2022 Trends: What’s next for digital and social media?
1 December 2021
Just a few weeks before the end of 2021, all marketing departments are starting to think about their strategies and focus for 2022. As we do every year, it’s time to reflect and analyse which trends will mark the digital media in the coming months.
We don’t just want to focus on the milestones that will set the tone for social media content, but also on the highlights to keep in mind in all areas related to digital environments in 2022. Let’s get to it!
Trends for social media platforms
Let’s start with one of the hottest topics for digital marketers: what can we expect from the major social media platforms in 2022?
Facebook (a.k.a. Meta)
From algorithm to blockchain, from artificial intelligence to digital transformation, it seems as if every year there was a new trending topic in the digital marketing sphere. Undoubtedly, 2022’s will be “metaverse”, thanks to the hype created by Facebook/Meta.
However (and not to undermine it’s huge potential in the long term), Meta’s metaverse is still far from becoming a reality, and it will probably be some years before we see significant progress.
In this context, what can we expect from Facebook as we know it?
- A more mature community. It is no surprise that Facebook users are older than other platforms’. However, the recent leak of the infamous Facebook Papers confirms that young users are fleeing the platform at an alarming rate.In fact, looking at some of the data we have gathered first-hand in Good Rebels’ Facebook accounts, more than 60% of the interactions come from users aged 45 or older. While this is really interesting for brands with an adult target, Zuckerberg’s company will continue to try to implement new features (such as Reels, already available in the US) during 2022, with the intention of attracting these younger users.
- Facebook Business Suite. During 2021, many users gained access to the new page manager, Facebook Business Suite. In 2022, it is expected that it will experience massive expansion, including functionalities that will make social media marketer’s day to day much easier (such as a private message manager or Facebook and Instagram analytics).
For many, TikTok has been the star platform of 2021. Its growth in recent years has been exponential: in global terms it already exceeds 1 billion monthly active users, and some media estimate that by 2022 it could overtake Instagram.
What does this mean for brands’ social media strategies?
- More brands. TikTok is not yet heavily saturated by advertising or company pages. Brands that manage to find their positioning in this platform will gain a competitive advantage that could be decisive in the future.
- Bigger advertising investment. Not having as much advertising pressure as Instagram, the platform’s costs will remain at very competitive rates.
- A new approach to branded content. For many companies, UGC, employee-generated content, and influencer marketing will be the pillars of their content strategy.
- Supporting creators. In terms of new features, for the time being it seems that TikTok will focus its efforts on further promoting and boosting content creators (as it has done in 2021 with the TikTok Creator Portal). No new features appear to have been announced for enterprise accounts at this time, but TikTok Ads will likely develop new purchase objectives as well as campaign optimisation functionalities.
For several years, Instagram has remained the social network par excellence. Now, it seems that during 2022 they will implement new functionalities with the aim of retaining their users in the face of TikTok. What will be the focus of the platform in 2022?
- Power to the creators. Over the coming months, Instagram will introduce new ways of compensating original content creators, so that they can monetise their activity within the platform beyond branded content. Compensations could come in different shapes and colours, either based on content virality or on subscription methods (imitating Just For Fans or OnlyFans). In fact, rumours are already suggesting names such as “Exclusive Stories” and “SuperFollow”.
- All in video. With the introduction of Reels, Instagram wanted to take onTikTok, and as the platform’s Head Adam Mosseri announced a few weeks ago, they will continue to promote this format. In fact, Instagram has already started to move towards this goal with the removal of IGTV and the unification of the “Video” section.
- New shopping options. It’s no news that Instagram is making great efforts to enable users to shop directly within its platform, which would help brands achieve a less linear customer journey, as mentioned in our “Close to Consumer Commerce” white paper. Following the roll-out of links in Stories to all users, the integrated cart feature is expected to be launched worldwide in the coming months, including new features such as Live Shopping.
- Focus on messaging features. Instagram is aware that users use its platform not only to share content, but also to communicate with each other. New forms of communication (such as calls and video calls) are already in the beta phase.
The platform has shifted its focus towards news, humour and entertainment, and it seems it has found a solid, active user base there. In fact, between January 2020 and 2021 the number of daily users increased by 14% according to Statista. What new features will Twitter implement in the coming year?
- Subscription service. Twitter Blue is already available in Australia and Canada. This subscription will provide creators with premium functionalities (such as Tweet editing).
- Powering Twitter Spaces. Twitter launched its own version of Clubhouse during 2021. Although it does not seem to have taken off, it is expected that the platform will continue to push it forward in 2022 by adding new functionalities.
When it comes to implementing new features, LinkedIn is always a step behind. This year, the platform has tried to get closer to its content creators, as we have seen with TikTok or Instagram, through its Creator Accelerator Program. As expected, LinkedIn’s approach would have a more professional focus, and therefore they are testing aspects such as:
- Improvement of audio formats, similar to Clubhouse.
