Social media is becoming even more important in our everyday lives – there are over 4 billion users of social media, including around 45 million (66% of the population) in the UK alone. The move of consumers to online services combined with a new tech-savvy generation means that embracing digital marketing will play a more crucial role than before.
To prepare you for 2022, here are some of the trends we believe will have the biggest impact.
Paid content will become primary
Organic reach is in decline – the average organic reach for a Facebook post is about 5% and is likely to continue decreasing with Apple removing Facebook tracking on their devices and the obsolescence of third-party cookies in 2023. Therefore, paid social media advertising is becoming increasingly necessary to outreach to your target audience with it being more difficult to harness a large audience with organic content. Organic content is primarily going to be seen by an audience that already follows you. However, social media platforms allow for paid advertising to be customised and personalised using data, so you can choose who, where, and when to show your ads.
Short, snappy videos
Short videos are now in vogue. TikTok was one of the fastest growing apps in 2020 and 2021, growing 173% this year, and other social media platforms have begun to incorporate similar features (Instagram Reels, Snapchat Spotlight). TikTok was the first app other than Facebook to reach 3 million downloads, and will remain relevant for the foreseeable future, with the app favoured by millennials and Gen Z, and studies estimate that 82% of all online content will be video content by next year. Needing to distil content into short, memorable clips to capture an audience means that creativity in marketing campaigns will be key, providing a higher rate of engagement by accessing trends and capitalising on waning attention spans.
However, that doesn’t mean long-form content has fallen out of fashion. Live audio chat rooms such as Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces are rising in popularity, and more than 74% of businesses are planning to invest in social audio content in 2022. Social audio is not the only thing on the rise – 25% of adults in the UK regularly listen to podcasts, up from 18% in 2020, as they are easily accessible while multitasking and give the feeling of authenticity, where the listener is joining the host on a discussion. Similarly, livestreams provide an unmatched intimacy and insight into the creator’s world, and a direct line of communication with the creator. Utilising long-form content means you have more time to convince an audience and sell a product, as long as they’re already interested.
Authenticity is key
Perhaps the most valued quality on social media today is authenticity. Micro-influencers with fewer followers have higher engagement rates relative to cost than celebrities. Many micro-influencers can be hired for the same cost as a single celebrity while having more interaction with their followers and a more diverse outreach. They also tend to be part of online communities with shared interests. By being more relatable and niche, they are able to reach a better targeted audience. Furthermore, micro-influencers can create content themselves, such as short videos that offer a better insight into your importance and relevance to them, sharing it within their communities, making them ideal targets for long-lasting partnerships.
As consumers place value on authenticity, businesses must follow suit. Social responsibility has become a huge talking point and consumers expect promises of inclusivity and sustainability to be followed through, and there are standards of transparency and communication that have to be met by businesses. It’s no longer enough for brands to come out in support of social or environmental issues without actively engaging with them. Today, businesses are expected to commit to ESG programmes and sustainable pledges, and their employees must share these values or risk reflecting negatively on their business.
Don’t forget the customer
The pandemic increased online shopping, with social commerce becoming the norm. 81% of consumers use social media to research their purchases and there will be an estimated 100 million users of social commerce by 2023. More people aged 16-24 this year used social networks to research brands than search engines, and by turning social media platforms into an online storefront, you can capitalise on that market. With features such as Facebook Marketplace and the ability to buy goods on Instagram, it has become more important to provide a streamlined, easily accessible virtual shopping experience.
However, the shift to social media means that online customer service has to be stellar. Now that customers have become accustomed with using online services to make purchases, they also expect prompt, efficient communication. Using social media to contact brands is far easier than calling them, and it’s vital to provide accessible, helpful interactions. After all, communicating with your customers is the best way to receive feedback and improve your business.
As TikTok’s popularity and influence on trends and product placements skyrockets, so does its range of features. TikTok have been developing their ecommerce options, announcing a partnership with Shopify and allowing livestream shopping events with further features to come, while encouraging users to create content marketing products themselves, reducing the need for ads and making promotion appear more authentic. With TikTok as the leading trend-setter across social media today, this could be the future of social commerce.
It’s important to adapt as the values and needs of customers change. Customers need to be heard and engaged with; services may be moving out of the real world and onto our phones, but having that human connection is more necessary than ever.