2022 Social Media Trends

We’ve been deep into the Age of the Consumer for some time and the pandemic is accelerating social innovation.
Digital Marketing
November 18, 2021

Your customers want more personalised content. They want faster service. They want better experiences. And they want it all now.

For your brand to survive, you will have to listen to, and respond, to their demands. Here are the Social Media Trends for 2022:

1. TikTok will take over social media, leaving other platforms to adapt

TikTok awareness has grown greatly since its inception. Conversations grew steadily until the end of 2019, and the app then spiked in popularity as people spent more time indoors during the pandemic. A 61% increase in mentions year over year during the first half of 2021, converted into new users, making it the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion global downloads.

How consumers are driving the trend

TikTok has caused quite a stir since it first started making waves, and large brands that take an interest are profiting from the new app. Many brands have turned to TikTok to keep their audience during COVID-19, moving from ads to more direct forms of consumer interaction. TikTok’s success is driven by consumers themselves, and companies that are listening to their customers will fare better in the long run.

We’re also seeing TikTok content diffuse regularly across other platforms, demonstrating that it’s a medium that consumers engage with on an omnichannel level. Inspiring other channels to test content to match. Consumers have committed so fully and quickly to TikTok that other social media platforms have had no choice but to follow. For instance, Instagram Reels took inspiration from TikTok’s platform, and just recently, Reddit rolled out a video format that is strikingly similar to TikTok.

2. Social ads will develop, as cookies get crunched. The cookie is dying

Advertising has come a long way, and with social media, brands are able to reach larger audiences than before, increasing brand awareness and engagement. This past year, social platforms have become a huge asset for advertisers to reach consumers in a more personal and direct way. The internet’s ability to collect billions of
data points on users is an absolute gold mine for brands. Advertisers have realized the importance of social ads and how crucial they will be moving forward.

How consumers are driving the trend

49% of internet users say they’re likely to buy brands they see advertised when browsing, creating a huge opportunity for advertisers to grow through this tactic. However, success here hinges on your ability to deliver personalized ad experiences that speak to needs or ideas that consumers already have in mind. User expectations for ads vary across generations, so the trick is to gain a deep understanding of your audiences’ preferences and build your strategy around them.

3. Social selling will simplify the customer journey

As social media platforms are starting to provide e-commerce merchants with new shopping features, channels such as Instagram have become synonymous
with social media influencers. These influencers endorse brands through strategic partnerships, promoting their products and services to their large, loyal follower bases. This influencer marketing push marks a big opportunity for brands to align their products and services with relevant influencers to meet new audiences in a place where
they are already spending most of their day. If you’re not already considering this strategy, now is the time: 69% of marketers plan to disburse more money on Instagram
influencers than any other market this year.

How consumers are driving the trend

To get a consumer’s attention and keep it, brands are having to think outside the box and get creative. Livestreams have become a popular way in which consumers can interact and even purchase products immediately. The more you know about your consumers, the better you’ll be at creating content that attracts them. As brands catch on, you can expect more shoppertainment content on social media platforms.

4. Post-pandemic content will shape up to consumer needs

Although text conversations have the highest amount of results, engagement per mention tells a different story. Text results receive 0.91 engagements per mention while
images receive 2.85 and video results receive 1.5. Media consumption trends have been accelerated by the lockdown. With consumers stuck at home, they’ve turned online for information, entertainment, and connection. This has driven an uptick in content creation, to fill the growing demand. Consumers want stories shaped for them, not only containing the information they want, but also in a style they want to consume. This led to a particular increase in live audio and video - a format that
was already loved, but now with added interaction and engagement. Brands will have to expand their content strategies in 2022 and beyond, both identifying the content, and style of content, their consumers need.

How consumers are driving the trend

Content demands adapted as people’s lives changed. The shift from working from the office to working from home, meant people wanted more personalized experiences shaped around their lives. As that situation flips again, expect demands to expand again. The traditional 5-day office week is no longer guaranteed, so brands will have to offer a broader catalog of experiences to meet a broader range of lifestyles. To keep ahead, successful brands will have had to keep their ears open to fully understand their customers.

5. Omni channel engagement will change the way consumers engage with social media

There are over 8 million results of misinformation in online conversations since the beginning of 2021. Misinformation continues to affect our day-to-day conversations, regardless of the industry. The visual below plots mentions of misinformation alongside various industries over time. Media (dark blue) continues to grow in this respect, as both traditional media and social media are the channels through which misinformation spreads, and also the ones that must challenge it directly.

How consumers are driving the trend

While bots are sometimes used to perpetuate fake news, internet users typically play a huge role in the spread of misinformation online. A recent study revealed that lack of attention was the driving factor behind 51% of misinformation sharing on social media. With this in mind, brands should keep close tabs on what their audience is reading and believing and commit to sharing factual information that builds consumer trust.

6. Maturing influencer marketing will finally come of age

Influencer disruption was already starting to happen, but the pandemic definitely sped things up. The incredible growth of TikTok, “unfiltered” or unscripted content, and the rise of everyday influencers have all witnessed huge breakthroughs in a short amount of time. The Influencer Marketing Hub’s 2021 survey reported 67% of respondents are using Instagram for influencer marketing. As the line between social media and e-commerce becomes increasingly blurred, influencer marketing connects with consumers, allowing brands to flourish and see immediate results.

