The pandemic and its global disruption has created a unique customer base with special requirements – and the social media trends we’re witnessing now are a direct result. As people have adapted to virtual living, technology has advanced in numerous ways, and consumers are pushing hard to bring societal change along with it. Any marketing strategy must recognize and adapt to these forces or die trying – because if brands can’t adapt, they won’t last very long.
Here, we’ll dive into the 15 social media trends for 2022 and beyond that your marketing department should be actively engaged in. If you’re not ticking all the boxes yet, that’s okay – it’s never too late to get started. These social media trends are white-hot right now, so get fluent in them. That way, you’re meeting your customer in a manner that’s timely, relevant and forward-thinking. Specifically, we’ll explore:
- TikTok’s continued takeover
- SVoD streaming services making a killing
- Mainstream virtual reality
- Augmented reality is everywhere
- Podcasts are taking the world by storm
- Video reigns supreme on social
- Instagram stories for strategic marketing
- Reddit for real-time market intelligence
- Everyone needs artificial intelligence
- The value-based buying boom
- Psychographics are the new demographics
- It’s all about inclusivity
- The sustainability showdown
- Flexitarians take a seat at the table
- Influencers and KOLs push the social throttle
And before we get rolling, here are a few social statistics to keep in mind as we go:
- The average social media user is engaging on platforms for two hours and 27 minutes.
- As far as monthly active users go, Facebook comes in on top with 2.89B, followed by YouTube with 2.2B, Instagram at 1.39B, TikTok 1B, Snapchat 538M, Twitter 436M, and Reddit with 430M.
- Of all social media platforms, posts on TikTok receive the highest level of engagement per post.
With that, let’s jump into the hottest social media trends!
1. TikTok’s Continued Takeover
Last year saw TikTok top the charts in app stores and blister past numbers that took other social media platforms years to achieve. The platform surpassed one billion monthly active users in September – and users average nearly an hour on the platform whenever they log on.
Don’t be fooled into thinking the platform is just for young audiences either – or let that hinder you from getting your brand involved there. Point your social listening tools in the right direction to understand the best ways to approach your consumers with content that hits just right. TikTok is not done exploding.
If you need inspiration, look no farther than men’s “below the waist” grooming brand Manscaped. Not only do they use NetBase Quid® to inform their efforts, but they’ve also hit a homerun on TikTok by engaging with tongue-in-cheek humor that resonates with fans of the brand. With 462k followers, their TikTok channel provides their highest levels of fan engagement across their social media platforms.
2. SVoD Streaming Services Making a Killing
Video on demand and online streaming is a match made in heaven. The subscription video on demand model (SVoD) has reached new heights during the pandemic and is showing off its staying power.
Of course, Netflix is king of the hill in the space and a global phenomenon. The service announced it had added 8.3 million subscribers in Q4 of 2021. That growth brings their total to 222 million subscribers across 190 countries.
SVoD services feel like a staple for many consumers and now take up space in the monthly budget alongside the water bill. And they typically have room for more than one. Netflix is followed in order of subscriber count by Amazon, Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Hulu.
Market penetration by Netflix is nearly two-thirds of the population in the US. As such, it’s primed for a slowdown in some markets. Conversely, Amazon Prime Video is the top choice for new SVoD subscribers for the past three consecutive quarters ending Q4 2021. Content will be king in 2022, and you’ll want your brand listening in on the social discussion.
Did someone say new movies every week? Here’s your first look at some of our biggest films for 2022. Whether you feel like laughing, crying, screaming, swooning, or all of the above, there’s a movie for every mood. #NetflixMovies2022 pic.twitter.com/dQeCum0qvT
— Netflix (@netflix) February 3, 2022
3. Virtual Reality Becomes Mainstream
VR went from being a niche curiosity straight into mainstream adoption as the pandemic reared its head. Surely, widespread lockdowns early on had a lot to do with it – and so did Meta’s popular Oculus Quest VR headset. Naturally, VR headsets and gaming lead the charge, but many other creative uses have come to light. People got their workouts in remote locations, toured far-flung locales like the Vatican via VR tours and even did their car buying virtually with Vroom.
