For most of us, social media is a part of our everyday life. And that doesn’t look to stop anytime soon. In fact, there were 409 million new active social users in 2021, a 9.9% increase from the year prior.
The pandemic has continued to change the way we use social as the world has been turning to online means to fulfill a need to connect. More users and increased time spent on social media platforms mean more opportunities for brands, but also greater competition than ever before. An effective social media strategy that utilises the latest social trends has never been more crucial for success.
So, let’s explore some insights from our social media management London team and delve into some of the key social trends to consider for 2022.
Stand out by blending in
Creativity is key
If you’re just commencing social media management for your brand, a common mistake is identically duplicating content from your website or other streams to every social platform you can think of to give your brand the ‘best chance’. Using the same staged imagery, sales tactics, and wordy product descriptions to promote your products and brand generally results in unengaging social content for users, proving it to be an ineffective social strategy.
It’s time to change this. It’s time for brands to be embraced on social media, not just tolerated. But how do you achieve this?
The trend for 2022 is to stand out by blending in. Create content that feels like it belongs on your selected channel and could (or maybe does) come directly from a creator rather than a brand. The thing is human beings don’t ‘like’ being sold to so you should look for ways to educate users on your brand (who you are and what you stand for) and your products (what they do and your USPs) in innovative ways which will capture their attention while getting your message across.
Creating brand content on Twitter
We recently discussed the social storm from Aldi with the #FreeCuthbert campaign. Here Aldi use short, snappy copy, playing with humour to make light of serious news topic which made Twitter history.
Creating brand content on TikTok
In the examples above, Estrid uses a home setting and a customer showing how to use their products, top tips, and their thoughts on them (acting as a small testimony). Contrasting to the success on Twitter, they use the full-screen immersive video, adding voice and text overlay rather than the use of traditional images and wordy text descriptions. A styling far more fitting to the TikTok platform, feeling familiar and interesting for viewers. Whereas Gymshark, a brand well-known for encouraging people to push their boundaries and try new things, jump on trending challenges to show their more playful, yet challenge-ready personality. Both examples here have been posted by brands themselves but feel as though they could have been posted directly from a creator, therefore blending into the TikTok feed but helping the brands stand out.
Why aim to blend in?
Platforms themselves are screaming this to brands as they see the mutual benefits. For instance, in 2020, TikTok for Business launched with the clear mantra to advertisers, ‘Don’t make ads. Make TikToks.’ TikTok wants its users to be equally interested in content from brands as they are from their favourite creators.
What’s more, creating this content can often be much more economical for your brand. The need for professional models, top of the range cameras and equipment, and flashy sets and props has dissipated. Instead, grab yourself a phone with a good quality camera, some willing participants, and make use of pretty much whatever locations or props are available to you. Or on Twitter, you just need a witty copywriter to address current news affairs. Connecting the creativity, platform knowledge and best practices, how it connects to your audience’s interests, what value it provides, and how it aligns with your brand, will prove far more valuable than splashing the cash on luxury shoots. This can be much easier said than done.
Here’s how to get started in creating content fit for various social platforms
- Get to know platforms intuitively – Who uses the platform? What do they use it for? What content is being posted already and what works (think topics, formats, styling, copy, audio, and hashtags)?
- Choose the right channels for your brand – Choose channels not only that your audiences use but that they use in a way that will move you closer to your goals. Also, consider your creative capacity in terms of both time and resources.
- Prioritise experimentation – Experimentation is key to any effective social strategy. With the fast changes in trends and new features popping up every month, being open to trying new things and testing the response of your audience is essential to staying ahead of your competitors and keeping your users engaged.
Consider working with creators
If you still find yourself struggling to create content, try this next trend and consider collaborating.
In 2022 will see the new age of creators continuing to emerge as younger users, who have grown up idolizing the traditional influencer, continue to pile onto social platforms pursuing their artistic dreams. According to Hootsuite, "50 million people consider themselves creators.” And today, more kids want to be creators than astronauts, says Lego. That means if you can’t create content yourself, there are sure to be plenty of creators out there more than willing to help…With the right fee that is.
Influencers vs creators
Over the years, the concept of the traditional influencer has gained a negative reputation with some (but definitely not all) taking up shameless, unauthentic collaborations and compiling feeds with countless ads and free gifts when they themselves have no real passion or commitment to the companies they partner with.
Creators, on the other hand, is a new term being coined to describe those who remain authentic and are highly skilled in what they do. They put their heart and soul into creating outstanding content and are essentially art directors in their own right. They will take a brief and add their own interpretation, style, and flair to each post, and will help give you the best chance in driving results for your brand. “Creators are paving the way for a new kind of entrepreneurship where content, community, and commerce are key,” said Harley Finkelstein, president of Shopify.
The rise of micro-influencers
So you want to work with a creator, but who do you choose?
Continuing an influencer trend for 2021, nano and micro-influencers will continue to be the best option for many brands. Micro-influencers are those generally holding a following between 5,000 – 100,000 followers, often committing their page to niche areas.
