Social media is now a well-established communication channel, marketing platform and everyday feature of people’s lives. As we move into 2022 and several well-known social media platforms mature, the face of how social media is used and what it offers continues to evolve. Combined with rapid growth and increased platform adoption spurred on by prolonged lockdown periods due to the coronavirus pandemic, social media has undergone some unprecedented changes over the last few years – and its continuous shifting in scope is unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
So, what’s next for the main social media channels, and how can marketers optimise their usage of them? Let’s investigate…
What’s next in 2022 for the ‘Big Five’…
The channels known as the ‘Big Five’ in the world of social media marketing are Facebook (Meta), Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn. Now considered mature platforms, these five channels have all been in place in this top ranking for several years, with each facilitating marketing for different audiences in different ways.
Facebook is still the biggest social media channel on the planet, with 2,910,000,000 monthly active users as of December 2021. In October 2021, the company announced its re-brand to Meta; combining its channels (currently Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger, Watch and Portal) into its self-proclaimed ‘Metaverse’. While it’s likely to take a good few years for Meta to launch wholly and to reach its potential, for now the biggest change both brands and consumers can expect to see is rebranding and reiteration of the new brand. It’s expected that AR and VR solutions will continue to grow in popularity in line with the Metaverse’s development, but this concept really has yet to hit the mainstream and so while brands will need to be aware of the opportunities that may arise from it, there is yet to be vast business conveniences from it this year.
Within the channel that currently forms Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg has confirmed three changes for the year ahead. The first is a “re-tooling” for the site to serve “young adults” rather than optimising to fit its existing customer base of primarily older people. It has been confirmed that the desired outcome is for “services to become stronger for young adults” – tapping in to the same audiences that other channels have benefitted and profited from so well over the last few years. The other two priority areas of development for Facebook through 2022 are commerce and ads. New commerce tools have already begun rollout across some territories, and the changes to ads are expected in spring 2022. While exact details for these have yet to be confirmed, it is expected that such shifts will work to further promote the commerce opportunity; expanding potential for businesses across all Meta channels at once.
How are brands best to approach Facebook in 2022?
Those who don’t already have an audience frequenting Facebook should begin to investigate the potential of Meta, as this is likely to open up new target segments (particularly youngers ones) as it grows. Businesses who already have a presence on Facebook should strategize to maximise on the new commerce features and integrate their Instagram presence using Business Suite. Currently, Facebook is the preferred platform for Generation X consumers (those born between 1965 – 1980) but 2022’s direction may shift this – and so new networks and opportunities may need to be explored for businesses with this audience.
Twitter has an unfortunate reputation for staying somewhat behind-the-curve when it comes to trends, profits and value – but 2022 could be the year they finally turn it all around. Investors have long been wary of the network and it continues to lag behind its competitors in terms of growth, but new features have finally been announced; and the departure of co-founder Jack Dorsey may have opened development opportunities. A ‘super follow’ feature is currently being trialled in some territories and the acquisition of newsletter platform Revue is expected to bring in some form of collaborative tooling. New monetisation tools have also been hinted at, which may finally open up the value of the network to relevant organisations.
How are brands best to approach Twitter in 2022?
Businesses have long struggled to monetise Twitter but if 2022’s analyst predictions for the network prove true, now is the time for businesses to at least establish a presence on the site. Those looking to grow their CRM lists should also investigate the options Revue will bring.
Instagram has continued to enjoy popularity over the last year but has also courted plenty of controversy. CEO Adam Mosseri declared in 2021 “Instagram is no longer a photo sharing app”, but the slow adoption of Reels amongst users failed to reassure brands that it had much on the horizon. Now having shared his plans for 2022, Mosseri has doubled down on its video focus; with more Reels functions on the horizon, a timeline that prioritises video content over static and promised transparency around the algorithm serving video. Instagram Shopping is also likely to further develop through 2022 – particularly for brands who are able to embrace video and work with it. Instagram is now, of course, part of Meta but it seems unlikely that its full integration into the Metaverse will happen within the next twelve months.
How are brands best to approach Instagram in 2022?
Those using Instagram must pivot to video content – and fast. Business Suite remains an easy planning and scheduling tool across Meta networks and Instagram Shopping continues to rely on a Facebook presence, so this should be utilised as much as possible. Brands considering using influencer marketing should remain up-to-date on the latest ASA and CAP regulations regarding declarations – these are likely to be updated throughout the year and a new ‘name and shame’ approach is seeing companies publicly slated for not following them.
