That time of the year is upon us again.
No, I don’t mean the gift-giving season, but the time when all social media managers must give their best in preparing social media strategies for the upcoming year.
It’s not simple to stay on top of the game because each year brings forth new challenges in a field as dynamic as social media.
Luckily many future trends in social media can be predicted.
To make it sweeter and worth your while, we’ve sprinkled some opinions from social media experts on what next year will look like.
So let’s get into it.
Just kidding, it’s not exactly the end, but marketers have to adapt.
Social platforms have been an essential asset for advertisers due to their data collection features. Even more so in the last couple of years when most businesses had to stay online.
That started to change in April 2021, when the iOS 14.5 update gave users the possibility to choose whether they allow tracking from apps like Facebook or Instagram. With 96% of US users opting out, the increase in user privacy resulted in unreliable social media ad measurement and reporting, and took retargeting off the table.
But the biggest change is yet to come. Google is planning to completely eliminate cookie tracking by 2023, which will greatly impact advertising on social media since over half of the global web traffic comes from Chrome.
So where do social media ads lie in this new data privacy landscape?
Brands that have been building their businesses relying on third-party data from social media will have to rethink their strategy. It’s time to build personalized relationships with customers and learn about them by asking the right questions.
Zero-party data is the future. You must persuade your customers to voluntarily give you contact information like email addresses or phone numbers and use it to personalize the ads you show to them on social media.
There are tons of ways to gather data. On-website quizzes, conversational pop-ups and surveys are just some of the methods. And you might be surprised by the information you unveil about your customers.
What became known online as the “cookiepocalypse” can be seen as an opportunity to create stronger relationships with customers, resulting in better targeting and more personalized social media ads that will probably perform better.
Shopping habits have changed significantly in the last two years. People have become more reliant on online shopping and are making fewer purchases in brick-and-mortar shops.
Social commerce was one of the biggest buzzwords in social 2021. This was partly driven by the global pandemic, amongst other factors. Nearly all of the major platforms rolled out significant new shopping features to help brands and creators create a seamless native shopping experience. In 2022, social media users will increasingly discover more products and services they can purchase as they tap or scroll through their feeds. Brands will quickly learn which products and shopping formats work best with their customer base, and the platforms will launch further enhancements and new features to help businesses drive sales through both organic and paid social tactics. Expect to see a lot more livestream shopping events on Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest in particular. A trend that has already exploded in Asia in recent years.
Social Media Consultant & Founder of Geekout
Although social media emerged as an ecommerce platform years ago, it’s just now coming into its own due to how the pandemic shifted business models.
Let’s take Instagram as an example. People can discover products on the platform’s explore feed and via shoppable stories or posts. And we’re all familiar with Instagram Shops.
Some brands can now offer complete Instagram shopping experiences in-app without going to a third-party site, thanks to the newest Instagram checkout feature that is currently in closed beta testing in the US.
But it’s not just Instagram that welcomes social commerce. TikTok partnered up with Shopify to allow in-app purchases, directly from videos and seller profiles, and Pinterest promotes shopping on the platform through product pins.
Out of 813 unique respondents surveyed by wyzowl, 69% said they’d prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a short video.
I think we can all agree short-form video content reigns supreme on social media. We see it on all platforms, and—let’s be honest, it’s the content we engage most with.
Short videos’ long history on the internet takes us back to virals like Charlie bit my finger or Double rainbow. But today, it’s TikTok’s massive rise in popularity that confirms users prefer short video content.
By far, the most significant social media trend in 2022 will be in how to leverage short-form video. Whether it be TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, Pinterest Idea Pins, or even Google Web Stories, being able to create engaging short-form videos that last between 15 to 60 seconds will be critical to obtaining visibility in the news feeds of almost every social network today.
Author, Digital Social Media Marketing Speaker, Consultant & Coach at Neal Schaffer
However, standing out in an oversaturated social media environment can be quite a challenge.
Simply creating video content, especially short-form vertical video, is not enough to thrive. You need to perform thorough original research and bring a unique angle to stand out in a noisy “ocean” of posts.
Head of Content at VEED
Like any other type of content, short-form videos should be, above all, relevant to your target audience. The more you know your consumers, the easier it will be to create video content that drives engagement.
