As one of the most effective marketing channels from an audience, reach and cost perspective, social media has witnessed a dramatic increase off the back of the global pandemic, lockdowns and work-from-home protocols.
Backlinko notes that social media has seen a 13.13% increase from 2020 to 2021, with figures now sitting at over 4.48 billion active users globally compared to 3.69 billion a year ago. With a mere 2.07 billion social media users in 2015, that’s an astounding increase of 115.59% in only six years.
Social media is now an even greater source of brand discovery and engagement and a channel that brands simply cannot ignore. According to Sprout Social, 55% of consumers learn about brands via the channel, with 43% increasing their social media usage in the last year to discover new products, and 78% willing to purchase from a brand after having a positive experience with them on social platforms. In addition, as many as 72% of brands use social media to inform business decisions and 91% of executives plan to increase social media marketing budgets in the coming three years.
While social media is a critical element in the future of marketing, it is ever-changing. Here are the four top social media trends marketers need to be aware of in 2022 and the foreseeable future.
The TikTok takeover
Since its inception in early 2018, the continued domination of TikTok in breaking download records is set to continue, with the platform fast becoming the go-to app for brands to connect with both current and future consumers. Many attribute its success to its algorithm matching, which some regard as better than any other platform at providing a never-ending stream of content that’s highly attuned to its users’ specific interests.
Celebrating one billion monthly active users in September 2021, its growth is unprecedented, with SocialMediaToday reporting that TikTok will surpass the 1.5 billion user mark in 2022. HubSpot and Talkwalker’s 2022 Social Media Trends report asserts that the term ‘TikTok’ saw a 61% increase in mentions year-on-year during the beginning of 2021, with the platform being the first non-Facebook app to record 3 million global downloads. Its intent to dominate the social media circles is evident, with ByteDance, the Chinese company behind TikTok, boasting about its ambition to challenge Meta’s universe and become the future Facebook.
Steer towards success by driving inclusivity and diversity
Driven by the immense global societal shift around equality and representation, brands and their advertising strategies are reshaping the world of media with creativity and authenticity. Including everyday people and audiences, who aren’t regarded as the traditional fit, adds a sense of relatability and a touch of humanity. Demonstrating inclusion and diversity in advertising is no longer optional, but an imperative, and the figures are evidence of this.
Facebook Advertising claims that 54% of surveyed Facebook users do not feel culturally represented in online advertising. This is alarming given that consumers can either make or break a brand, with Kantar asserting that 65% of consumers say that it’s important that the businesses they purchase from actively promote diversity and inclusion in their own business or society as a whole. It’s more than skin deep – they want consistent proof that brands are walking their talk.
The rise of social ads as cookies get crunched
Announced in January 2020, Google’s eventual phasing out of cookie tracking by 2023 will require brands to reimage how they will target their social audiences. The cookie-less future will mean that those that have profited from privacy-invasive data collection will need to rethink their consumer advertising approach, particularly in South Africa with the now-active POPIA. This means learning to weigh up the need for personalised services against the need for consent and compliance.
The phasing out of cookies poses significant issues for brands looking to target their ideal consumer. Research by GetApp paints the picture, with 41% of marketers believing that their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data. Further, 44% of marketers predict a need to increase their spending by 5% to 25% to reach the same goals as 2021, and 23% of marketing experts plan on investing in email marketing software on the back of Google’s new policy.
Metaverse – The evolution of the consumer connection
Considered as the internet brought to life and rendered in a 3D environment, the metaverse is an amalgamation of the physical, augmented and virtual worlds; and involves a shared virtual space where users are represented by virtual avatars, much like virtual universes that merge reality and the virtual world.
SearchEngineJournal adds that thanks to the push of new technologies, innovations such as virtual reality are quickly losing their ‘gameresque’ stigma and are considered to be the next technological revolution. Virtual reality’s shift now extends beyond the gaming sector to using the technology to create, explore, identify, express, collaborate and socialise. Prominent brands such as Gucci, Disney, Facebook and even Nike are creating virtual communities, content, assets, fashion, art, experiences and worlds, with the latter’s ‘Nikeland’ allowing users to live an immersive experience where they can participate in sports games, create avatars and dress them in exclusively virtual Nike clothing and accessories.
Much like the advent of the internet and the impact of mobile technology, marketers today will need to educate themselves on the opportunities that this new world presents and adapt their strategies to appeal to the technology-driven generation of the future. HubSpot and Talkwalker’s 2022 Social Media Trends report adds that the key to remaining relevant is through consumer intelligence, and by taking advantage of the unique potential that the metaverse can offer, brands can connect with their consumers on an even deeper level than ever before.
So what does that mean for social media marketing in 2022?
Brands need to rethink their marketing strategies, with their social media efforts needing to have a stronger focus to help them stand out from the abundance of content that appears across the array of platforms. Everyone on social media is now a consumer of a brand’s content, regardless of who the brand’s target audience is. It’s about embracing change and rising with the digital age.
This story was researched, sourced and compiled by the award-winning Eclipse Communications team.
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