Hubspot and Talkwalker teamed up to identify the trends that brands need to engage for success in 2022. The Social Media Report: How to drive success in the accelerated age of the “now” consumer, highlight strategies for winning with the now consumer.

The 10 trends outlined in the report are:

  1. TikTok will take over social media, leaving other platforms to adapt

A look at the rise of TikTok, and its growing dominance in the social media space. Also, how the other platforms are adapting to stay competitive.

  1. Social ads will develop, as cookies get crunched

The cookie is dying. How will this impact the future of social advertising, and how will brands continue to offer more personalized services, while remaining compliant?

  1. Social selling will simplify the customer journey

As the pandemic drives more consumers to buy online, this trend will look deeper into how the social platforms are tackling social selling, and how its demand will grow in the future.

  1. Post-pandemic content will shape up to consumer needs

The pandemic created a world of online content consumers. They have greater expectations, and tastes, in content. How will this shape content in the future, with an always-on, snackability-demanding audience?

  1. Omnichannel engagement will change the way consumers engage with social media

Consumers are no longer loyal to one channel – leading to content diffusing cross-platforms faster than ever. But, this also leads to more disinformation, and increased ease in sharing ‘fake news.’

  1. Maturing influencer marketing will finally come of age

Influencer marketing has grown up. With increased regulation and responsibility, more brands are taking them seriously. And following the pandemic, many have bigger and more engaged audiences than ever before. How will brands make the most of these opportunities?

  1. Brands will lead in social media decentralization

Communities are key – but not just within social media platforms. Many brands are now building their own in-house social networks, with in-app forums and features, to take back control of their audiences.

  1. Metaverses will be the next consumer connection

What will the future of the internet look like? The biggest platforms are starting to visualize it now – an interactive community of users able to engage in a wide variety of social activities online. It’s time for brands to get on board.

  1. Brand inclusivity will be brand critical

CSR was big in 2020. Bigger in 2021. For 2022, brands are going to have to listen to, and act on, the social issues that matter most to their audiences. Companies are going to be integral to global change in the future.

  1. Communities will develop, and take control

Consumers have a voice. It may be fairly quiet, but when those voices come together, in vast social communities, they’re loud enough to change the world. Expect more vocality from users, and more socially driven changes from communities – with brands adapting quickly to react.

The Now Consumer

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Consumers continue to rule

Forget following your CEO, consumers are now in charge of your brand.

They want more personalized content. They want faster service. They want better experiences. And they want it all now. For your brand to survive, you will have to listen to, and respond, to their demands.

Trend 1: TikTok will take over social media, leaving other platforms to adapt

TikTok awareness has grown greatly since its inception. Conversations grew steadily until the end of 2019, and the app then spiked in popularity as people spent more time indoors during the pandemic. A 61% increase in mentions year over year during the first half of 2021, converted into new users, making it the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion global downloads.

Follow your audience

If your audience is on TikTok, you should be too. Connect with them, and know where and about what they’re engaging with. To succeed on the platform, you need to make sure you’re a part of the conversations they’re having.

Throw out tradition

Such a sudden and strong rise in user-generated content (UGC) has changed the way many traditional industries have been marketing. Some brands will remain reluctant to recognize TikTok’s potential, but the pandemic has shown just how crucial this new app is to access a more direct way to engage with consumers.

Trend 2: Social ads will develop, as cookies get crunched

49% of internet users say they’re likely to buy brands they see advertised when browsing, creating a huge opportunity for advertisers to grow through this tactic. However, success here hinges on your ability to deliver personalized ad experiences that speak to needs or ideas that consumers already have in mind.

User expectations for ads vary across generations, so the trick is to gain a deep understanding of your audiences’ preferences and build your strategy around them.

Tap into the trust of user-generated content (UGC)

With so many people installing ad blockers and actively trying to avoid ads, you’ll have to get creative. Most consumers trust other consumers over brands, so ensure UGC content is a part of your game plan.

Engage, entertain, and educate

It is inherently difficult to nail the tone of an ad, but one thing that can be effective is pairing the pitch with information or other helpful content.

Social selling will simplify the customer journey

As the pandemic drives more consumers to buy online, this trend will look deeper into how the social platforms are tackling social selling, and how its demand will grow in the future.

Moving into 2022, brands should reevaluate the purchasing paths they offer and consider taking advantage of social selling opportunities through Instagram posts, Reels, Stories, and more.


