POV: we’re all looking to move forward as individuals and society in this nearly post-pandemic world. As a result of the last two years, the way our societies, culture and economies function is undergoing a significant change. This new reality is reflected not only in our personal lives, but also in the social media landscape. It is driving a shift in our relationship and co-existence with the digital world.
So, where is social media heading to this year and beyond? From the advent of the Metaverse to in-app shopping experiences, here are our top social media trends to pay attention to in 2022.
Connecting through moods and feelings
Pink hues, pastel sunsets of the 80s and unfiltered photo dumps; in 2022, nostalgia and the ‘vibe’ culture will be everything when it comes to the social aesthetic. We will be seeing a new generation of social content that unites people through emotions, moods and feelings, not just simple interactions.
In 2021, we saw influencers, celebrities and creators sharing unedited photos and videos in a carousel post or reel, portraying their life in a raw and unprocessed way. In 2022, we’ll be taking a trip down memory lane with creators revisiting the early Tumblr aesthetic and curating nostalgic content that encompasses a specific feeling or mood.
The emergence of TikTok and ‘sound on experience' has changed the way we interact with sound and content on social media. Indeed, almost a third of 18-34s globally use social with ‘sound on’ more now than before the pandemic. Sound is not an afterthought anymore, in 2022 it will become central in creating content that aims to elicit a specific emotional response.
This means that we will be seeing brands curate their own mood and feeling on social media. We also expect to see creators setting the tone for their aesthetic when partnering with brands and vice versa. It’s not just about the narrative anymore, it’s about creating emotional moments through a carefully curated aesthetic.
Thriving digital communities
In 2022, we expect to see brands moving away from big influencers to shift towards smaller and more authentic digital communities. With social media platforms introducing features to help curators and community builders monetise their work and sustain communities, independent creators are increasingly shaping and driving the creator economy.
Indeed, 35% of social media users globally recognise ‘social media creator’ as a skilled profession – a number that rises to 47% among Gen Z and young Millennials (18-34s). To build authentic and truly engaged digital communities, brands should partner with creators instead of trying to build them from the ground up.
Social media platforms offer tools to facilitate this shift, with many platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and even LinkedIn introducing a creator marketplace that can help brands find personalities that are experts at creating meaningful content and offering a unique point of view.
As we’re seeing a bigger focus on social commerce, it makes sense for brands to invest in relatable and authentic creators who are driving engagement, nurturing engaged communities and promoting products and services.
Step up your social ads game
Many companies will be looking to increase their social ad spend in 2022. However, to make their ads stand out, brands will need to work harder and break new creative ground.
In such a self-aware social landscape, audiences are becoming wiser to the world of social media. Creating ads that resemble organic content and provide uninterrupted and unexpected experience on the platform will play a big role in 2022.
As TikTok’s tagline suggests ‘Don’t make ads. Make TikToks’, social platforms themselves are encouraging advertisers to create paid content that fits organically into their platforms. Pinterest also gently reminds its users: ‘Stop interrupting. Start inspiring’.
With so many new and established social media platforms, it can be challenging to know where to position your advertising efforts to get the best ROI for your brand. We’ll be seeing more brands experimenting with different channels when it comes to paid advertising, with TikTok increasingly becoming the top-priority channel.
Social commerce is about to explode
Social commerce is nothing new, but with increased social media consumption and online shopping, thanks to numerous lockdowns, it has revolutionised the way we shop. Although many consumers can now go to physical stores, shopping on social media continues to gain ground.
Using social media for every single stage of their purchase journey, shoppers will be expecting a seamless experience without leaving a platform. Therefore, in 2022, bigger brands should take advantage of the new social commerce tools, and experiment with online shopping experiences on social media, while smaller businesses should test more shoppable features across all platforms.
From product discovery, social-first customer experiences, click-to-purchase, and after-purchase support, social commerce will be at the forefront of smart social strategies that aim to drive online sales without any leaks in the conversion funnels.
This change also means that social platforms will keep rolling out and testing new features for social commerce, as each of them will aim to make their shopping features first-class for both consumers and brands alike.
Short-form vertical video is not going anywhere
In 2022, short-form vertical video will take over, thanks to TikTok and Instagram Reels. In the last two years, we have seen brands and creators utilise video to connect with their audiences on a more meaningful level, feature products, and raise awareness about causes that they care about.
Videos have always taken centre stage when it comes to engaging storytelling on social, but recently they have also been great at driving engagement and reach. Videos on Instagram get more engagement than other formats on the platform, and Pinterest reports a 240% increase YoY of organic video pins from 2020 to 2021.
With ‘sound on’ experience gaining more prominence, we’re also expecting to see more brands and creators experimenting with sound as a creative feature.
Vertical video, creator economy, and in-app shopping are all very exciting topics for 2022. Having a varied and media-rich cross-platform social media strategy will be very important for brands who want to be rewarded with great ROI.