While social media is constantly evolving, there are some clear trends and changes we’re seeing rise to the top to define how shoppers and digital users will interact with social media in the coming year. What’s changing? How can brands take advantage of these changes to connect with shoppers? Read on for our top predictions for the year and what they mean for brands.
01 | Social > QVC
We’re doubling down on social commerce in 2022 as shoppers have continued to throw their cash at brands in social platforms, and we’ll see novel ways to increase spending.
It’s predicted that U.S. social commerce will more than double between 2021 and 2025, reaching a total value of $79.64B. That growth is already being fueled by Millennials (ahem, the social commerce junkies)—nearly half of U.S. social platform users age 18 to 34 will have made at least one social commerce purchase during 2021.
Part of the reason we predict this new shopper behavior will take off even further is because every major platform (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat & TikTok) now offers shoppable content, shoppable ads and/or a Shopify partnership, or has made an announcement to roll out these features.
Brands that want to see growth in social commerce should start adapting now–we predict we’ll see algorithm favorability for shoppable posts.
02 | The TikTok Copycat Movement
TikTok is to social media as Paris is to the fashion world. If you want inspiration or want to see what will be trending elsewhere in the future, look to what’s big on TikTok today. That’s what we’re seeing other social platforms doing. Starting with Instagram, social platforms will continue following the precedent TikTok has set, from algorithm changes and content to engaging features.
Following the success of Instagram Reels in late 2020, Meta launched several TikTok-esque features for Instagram Reels in 2021, including: text to speech, voice effects, remixing, “add yours”, usage breaks and in-feed “suggested” content. The parent company also rolled out Reels on Facebook globally in early 2022.
In 2022, TikTok-style content and features will only grow. Expect algorithms to continue trending in the direction of TikTok, weighing your follows in the algorithm but also serving suggested content.
Brands that want to compete should embrace the shorter, casual format, even if they aren’t on TikTok. Algorithms that also include “suggested” content (like Instagram or YouTube) will be more competitive for brands and become less reliant on followers. As a result, expect to tailor content more to general interests rather than loyal fans.
03 | The Continued Rise of the How-To Video
The how-to video format has long been a staple of social media but has become increasingly important in a pandemic world where users want to virtually engage with brands.
- 80% of users prefer how-to videos compared to other videos on Instagram
- #LifeHacks TikTok videos have drawn over 50 billion views
- For DTC brands, use of social video is a key tactic to driving sales, with an average 76% of viewers making a purchase after seeing a branded video
Over the past year, we’ve started to see a precedent for this trend as we saw a larger cultural shift in why social media users scroll: to calm down, versus previous behaviors driven by solution-seeking needs. Brands who are wanting to take advantage of this new cultural mindset shift should consider making some creative changes to their content in the coming year by focusing on:
- Showing humanity
- Including ASMR, soothing music, calm tone VO
- Adding transitions that feel pleasing and clip along at a quick, TikTok-inspired pace
04 | Social Care Is the New Customer Care
In 2022, social marketers will play a larger role than before in the customer service process. As people continue to become increasingly impatient and spend more time online and at home, social will become the preferred means of customer communication. We’re already seeing change among consumers social consumers:
- 64% of people say they’d rather reach out on social versus call a business
- 59% of marketers agree that social customer care has increased in value for them in the last year
Social marketers already spend a large amount of time learning to understand their social consumers: from who they are to what they want and when they want it. That coupled with an acute understanding of brand businesses gives social media managers the perfect level of knowledge to be able to handle customer care.
We predict this will come to a head in 2022, specifically because of the increased frustrations shoppers are feeling due to product shortages and supply chain issues. As shoppers look for more immediate solutions, they often turn to social media. Social is poised to take over other mediums as the go-to customer care center for both shoppers and brands.
05 | Leave a Comment Below!
Brands will continue using comment sections to make their accounts discoverable and approachable.
TikTok has been leading the way in new forms of discoverability as brands paint themselves as part of the conversation when they leave tongue-in-cheek, on-brand comments in the ever-popular comment section. This has been a major strategy for Duolingo on TikTok and has long contributed to account growth on Instagram.
Verified accounts also come up to the top on Instagram and TikTok, so brand comments have tons of visibility on popular videos.
The trend of comment sections is taking off in part because TikTokers are using the comment “reply” feature to catch eyes in-feed, allowing comments to reach even more people. When users search for a handle on TikTok, the first results are often the videos that are responses to that handle’s comments, because your handle is automatically tagged when someone replies to your comment.
06 | The Evolution of Influencers
Influencers are moving beyond pure product selling to becoming brand value messengers. Brands will need to find partners who can authentically tell the story of their brand values alongside their products, which are trending toward micro and mid-tier influencers as genuine value messengers.
In 2022, social media users’ relationships with influencers will shift. Social media users will seek more intimate relationships with influencers, placing higher value on micro (< 50k followers) and mid-tier influencers than on celebrities. Because micro and mid-tier influencers have higher engagement rates—up to 60% higher than macro influencers, with as much as 20% higher conversion rates—brands are able to build effective influencer programs for potentially less budget.
07 | Feed for Fun
This year, Meta platforms will lead the way in a category-wide shift toward algorithms that give social users more control over how they consume content. Nearly every social platform has announced slight changes to the way they plan to bring content to consumers in 2022. Instagram is set to introduce three different news feed views while Twitter has introduced the “super follower” subscription model.
Consumers wanting more control over their social media experience is nothing new, but as platforms adapt to changing user behavior, brands should expect platforms to continue rolling out more features that center around the user experience.
This also means that in-feed competition will get tougher. As consumers’ demands for how content is served to them increase, this means brands will likely become less visible in organic feeds.