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Social Media Marketing Trends: Engaging Audiences in 2022

Social media has proven itself a valuable channel for marketers to reach, engage and convert customers. Yet if marketers are going to stay ahead of the competition, it takes more than timely social media posts. You need to stay on top of the latest social media trends to make sure you are leveraging all the opportunities available. Here are some trends to stay relevant in 2022.

The challenge is the realm of social media advertising is changing rapidly. New social media marketing trends are emerging all the time, and social media users are changing the way they interact with brands on the platforms.

For digital marketing professionals, the only way to ensure you are successfully engaging users through social media marketing is to predict the next big social media trends and position your company to capitalize on them.

Here are the top social media trends to know for 2022:

  1. Shoppable Posts

  2. Short-form content

  3. Agile marketing

  4. The rise of AR and VR 

Shopping on social media platforms

eCommerce has evolved beyond websites into the social media landscape. In 2022, with the momentum of the global pandemic, social media shopping, AKA social commerce, will emerge as the channel that will pay big dividends.

In fact, the number of social commerce buyers in the US has increased by 25.2%, reaching over 80 million - and that number is forecast to exceed over 100 million by 2023. 

Social commerce is where brands sell products directly within social media platforms. It goes beyond social media marketing, which drives the target audience to the website to buy, and instead the entire shopping experience happens within the social media platform.

Social shopping provides a ready-made audience for brands wanting to grow their reach and increase online sales. New users join Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other social networks every day at rapid rates. And every new user becomes a potential new customer.

Social commerce encourages communication with customers too. It provides an opportunity for feedback from customers, while social sharing can widen the net even more. 

Consumers are actually becoming more reliant on social shopping and purchasing features. In fact, an estimated 33% of consumers prefer to have a customer service interaction on social media over the phone or email. And about 42% of users who submit a customer service request on social media expect a response within just one hour.

Which social platforms should you focus on? Is it Instagram vs Facebook or are there other brands with skin in the game?

Instagram Shopping

Instagram is currently the most popular platform for social media shopping thanks to its inherently visual channel. If there's any platform that encourages browsing, Instagram is it: studies show 70% of consumers look to Instagram for product discovery, and 130 million Instagram accounts tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month.

While initially, Instagram didn't allow for direct buying on the platform, now its "Shoppable Posts" feature is an increasingly valuable part of a brand's social media strategy.

Instagram has upgraded the capabilities of Shoppable Posts so that they now include an in-app checkout feature. In other words, the customer never has to leave Instagram to buy their product.

Facebook Shopping 

As Facebook builds a collection of social shopping tools to help brands, many businesses are looking to the platform to reach target customers. 

Facebook Shops allows merchants to create a customizable store where consumers can shop within Facebook and Instagram. Facebook Shops provides dedicated places on the platform to make it easy for consumers to browse products and make purchases. You can add and update products, sell directly from your page, manage orders and shipping, and use Facebook ads to promote your store. There's even a messaging button so consumers can communicate with sellers and provide customer feedback or ask questions through the app.

Facebook is also looking at allowing consumers to purchase directly when a brand is live streaming.

Pinterest

Like Instagram, Pinterest focuses on visual discovery, which is ideal for social shopping. Pinterest features a visual search engine, Lens, which works with shoppable Product Pins. The Lens uses photos from the user's feed to find Pins that might interest the user and then makes suggestions of shoppable products, with a direct link to a brand's checkout.

And that's not all - Pinterest also offers Shop the Look ads that allow retailers to feature multiple products in one ad. Pinners can discover products related to a Pin's image and then click to check out on the retailer's site.

pinterest feed

Here's the thing: sellers can tag up to 25 items in a photo.

That opens up a massive opportunity for many brands to gain new customers and target existing customers for more sales. (Check out our Pinterest Ads Guide for more tips and tricks).

TikTok Shopping

In 2022 social media shopping will evolve beyond the major platforms and into the newer platforms, including TikTok.

The video-sharing platform has already made tracks in areas, including its partnership with Shopify. Shopify merchants can create, run, and optimize marketing campaigns on TikTok directly from the Shopify dashboard simply by installing a new TikTok channel app from the Shopify App Store. Native, shareable content can be created within the app that turns products into In-Feed shoppable video ads. 

Shopify and TikTok have also tested out a new shopping button to allow TikTok creators to link their Shopify storefront from their videos. Currently available to Shopify merchants in the US and UK, this is set to expand in the coming year.

This makes Shopify the first commerce platform to bring organic product discovery and shopping tabs to TikTok. In terms of social media trends, this is a big one to tap into for 2022. TikTok is one of the world’s fastest-growing entertainment platforms, with hundreds of millions of active users.

tiktok shopping

And who better to promote the new partnership - and all its benefits - than influencer Kylie Jenner. As she said in the announcement:

“I built my business on social media; it’s where my fans go first to look for what’s new from Kylie Cosmetics. I have so much fun creating TikTok videos, and I love sharing posts of my fans using the products. That’s why I’m excited for Kylie Cosmetics to be one of the first to let customers shop directly on our TikTok!”

