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  • Ishbel Macleod

Social media trends for 2022 – and how to use them


The social media world is constantly changing, but 2020 and 2021 has led to some serious updates if what consumers want and do on various platforms.


Having analysed data for our clients, as well as reviewing the industry as a whole, here are 10 social media trends our marketing manager predicts for 2022…as well as how to make the most out of them.



A change in privacy rules will affect social media ads


The trend

Apple's iOS 14.5 'App Tracking Transparency' (ATT) release in 2021 saw it become harder for social media platforms to receive and process conversion events from iOS devices, as people will need to 'opt in' to tracking. As more people opt out of tracking on iOS 14 devices (in the US, 96% of users are said to have opted out), ads personalisation and performance reporting will be limited for both app and web conversion events. This makes it harder to see results as well as retarget people, across all social platforms.


Research by Appsflyer found that iOS remarketing has fallen 30% since the introduction of ATT, (although marketers are still targeting those have yet to upgrade or have opted in), while Android remarketing budgets have increased by 10%.


At the same time, Google has announced plans to phase out third-party cookies, with publishers and the ad industry to migrate services in 2022 before support is completely phased out in 2023.This, again, means that retargeting users based on set behaviour will be more difficult for digital ads.


These changes are all part of plans to bring more privacy to online consumers.


What brands can do

  • Check in with platforms: Facebook's Aggregated Event Measurement allows for measurement of web events from iOS 14 or later devices. To deliver ads optimised for conversion events (e.g. sales or bookings), you will need to confirm correct set up of the Facebook Pixel, and may need to verify your website domain, and configure conversion events through Facebook's Event Manager. If you currently run ads through Hydrogen, our paid team can help get the best set up for your needs

  • Offer value in return for data: encourage users to opt-in to get something in return, such as personalised trends or offerings

  • Consider user generated content (UGC) and influencers: reach lookalikes in a fresh way by using contextually relevant people and places e.g. encouraging your current audience to share for a reward, or teaming with related brands



Rise of audio in social media


The situation

From Clubhouse to Discord to Twitter Spaces, 2020 saw the rise of audio as a form of social media, and this has continued in 2021 with new features and the testing of Facebook Live Audio rooms for public figures.


While Clubhouse may have lost its initial popularity (which was partially due to the 'invite only' exclusivity and the excitement of something new in lockdown) it, along with Twitter Spaces, both allow a fresh take on social media.


The voice-only aspect is similar to a podcast or radio show but with listeners able to join in. Twitter Spaces being right at the top of the mobile feed makes it easier to listen in, and easier to find than searching on Clubhouse.


The idea behind audio social media is to provide a more authentic, intimate, and immediate form of conversation. While this may not be for everyone, it can help with building trust within a brand.


What brands can do

First, consider what platforms work for you and what you could provide as audio content.

• Twitter Spaces is easier than Clubhouse, as you will already have an audience – and allows for weekly or fortnightly podcast style talks. Twitter recently began to roll out the option to record your Spaces, so people can relisten later

• All Spaces (and Clubhouse Rooms) are broadcast live, which means you must be a confident speaker. It is best to plan a topic beforehand, and have points to discuss. Try not to have a full script as this would sound robotic

• Audio social works best when it is more than just one person talking: this could be an interview, or potentially a round table. It could also be that you invite the listeners to ask their questions live

• To make sure people 'tune in', you would also need to heavily promote beforehand. Having influencers or industry experts as guests can also help increase listeners


Snackable content will continue to grow


The trend

TikTok proved that short, snackable content works well, especially given the busyness of everyday life.


Currently, TikTok has over 1bn monthly users, and with only 32% of brands currently using TikTok, there is an opportunity to stand out. It has successfully been used by brands across fashion, travel, education and finance, meaning it's not just silly dances.


The 'TikTok made me buy it' trend means it is perfect to encourage interest and even lead to sales.


Instagram Reels, created as a competitor to TikTok, have also proved popular, and have provided a fresh new way for brands to be seen. Many small businesses have reported growth due to Reels in the first year since launch, and while the boom is now not quite so big, as the market becomes more saturated, there is still a lot of opportunity to use Reels.


What brands can do

If you have not already, consider how TikTok and/or Reels can be added to your social media strategy. If you create organic content with Hydrogen, we may have already discussed the best option for you, as well as potential content ideas.


• TikTok and Reels are fantastic for sharing entertaining, educational or inspiring content. These should be short, and look to hook the audience in the first two seconds

• Brands in all industries have been using TikTok and Reels successfully, and the algorithm for these offer the chance to be seen by a fresh and interested audience, outwith your current followers. TikToks and Reels also have a longer 'lifespan' than regular feed posts, and can be seen weeks after they are originally posted

• Growing features – including for ads – are giving new opportunities to use these platforms

• Trends and trending sounds let brands jump into what Is performing well. TikTok sounds tend to run a week or two ahead of Reels, giving the chance to be reactive


Social shopping to develop


The trend

Shopping through certain social platforms – such as Facebook – is something that has been around for a few years, but 2021 saw Twitter beginning to test in-app purchases, as well as important updates across various platforms from TikTok to Pinterest to Instagram, all designed to make purchases in-app easier.