Facebook changed its name late in 2021 while also committing to a hefty investment into building the metaverse – an interconnected virtual world. While making the metaverse profitable is off to a rocky start, VR has a solid foothold in the entertainment market. The market for VR headsets is projected to grow at a CAGR of 28% through 2030.
The barrier to entry into VR gaming is low, allowing more fans the luxury of joining in on the action. Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 retails at a respectable $299 – but they’re not the only horse in the stable. And these VR brands are bringing their A game to 2022 like HTC Vive’s line of headsets offering an array of immersive experiences:
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— HTC VIVE (@htcvive) January 27, 2022
Keep an eye out for movement in this category as everyone will be gunning for Meta’s product visibility. Whether you’re inserting your brand into new games and platforms or learning the lingo for a coming campaign, social listening will return rich consumer insights to inform your efforts.
4. Augmented Reality’s Increased Adoption
Everyone is super familiar with AR through social media apps like Snapchat and TikTok. But the technology is capable of far more than putting animal features on your grandparents – ahem, kids. Forward-thinking brands are already putting AR into their marketing mix, and it’s worth taking a look to see if it’s a good fit for your brand.
The implications for AR and CPGs are enormous. For instance, Ikea was one of the first brands on the scene with an AR-capable app that allows consumers to visualize their products in their homes. Similarly, Converse made an app that allows users to pick a shoe style and then superimpose it on themselves by pointing their tablet or smartphone at their feet. It’s forward-thinking marketing for sure – and there will be lots more on the horizon. With use cases from beauty to home design, and everything in-between, brands are getting creative with AR to take their customer experience to the next level.
Pinterest is getting in on the action announcing their new Try on for Home Décor tool. Their foray into AR allows users to superimpose products from leading retailers like Walmart, Wayfair, West Elm, and Crate & Barrel into their home. It’s a logical next step at the intersection of e-commerce and social media.
5. Podcasts Taking the World by Storm
Like streaming services, podcasts were around in the before times. However, the on-demand nature of podcasts grew in appeal to a wider audience as more people worked from home. The podcast market grew from 274 million listeners in 2019 to 383 million in 2021. This year is expected to add another 40 million for a total audience of 424 million unique listeners.
Growth is strongest among the 18–34-year age bracket and tapers off with age. Brands have taken notice of the growth and thrown their hats in the podcast ring. Brands spent an estimated $800 million on podcasting ad spend in 2020. That’s expected to easily double by 2024 to a projected $1.7 billion. The podcasting market was valued at $11.46 billion in 2020 and is on track to see a CAGR of 31% through 2028.
Brands that haven’t gotten on the podcast train should point their social listening tools towards the space to see how you can fit your brand into the conversation. If you don’t, your competition likely will. The online conversation is massive and enjoying healthy levels of positive sentiment at 60% on a scale of -100 to 100 over the past three months.
6. Video Reigns Supreme
Video content – and short-form video in particular – is the undisputed king of social media content, and that’s not changing anytime soon. Facebook users consume roughly 100 million hours of video every day. According to YouTube, users of its platform load up on an astronomical 1 billion hours of content a day. Additionally, platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok are heavy on video content – each with its own personality.
TikTok is still on a rampage attracting new users to its popular short-form video format like distant relatives to a lotto winner. The big guns have taken note and launched Facebook and Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts in response. Your brand needs to know whether these tools are viable options to spread your message.
In addition to understanding the nuance of each platform you intend to upload video on, you also need a deep understanding of your target audience. Your social listening tools will be invaluable to this end. For instance, Groupon does an excellent job with video content that targets unique aspects of its consumers. They have a broad consumer base but put out content on travel or videos with recipes when they need to directly target segments of their audience. Doing this while tailoring content to each platform you use makes for sophisticated marketing.
7. Instagram Stories for Strategic Marketing
50% of Instagram users learn about a brand’s products through the story feature, and 85% follow at least one brand. However, not every brand uses it, and that’s like setting one table in your restaurant when there’s room for two. First of all, stories appear at the top of the app and are a great addition to your regular posts. Instagram Stories allows you to feature your consumers, tell your brand story, work with influencers, create polls and quizzes and even go live.