Rise in B2B shopping on social media 

While the social media trends around shopping have been focused on B2C so far, with fashion, beauty and home interiors, business-to-business social selling is set to take off in 2022.

Currently, many B2B companies struggle with how to sell services on social media, but there's huge potential to tap into social media communities for B2B services - especially for those who sell subscriptions to software and applications.

Social media marketing can drive demo and free trial sign-ups - all it takes is targeting the platforms where your audience is already shopping.

Tips for shopping on social media

  • Activate a shop tab on your business profile by creating your first shopping post in-feed

  • Aim to feature more than one product in a post for higher engagement...but don't overcrowd the image with tags.

  • Mix up the post style - use images, carousels and stories to connect people to your shop.

  • Use complementary colours to create a visually attractive story that draws people to your products.

  • Be creative - use Instagram Shopping to announce product launches or sales.

  • Always keep the product front and centre - your goal is to sell!

 

Say hello to short-form content

There was a time not so long ago when marketers were told to invest in long-form content. Marketers would pump out lengthy blog posts, evergreen pages, guides and tutorials, white papers and ebooks, webinars and virtual events, pillar pages and more.

The longer a piece of content is, the better it will perform - or so the story went. 

However, short form content is again on the rise.

Short form content includes things like short blog posts, news articles, infographics, social content, and email marketing.

There are lots of pros of short form content:

  • It's an effective and efficient way to communicate message in short time period

  • Short-form content is quicker and less resource-intensive to produce, so you can do more of it

  • It's easier to read and is mostly mobile-friendly (which is great for Google) - 72% of consumers prefer videos to text marketing (Retail Dive)

  • Short form content is easy to share - people share videos at twice the rate of any other form of content (Wyzowl).

As with all marketing tactics, there are drawbacks to short form content too:

  • It's harder for brands to discuss in-depth topics in short-form content

  • Short form content can become very formulaic, which makes it more difficult to stand out from competitors

  • Interest and performance of short form content may decrease over time

Both short-form and long-form content have their place in a winning content marketing strategy, and both can be powerful tools in your marketing toolbox.

If you can use short form content well as part of your social media strategy, it can deliver great rewards - not least because short form videos are one of the biggest social media trends for 2022. A massive 63% of marketers say video content gets the best return on investment on social media (Animoto)

This is especially important if you need to engage younger generations. According to Think with Google, 71% of Gen Z spends more than three hours every day watching online videos.

Take a look at TikTok

Tiktok is a platform entirely dedicated to short-form videos. In the first three months of 2020, TikTok was downloaded 315 million times around the world and now has over 1 billion monthly active users. To put that into perspective, Facebook has 2.9 billion active users and Instagram has 1.4 billion.

It's been so popular that other social media companies are creating more options for short-form video posts too. Instagram launched Instagram Reels in 2020 to great success.

Reels allows users to record and post videos up to 30 seconds in length. The NBA found that engagement with their Instagram Reel posts was twice as high as with their regular video posts in some cases.

Not to be outdone, Youtube recently announced its “Shorts” feature for Youtube app users. Shorts are 15-seconds long and allow users to combine multiple video clips, adjust video speeds, and record with music hands-free.

As popular social media trends go, this is one that won't slow down in a hurry. By 2025, Google expects video content to increase up to 80% of all internet traffic.

Deliver social proof with User-Generated Content

With short form videos on the rise, user-generated content (UGC) naturally follows. This is booming one of the top trends in the social media landscape.

Here's the challenge - there's a disconnect between what marketers believe and what consumers really want, as a recent Stackla survey found:

consumers vs marketers

The reality is consumers are 2.4x more likely to say user-generated content is authentic compared to brand-created content.

Whether through micro influencers, customer advocates or celebrity endorsers, UGC is a must-have in social media marketing and is proven to significantly increase conversions for large brands and small businesses alike. It is also highly cost effective, because you can collect endless amounts of UGC without having your team generating all the content!

How do you add UGC to your social media strategy for 2022?

Tap into your social media community and ask them to create content.

Here's the thing: UGC doesn't have to be about your brand or product. It can also highlight lifestyles, values or trends that overlap with your brand ethos and audience.

For example, skateboard shoe and apparel retailer Vans often reposts videos of BMX riders, skaters, artists - so long as it connects with their anyone “Off the Wall” brand aesthetic.

GoPro is another brand that has won over audiences with UGC. GoPro is all about adventure and they invite people to share their adventures with videos. But they another have a secret to success - they’re very generous when it comes to incentives for participants.

In the Million Dollar Challenge, GoPro offers an equal share of $1 million to every clip that makes the cut in its year-end reel.

