The ‘22 Social Forecast
Social media is a revolving door with changes based on trends, consumer behaviors, and cultural events. Looking ahead, here are some predictions for the social media landscape in 2022.
Renewed Focus on Groups and Gamers
With the launch of Meta, Facebook will be looking to tap into unique markets within its platform to stay in existence. According to an NYT article, "Facebook usage amongst teenagers in the United States has been declining for years, and is expected to plummet further even sooner -- internal researchers predicted that daily use would decline 45 percent by 2023."
Facebook will focus more on Groups and its Gamer audience to stay relevant. Why, might you ask? Gen-Zers are turned off by Facebook's current consumers and believe it's a toxic environment. However, Meta allows them to focus more on gamers and explore virtual reality, NFTs, and digital creators. In the last year, Facebook updated Groups to help increase engagement and add value for its clients and brands, e.g., control and monitor conversations). This could allow the platforms to add advertisements to groups and increase their ad space. This could also be an opportunity for a live shoppable feature within Groups so consumers can purchase directly on the platform.
Recently, the platform announced using community leaders to help drive societies forward within Facebook Groups. This initiative aims to showcase how brands could creatively use Group, show users that this platform can be an everyday resource that offers human connections, impact social causes, and give community leaders a forum.
Chronological Feed Makes a Comeback; Live Shopping Introduces New Opportunities
Every year, Instagram has grown into a shoppable platform for consumers, and its recent launch of Live Shopping brings forth more commerce opportunities into its ecosystem. We predict that this experience will become popular amongst small business owners and trickle into big brands, especially during big holidays, e.g., Fourth of July, Labor Day, Black Friday, or Christmas.
The return of the chronological feed will make a comeback in 2022. In 2016, the platform introduced an algorithmically sorted feed, which served content that people liked vs. showing posts of friends or family in chronological order. Since whistleblower Frances Haugen showed that the current AI pushes harmful content to the top of the feed, creating a "toxic" social environment. The return of the chronological feed will help deescalate some of the harmful content on Instagram. Still, overall it won't fix the problem without more users having control over the platform settings and regulating younger users.
Uplifting Digital Creators and Protecting Younger Audiences
Earlier in 2021, TikTok launched its Digital Creator platform to help influencers enhance their skills and expand brand partnership capabilities. Tiktok is also the first platform that is helping shift the terminology of Digital Creators vs Influencers. Content Creators no longer want to refer to influencers because of the bad reputation associated with the word, e.g., lazy, famous no reason, or only want free items. As a result, TikTok is helping to further the development of Digital Creators. The more this career field grows, the higher demand for other areas of exploration. For example, TikTok can further push professional development and help creators understand platform updates in more engaging and actionable ways. Beyond paid brand partnerships or giving creators tips, we predict that the platform will expand in different ways to provide financial support for creators, e.g., webinars with financial advisors, credit cards, loans, or 401K programs. In 2021, tipping became a popular behavior to help financially support creators but we predict that in 2022 not only will this become popular but a normal action while watching live events.
TikTok might also start policing its platform to protect its younger audience. Recently, we have seen alarming new trends that threaten the safety of children (e.g., teens have been self-diagnosing themselves with rare mental disorders such as borderline personality disorder (BPD), the "threat" challenge encourages young users to call in a possible Friday mass school shooting). We predict that TikTok will regulate child safety online and remove these types of trends before they become widespread.
Reddit becomes Another TikTok CopyCat
Is Reddit slowly becoming another version of TikTok? The platform updated its search bar to incorporate video streams, similar to TikTok and Instagram Reels. Reddit's goal is to help increase engagement and help users discover new subcategories by reimaging its interface to match what consumers expect when it comes to the in-app video player. We predict that Redditt will invest in content creators in 2022 and develop platforms similar to Facebook and Tiktok.
Users are Finding Love on Twitter
Twitter could be the new dating app for users; according to the platform, there was a 65% uptick in conversations about dating in 2021. Users are real-life craving connections; there might be a shift from virtual dates to in-person interactions. This could be an opportunity for Twitter to utilize this insight and create a safe dating space for consumers who want to meet in-person similar to other dating apps.
- Meta will show off its new virtual reality capabilities to attract Gamers to the platform.
- Groups will become the focal point of community activism and branding.
- Instagram Live Shopping will rise in popularity. Brands should invest in using this feature.
- Social platforms are updating their AL functionality to increase safety for younger audiences.
- Reddit is slowly updating its platform to have similar features as TikTok to attract more digital creators.
- Twitter users are looking for love and in-person connections and the platform might shift to a dating app.