Brands are increasingly turning to IG Stories to add variety to their content and keep things fresh. Stories offer a rich resource for brand marketing that you’d be silly to overlook. For example, here’s a snapshot from a NYX Cosmetics Instagram story featuring new products they’ve rolled out in celebration of Black History Month – including a link to purchase. It’s super easy for your fans to scoop up the products you feature while highlighting the causes you support.
8. Reddit as a Real-Time Marketing Intelligence Tool
Reddit is often overlooked by brands, but it shouldn’t be. It’s not in your face or flashy like many other social media platforms, but its users take it very seriously. Your brand should also since it’s a goldmine for voice of the customer (VoC) intel.
There’s a lot of that to be had since Reddit boasts 430 million active monthly users. Last year that was enough to bypass Twitter – and that could still be the case as the platform hasn’t disclosed updated numbers. Users discuss brands and products at length on the platform, and it’s a go-to platform for many people doing their due diligence on new products or ideas. And since discussions and content are primarily text-based, it’s a breeze to pull Reddit conversations into your social media listening tools to extract market intelligence and find weak spots in your category that you can step in and fill.
Additionally, Reddit is rumored to be going public this year, which is another reason to keep your eye on this treasure-trove of consumer insights.
9. AI-Informed Efforts Will Be Everywhere
Brands that aren’t using social media analytics powered by artificial intelligence are getting left in the dust of those that do. It matters that much. Today, there is so much social media activity that it’s far past human capability to absorb it all.
Artificial intelligence allows you to capture every brand mention for the ultimate in consumer, competitive and market intelligence. Brands that aren’t on board simply can’t compete. Just look at the sentiment drivers in the online conversations about artificial intelligence over the last thirty days. The word ‘help’ says it all – and it has 10k more mentions than this time last year!
Keep in mind though, not all artificial intelligence is created equal. Don’t settle for low-quality and pretty graphs either. Top-shelf AI is worth the investment to ensure your brand health metrics are trustworthy. If you jump on just one of these social media trends – let this be it.
10. Value-Based Buying Boom
At this point, consumers are well-adjusted to e-commerce and familiar with a handful of the brands that will give them the most bang for their buck. While we’re not totally out of the woods yet with the pandemic, consumers still want to make sure they’re stretching their dollars the farthest.
Consumers have had a lot of time to rethink how they purchase and who they purchase from. Part of the value that they perceive in addition to cost includes customer service, customer experience, how other users feel about the brand, personalization, and loyalty rewards or discounts. Brands missing the mark in any of these areas stand to lose out to consumers demanding holistic value from start to finish.
With more and more brands adopting AI to aid their customer research, this is one of the social media trends you can’t ignore. As the global economy continues to shake off the dust, will value brands and product options gain ground under the heavy hand of inflation? That’ll be a question to keep a keen eye on through social listening as the year progresses.
11. Psychographic Insight as a Differentiator
Gone are the days when brands just sliced consumer data by demographics and ‘understood’ their customers. That’s because today’s social listening tools rely on artificial intelligence that goes a lot deeper than just gender, race, geolocation, etc.
Some of today’s social analytics tools are capable of extracting psychographic data on consumers talking about your brand to understand their values, attitudes, interests and personality traits. These psychographic elements paint a vivid picture of your audience that cuts far deeper than standard demographics. Knowing your audience in this way keeps you a cut above the competition, so your marketing messaging and product placement nail the right multi-generational marketing mix. Be sure your tools make the cut here.
12. Inclusivity in Form and Function
Inclusivity has gone past the realm of social media trends into the category of a movement. Inclusive marketing is a must these days for brands, and that means not being tone-deaf either. Too many brands have endured an unnecessary crisis because of poor social listening skills.
Diversity and inclusivity are monumentally important to consumers, and brand messaging that reflects these principles is what they are looking for. For example, a 2018 survey found that 70% of millennials were more likely to choose a brand over a competitor if they found them to demonstrate diversity and inclusivity in their brand messaging. That’s a huge reason to get on board.
