By Lauren Thomas-Nehmy.

Social media coordinators and content creators rejoice! I’m letting you in on the (not so secret) social media trends to expect in 2022. 

If I’ve learned anything as a marketing professional, it’s that the industry constantly keeps us on our toes, but there’s no better time than now to delve into new opportunities for growth, creativity and strategic thinking. 

Take 5 minutes away from replying to facebook queries and re-sharing stories on Instagram, to get a glimpse into the trends to headline your social media marketing strategy in 2022.

Note: The following is based on research outlining some of the top trends conducted by leading industry figures. The list is not exhaustive of all marketing trends, more on that coming soon…

Trend #1 – TikTok will dominate the social media space

Are we surprised? 

Since its international launch in 2017, TikTok has taken the social media world by storm. Despite entering the game late, the short-form video sharing platform became the seventh most downloaded app of the 2010s, rivalling the king of social networking in the West, now known as Meta. Reels and Spotlight were launched by Meta and Snapchat to rival the app, but TikTok’s reign continues, becoming one of the fastest-growing platforms worldwide, and here’s why. 

Pandemic boredom

I first discovered TikTok when Australia went into lockdown in March 2020, and it seems I wasn’t alone. TikTok recorded 850 million downloads in 2020, bringing the total annual users to 700 million, up from 381 million in 2019. The world’s need for light-hearted and occasionally mind-numbing entertainment was at an all-time high and TikTok swooped in to save the day. 

Short-form video platform

TikTok stands out from the rest. Unlike other platforms, its primary form of content production and sharing is short-form videos. Speaking to Forbes, the General Manager of Fullscreen, John Hilldridge believes the success of the platform can be partially attributed to this niche. He says the app is seemingly made for today’s younger generation, who are glued to their smartphones. It’s appealing to their short attention span, plus the short comedy video clips are comfortingly familiar as it’s the same type of content throughout the app. Research by Hubspot also reported that as social media attention spans continue to shrink, ‘snackable’ pieces of content will be at the forefront of social media strategy.

Rise of content creators

The Instagram influencer boom has made its way over to TikTok, in the form of content creators. Most-followed creators such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, average 27 million views and 13.5 million views respectively, and in 2020 both recorded over USD $4 million in earnings thanks to their success on the app. It goes without saying, TikTok has cemented itself as a platform capable of generating worldwide success.

When evaluating how content creators will integrate with social media marketing strategies in 2022, Hootsuite believes their influence is crucial to brands understanding digital communities. Brands that partner wisely with creators are connecting with new audiences, earning their trust, and gaining cultural capital. Hubspot also suggests that influencer marketing will mature, as ‘everyday influencers’ continue to rise in popularity. Research showed that consumers found influencers more helpful and more trustworthy than brands during the pandemic. 

Digital Ads Strategist at Neon Treehouse, Rafi Ahmed believes the strategic approach to TikTok should vary depending on if the content is organic or paid.

“Organically, the key is to evaluate whether the demographic of TikTok users fit the target audience. If it does, TikTok is a must-have in order to not be left behind.” – Rafi Ahmed

However, Rafi is more reserved when it comes to paid advertising on TikTok.

“TikTok has some work to do with their targeting options as well as community guidelines. There is a real mix of under and over moderation and this makes running a paid campaign difficult.

“However, if brands do want to run ads, the best practice is to utilise the 9×16 ratio and have strong visual hooks. Users don’t want to see ads, the content should fit into the feed,” he said.

Trend #2 – Reaching new audiences will become the number one social media goal for businesses

Thanks to the pandemic, consumers purchasing patterns shifted to an online-first experience. As we head into the third year of lockdowns and restrictions, it makes sense that brands are evaluating how they can make the most of social media marketing to achieve their business goals.

In 2021, Hubspot research suggests social media marketing priorities sat with:

  1. Advertising products and services
  2. Increasing brand awareness
  3. Increasing revenue

In 2022, the primary focus is expected to be:

  1. Increasing brand awareness and new audiences
  2. Fostering relationships with customers and increasing brand loyalty
  3. Improving customer service and retention

Despite ever-tightening budgets, Hootsuite believes that marketers will have clear plans to invest more on social ads, with the largest increase in spend, relative to 2021, put towards TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat. 

Source: Hootsuite Social Trends 2022 Survey

Unlike Facebook and Instagram, these platforms are not saturated with advertising, but they also encourage marketing content to fit organically within feeds.

Client Strategy Managers at Neon Treehouse, Nick Jeavons and Marj Manlunas said their clients are keen to explore options on these platforms.

“There is an interest in emerging ad platforms where there is potentially the opportunity to achieve similar or better results for the same ad spend depending on the industry and objective(s).” – Nick Jeavons

“Most of my clients are hopeful of the lower CPMs on Pinterest and Tiktok, which helps them on the brand awareness front. This is especially applicable to products like shoes, events or even children’s activities. Pinterest seems to be a top choice as an ‘alternative’ platform.” – Marj Manlunas

However, consumers are holding brands to a higher standard when it comes to creativity and execution. To stand out from the pack, marketers will have to work harder to create ads that mirror and enrich the distinct experience each social network offers. Get it right and you’ll be rewarded.

Trend #3 – Companies will make more dedicated social media hires

I may be biased, but social media is undoubtedly a powerful element of marketing strategy. The opportunities that social media presents extends past brand awareness to impact purchasing decisions and generate revenue. As a result, Hubspot believes that companies will start to make more dedicated social media hires, opting for undivided attention in place of social media strategy being a side project of the marketing team.

Founder and CEO of Jotform, Aytekin Tank told Hubspot when social media isn’t prioritised, organisations miss out on the opportunity to optimise platforms and turn them into revenue generators. 

“A dedicated social media hire can help organisations grow platforms, be part of industry-specific conversations, experiment with new  trends and more.” – Founder and CEO of Jotform, Aytekin Tank, via Hubspot

Similarly, Hootsuite research suggests that the value of social media will be highlighted beyond sales and conversions. In 2022, leaders will amplify their employee advocacy programs, get better at using social to gather consumer insights and strive to deliver the level of impact they’ve seen social have on marketing, throughout other areas of their organisations.

With the world and industry constantly evolving and changing, it is likely we’ll see far more happen throughout the course of the year. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us, but a healthy challenge isn’t such a bad thing.

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