Campaigns

This trend is a much-needed reflection of the global societal movements that are unfolding across the world in real time. Consumers today are more likely to support brands who take a stance on social issues and openly align with their values. Brands need to be bold and stand for what they believe in to appeal to their target audiences rather than attempting to remain vague and ambiguous to appeal to the masses, which is a definite shift from the perspectives of the past.

Nike was already doubling down when they released their 2018 ad campaign featuring NFL star Colin Kaepernick and his protests against racial injustice. Then, they released their extremely well received “For Once, Just Don’t Do It” campaign in 2020 to shed light on systemic racism in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. That’s a company that leads by example. And fortune favors the bold.