The social media landscape will always adapt and change as quickly as the world around us. So, while it’s impossible to predict exactly what 2022 will bring, we spoke with some experts about what they think the top social media trends of 2022 will be.
Nick Cicero, Vice President, Strategy at Conviva
Organic social is not dead.
In fact, it’s more important than ever to marry paid and organic strategies to acquire, engage, and retain social users. People go to social media platforms to consume content, not ads. How many times have you ever said, “Wow, I love that hoodie. I should go find some more ads to learn more about it”? Probably never, but you might look at the brand’s Instagram page or TikTok profile or search to see if any creators or influencers have posted about it.
In 2022, organic social is the place for people to discover more about your brand, dig deeper into who you are, understand your voice and what you stand for, and see how you connect with your community and the world around us.
Paid social fuels creative testing and amplification.
With the looming end of third-party cookies, marketers are going to spend 2022 finding newer methods to engage with their target audience. Paid advertising through social media networks will become a much bigger part of everyone’s marketing strategy, but not in the traditional way. Normally used to get as many eyes as possible on content, paid social will start to be used for testing and audience identification. As Facebook’s targeting capabilities become more sophisticated, smart marketers will use paid ads as a testing ground for their organic content. Want to know what message works best with your audience? Test it with an ad campaign targeted at specific segments of your audience. Want to reach a new audience you don’t currently target? Run a campaign to see if that audience will respond to your content.
Long-form and live video content will continue to dominate.
In Conviva’s Content Discovery report, “watching videos” ranked among the top activities on social media, with nearly three in five social media users saying they watch at least one minute of a video in a typical week and half saying they watch a full video.
But in 2022, we can expect to see more longer-format videos than we have in the past. TikTok recently expanded their video length to five minutes and Instagram Reels have been extended to 60 minutes, demonstrating that not only do creators want to make longer-form content, but viewers are also willing to engage for longer.
YouTube is the likely platform of choice for longer video content as viewers are spending more time watching YouTube videos on their big screens with more than 25% of YouTube’s watch time consumed on TVs and via connected devices in Q2 of 2021.
Live streaming grew tremendously in 2021. Instagram Live, Facebook Live, and TikTok Live are strong avenues for brands and influencers to engage with their audience, and their popularity will only continue to grow. Twitch’s explosion in popularity also speaks to the demand for this type of content. While much of the content on social is staged and curated, live streaming allows viewers to enjoy a more authentic, unedited view of their favorite brands or creators.
Live streaming will support ecommerce in a much bigger way.
2022 will see live streaming expand to support another essential facet of social: ecommerce. In 2021, Instagram took advantage of the December shopping surge to host a holiday live shopping series with top influencers and brands. Recently, Pinterest released Pinterest TV, a series of live videos covering fashion, beauty, home, food, DIY, and more. Naturally, Pinterest TV lends itself to fresher shopping experiences where viewers can see some of their most pinned ideas tested in real-time by their favorite creators.
Zak Damman, Vice President, Digital & Social Activation at Learfield
First-party customer data will be imperative.
First-party customer data will separate the haves from the have-nots. With cookie tracking consent in IOS 14 and beyond giving users the freedom to choose whether their web and social activity is tracked by advertisers, leveraging an existing first-party database and continuing to build it will be vital in 2022.
Natural short-form video will drive social creative.
Consumption of short-form video on both TikTok and Instagram Reels has exploded and will force marketers to develop a strategy to play in the space in a natural way. Gen Z can spot a TikTok ad from a mile away, so brand integration in native content that fits is crucial in developing brand awareness and conversion.
NFTs are here to stay.
Blockchain tech will become mainstream for brands and teams. Leveraging NFT technology to capture moments will become a unique way for fans to own a piece of history. In the sports industry, a highlight, photo, trading card, or even a tweet can be forever digitally owned by a fan.
Mimi Okojie, Associate Director Digital Engagement at San Antonio Spurs
More stringent limitations for music usage are on the way.
In 2022, I’m expecting even more stringent limitations around music usage and licensing. I see teams and brands leaning into more intentional usage of original audio, particularly with the continued rise of social platforms like TikTok and Instagram’s Reels.
Carmen Collins, Senior Social Media Lead at Wish
Quality over quantity will be the way on TikTok.