- Paid event streaming service.
- While moving away from creators, it seems that LinkedIn will also help recruiters with functionalities that make it easier to connect with potential job candidates (video meetings, interview preparation, etc.).
What about the rest of the social ecosystem? We will certainly need to keep a close eye on everything related to the gaming world. As platforms such as Twitch or Discord continue to grow unstoppably, first mover brands will find a wide range of very interesting opportunities.
Having reviewed the main developments affecting social media… what can we expect in terms of the content itself?
- Sustainability. We have been talking about the importance of sustainability for years now, and it will definitely continue to be a must in any communication strategy.
- Mental health comes first. The impact of the pandemic has put the spotlight on the importance of raising awareness of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. As pointed out in our white paper “The Age of Balance: new habits in digital wellbeing management”, The younger generations are the most conscious about this aspect, which will definitely have an impact on the content of 2022.
- Entertainment and shitposting. Powered by Generation Z, more and more social media content will be aimed at simply entertaining users, as if it were an escape therapy from the social situation. And watch out, because this kind of entertainment comes with a name: shitposting, a form of “low-quality, ironic and aggressive” posting. Wendy’s Twitter account has marked a turning point in this regard, and now many brands (especially those targeting very young audiences) are following the same strategy across different markets.
- Homemade is better. Related to the above, and in line with the Instagram Stories, Reels and TikTok boom, “homemade” content, recorded directly on mobile devices and with little post-production, will have more and more weight in the brands’ editorial. The reason is simple: it is perceived as more authentic, more genuine content that humanises brands and brings users closer to the people behind them.
- Audio and podcasts. According to Insider Intelligence, podcasts users will continue to increase unstoppably until 2023, when it is estimated that 25% of digital audio will be delivered in this format in the US. The emergence of Clubhouse and the adoption of audio formats by other platforms is a clear sign of the infinite possibilities they offer.
Trends in social ads
Back in 2020, advertising investment on digital channels exceeded the investment on traditional media, partly driven by SMEs who have increasingly embraced digital channels since the start of the pandemic.
But what are the consequences of this increased advertising pressure?
- Cost increase. According to Statista, the CPM of social campaigns increased by 40% between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021. Far from being one-off, costs will most likely continue to increase in the coming months.
- Increasingly ROI-driven. This cost increase will drive companies to seek maximum campaign optimisation and will lead them to be more demanding in terms of results and perceived ROI.
- New platforms. Advertisers are expected to invest more in new platforms (TikTok, Twitch…) with very competitive costs and similar audiences.
Trends on Influencer Marketing
For years now, influencer marketing has accounted for a significant share of marketing budgets (between 10 and 20% in global terms, according to Statista). Of course, increased investment means the way we deal with influencers will also change in 2022:
- Higher standards and performance measurement. A fundamental aspect that to this day still represents a stopper for brands.
- Long term relationships with brands, in order to build significant bonds between brands and influencers’ communities.
- Social selling and live shopping are on the rise. This explains why Instagram and other platforms are trying to promote in-app purchases as well as live shopping, a trend that is already well established in Asian countries and that is likely to take marketing strategies by storm in the West in 2022.
- Always-on influencers. Instead of using influencers on specific moments or standalone campaigns, brands are shifting towards an ‘always-on’ approach with which they can constantly impact users through an ongoing strategy.
Trends on creativity
We have already mentioned how homemade and shitposting content will influence editorial strategies, but let’s take a closer look at the creative aspects that will set the tone in terms of digital and visual design in 2022.
- It’s all about motion. According to Martin Widdowfield, creative director at Robot Food, static no longer appeals to users as much. The expansion of digital billboards or increased investment in digital media is driving greater use of motion in almost all brand communications.
- Irregular is beautiful. Geometric shaped and straight lines are a thing of the past. Now it’s all about finding your “creative chaos” in order to attract younger audiences,
- Long live the 90 ‘s and the 00’ s. A trend that has already taken shape this year, and which will still be going strong in 2022. The 90’s are back, and they will gradually give way to the Y2K trends inspired by the 00s.
- Jumping into fashion. For many brands, fashion has become a way to be present in the daily lives of their consumers. In 2022, we expect creative campaigns to bring the visual design of marketing activations into fashion collections and streetwear.
Where should I start?
As we have seen, digital environments are constantly innovating and changing, and trying to embrace every trend can be overwhelming. If you want to keep your brand up to date, our recommendation would be to prioritise the following aspects:
- TikTok will become the social network par excellence.
- Homemade content will be key in editorial plans.
- Traditional platforms will focus most of their efforts on content creators rather than on brands.
- Increasing advertising pressure will result in a cost increase, thus leading brands to look for new advertising platforms where to run their social campaigns at a lower cost.
- Creativity will draw from the 90s and 00s. The boldest, the better. It’s time to move away from minimalism and look for new forms of expression.
And you, how do you envision the future of digital channels?