This means people actually stay on the social platform while buying, which means more time spent on social overall.


Instagram is testing 'checkout' in certain regions (not the UK, currently) to allow for in-app purchase while platforms like TikTok and Pinterest have partnered with Shopify for easy purchase options.


Given that two-thirds of shoppers use social media to research products (with YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest all top contenders), it makes sense that people could follow through and make that final purchase on social, especially for impulse purchases.


In the UK, studies suggest that only 6% of consumers have purchased directly in-app, but as new functionalities roll out this number is likely to grow.


What brands can do

Some platforms, such as Instagram, only allow shopping for products – not services, while other platforms can have strict rules on what is and is not allowed, especially around alcohol or age restricted products.


• Different platforms offer different opportunities. The Hydrogen content and ads teams can work with you to see the social commerce options available, and how you can use them: both organically and as adverts

• If you can set up a Facebook and Instagram shop, you can tag up to five items per post, which people can then click to view and find out more.

• If you create an Instagram or Facebook shop, items will remain 'live' even if they are sold out – these need to be turned off manually

• Snapchat and Pinterest have developing augmented reality options to let people 'try on' products before they buy, which could also work well as Instagram Story filters




C-commerce will continue to be used


The trend

C-commerce, also known as conversational commerce, is when people and businesses connect through chat or voice assistance with the aim to find out more before they purchase goods or services. If customers are on the fence about a product, they might want to check the finer details before taking the plunge to buy.


Meta found that consumers used c-commerce on its platforms (Messenger, WhatsApp, Instagram DM) for various reasons:

  • Product or pricing information (45%)

  • Instant responses at any time (35%)

  • Easy way to shop (33%)

  • Personalised advice (31%)

  • Ability to negotiate prices or offers (30%)


Overall, c-commerce helps customers decide to buy...but it does mean there needs to be a community manager who can help pick up these queries and respond to customers quickly, especially given that 83% of the public expect a response within 24 hours.


To find out more about c-commerce and why it is growing, check out our blog on how to enhance your sales through c-commerce.


What brands can do

You may already be using this already, but if not, and you are starting to see requests, there are several things you can do.


• Create a list of frequently asked questions and automated replies, so there is a consistent response to issues. If Hydrogen handles your community management, we may already have a list of answers we use and add to when new requests come in

• Use auto-response tools on Facebook and Twitter for direct messages for when you are out of office (such as evenings and weekends) so people know you will respond in the morning – meaning they know they have not been ignored

• It's okay if you don't have an answer straight away: as long as you let the customer know you are looking into it

• If you receive a lot of messages, it could be worth looking into a chatbot, to allow customers to get answers to questions instantly, even out of hours


Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility will be key


The trend

With sustainable marketing and gender politics coming to the forefront in recent years – particularly with COP26 – corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming more important for brands.


It's not enough for brands to do good, they must be seen to do good. This can include sustainability and green measures, supporting local businesses, helping the community, or giving back in some way.


This became more prominent in 2020, as many brands showed their support for NHS and front-line workers.


When asked what would concern them when deciding whether to buy from a brand in a GWI survey, it became obvious that CSR is important to consumers worldwide:

• Poor environmental record (39%)

• Sub-standard labour conditions (31%)

• Lack of diversity in suppliers/product range (24%)


What brands can do

You may already be showing your CSR on social media, but if not, now is the time to start. This doesn't need to be something that is shoehorned into every post, but showing what you are doing can help change opinions.


• Use national days, such as global recycling day, as a chance to show off what you do everyday

• Celebrate milestones e.g. if you give your staff one day off a year to volunteer for charity, celebrate hitting a set number of days, or if you plant a tree for a certain number of sales, celebrate your one millionth tree

• Go behind the scenes to showcase working life to promote the quality working conditions: Stories are great for this

• Promote any new CSR schemes



Growth of visual search on social


The trend

Social media platforms are becoming more visual focused, and several have been putting more of an effort into visual search – specifically Pinterest and Snapchat.


On Pinterest, users can search for items similar to ones in a photo they upload – so if they see a yellow cushion in a shop, they can search for home decorating ideas featuring yellow cushions, or see similar style cushions in other shops. This Lens tools has been around since 2019, and offers a great opportunity for companies with visual products.


Snapchat has similar functionalities, and recently Facebook has also been working on machine learning capabilities, which it says will help to recognise products in images and videos, even if they are only on screen for a short period of time.


Visual search could help save time on typing for consumers, and also allow for more relevant results.



What brands can do

This trend will work best for companies that have a visual product offering, over those that have a service offering.