We’ve come a long way since TikTok’s release in 2016, and it’s pretty clear it has become one of the biggest social media players on the market.
Moreover, platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest have released competing features, namely Instagram Reels, YouTube shorts, and Story Pins, which evolved into Idea Pins.
From being the next cool platform teens and young adults spend their time on, TikTok quickly became the platform that B2C and B2B brands use to reach their audiences.
In September 2021, TikTok reached 1 billion monthly active users, a massive growth from the 689 million monthly active users it had in January 2021.
Hootsuite’s Digital Trends revealed that at the beginning of 2021, TikTok users spent an average of 13.3 hours per month in the app, which speaks volumes about the app’s user engagement.
This proves TikTok will become even bigger in 2022. Some might argue that it will surpass Facebook and become the top social media platform in the world, which is unlikely to happen next year since Facebook’s active user count is at 2.853 billion monthly, according to Hootsuite’s data.
“Channel-wise, 2021 was the year in which TikTok stood at the front and center of social media experiments. In 2022, it will transition from a channel to experiment with to being included in all weekly editorial calendars.”
Chief Marketing Officer at Planable
tl;dr perfectly describes users’ behavior on social media. Though the acronym refers to written content specifically, users tend to have the same attitude when interacting with other types of social media content, including image and video.
Claims that the internet is causing people to have a shorter attention span than a goldfish are questionable, but here is a fact for you: everything is fast today.
So, naturally, social media users want information, and they want it now. And bite-sized formats allow users to get the information they need immediately.
Snackable content like carousel posts usually performs better than posts with lengthy captions or posts with links to blog articles. The average engagement rate for Instagram carousel posts is 1.05%, higher than that for video posts and photo posts, surpassing even that for all post types.
More and more brands will come to terms with the idea that they should focus on making quick and easy to consume content in the upcoming year.
94% of Gen Z expect brands to take a stand on important social issues and it comes as no surprise as they are known for being passionate about diversity and inclusion. Given that Millennials share many traits with Gen Z, it’s safe to say they also share this view.
As a result, more brands begin to tackle issues centered around their specific target audiences in social media content. This goes beyond simply portraying diversity (e.g. multiracial people, body positivity, etc.) in visual content to appear more inclusive.
Action-driven people who are passionate about a certain issue are much more likely to follow like-minded brands. Empty promises are not going to work with them. But raising awareness through social media content and even acting on social topics will. Simple deeds like donating to a cause or promoting a non-profit organization will go a long way.
The trend taps into people’s need to create personal and meaningful connections because brands must listen closely to what their customers are interested in to stay relevant.
Brands that align their values with those of their communities by addressing important social topics make people want to stick around and be part of those communities.
Deal with this trend carefully because picking issues that come in conflict with your brand might lead to a PR crisis.
Sometimes employees are the best brand ambassadors.
According to SproutSocial, 71% of marketers see value in employee advocacy as a cost-effective alternative to influencer marketing.
Authenticity goes a long way. People want to relate and feel connected, and it’s much easier for them to do that with a person rather than a brand. 2022 will most likely bring a surge in social media content that features employees.
Employee-centric content can include pictures, interviews, quotes, podcasts, and many others. It can be posted directly on the brand’s social media accounts or on employees’ personal accounts, only to be later shared on official brand channels.
LinkedIn is the most suitable platform for employee-centric content, so brands should consider building a strong LinkedIn presence for their employees in the upcoming year. Communicating through people within the company, who have actual insight into how things work behind the scenes, will humanize the brand and boost engagement on social media.
Social Media Manager at Creatopy
Besides being an effective marketing tool, this type of social media content is an excellent way to promote company culture and can serve recruiting purposes by attracting potential applicants.
It can be successfully used as part of the recruiting and retention process and can prove pivotal in a time where remote work is slowly becoming the norm and company outings are scarce.
The virtual society that we call the internet has always been packed with various tight-knit communities. What’s different now is that they are more powerful and louder than ever before.
Social media platforms spare no effort to help communities of all interests thrive. TikTok’s extensive amount of niche content, Facebook’s groups, and Twitter’s communities, all contribute to bringing together people who share the same passions.
And brands are here for it.