Last year, Disney announced that they are relaxing their appearance guidelines in the name of inclusivity. Their statement said the measure will allow for “gender-inclusive hairstyles, jewelry, nail styles, and costume choices; and allowing appropriate visible tattoos. We’re updating them to not only remain relevant in today’s workplace but also enable our cast members to better express their cultures and individuality at work.”
Hyundai has reason to celebrate too. For the sixth consecutive year, Hyundai Motor America was named as one of the best places to work for LGBTQ+ equality by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The brand achieved a top score of 100 on the HRC Foundation’s annual Corporate Equality Index and illustrating strides brands can take to foster a culture of inclusivity. That is form and function.
13. Sustainability Showdown in Some Categories
Climate change and socio-economic factors have propelled the sustainability movement front and center. It’s been an ongoing trend for years now, but every year it picks up more momentum. It’s most notably hit a fever pitch in the food and energy sectors since everyone on the planet consumes both.
We are in the midst of a veritable arms race for renewable energy that seeks to achieve long-term sustainability to counteract climate change and dependence on finite amounts of fossil fuels. The food industry is rethinking what we put on our plates as consumer’s tastes shift to more sustainable and healthy alternatives to the resource-heavy meat and seafood industries.
The movement has hit critical mass, and social media users have a lot to say on the subject. Here’s a look in Quid Social at the most pressing topics being discussed over the past month. The intersection of sustainability and the digital transformation is obviously top of mind.
Education is also highly represented and ethical fashion cemented a spot as a frontrunner. Overall, the nature of this conversation has changed a lot from last year. And that’s a testament to the utility of social media monitoring for social media trends of interest to your brand. Climate change took the top spot last year. Fast fashion, meat, and waste were sore subjects in the top ten that have been replaced this year with more solution-oriented discussions.
14. Flexitarians Influence Food
Let’s be honest – today’s vegan options are light years ahead in quality, availability and desirability than they were just a few years ago. Conscious consumers are exploring veganism in record numbers, and this social media trend is on fire. But some aren’t ready to go all-in and prefer to ease into it. Others are just fine setting aside meat more often in deference to a healthier lifestyle.
Social platforms are awash with curious ‘flexitarians’ looking for recipes, diet tips and establishments with vegan options. Flexitarians are health-conscious and often sustainability-minded. For one reason or another, they’re not quite ready to make a drastic lifestyle commitment. As such, the vegan landscape will draw commentary and exploration from more than just hard-core vegans.
Your social listening tools should reveal these conversations – what they’re looking for, what makes them hesitant, what they would like more of and what they don’t like. So, if your brand is approaching this space from any angle, make sure that you’re keeping an open mind to the part-time meat-eaters in your midst. You just might have the opportunity to win them over to your table.
15. Influencers and KOLs in Driver’s Seat
Social media trends often get their start through influencers and KOLs. At the very least, they help to push new ideas into the mainstream. With the speed and flux of social, it’s a juggling act to keep tabs on all the voices influencing conversation in your category. Your social analytics tools should put you on top of these discussion leaders quickly so you can adjust your influencer and KOL marketing accordingly.
Most brands don’t have an unlimited marketing budget, so working out a deal with every potential influencer isn’t a possibility. It’s probably not necessary either. But what is essential is knowing who they all are and where they’re speaking, and to whom.
These conversations and their volume are changing rapidly, and newcomers are popping up regularly. So, to keep the face of your brand fresh, your social media monitoring tools should be dialed in to alert you to the metrics around influencers and KOLs in your category. That way, when another influencer begins getting better traction with part of your target audience, you can adjust quickly to capitalize before your competition does.
All in all, a lot is changing in the social media landscape. While not every one of these social media trends will apply to every brand, dive into those that are so your brand doesn’t grow out of touch. The voice of the customer awaits, and savvy brands adapt to meet them where they’re at. Is your social listening game on point? Reach out to us for a demo, and we’ll show you how next-generation artificial intelligence can electrify your social media listening!