• Make sure your products are shot in the best light, and it is clear what they are

• Try sharing photos of the same product from different angles and in different backgrounds to get the best possibly opportunity

• When uploading, add alt text to your image, describing exactly what is in it

• To be seen in the 'shop' section, upload a catalogue to Pinterest




Live video use to expand


The trend

2020 and lockdown led to live videos becoming more popular, as companies looked to connect with consumers in a way they couldn't do face to face.


With Facebook Live and Instagram Live (and TikTok Live for those with over 1000 followers) making it easier than ever to connect, it is a great way for companies to show themselves in an authentic manner, without worrying about geographical boundaries.


With the ability for viewers to ask their question live and to engage in real time, live video is becoming a more acceptable way for brands to share news, discuss subjects and show personality.


While audio social media will grow in 2022, live video takes this a step beyond with the chance to put a face to a name and increase the authenticity. Both of these social media trends bring personality and transparency to the forefront.



What brands can do

Live video depends on a brand being confident enough to show their face on camera, and that they have something to say: there is no point going live just for the sake of it. If live video is something you are looking to include in your plans, there are key points to consider:


• Plan your live video in advance: Instagram Lives can now be scheduled 90 days in advance to let people set a reminder

• Make sure you have enough to talk about, with notes on key topic areas you want to touch on

• Make sure whoever is speaking is confident on camera: try a practice run to be sure

• Test equipment and signal in advance, especially if you are planning to walk around in the broadcast. If you are sitting down for it, make sure the phone/laptop is at the right height. Don't forget to have your phone or laptop fully charged

• Our content team can help come up with ideas and plan the process to make it smooth


Influencer marketing to mature


The trend

Influencer marketing is now commonplace, but with new advertising regulations, alongside the growth of platforms like TikTok, it is changing into something better.


No longer is influencer marketing just throwing budget at a big name: it is now more about building partnerships with relevant creators who are similar to your audience.


Consumers are becoming more savvy when it comes to influencers, and with ASA and CAP regulations making it clear that gifts, paid posts and any other influencer activity must be reported, there will be a growth in brands connecting with micro influencers who are actually interested in products or services, and who are a better fit with brand values.


TikTok has been huge for helping to sell products, from books to cleaning supplies to make up, and has an active community of creators and influencers to tap into, alongside traditional platforms such as Instagram and Facebook.


What brands can do

Influencer marketing is dependent on finding someone who is an influencer for your target audience: no matter your industry. This could be a month's trial of a product for a review on LinkedIn, a free hotel stay in return for a series of Instagram Stories, or a new product to trial in a TikTok video.


• Make sure to research and choose an influencer that ties in with your brand values and core audience. Check their background: have they promoted competitors before? Look for any problematic posts that may reflect badly on your company

• Don't just focus on 'big' names: it could be you have several super fans with 1000 followers that you could team with and who would act as brand ambassadors

• Focus on results, and ask to see the impressions and engagements from each post. If the influencer is linking to a webpage, give them a code and tag the link so you can easily see what results they drive

• Do not work with an influencer without a contract in place: this protects you both. The contract should cover what is expected, price, and whether you are allowed to sponsor their posts or use their images





Online communities will deepen


The trend

Social media communities are not new: from Facebook Groups to Reddit communities, people love to connect with those worldwide who have similar ideas.


In 2021, Twitter launched Twitter Communities, which allows users to set up and invite people to join private (or open) communities on a topic. Similar to Facebook Groups, this allows users to either share a post publicly, or privately to that community.


This gives the opportunity for companies to not only engage with customers in a two-way format, but to listen in and see what they actually want and are asking for: which can help to plan for new products and services as well as finding points for new social posts.


Companies can set up a community for their specific product or service, or they can set up/join communities based on the general industry to allow a more holistic approach. It may be a fan has already set up a community around your offering, which you can join and add to.


In a community, you will begin to see brand ambassadors, who will speak up on your behalf and answer questions: these people should be considered for influencer opportunities.


What brands can do

Consider what platforms you are on and whether there is an appetite for a community. This will sit outside your regular social platforms so you do not want to have too many communities, as this will dull your message and you may have three different fairly empty groups, instead of one engaged group.


• Choose a platform where most of your audience is active, and where you already have a strong level of engagement

• Check if an 'unofficial' community for your company already exists: if there is an active audience there, it may be you tap into this. However, work with the administration to keep them on side

• Allow users the opportunity to debate: this is not a place to bombard sales messages but to allow relationships and communication

• Track key topics of conversions and learn from what the community are saying, as low level market research



These 10 social media trends all show the growth of social in the past few years: as the industry matures consumers have become more savvy and are looking for ways to learn what brands are doing to help them and the community as a whole. This means less fluff and more focus on providing value.


Want to jump on these social media trends and predictions and get the most out of social media in 2022? Get in touch with our team today to see how we can help.