This past year has certainly given social media marketers plenty to chew on as they set strategy and allocate budget for 2022.
Snapchat emerged as a major player in social media marketing, growing revenue 57% YoY, achieving its first billion-dollar quarter, and increasing daily active users to over 300 million.
Meta emerged as the platform formerly known as Facebook against a backdrop of damning whistleblower testimony and renewed calls for its regulation.
The iOS14 update proved to be a lucrative move for Apple’s advertising business – and a bomb for just about everyone else.
Twitter killed off Fleets, launched a suite of premium features, and added a new monetization option called Super Follow, among other updates.
What a year! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
We asked social media experts to share their best predictions as to what all of it means and where marketers should focus your attention for 2022.
Here’s what they had to say.
Social Media Marketers Will Rediscover YouTube
Greg Jarboe, president and co-founder of SEO-PR and author of ‘YouTube and Video Marketing’
In 2022, social media marketers will finally embrace the fact that YouTube is a social medium, too!
As they struggle with the fact that the average reach for an organic Facebook post is 5.2% and the average engagement rate is 0.25%, they will look for alternative platforms.
One of these alternatives will be TikTok, which has just reached 1 billion active monthly users worldwide, which is as many as Instagram has had for several years.
And the other will be YouTube, which has more than 2 billion active monthly users.
They will re-discover that YouTube is a video-sharing site – which is one of the original categories of social media along with photo-sharing sites, social networks, blogs, and microblogs.
Heck, Facebook pivoted to a “video first strategy” in 2014 and Instagram declared it is “no longer just a square photo-sharing app” in 2021 so it could focus on video.
And if TikTok isn’t a video sharing site, then what is it?
So, why is YouTube treated like the red-headed stepchild by so many social media marketers?
This limits their ability to reach and engage potential customers.
Oh, and it’s the only one with a major presence on connected TVs (CTVs). (eMarketer estimates that YouTube had 113.1 million US viewers in 2020 and that will increase to 130.8 million in 2022.)
So, social media marketers will want to give YouTube a seat at the big table in 2022.
P.S. The eMarketer estimates that I mention below are just for viewers on CTVs. YouTube has more viewers than that, when you add in mobile and desktop devices.
Brands Will Dig Deeper Into More Granular Personas And Targeting
Angie Nikoleychuk, Content Marketing Manager at Search Engine Journal
Advancements in and the increased accessibility of AI, higher-quality data, increased digital ad spend (an estimated increase of 12.7% in 2021 and as much as 49% increase in some areas), and a looming cookie-less world are driving personalization and segmentation as we look to 2022.
Many brands will be spreading their budget out across multiple platforms, using a number of smaller influencers to find the right medium and message for each micro-segment.
It also means brands are beginning to move away from traditional personas. You know the ones – they have a name and image, along with some demographic and geographic data. And you test based on the stereotypical assumptions you make about that data.
In 2022, however, brands will go beyond basic details like marital status, music, and movie preferences to far more granular and usable formats.
Professionals like designers, UX/UI professionals, and content creators are already beginning to create and adopt task-specific user personas.
Designers, for example, include information such as:
- Images of interfaces a particular target audience uses frequently
- Color palettes they seem to prefer
- Ad examples they click on most often
- Site types targets use for work-related tasks compared to entertainment-related tasks
Content creators might focus more on language choice differences used during work vs. learning vs. entertainment-related tasks, as well as content consumption habits.
Marketers are looking at personality, decision-making styles, ad preferences, goals, and other more psychologically-based information.
In many instances, finding this information will fall to the PPC professional. However, AI and machine learning are becoming increasingly more accurate.
Some of the programs already available, such as Mnemonic AI and Delve, identify many persona traits and are well on the way to identifying the more granular patterns.
And if it follows similar AI systems in other fields, it won’t be long before they’re able to recognize patterns that even the most experienced user behavior practitioner might miss.
In the meantime, those willing to put in the effort to really get to know these audiences will see it pay off.
Marketers Will Adapt To Attribution Issues & Diversify Budget
Tim Jensen, Campaign Manager at Clix Marketing
As social platforms continue to face privacy and tracking challenges, marketers will need to adapt to the reality of less clear attribution and consider social as part of a holistic media strategy vs. tying results directly to one social platform.
These changes also will lead to increasing diversity of media budgets across platforms, as more marketers realize that previously more reliable channels like Facebook can have instability in advertising costs and consistency results, and as newer channels like TikTok continue to gain market share.
