Hold the gimmicks. Social media in 2022 is all about your customer. Our top 5 trends will set you up for YOY success
As marketers, we’re always scanning the digital landscape for new opportunities to benefit from our customers’ changing behaviors online. In 2022, social media, like many digital channels, is undergoing rapid transformation due to increased usage and user expectations.
This article looks at the top 5 social media trends recommended by experts in the field. You will find trend analysis, examples, tools, and training recommendations to help you implement new innovations in your social media strategy.
What are the top social media trends for 2022?
We asked 5 digital marketing experts and the verdict is in – all our 5 social media trends revolve around one very important theme:
- Distract them
- Find out more about them
- Support their values
- Collaborate with them
- Invest in them
Now more than ever, effective social media marketing means doing right by your fans, advocates, and future customers. We’ve got 5 trends to help you get it right.
Social media trends stats
Did you know 57.6% of the world’s population uses social media?
That means 4.55 billion people around the world now use social media. Moreover, 400 million new users have come online within the last 12 months, and this growth is expected to continue.
Social media today is growing fast. It’s not just the number of users, but also the amount of time they spend on social channels that has shot up. Today’s average daily usage is 2 hours and 27 minutes, spread across 6.7 apps.
Undoubtedly, there are plenty of opportunities for social media marketers to achieve their objectives in the next 12 months. You can find all the latest social media stats to inform your marketing strategy in our global social media statistics research summary 2022.
Social media marketing strategy
Looking for new marketing tools to strengthen your social media marketing strategy? Use the Smart Insights RACE Framework to inform each stage of your customers’ experiences of your brand integrated across a 5-step marketing funnel:
Plan > Reach > Act > Convert > Engage
Our practical, actionable marketing structure empowers marketers and managers to use data and customer insights to inform their marketing activities, such as social media for top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel customer journeys.
Deciding which social strategies to prioritize in your marketing mix depends a lot on your short-term and long-term objectives, as well as the resources you have available.
But, in a competitive social media landscape, it’s imperative that you stay up to date with the latest trends and innovations, and make informed decisions to win your target markets.
That’s why we’ve asked 5 experts to contribute their social media marketing trends for 2022.
Social media trend #1: Brand values
Marketers and consumers alike have watched in 2020 and 2021 as big brands use their platforms to fight for the causes closest to their hearts.
In some cases, the link between the company and its corporate social responsibility is clear. For example, Toms’ One for One was a pledge to donate one pair of shoes for every Toms purchase. It’s catchy and easy to remember, and many contribute this philanthropical approach to the company’s fast growth in the early 2000s.
However, in 2019, the company redeveloped its charitable giving and now opts for a more sophisticated approach, showing that brand values don’t have to fit into a sound bite.
This new approach means Toms can give other appropriate donations, not just shoes, and has been well received by Toms’ fans and critics alike.
Moreover, customers today are more informed on current social issues and our global responsibilities. It is not enough to promote social initiatives without fully following through, for example, you could be accused of ‘greenwashing‘.
Brand values examples
It’s not just the world of fashion being held to account. Global corporates around the world are supporting worthy causes with direct or indirect links to their product/services.
American Express sponsored the Coalition to Back Black Businesses, which partnered with Shopify to offer black-owned small businesses training and resources to promote themselves online.
Lots of small businesses have benefited from this scheme, enabling American Express to build grass-roots business relationships while showcasing their support for ethnic minority communities on a global scale.
The Starbucks Coffee And Farmer Equity program ranks potential Starbucks suppliers on economic transparency, social responsibility, environmental leadership, and quality.
Once approved, the suppliers must uphold C.A.F.E. practices to continue supplying Starbucks. Therefore, customers can feel assured their cup of coffee is supporting ethical best practice, as this tweet by Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson highlights.
Google has proudly been carbon neutral since 2007 and is keenly communicating its goal of being carbon-free by 2030. Since Google is primarily a service provider, creating small eco-friendly projects on-site, such as Google Gardens, is great physical evidence of the company’s commitment to sustainability.
Plus, when in bloom, the gardens provide great bite-sized video content opportunities for advocates/employees to share.
Brand value on social media
As demonstrated by these successful examples above, communicating your brand values on social media is all about speaking to your customer and their values. This focus ensures your social media campaigns remain authentic and engaging, as Rhian explains.
Trend commentary by Rhian Harris
“The global pandemic has created a huge shift in how brands and consumers interact.
Accelerated digital maturity on both sides has led to a heightened awareness of social, community, and environmental values, with customers calling for organizations to take a stand on action-based priorities, and brands aligning their business values with consumer beliefs.
In 2022 we will see more sustainability storytelling, and meaningful connections with local networks, nonprofits, and philanthropic causes. These will be weaved into the value proposition, rather than as an add-on.