YouTube has felt the pressure of increasing short-form video content competition over the last two years, as well as video content creators abandoning the network in search of an easier creation method. In 2022, the channel is setting its sights on the live-streaming market rather than attempting to compete with the likes of Twitch rather than looking to take on TikTok. Improved live-streaming functionality could attract a whole new audience and whole new sector of relevant brands to the platform, although how this will pan out remains to be seen. Industry outlook seems to be positive and upbeat, but we have yet to see firm plans put in place.
How are brands best to approach YouTube in 2022?
Businesses whose model works well with live streaming can benefit from establishing themselves on YouTube if they haven’t already. Monetisation remains fairly simple on YouTube and the expansion onto the platform for such companies isn’t likely to lose them anything.
More of a ‘networking’ site than traditional social media, LinkedIn remains the primary platform for professional cross-industry intersection online. A whole host of new features are set to launch in 2022 in a bid to keep professionals using the site, including Stories, live videos, carousel images, video meeting functionality, photo frames and AI integration into hiring processes. The opportunities for marketers through LinkedIn are becoming increasingly more apparent for B2B companies but there remains growing interest for B2C, too.
How are brands best to approach LinkedIn in 2022?
Companies looking to hire in 2022 should utilize LinkedIn’s tools to find appropriate candidates as well as promoting their benefits as an employer through the new content options. It’s worth noting that traditional workplace practices may not be well-received though – analysis suggests that more Brits than ever are looking for a four-day working week and more flexibility.
A sixth ‘big’ network?
TikTok has snowballed in popularity and was the most downloaded app of both 2019 and 2020, worldwide. Even though it only launched in 2017, TikTok was the seventh-most downloaded app of the 2010s – and has now been downloaded over 3 billion times. Projected growth is set to see TikTok become the third most popular social media network in the world in 2022, adding a sixth name to the line-up. TikTok is currently the most popular social media network amongst Generation Z (those born between the mid-to-late 1990s up until the early 2010s) and so brands looking to work with or sell to this audience must be present on it.
While the brand opportunities for TikTok have only become apparent over the last year, the potential of such a widely used network can no longer be ignored by marketers who have yet to move to it. TikTok trends are fast-paced and so businesses need to be agile in their approach to using the platform. TikTok ads are increasing in functionality, and therefore success, for businesses but the use of influencer marketing in this space should not be ignored: with micro-influencers having an average engagement rate of around 17% compared to 4% on other platforms!
How are brands best to approach TikTok in 2022?
If your business isn’t yet on TikTok – join, immediately! There’s plenty of opportunity for B2C companies to get creative on the network and to create ‘on-the-spot’ content, taking advantage of trends as they happen rather than relying on long-term strategy and campaigns alone. A dynamic and vibrant person will be best placed to manage this channel, and brands shouldn’t be afraid to break their usual mould with this content.
The demand for Authentic Content
The trend for more ethical consumerism is unlikely to abate any time soon, and authenticity is key to gain consumer trust and custom. Brands should keep their story-telling genuine and relatable. Some of the most relevant content forms for authenticity are spoken ones such as podcasting and video, allowing consumers to hear and understand a company’s mission and benefits. Editorial plans should involve testimonials, stories and real human connection.
Increased Demand for Voice Search and Audio Content
Customers are busy, and brands are busy – but the expectation for constant content consumption remains. Demand for voice search and audio content are at an all-time high to allow for multi-tasking as well as for increased accessibility. Businesses who don’t already have content accessible for and responsive to these needs should adopt it as a priority: the easier it is for customers to consumer their content, the better.
Video or Image-based Content?
While the priority for social media networks has long been image-based, algorithms such as Instagram are moving toward favouring video. Now easier to create than ever, video content is accessible to more businesses than ever and need not be a resource-heavy task.
Exactly which type of content is most relevant for a business remains dependent on their audience; and so, knowing who they are, what they want, which channels they are present on and how they best consume content is critical.
TikTok vs. Instagram
Crossover remains between the audiences of TikTok and Instagram, and certainly the latter is looking to increase competition between the two. Currently, both platforms offer differing functionality and there are advantages to each, dependent on the business audience. While Instagram offers more versatility, both are great networks for influencer marketing in their own right. Currently, Instagram offers more strategic opportunities but companies who are looking to target the audience across both should work with each individually, utilizing their strengths and optimising their potential for marketing and sales.
Creators are Kings
Influencers and content creators remain the kings and queens of marketing across social media and are well-trusted with an increasing degree of respectability. Now more regulated than ever, the power of influencer marketing continues to grow, and brands should work with them where appropriate to create personable marketing content. The new celebrity endorsement is influencer endorsement and when the right fit is found, the results can be astounding.
The key to successful social media marketing is as ever – knowing the appropriate messaging and method for the audience. Presenting where the target audience are and speaking to them in a way that resonates with them is crucial… and from there, progress through 2022 on social will prosper!