Yesterday we virtually attended Hootsuite’s webinar, talking through the main social trends for 2022. They discussed how social is growing and specifically what areas businesses should be focusing on in the coming years. What we found out, essentially, is that social media is continuing to be an integral part in the development of businesses across various industries, and is growing beyond a brand awareness tool.
The webinar was broken down into five key trends, spanning the various facets of social media and explained how social marketing is going to develop and diversify over the next year. For those that weren’t able to attend, we’ve broken down the key points for each trend.
Influencers are definitely not a new thing and the majority of brands are well versed in their influencer marketing strategies already, but a key thing to note is the way that influencers are being used.
Brands are switching their strategies to focus on truly building communities around their brand and products, using influencers to drive this. Influencers have long been known as building communities and interest around themselves, whereas this trend development puts an emphasis on a common interest group. An interesting point to note is that brands are starting to actively seek out existing communities and build connections within these, taking advantage of content creators who already have trust within these communities.
Within this trend, it’s also worth noting the importance of being an active partner in these collaborations. Develop a partnership beyond the traditional ‘pay per post’ format to truly build trust in the collaboration and in your brand.
Having said that, finding a balance between collaboration and autonomy for the content creator is equally important. Content creators are successful because they build an audience around a particular interest, and these audiences are invested in this topic and the creator’s individual style.
Allow creators to promote your product in the way they know best, using their own style and knowledge of the audience.
This trend essentially lends true to the TikTok saying ‘Don’t make ads, make TikToks.’ As with most things, consumers are becoming fed up with, and even immune to, traditional advertising. It’s almost an automatic reflex to scroll straight past something that looks like an ad. So, what is going to make your audience sit up and pay attention to your ads on platforms like Tik Tok and Snapchat? The answer is blending in.
It seems completely counterintuitive to promote the idea of blending in, as ads are traditionally made to stand out and get your company noticed. However, users on the less traditional social platforms, like TikTok and Snapchat, are there for honest, real content and are not in the market to be directly sold to. This doesn’t mean, however, that they’re not a great place to subtly advertise your product or service, and build trust around your brand.
Brands who are at the stage of using content creators, should utilise those with a genuine community and audience built around them, and allow the creators to do their own thing (within reason).
If your brand is not quite ready to be investing in influencer marketing, TikTok and Snapchat can still be a great way to build awareness and trust in your business. These are the platforms that you can really have fun on and experiment with new ways of communicating your message. The key focus is to create content that feels genuine.
Social Goes Beyond Marketing
It’s time to start thinking about social media with a more holistic approach. Socials are great for bringing consumers into your sales funnel, but they can do so much more.
Think about how your socials can be utilised for managing your brand reputation and dispelling misinformation around your subject area or industry. With such a global reach, social media is a great way to educate consumers, which can, in turn, build greater trust and investment in your brand.
We know that through the pandemic, with bricks and mortar stores closing, shopping on socials became bigger than ever . What we’ve learnt is that there is no sign of this slowing down, and in fact, social commerce is set to continue to grow throughout 2022.
Buyers are now looking at the social media presence of a brand at every stage of the buying journey, from the initial discovery, right through to the final purchase and continued engagement with the brand. The most basic thing a brand should be doing is building out their basic information on their socials, which includes updating things like opening hours and contact information. For many, social media is the first touchpoint they have with a brand, and if you’re not present on there, this creates a friction point in the conversion process. Those brands targeting the 16-24 audience, in particular, should be aware that, amongst this age group, socials rank higher than search engines for shopping.
Taking the social commerce experience a step further, brands should be building out their social storefronts like they would with any store windows. Think about the visual aspect of it, as well as ease of use, and how your social storefronts connect with your bricks and mortar stores.
For larger brands, going into 2022, we are seeing a growing trend in the use of AI to create personalised social shopping experiences on a larger scale. The desire for great customer service is still there, and it’s possible to replicate this online through conversational purchase processes and a focus on the overall online experience.
Following on nicely from the last point, managing customer care on socials is growing rapidly. Social media platforms are often one of the first places a buyer goes to connect with a brand, whether this be to get updates, ask questions or even make complaints, so it’s essential that your brand is responding to these.
Ryanair on Twitter is a great example of how even large brands can personally respond to comments on social platforms, and the increasing responsibility for Social Media Managers to take control of this. Although Ryanair often takes a humorous approach to their responses, this can be a great way of keeping an open communication with your consumers, as well as publicly managing the reputation of your brand.
In summary, social media is growing in all directions and for all uses. Personalisation and overall experience are the key factors to mention in this, with consumers becoming more and more invested in brands as a whole, and developing communities within their interest groups.