“Followers” does not mean “community”. Which micro-influencers prove. Working with macro-influencers, sometimes edging into even a celebrity status, will cost you dearly and likely will not bring you the ROI you are after due to the vast scope of their audience and page interests. In contrast, due to their highly tailored content, users follow micro-influencers not because of famous names but because they hold a strong affinity to the content that they share, resulting in a high level of trust, engagement, and consequent high ROIs in well-paired collaborations.
ROI becoming more apparent
Let’s talk money.
For years, proving social ROI has been one of social media managers’ greatest difficulties. Will this dissipate in 2022?
The rise of social commerce
Currently, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and even Pinterest offer social commerce. However, in the UK the final purchase still must take place on a website.
In-platform purchasing is already available across the US on selected platforms and is expected to be introduced to the UK in 2022. This will mean the entire customer journey can take place on social and, for some, this could eliminate the need to even have a website at all.
This comes with changes in consumer behaviour, greatly accelerated by the global pandemic. Users now use social as a place to discover new brands, thoroughly research and evaluate companies, develop a connection purely through their content output, before scanning through their items for sale on their social shop - often placing them in the buying mindset to be ready to take action and make a purchase. In fact, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide their purchases, a figure that brands can’t afford to ignore. Post-pandemic, social has become the heart of the shopping experience. Even post-purchase, social can also be used as a customer service tool to help with any order issues and to maintain relationships.
When all of this is already true, in-app purchasing will close the missing link in the customer journey, opening huge opportunities for e-commerce businesses. Brands will be able to create a seamless shopping experience with fewer clicks to checkout, reducing the opportunities to drop-off. Even Amazon has floated the idea of buying HubSpot, a potential sign that they too see social as the future of e-commerce.
Is social commerce right for your brand?
Similarly to our other social trends mentioned, the key to knowing if social commerce is right for your business, and if it’s worth investing your time into, is a rooted understanding of your audience. Do they use the platforms offering social commerce? How trusting are they to place a purchase in-app? How can you optimise your shop to best fit how they shop?
Research should be used to answer these questions before deciding to pull your resources from one sales stream to social.
Social beyond marketing
Data, data, data…
Think social media is just a marketing tool? Think again. Social can benefit teams across your entire company.
The clearest and most direct link is to your other marketing departments. Social provides vast amounts of data which, when effectively sorted and interpreted, can uncover deep, actionable insights about your audience: not only their demographics, but their personality, buying behaviour, desires, pain points, how they use social, and the creative direction and messaging they respond to too. In turn, your marketing campaigns, messages, and audience targeting across all marketing efforts can be adapted to better resonate with them and drive results.
Beyond this, with an effective social strategy, use of social listening, and cohesive processes, social can enhance teams across:
- Research & development – Gain valuable customer feedback on things your clientele love or struggle with on your products or services. Not only this, but you can also discover industry pain points, or specifically about your competitors, and be the first to resolve them.
- Business strategy – Get in-depth insights into your audience and user behaviour to adapt your overall strategy for best results. Maybe there’s a new segment altogether you hadn’t considered previously, expressing interest for products or services like yours across social.
- Customer service – Many users use social media as a customer service platform. That means, by implementing strong community management processes, you can help maintain customer satisfaction, positive brand perception and social sentiment. In addition, you’ll reduce the number of queries heading to your support team. Yes, social marketers can save their brands from the service apocalypse!
- Branding and brand perception – Develop and/or maintain your brand look and feel on social. Express your brand’s personality, playing with humour and even sharing your view on sensitive subjects, like no other media type allows you to. Users will get a deeper stance of who you are and what you care about.
- Crisis management – Identify potential crises early. Develop appropriate responses and address them immediately to avoid situations spiralling out of your control.
Brands taking the lead in 2022 will be those who bring teams together to work more collaboratively to make more effective use of social insights. As we all know, data is a valuable commodity. And the greatest social currency is a solid understanding of your audience. Use it!
Across the past 2 years, the pandemic has shifted consumer behaviour greatly in both the time spent, and ways in which people use social media. Platforms are reacting through continued feature releases to keep their users entertained and reap the benefits. The primary goal of social is no longer the vanity number of followers, but can be anything across growing an engaged community, aiding your full customer journey from discovery through to post-purchase support, and even assisting teams across the rest of your business with social insights.
With so many options now available, social strategizing is key in order place your time and resources in the most effective places.
2022 will see more and more brands reaping the full benefits of social media, crafting an all-encompassing and connected force to use their profiles as a social space, sales stream, and customer support system. This will be achieved through continuous creativity in their content output, even collaborating with creators, to construct posts that blend into users’ feeds and close the gap between favoured creators to follow. Social commerce too will continue to expand as more options are introduced to the UK to buy in-app. Brands will explore product tagging, optimising storefronts, and live shopping sessions further, opening a new sales stream and testing their audience’s response.
The key to all our trends mentioned, across creativity, collaboration, and commerce ultimately resides in the effective use of social data. This will pave the way to optimising each element of your social strategy while additionally providing actionable insights to potentially help every other team in your business too.
So to sum up, for an effective social strategy in 2022, divulge in data-led creativity.