Trend 4: Post-pandemic content will shape up to consumer needs

There are over half a billion more people using social media worldwide than at the same time last year, indicating an almost 14% year-over-year increase.

Be specific

Make conscious decisions about who you are marketing to, which consumers you’re targeting. Do your research and get access to consumer insights so you’re always creating content for a specific audience, whether that’s a generation, location, or language.

Whip up more snack-sized content

Time is money, and the pandemic has produced consumers who are acutely aware of their time and what content is worthy to consume. Keep your content digestible in length, form, and style. And, ensure it’s exclusive and personalized. Improve the customer experience.

Trend 5: Omnichannel engagement will change the way consumers engage with social media

Focus on your audience

All your social media pages should be honest and informative. Ensure you don’t alienate your consumers by sharing irrelevant, inaccurate information. Once you lose a customer’s trust, you lose them to a competitor.

Share information that resonates

In 2022, posting and sharing videos is fundamental for any marketing campaign that wants to succeed. 84% of consumers said watching a brand’s video convinced them to make a purchase or subscribe to a service.

Trend 6: Maturing influencer marketing will finally come of age

Influencer marketing now offers better results, with fewer risks. The brands that make the most of these opportunities are those that dig into what makes consumers tick and identify the influencers that will drive the most impact. If you’re not considering influencer marketing moving into 2022, you’re at risk of missing out on expanding your customer base.

Consider influencers of all sizes

Different influencers will help you achieve different goals. While a celebrity might have a large reach, a micro influencer’s audience might feel closer to them and provide you with a higher conversion rate.

A is for “authentic”

A greater demand for content also comes with greater expectations, including a push for authenticity. For most consumers, this means deeper connections with influencers as well as value-driven content.

Trend 7: Brands will lead in social media decentralization

Moving into 2022, consumers will continue interacting through social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. However, it’s likely that we’ll begin to see more brands — specifically those in the travel, payment, and navigation space — incorporate social components directly into their user experience.

Consumers want to connect, so let them

If you’re going to introduce a social aspect to your brand, don’t overcomplicate it. Take cues from how your audience interacts on their favorite social media platforms to better understand the type of social element they might want to see coming from your brand.

Be aware of control, content, and censorship

If you do look into the benefits of your own social network, you need to keep the pros and cons front and center. Users will have more control, will be less likely to accept censorship over their content, and UGC will reign supreme.

Trend 8: Metaverses will be the next consumer connection

The metaverse: an amalgamation of the physical world, the augmented, and the virtual.

This emerging trend is proof that offline and online experiences are slowly merging, creating even more opportunities for brands. A lot of the brands Gen Z players are invested in serve as social spaces as well as gaming communities. These environments allow for creativity, collaboration, and competition, which is keeping it at the forefront of the digital age.

Understand the communities you’re trying to reach

Imagine you’re a contractor building a house for a client, but you don’t bother meeting them, or getting any information on how they might prefer it to look or function. How well would that go over? The same concept applies to the metaverse and virtual reality. People won’t be interested in your brand, platform, or space you build if it does not suit their needs and their interests. Take the time to reflect, gather consumer insights before diving into the metaverse and the endless possibilities it brings.

Experiment and get creative

There are a lot of unknowns that come with the metaverse and having an open mind is half the battle.

Even as the metaverse gains traction, it will take time before it’s fully accepted. Whether one single metaverse emerges or multiple brands and platforms will create their own, it’s clear that experimentation is vital to test and see what works in this period.

Trend 9: Brand inclusivity will be brand critical

In 2022, brands need to focus on their commitment to CSR by listening and acting on the social issues that matter most to their audiences.

Real people make real connections

You should always aim to be relatable, but there is nothing worse than a company that says one thing but practices something completely different.

Listen before you speak

At a time when there seem to be more voices clamoring for attention than ever, it is vital that you take the time to listen carefully to what your consumers are saying. Come up with ways to include as much of your audience as possible.

Trend 10: Communities will develop, and take control

Consumer communities aren’t as passive anymore. With more ways to connect with like-minded communities across the globe, they are no longer content with passively discussing their interests Instead, they have the dedication and people-power, to actively drive change. These communities are quickly identifying the issues they’re interested in as a whole, and then taking action to change those issues.

Give consumers a reason

Tapping into specific communities can help boost brand engagement, exposure, and even brand love. Give them a strong reason to stick around so you don’t lose people after initial interest.

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