How consumers are driving the trend

The pandemic led many consumers towards influencer communities - a valuable source of infotainment when other traditional mediums, like live theatre and cinemas,
weren’t available. This has led to the growth in variety and value of influencers - more influencers, with larger, more relevant audiences. Influencers are able to reach consumers on a level that many large brands simply cannot - with nearly half of consumers depending on influencer recommendations before purchases. Increasingly,
everyday people are becoming influencers, and it’s this understanding of what consumers want that will continue to drive this trend in 2022.

7. Brands will lead in social media decentralisation

Moving into 2022, consumers will continue interacting through social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. However, it’s likely that we’ll begin to see
more brands -- specifically those in the travel, payment, and navigation space -- incorporate social components directly into their user experience. When consumers are able to interact with their social group in an app, the overall engagement and retention increases. Now they don’t have to go to their favorite social media channel to comment on that blocked road or message their friend thank you for paying for last night’s dinner; they can do so directly in these applications.

How consumers are driving the trend

Consumers no longer see you as a brand but as a connection. Expecting not just a service from you, but a way to interact, engage, and communicate. The option for brands is to either allow those interactions to happen offsite, through forums and social media, or to keep it within their own platform. This enables brands to better shape the conversations happening around them, while also gathering valuable data and insights around their consumer base. A social element within your products/platforms will be key in the coming years and help build that feeling of a brand community.

8. Metaverses will be the next consumer connection

More and more often, people in the gaming industry crave increasingly immersive experiences. Which explains why virtual words, such as those from Fortnite or Animal
Crossing, have performed so well. The four main games today that offer a virtual experience have amassed a strong online presence as seen when conversations are
tracked. Like many of the trends that we will see driving 2022, the inclusion of virtual reality is being spearheaded by the younger generations. This emerging trend is proof that offline and online experiences are slowly merging, creating even more opportunities for brands. A lot of the brands Gen Z players are invested in serve as
social spaces as well as gaming communities. These environments allow for creativity, collaboration, and competition, which is keeping it at the forefront of the
digital age.

How consumers are driving the trend

Virtual reality is a trend that will continue to be driven by consumers. Some are creating magical islands with their own rules, others are trying on clothes without entering a store, and some are benefiting from a more personalized digital customer service. The things consumers want and need will be varied and sometimes entirely different. The fantastic opportunity that lies in virtual reality and AR features is that it reduces the potential issues and barriers brands may have when trying to reach a customer. This is a huge asset to the retail industry, as shown when the iconic Brazilian flip flop brand Havaianas collaborated with the online battle royale game Fortnite featuring both physical footwear and digital in-game content. With VR, consumers can see products at their real size without leaving their home.

It’s no secret that we are collectively spending more time online. However, no matter how much technology progresses, humans will always be social
animals, and we navigate life orienting ourselves around interactions and relationships. The metaverse is a solution for how people will interact in the future, and brands that are properly equipped to understand consumer insights will succeed in this new reality.

9. Brand inclusivity will be brand critical CSR was big in 2020. Bigger in 2021

The pandemic has forced consumers to make changes in how they live their lives, and as a result, they want more from the brands they follow and buy from. Nearly three-quarters of CNN’s audiences value companies that behave more sustainably, but they want to see that it’s more than skin deep; they want consistent proof that brands are walking the walk. As a result, many brands are looking towards employees, consumers, and the communities they make up, not just
shareholders or top brass.

About 70% of employees claim they would not work for a company without a strong purpose, and this belief is affecting the way brands tackle brand inclusivity and
rolling out their campaigns in 2022. To be a part of those that witness success as opposed to stagnation, or even decline, you’ll need consumer insights to keep up with
the speed at which changes are now happening.

How consumers are driving the trend

Connection is the key to this year, and it’s more important than ever. Consumers have always held brands accountable, but in 2022 it will be almost inexcusable to forgo essential social issues or incorporate inclusivity into your marketing efforts and how you attack your content plan. Becoming socially conscious, inclusive, and aware won’t happen overnight; you need to put in the research, time, and effort to engage genuinely with your audience on the issues that matter most to them.

10. Communities will develop, and take control

Isolation and social distancing has increased our need to socialize and connect. 2022 will witness the continued increase of online communities, and these groups
will become more crucial for businesses to cultivate relationships and address their needs. The social issues that have been in the spotlight such as elections, the BLM movement, the #MeToo movement, sustainability, and many more have one major thing in common: they all have a driving force of communities behind them. A collective power that enables their cause, idea, or mission. Social communities can come together and grow, often very quickly, and successful brands will be able to tap into these communities with the right message and intention.Companies like Lunch on Me, EnrichHer, FounderGym, and Black Women Tech Talk amplify social communities and messaging.

How consumers are driving the trend

Consumer communities aren’t as passive anymore. With more ways to connect with like-minded communities across the globe, they are no longer content with
passively discussing their interests.

Instead, they have the dedication and people-power, to actively drive change. These communities are quickly identifying the issues they’re interested in as a whole, and
then taking action to change those issues. Expect to see more consumer activism in the coming year, with these stronger communities driving more change in
their markets.

More than ever, consumers need to be the focus of every piece of content, strategy, or campaign put into action. The secret to winning over your audience is engaging your audience, which is why it should come as no surprise that connection served as the underlying theme across the 10 trends outlined.

Consumer demands are high, but so are the opportunities. The brands that accelerate consumer intelligence to the forefront of their 2022 strategy, will be the true winners next year.

Source: Hubspot

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