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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. Facebook 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. Instagram 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. TikTok 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 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. Twitter 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. Takeaways: TLDR 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. In closing, these predictions are based on trends, consumer behaviors, and recent cultural events – what is your social forecast for 2022?
Despite a difficult year, we made it through 2020 with the help of playful distractions like memes, dance crazes, and viral challenges. Oftentimes, brands want to tap into these cultural phenomenons in order to humanize their voice on social media. Marketers frequently question, 'How does a trend become a viral success?' and, 'Who creates these trends?'. Let's take a look at the various key players that come together to create these trends and learn how your brand can capitalize on them and join the conversation. The Innovator If we think of social media challenges holistically, the template is always the same: innovators create the idea, influencers make it popular, and the rest of the social community joins the trend. By definition, an innovator is ‘a person who introduces new methods, ideas, or products’ In every viral equation, there needs to be an innovator to help spark an idea/challenge. The innovator is often a forgotten piece of the puzzle when it comes to viral trends. For example, Renegade creator Jalaiah Hermon had the most prominent dance on the internet in 2020, but most users didn't even know who she was. Unfortunately, content creators are often not given credit for their original ideas and are seemingly left in the dust. However, that isn't always the case; skateboarder Nathan Apodaca quickly rose to fame when his Ocean Spray video went viral, and others recreated the video with their own flare. The Influencer Spark Influencers help set the standard of "cool" within the digital world and help push the innovators' ideas in front of fans. TikTok influencer Charli D'Amelio was named ‘C.E.O.’ of the different dances similar to the dance craze Renegade, which she popularized. If the concept is unique and interesting, other influencers and celebs will begin to jump onto the new craze. Once a trend becomes popular, users recreate the template with small differences while always keeping the overall idea the same. During the pandemic, the ‘Don't Rush Challenge' became very popular amongst all different audiences - make-up artists, celebrities, students, and more. Less than a month later, the ‘Wipe it Down Challenge’ went viral; both of these concepts had the exact same template with small variations. Brands and Trends Being authentic on social media will encourage consumers to follow, engage, and ultimately purchase products, assuming that's the end goal. Consumers align their personal values to those of brands. Once brand values are established, a fundamental building block for brands is to showcase their personality through their content – tapping into cultural trends is a great way to humanize themselves. From a brand perspective, capitalizing on viral trends shouldn't be a hard selling point but instead, a chance to connect with your audience and showcase your brand's personality. In the summer of 2020, Twitter began to flag misleading messages about COVID-19 and the 2020 Election with 'This claim is disputed' warnings. After the Election, the disputed claim Tweet type evolved into a popular trend on the platform. Brands like Oreo, Burger King, and Maruchan saw an opportunity to participate in the pop culture conversation and added humor to the political trend. Viral memes are also a great way to highlight the brands' wit and humor. Just For Men participated in the ‘How it Started vs. How it's Going,’ and it showcased the brand's growth, wittiness, and personality. A brand can even use pop culture to sell a product when it feels native to the platform. For example, Invisalign used a soundbite from a popular viral video to help promote its product. All things considered, this doesn't mean that every viral trend is an opportunity for a brand to enter the conversation. Sometimes jumping into a conversation that isn't authentic to your brand will feel forced by consumers; for example, in 2014, DiGiorno accidentally used the hashtag ‘#WhyIStayed,’ which was about domestic violence. Prior to your brand joining a viral trend, consider the following questions: 1) Will this feel authentic to the brand's audience? 2) Can this help support the brand's values and develop the brand's personality? 3) What value will this content add to the social media space for your brand? 4) Is this the appropriate social channel for the brand? 5) Is this something you should test into first before diving in? And lastly, remember to have fun and tag the innovator to give them credit for their work!