It will be these authentic connections at the core of the marketing strategy that will build engagement with hard-to-reach audiences and ultimately build true advocacy.”
Rhian is a digital marketing and content specialist who has been working in e-commerce since 2005. She now works freelance to help businesses plan and create their digital content resources.
Rhian contributes regularly to Smart Insights, authoring Business Membership guides and blogs, as well as for her own business, Sparkly Content.
Social media training for 2022
The message is clear, in 2022 brands are aligning business propositions with their customers’ values, with big benefits for customers, partners, and staff. You can learn about idea generation and campaign messaging in our Learning Path below.
Campaign offer and big idea
Part of the Marketing campaign planning Toolkit
Social media trend #2: Personalization
In 2022, we all know personalization can go a lot further than [FIRST NAME] and [JOB TITLE]. With increased social media usage across the board, savvy marketers can use behavioral data to dig deep and find out more about their customers. But how do you cultivate and leverage this data?
ActiveCampaign reports that quizzes with lead forms can average up to 55% opt-in rates. Plus, you can tailor your quiz to get all the information you want up-front (just don’t make the quiz too long if you don’t want to lose people).
Crucially, make sure you’re offering them value for filling it in, to avoid friction further down the line. ActiveCampaign recommends enticing questions and suitable answers, linked to your business, such as:
- Finance: “What’s your saving style?”
- Real estate: “How much do you actually know about mortgages?”
- Therapy/coaching: “Are you truly depressed?”
Quizzes are great for actively questioning and qualifying leads. But there are other more common behaviors that could tell you just as much about your leads’ wants and needs, without having to ask.
For example, Expandi has a tool that allows you to target LinkedIn members who have interacted with an individual post on social media. Depending on who you’re looking to target, this could be a post addressing a particular pain point, a help article, or sector news.
With this level of insight, you can target individuals via InMail with hyper-personalized content focused on their situation.
Other similar behavioral identifiers you could use include:
- Member of a LinkedIn/Facebook group
- Following influencers/micro-influencers
- Locational data
Today’s social media users are savvy enough to recognize basic name/job title personalization techniques. To truly stand out, you need a more sophisticated approach.
The best personalization may be undetectable to the end-user, other than recognizing that your content is relevant and helpful. So, invest your time in making sure you’re sending the right content to the right customers.
Social media personalization tools
We live in a digital world with an abundance of specialized digital marketing tools helping marketers attain personalization excellence.
Here are 3 examples of the kind of tools you could use for some social media personalization activities. If you’ve got other recommendations, let us know!
- Nuvi – social listening and strategy
- Oktopost – B2B sales funnel management
- Audisense – hyper-segmentation and trends
Trend commentary by Danny Bermant
“I train marketers and business owners, primarily working in B2B, on how to turn their social media audiences into sales prospects.
Over the two years of the pandemic, I have noticed a marked increase in the number of LinkedIn connection requests I’m receiving (usually from people who are not relevant to me).
In 2022, the key to success is personalization. It no longer works to just target people with a particular job title. Keep drilling down.
- If you’re targeting small business owners, what sort of business owners?
- What industry do they work in?
- What specific challenges are they facing?
- What will they have tried in the past to address that challenge?
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
If you want ROI from LinkedIn, there are 3 things you need to focus on:
- Add value: Stop obsessing about tactics, focus instead on the “Why?”. How can you help them rethink the way they work, or go about their lives?
- Find solutions: Your audience can sense a mile away when you’re trying to sell to them. Instead think to yourself, “what’s the biggest challenge my audience is facing?”, and how can you help them solve it?
- Personalize: Rather than messaging thousands and hoping something will stick, focus on a niche. Target groups with specific messages.
If you try to appeal to everybody, you appeal to nobody.”
Danny is one of the UK’s top social media experts. He speaks frequently at conferences, trade events and seminars on how to utilize social media for customer acquisition.
Social media training for 2022
Get to know your customer personas with our online training module ‘Define Audience Personas’. In this 15 minute module, you’ll uncover 10 features used to create a perfect persona and learn how to use different types of persona to achieve different marketing goals.
Define audience personas
Part of the Content marketing Toolkit
Learn how to develop a customer persona that can help you to target your marketing more effectively
Social media trend #3: Content collaboration
If you’re looking for a cost-effective strategy to cut through the noise and get noticed by your target markets on social media in 2022, it’s time to collaborate with your brand’s fans and advocates. Use your social media strategy to fill your future customers’ news feeds with user-generated content that sings about your brand.
Obviously, this method will only work if customers love your product. But, if you’re struggling to find happy customers, maybe there are other elements of the marketing mix beyond promotion that would be more impactful for your marketing as a whole.