Expect Fine-Tuning in Paid Social Bidding Algorithms
Amy Bishop, Owner & Marketing Consultant at Cultivative, LLC
This past year was a rollercoaster for social media advertisers. I suspect that 2022 will be a year of adjusting and experimenting with data modeling to improve reporting and bidding models.
What I think (and hope) that means for advertisers is that we will see improvements in performance as the bidding models algorithms are fine-tuned to work in a more privacy-first world with more data ambiguity.
In that same vein, I also expect to see the platforms experimenting with more ways to keep folks on-site, in order to improve conversion rates and increase focus on first-party data, hopefully giving marketers new opportunities to test and expand with better data to rely on.
Existing Social Trends Are Picking Up Speed
Ilya Cherepakhin, Enterprise Consulting Manager at MightyHive
Next year, we’ll see further momentum with four social media trends.
First, a greater push for (and hopefully, more progress with) content management by social platforms.
Second, paid social offerings will be leveraged more comprehensively across the full user journey.
Social media platforms continue getting pushed to take greater responsibility for how their capabilities are used.
Historically, platforms could take a more hands-off approach. This year has seen a turning point where that is non longer possible.
Next year will hopefully bring progress in this area with practical steps taken based by the social platforms on the many learnings from 2021.
Social platforms have also invested more into solutions and third-party partnerships to better support advertising across an entire user journey. TikTok and Snapchat, with their e-commerce features, can now successfully support bottom-funnel advertising, for example.
More and more advertisers are also tapping Pinterest and Instagram for efforts aimed at driving not just in-platform engagement, but also off-platform activity on their sites.
With that, we should also see a third trend accelerate in 2022: The diversification of social media strategy away from Facebook with advertisers investing more resources into other platforms. Rather than a drastic shift, the change is likely to be more of an incremental pivot.
The fourth trend is a greater shift of social media platforms towards AR and metaverse features. The move by Meta may not seem fully articulated but is in line with a trend that predates this and is likely to only accelerate.
From VR and AR gaming and devices to AR filters and lenses offered by social media platforms, we have already seen social platforms tip into the metaverse.
2022 will likely bring more progress in tapping into the metaverse, hopefully with practical applications for unsponsored user-generated and advertiser-created content.
Data Connections Coming To Bypass The Cookie
Justin Lugbill, VP of Advertising at Closed Loop
Ad platform connection with CRMs and CDPs will be the default.
With iOS 14.5 and a cookieless future inevitable, connecting data will enable advertisers to bypass the cookie and connect their data directly with the social platforms they are advertising on.
LinkedIn Will Become The Social Destination For B2B
Heather Campbell, Director of Marketing at Search Engine Journal
Next year, marketers will really see the opportunity of LinkedIn for raising awareness, growing, and engaging with their community. Business-to-business (B2B) organizations are finally seeing the value to marketing like never before.
And, LinkedIn will be the social destination for B2B organizations looking to build their authority and attract new customers and partners.
B2B professionals should absolutely be considering LinkedIn for their 2022 focus. Whether local, regional, or global, this is the platform for organizations of all sizes to showcase their thought leadership.
LinkedIn is upping its game for analytic insights, too.
With Articles for Pages, you get detailed audience insights of people who read and interacted with your content, helping marketers see how to best customize content for their LinkedIn audience (you know, because not all social media is created equal and therefore your content strategy for each should be unique).
LinkedIn Live video analytics showcase top viewer demographics, live viewer stats, video engagement, and more.
I am personally smitten with LinkedIn Live and the level of detail I can see as a marketer. I mean, what other social network shows you attendees, top companies, industries, seniority, and job functions of viewers?! Talk about a B2B marketer’s wish list…
Let’s not forget about the paid side of LinkedIn, where ad spend in the U.S. for B2B organizations is expected to top $2 billion by 2023.
While CPAs can be more expensive on LinkedIn than other social media platforms, the quality can be worth the cost.
And, if that’s where the B2B buyers are hanging out, that’s where we’ll see B2B marketers, too.
That’s where I’ll be!
Brands Will Be Less Reliant On Organic Social
Jeff Riddall, Senior Product Manager at OneLocal
Businesses will become increasingly wary of leveraging Facebook and Twitter to share their content either organically or via paid campaigns, as reach and engagement on both platforms decline under the growing weight of their algorithms.
Local and micro-influencers will continue to open valuable trusted channels and connections to consumers through more interactive channels like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
Brands, for their part, need to craft their content as humanly and empathetically as possible. High-quality, relevant, entertaining, and engaging content remains key to optimal visibility.
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Featured image: Shutterstock/13_Phunkod