Micro influencers are set to dominate in 2022

Traditional influencer marketing has dominated the social media game for a long time. But now micro-influencers offer businesses lots of benefits that make them a must-have in social media strategies in 2022.

What makes micro-influencers different from macro-influencers?

They have a smaller number of followers (obviously). But they have a high interaction and engagement rate amongst these followers.

micro influencer

Also, micro-influencers have followers from a specific niche - whether that's a food blogger, traveler, fashionista, or a fitness guru - which makes them extremely attractive if your brand has the same niche.

One thing that is changing about influencer marketing is that it won't be campaign based in 2022. more marketers are focusing on "always-on influencer marketing".

This means the brand establishes a consistent presence on social media through the influencers that your target audience follows. Rather than your brand moving in and out of people's lives through different partnerships, you appear in your consumers’ feeds (and lives) during their moments of need. It's about building brand awareness through your influencers, so you are top of mind when that purchasing moment arrives.

 

It's time for agile marketing on social media

Agile has been a buzzword in many industries over recent years, and now it's come to the marketing world.

Agile marketing is a type of tactical marketing that draws on data and analytics to support solutions to problems and opportunities, by using tests, evaluating the results, and making fast changes. So, you can run multiple campaigns and ideas that are constantly adapting to meet your consumer needs and appetites.

How does agile marketing work with your social media marketing strategy?

The idea of agile is to use smaller cycles of work in the form of sprints (from 1-4 weeks) so you can react and respond to changes faster. So rather than planning a whole year of Instagram stories and sticking to it regardless, you use data to see what works best and continually adapt to suit.

To incorporate agile into your social media strategies, you need to:

  1. Create a customer first policy - your strategy should be about the customer over anything else.

  2. Measure the figures - use validated learning over guesses, conventions and opinions.

  3. Test and test until you succeed - think a lot of small experiments over a few large bets.

  4. Scale and iterate - it's not about big-bang campaigns.

  5. Embrace and keep up with changes!

 

Rise of AR and VR on social media

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are two emerging technologies that are set to have a strong impact on social media apps in 2022.

The technology has been promised to be the next BIG thing for years, but it's only recently that social media platforms (mostly Facebook) have started to invest heavily in augmented reality and reveal its potential for brands.

Facebook Inc changed its name to Meta in October in a rebrand that focuses on building the "metaverse", aka a shared virtual environment that it predicts will be the successor to the mobile internet.

Facebook augmented reality

The company has already invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality. It already offers a career and official certification in AR. As Facebook announced through a statement on its blog:

"We are excited to share a sneak peek of upcoming updates to the AR for Professional Creators curriculum, including the introduction of Facebook 's first Certified Spark AR Creatorprogram, as well as a new AR Professional course that teaches advanced technical tools and concepts."

Facebook / Meta is also building its own AR glasses with Ray-Ban. Right now, these gadgets can only record and share imagery, but a new research project led by its AI team imagines Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems that are constantly analyzing peoples’ lives using first-person video, recording what they see, do, and hear in order to to help them with everyday tasks.

But Facebook isn't the only platform investing in AR.

Snap Inc, the company behind short-form social platform Snapchat, announced the launch of a new global creative studio named Arcadia, which will focus on creating branded AR content.

In other words, the studio will help brands create augmented reality advertising and experiences, and offer clients workshops, insights and trend reporting to help boost their own work on Snapchat and in AR.

Arcadia has already launched its first AR project with fast-food chain Shake Shack as one of its restaurants in New York.

Visitors to the restaurant can open the Snapchat app to scan a code. This will let them virtually try on "Snap Shack" branded clothing and purchase items on their mobile, or to check out the dancing cheeseburger, hot dog and french fry in the restaurant.

The opportunities to expand AR and VR in social media are endless. As new technologies, apps and platforms develop, and virtual social possibilities expand, all brands need to start working out how and when AR and VR can provide immersive customer experiences for their audiences at all stages of the buying journey.

 

Social media is part of daily life

Social media has infiltrated into our lives and taken up permanent residence.

The latest figures show 3.78 billion social media users worldwide in 2021—a 5% increase from a year ago and a staggering 32.2% jump in just five years.

But it's not just consumers' presence on social media channels that is important. As the trends above show, marketers need to consider how, when and why people are using social media. That's the only way you can stay on top of the game and win customers in 2022. Things are changing fast, but if you implement agile marketing along with social listening tools and audience data, you can adjust your social strategy to unlock marketing opportunities every step of the way.

That's exactly what we can help you do at Online Marketing Gurus. We have worked hard to become a specialized, evidence-based digital marketing agency across SEO, SEM, and social media ads.

If you’re looking to up the ante with your social media strategy in 2022, our 100+ specialists are here to help.

Put us to the test now and get your FREE Digital Audit and Strategy Session and walk away with:

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  • 6-month multichannel game plan.

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