If we thought the organic Facebook reach-pocalypse was earth shattering, get ready for the TikTok version. Like every new social media channel, it reaches a turning point where the almighty dollar becomes the loudest voice. I’d recommend that brands start thinking about how that might change their strategy, and I think the right way to approach it is quality over quantity.
Instagram’s new newsfeed will shake up strategies.
I think the reordered newsfeed on Instagram is going to affect brands in a big way. If Instagram users start limiting their newsfeed to only their “favorites,” how are you, as a brand, going to make sure that you’re on that favorites list? You’ll need to start thinking through reasons your customers would want to add you to their favorites and then start educating them on why they should.
Michael Metzler, Senior Marketing Manager at Conviva
Vertical video will hit maturity.
No more shooting video in horizontal, square, or 5:4 and cropping it for vertical. For the first time, you can create a piece of vertical content and have it fit natively into every single social platform: YouTube Shorts, Snapchat Spotlight, Instagram and Facebook Reels, TikTok, etc. Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are incentivizing the use of vertical content by giving it priority in their algorithms. Brands will use these functionalities—Reels, Shorts, Spotlight, TikTok—to growth hack their account followings in 2022.
UGC will become more important.
While nearly every brand has their own approach to content creation on social, content generated by fans and average users tends to perform just as well, if not better, than content generated by brands. In 2022, we can expect brands to lean more into the content generated by their audience as a central part of their content strategy. Not enough can be said about TikTok’s influence in 2021, but the platform has also been a perfect space for brands to promote UGC. As a platform that thrives on content created by users, brands must adapt to fit the style and tone of content on TikTok, which tends to be more organic and less curated in nature. So many top brands have decided to amplify the best content from their community instead of trying to replicate it themselves. Starbucks has been a champion of UGC on TikTok, finding content that fits their brand voice and values, while also engaging with their community and encouraging more users to get creating.
Authenticity in brands comes to the forefront.
2020 and 2021 were a reckoning for brands in terms of their approaches to issues like climate change and racial justice. 2022 will see those expectations continue to grow. Users are no longer interested in seeing a polished, corporate personality applied to their favorite accounts. They want to see real people behind their favorite brands, and they want their brands to have a genuine passion in making the world a better place for all.
Tyler Brosious, Social Media Manager at New York Islanders
Content creation will change with changing platforms.
I think 2022 will be the year we really start to look at social platforms as separate entities. It’s impossible to treat TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and Twitter all the same, and I think the way we create content will change with it. I think you will see TikTok more treated in line with YouTube or a streaming service, something you are carving time out of your day to partake in, rather than a social feed.
Sean Cohen, Vice President Audience + Analytics at NRG
IRL live streaming strategies will get real.
As the outlook of the pandemic continues to build uncertainty in 2022, we are looking at how IRL live streaming formats will continue to provide an avenue for fans to feel closer to their favorite streamer, influencer, or player. IRL watch time grew to the fourth largest “game” type on Twitch in 2021 and did so through many different categories. We expect growth to continue and extend beyond Twitch into YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. The IRL format is also a strong foothold to ease into the VR/AR metaverse transition, by enabling viewers to see the potential value of feeling connected to other individuals through real-life activities or experience.
Subscription models will continue to increase.
Beyond IRL, we expect to see the rise of subscription-based models within social platforms to help creators grow and build their core communities. Twitch, Patreon, and Instagram already leverage these features, but we expect to see this proliferate because it provides a key value for creators while giving fans and viewers exclusive content and unique access. Subscription models also benefit the platforms as they encourage increased sessions per user and app stickiness, which are highly prized metrics in 2022, as users’ leisure time continues to be fragmented.
Kathryn Howell, Social Media Specialist at New York Islanders
Micro-influencers will be even more successful.
With the growth of TikTok, micro-influencers have emerged immensely, and I believe we will see their success even more this year. From artists, to entertainers, to the single parent you can relate to, each has a unique following that companies may want to utilize. Micro-influencers can help companies both reach new audiences at a lower cost but with a high reward and heighten their presence across social media platforms, especially on TikTok.
The only constant when it comes to the social media landscape is change, so the best piece of advice for any social media marketer is stay on your toes. Roll with the shifts in platforms and be willing to test out new strategies to boost engagement. Plan and use data to strategize, but don’t be so stuck in your plan that you miss out on the latest wave hitting the social space.