In Stackla’s post-pandemic consumer shopping habits, 79% of respondents reported that UGC highly impacted their purchasing decisions. In fact, 58% left an eCommerce store without purchasing because the site didn’t contain any customer reviews or photos (64% of Gen Z).
By not investing in UCG, not only are you limiting your social reach, but you may also be losing website conversions. However, UCG is only effective if done right. So, make sure to check you aren’t making any classic UCG mistakes either.
Content collaboration examples
Successful UGC campaigns tap into what excites their current and future customers to create authentic and share-worthy content that showcases your brand. Examples include:
LaCroix water influencer giveaways
LaCroix sends drinks to influencers who appeal to their target markets in return for on-brand visual content. Fans can also tag @lacroixwater to be featured on the brand’s Instagram page, increasing their personal reach and potentially being included in further LaCroix/other giveaways.
Canon photography competitions
The Instagram handle @cannon_photographers encourages users to upload their photography and tag #CannonPhotographers for a chance to be shared and promoted. More importantly, all the content generated by this tactic provides further social proof for Canon cameras.
Nike inspirational slogan #JustDoIT
Since 1987, the Nike slogan has been the cornerstone of the brand – not just on social media but across the entire Nike marketing mix. However, it does translate very easily to a hashtag, and many brand fans are taking advantage of this by tagging their own content to increase reach.
Trend commentary by Neal Schaffer
“Social media is as important as ever for businesses in 2022, but maintaining organic reach despite ever-declining visibility in the feed is a challenge. The solution is simple: Collaboration.
Instead of thinking of social media as a way to promote, re-imagine it as a way to develop relationships with the public, your fans, your customers, and, yes, even your employees.
Leverage the voices of others in these new mediums by trying to post as much user-generated content that is as relevant to your brand as possible.
In doing, so not only will your content needs be met, but you will also gain increased visibility and trust in your brand.”
Neal Schaffer is an authority on helping innovative businesses digitally transform their marketing. Neal’s latest book, The Age of Influence (HarperCollins Leadership), is a ground-breaking work redefining digital influence.
Social media training for 2022
Any form of online PR done well has the power to transform your social media activity. But, as a high-risk activity, you’ll want to properly inform yourself and your team before you launch. Learn the basics of user and influencer content management in our Learning Path below.
Part of the Content marketing Toolkit
Learn how to improve your process of influencer relationship management
Social media trend #4: Digital disruption
Did you know your audience’s attention span is now less than a goldfish?
Marketers today have up to 8 seconds to put across their key messages and entice further interaction on their social posts – and that’s if the user doesn’t just scroll right past (I’ve got tips on how to avoid this too).
So, how can you create social media content that cuts through the noise in 2022?
Marketing technology today enables marketers to communicate more creatively – using design, rather just copy, to get their point across efficiently and effectively.
Bite-sized content is not a new concept. However, we are continuing to see bite-sized trends from other channels such as email and web design sneaking into social media design, as the key platforms continue to develop their offerings.
This example from Maglr, an interactive marketing content platform, demonstrates how to make a paragraph of copy on a landing page more ‘snackable‘.
Here, imagery and interactive buttons help convey the information in an easy-to-read format. Conversely, this example, with 6 hover buttons, took me about 7 seconds to consume.
In 2022, we are all hopefully already beyond sharing paragraphs of copy on our social media channels. But the latest developments in social media technology, including interactive post formats, show a clear direction for the future of social media, informed by omnichannel design trends.
Judging by other channel successes, social media digital disruption is not a trend to take lightly in 2022.
Social media disruption examples
On social media, you want to capture your audience’s attention asap and encourage them to interact with your brand. As marketers, we already have access to simple paid and organic disruption techniques that work for a variety of messages/products. We’ll look at examples of each.
Instant Experiences (Paid)
In 2021, Meta honed their (paid) Facebook Instant Experiences (previous Canvas) templates to include:
- Instant storefront
- Instant customer acquisition
- Instant storytelling
- Instant lookbook
In this lookbook example, users in your target audience are invited to hover over the item they’re most interested in to find out the price and click through to the checkout if they’re tempted.
The implications of lookbook for e-commerce businesses are huge – a frictionless in-app discovery and purchase funnel designed to disrupt mindless social scrolling and encourage more sales from your key social demographics.
In-post polls (free)
In-post social media polls encourage users to vote on your post. Popular poll content includes asking users to vote for their favorite products or ‘this or that’ within the brand.
An added bonus of large polls like this is users can see how the majority voted. For users who agree with the majority vote, the ‘social proof’ element has been proven to trigger Oxytocin, a ‘happy chemical’, that can cause the user to feel warmer towards the brand.
Emoji react polls (free)
Emoji react polls encourage audiences to interact using the emoticon responses at the bottom of your post. This example by LinkedIn contributor Dinesh Punni also serves as customer research informing his video content strategy.