With more people hoping to join the creator economy, 2022 will see brands encouraging eager social media communities to create content that they can use on official brand accounts.
Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to consider user-generated content more authentic than branded content. While brands deliver great results with little to no cost, users acting as influencers get one step closer to their goal of monetizing content.
Micro-influencers offer an easy way for brands to gain access to niche communities. It comes down to finding the right ones and discussing collaborations meant to engage their respective communities.
Whether it comes via regular social media users or micro-influencers, community engagement is steadily becoming a commonly used social media strategy that we can expect to see more of.
You should get comfortable being in front of a live audience in 2022 because social media users crave the intimate connection that only a live can provide.
This dynamic trend has spread like wildfire in the last few years. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Linkedin—they’ve all incorporated live streaming features onto their platforms.
Moreover, we’ve witnessed the emergence of social media platforms centered around live streaming. Clubhouse launched in March 2020 and created quite the commotion among social media users. All of them wanted to try the invitation-based app and listen to live podcasts on their favorite topics.
Live shopping, which is a fusion of live streaming and social commerce trends, has become extremely popular in China. Facebook is already working on bringing this trend to the western markets with their newest live shopping events.
Pinterest has also dipped its toes in live shopping waters by hosting live-streamed events with shopping features earlier this year.
With all these events pointing to live streaming growing, we’re excited to see how it will evolve in 2022.
Based on social media data released in July 2021, Facebook is still the leading platform globally, with 2.853 billion active users monthly.
Although closely followed by YouTube and Instagram with 2.291 billion and 1.386 billion active users monthly, it is safe to say that Facebook will continue to be on top in the following year.
TikTok is another worthy opponent coming up from behind, but with its 1 billion active users (as of September 2021), it is not likely to take Facebook’s crown next year.
It’s well known that Gen Z sees Facebook as one of the less cool social media platforms, and it’s losing ground even amongst Millennials. Although Facebook’s decrease in 12–34-year-old users is bound to continue, the platform won’t completely lose touch with younger audiences.
Despite the recent negative press coverage, Facebook continues to develop and add new features, like live shopping events and digital currency wallet Novi (currently available only in the US) that draw users in.
Ephemeral content has been around for quite some time but still hasn’t lost its appeal and will continue to be big in the year to follow.
This type of content is available only for a short amount of time (24 hours for Instagram Stories), so users feel compelled to engage with it while they still can, on account of fear of missing out.
While Snapchat was the pioneer of ephemeral content, and Instagram and Facebook merely adopted the trend, the two soon became the leading platforms for ephemeral content.
The latest Stories data published by the Facebook company shows that more than 500 million people use Stories every day, and 1 billion Stories are shared every day across the Facebook family of apps, which includes Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.
It’s not at all surprising that Instagram keeps releasing new features for Stories, most recently replacing Swipe Up with Link Stickers and introducing the Add yours story stickers. The two additions are intended to drive community engagement, and fuel the ephemeral content trend.
Instagram’s success with stories drove other social media platforms to add similar features. Such is the case of Twitter Fleets that were introduced in November 2020 and were removed from Twitter less than a year later, in August 2021, because they didn’t attract new users as Twitter had hoped.
Nonetheless, content with a short lifespan elicits prompt responses and increases user engagement, so we’ll keep seeing a lot of it in 2022.
According to a study conducted by PwC, 71% of consumers prefer to perform queries by voice rather than typing, and more than one-quarter of the global online population uses mobile search on their phones.
The truth is voice search is much more convenient, especially for mobile users.
Users search by talking to their phone as they would to another person, so, unlike regular search queries, voice search queries use natural language. They usually include long phrases and questions starting with “who,” “what,” “where”, or “how”.
We’ll see an increase in leveraging voice search to drive more engagement on social media. Professionals and brands will optimize their content to provide clear answers to queries using a conversational tone.
Google is currently negotiating deals with TikTok and Instagram to index their video content in search results, thus providing the proper context for this trend to catch on.
All the more reason to write your social media content with voice search in mind.
Trends come and go, but one thing is sure—you should always offer a tailored social media experience for your audience.
Let this be your compass when navigating social media trends territory.
Whether you decide to follow them or not, it’s good to stay up to date with the latest changes in the industry, and you can view trends simply as a way of doing that.