It’s a tried-and-true joke, but the only constant in social media is that it’s not constant.

A few years ago, no one would’ve predicted the comeback of QR codes or the meteoric rise of TikTok. In 2021, Apptopia noted that TikTok was the most downloaded app on both iOS and Android devices and is predicted to leave Facebook and Instagram behind.

As a savvy marketer, it helps to keep an eye on what’s happening in the industry so trends don’t take you by too much surprise.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of social media trends to watch in 2022.

1. TikTok continues to grow

While the app may not see the same growth it saw in 2020, it doesn’t seem like it’s slowing down anytime soon. TikTok reached 1 billion monthly active users in September 2021. The company has also been investing in developing its ad platform, making it easier for brands and businesses to create a presence on the network.

Some TikTok stats that stand out include:

Additionally, the company claimed that 47% of users have “bought something seen on TikTok” and that 67% “agree that TikTok inspired them to shop even when they weren’t looking to do so.”

Given this growth and usage, it would be wise for businesses to take a closer look at TikTok, especially if they serve a younger audience. Learn more about how to use TikTok for your business and how its trends can influence your social strategy.

2. Brands invest more in social commerce

Social commerce is when you buy and sell products or services directly from a social media platform. All the major social networks have invested in social commerce and this trend predicts that they will continue to do so.

According to research conducted by The Harris Poll, on behalf of Sprout Social, 73% of businesses are already participating in social commerce while 79% expect to be doing so in the next three years. Because of this trend, Sprout added dedicated integrations with Shopify and Facebook Shops. This way, you’ll be able to tag products from your store without having to leave Sprout.

social media trends for selling on commerce platforms

Insider Intelligence predicts that social commerce will continue to grow in the next few years. In 2022, it projects that there will be 97.2 million social commerce buyers in the US, which is 38.2% of internet users.

chart of social commerce trends for US social commerce buyers

Sprout’s data also shows that 80% of consumers surveyed are more likely to buy on social because of brand familiarity. That’s an enormous percentage to pay attention to.

numbered list of ways consumers discover products through social commerce

You can tap into this trend by looking at how consumers discover products through social commerce. Check out some great examples of brands doing this right, and take a look at how to craft your own social commerce strategy.

3. The creator economy matures

Creators are having a big moment.

YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok all invested in their own versions of a creator fund. According to a recent report on the creator economy, more than 50 million people worldwide consider themselves to be creators. Creators aren’t limited to social media networks but those that do use social media contribute to the expected $13.8 billion influencer industry.

With the maturation of the creator economy, more strategies become available to brands. Micro-influencers with less than 15k followers are benchmarked to have higher engagement rates on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok, giving smaller brands an opportunity to grow their presence.

graphic showing tiktok influencer engagement benchmarks

To get started on this trend, learn how to incorporate creators into your content strategy.

4. Brands develop a social audio strategy

Audio is nothing new but its appearance on social media is. An audio strategy includes everything from radio to podcasts to music playlists. A social audio strategy narrows it down to the platforms that have audio-only features.

Clubhouse, a social audio platform, was one of the biggest leaders of 2021 in this space. Despite removing the invite-only requirement and releasing an Android version, Clubhouse fell out of popularity. The idea, however, has been incorporated into other social media platforms.

In mid-2021, Facebook introduced a slew of audio features like Rooms, podcasts and Soundbites. These features were also released to support audio creators and provide them with more tools for their content.

phone displays featuring facebook live audio rooms

Twitter created Twitter Spaces with a plan to monetize it. As a brand, you can host audio-only discussions or stream important news. A social audio strategy isn’t for every brand but if you’re looking to expand your marketing channels at a lower cost, then a feature like Twitter Spaces might be for you.

live graphic showing twitter spaces

5. Livestream shopping transforms ecommerce

An ecommerce trend that is growing in popularity is livestream shopping on social media. The ongoing pandemic only fueled its growth since brick-and-mortar shopping wasn’t as available as before.

In China, where livestream shopping is incredibly popular, the gross merchandise value (GMV) of ecommerce live-streaming went from 4.5% of the total online shopping’s GMV in 2017 to an anticipated 20.3% in 2022. In the US, live commerce revenue is expected to triple by 2024, reaching 35 billion dollars.

Livestream shopping is appealing to consumers because it incorporates a personalized atmosphere of the person live-streaming with the ease of shopping from home. A McKinsey report showed that 35.6% of livestreams were in the apparel and fashion category.

image showing category in livestream events

All the major networks already have or have plans to incorporate livestream shopping for consumers. If you haven’t already set it up, learn more about how to use shoppable content in your social media marketing strategy.

6. Short-form videos are valued more

With the rise in popularity of TikTok and Instagram’s own proclamation of valuing video, it comes as no surprise that short-form video is a social media trend in 2022. The video format of Stories now exists in some form in all the major social media platforms.

chart showing average engagement for different lengths of video
Source: Vidyard

One study found that 93% of brands surveyed got a new customer because of a social media video and another company says that over half of video viewers will watch to the end if it’s under a minute long.

Thankfully, short-form videos are more easily accessible to brands than longer ones. The authentic and lower production nature of Stories and TikTok videos is part of the bigger appeal to consumers.

To get more involved in short-form videos, explore five tips on creating Instagram videos and how to set up your own video marketing strategy.

7. Sustainability becomes part of the purchase decision

Sustainability and climate change are becoming big influencers in making purchase decisions, impacting social commerce.

Primarily led by Gen Z, a study found that 28% of Gen Z adults were concerned with climate change, which is also reflected in their attitudes towards brands. Eighty-nine percent of internet users believe that brands should do more to reduce their carbon impact and 88% believe sustainability should be a standard business practice.

graph showing percentages of behaviors in brand and company sustainability

The conscious but skeptical consumer values transparency and brands that are passionate about their values. If not done genuinely, you’ll find that consumers are quick to identify corporate greenwashing, which leads to our next trend.

8. A social media crisis plan is a growing necessity

Incidents can quickly amplify on social media, creating crisis communication situations overnight. These situations are often fast-paced and difficult to prepare for.

In 2022, the need for social media risk management and mitigation will rise – meaning public relations and social teams need to form a unified front. Whether it’s negative product feedback, site outages, going viral for the wrong reasons or real-world tragedies, it’s important that brands build effective corporate communication strategies with social at the center.

Brands can keep their eyes and ears open for any potential crises with social listening and proactively use real-time reactions to shape communications around sensitive topics.

Update your marketing strategy

The beginning of the year is a big one for marketers. Besides looking back on the previous year and evaluating strategies, it’s also a time to examine upcoming trends. We can’t predict the next viral challenge on TikTok but we can tell you to consider the network as a marketing channel. In 2022, social media companies are investing in livestream shopping, audio content, the creator economy and more. Take this moment to update your social media marketing strategy.

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