Trend commentary by Gabrielle Wright
As we know, social media platform algorithms favor posts that disrupt users from their typical scrolling behavior. Paid social algorithms reward engaging ads with higher impressions and a lower CPC, while high-interaction organic posts win increased reach.
How do you do that? Create social media experiences that truly disrupt your audiences’ newsfeeds. Less focus on copy, more focus on key messages, strong imagery/video, and compelling CTAs.
Plus, as social media technology continues to develop, keep an eye out for new opportunities to evolve your digital disruption techniques, before your competitors do!
The long and short of it is this – marketers in 2022 looking for cost-effective social media marketing need to catch their audience’s attention fast. Disrupt social media to increase both user engagement and your wider social media reach, for all the right reasons.
Omnichannel social strategy
Finally, did you know effective social media distribution has omnichannel benefits to your brand beyond just your social media presence, like improved SEO? The message is loud and clear – customer-centric social media is a no-brainer for 2022.
Social media training for 2022
Keep up to date with the latest developments in social media marketing with our dedicated advanced module. Smart Insights Members can access the equivalent modules for all key marketing channels including email and SEO developments, and learning how to utilize the latest developments in Google Analytics.
Learn the latest social media developments
Part of the Social media marketing Toolkit
Learn different options to support your continuous professional development and give your business an edge by keeping up-to-date with social media developments
Social media trend #5: Paid social media
Tech Crunch’s annual growth marketing experts survey includes a recommendation from Ammo to spend 20% of your budget on paid social media, highlighting benefits of paid social media such as testing messages and building up your audience online.
Paid social media formats
But which social media gives the best investment? Logical Media group give their top 6 social media formats for ROI:
Meta Facebook Instant Experience Ads
As discussed above, Instant Experiences push the boundaries of our social media expectations by cultivating targeted, interactive, frictionless, shoppable content.
Meta Facebook Slideshow Ads
Meta Facebook Slideshow Ads allow you to upload 3-10 images that are used to create a short video ad that can be distrubted via Facebook, Instagram, or Messenger Ads. This is a great option for marketers with limited video resource.
Meta Instagram Shopping Ads
Meta Instagram Shopping Ads let you ad product tags to your posts. Customers can purchase your items in-ap, reducing the friction of changing to a different channel mid-purchase.
LinkedIn Sponsored Lead Gen Forms
Use targeted content to hone in on your target audience’s pain points, offer them solutions, and entice them to complete your form on LinkedIn to find out more.
LinkedIn Message Ads
We’ve all seen those 1900 character plain text messages. But with the right targeting (paid InMail ads can be sent to connections and non-connections alike) this social media trend can pay off big time for B2B lead gen.
YouTube Non-Skippable Ads
Non-Skippable ads can be 5-20 seconds long, which gives you plenty of time to get your message across.
Since users must watch them to see their content, Logical Media Group recommend keeping the content ‘light and personable so it doesn’t feel like you’re holding users hostage with spammy video ads’.
Paid social media content strategy
Crucially, these ad formats are content-heavy – focusing on imagery/design for 1-4, persuasive copy for the 5th, and bite-sized video for the 6th.
With paid media comes more opportunity for testing and targeting, enabling marketers to continue to hone their strategy using customer behavioral data and increase their social media ROI in 2022.
Trend commentary by Gavin Llewellyn
“Invest in paid media to reach your target audience and generate brand results.
Many marketers are still too reliant on using organic social media to promote their brands across different social channels.
This is despite the gradual decline in organic reach that we’ve seen since the early to mid-2010s on Facebook, and research showing that clicks do not drive meaningful brand results or sales.
Whether you work for a small start-up, a medium-sized agency, or a large brand, marketers must invest in paid media to reach both existing customers and future prospects.
One of Byron Sharp’s rules for brand growth is to continuously reach out to all buyers of the category. In order to do this, marketers must pay to reach their wider target audience and measure their efforts accurately to demonstrate results and justify future investment.
Failing to do so will limit your potential and leave your content lost in the social sea of noise!”
Gavin Llewellyn is a chartered marketer and senior digital marketer who specializes in social media, SEO and online strategy.
Social media training for 2022
Paid social media is expensive to get wrong. Access quick practical marketing training to learn the benefits of investing in paid social adverts, and the factors that affect the response and return-on-investment from paid social ads.
Optimizing paid social media
Part of the Social media marketing Toolkit
Learn about the benefits of using paid social media and the options available increase return on investment
Optimize your social media marketing strategy in 2022 to win more customers
Our expert trends cover a wide range of options and highlight the importance of customer experience when planning your social media activities. Now more than ever, marketers and managers need to apply a strategic, data-driven approach to their planning.
If you’re not sure where to start, why not find out more about Smart Insights membership, to begin your digital marketing optimization journey and learn how to structure your next marketing plan?