December 8, 2021Published by: Drew Benvie

Social media trends for 2022

During the past week, Battenhall has hosted two live events looking at social media trends for 2022. In what was our ninth annual social media trends briefing, Battenhall’s specialist consultants presented research and insights on the topics that brands, organisations and creators should be aware of in the year ahead.

Since we began hosting these events in 2013, we have found immense value for all involved in keeping the briefings live, interactive and exclusive (whether in-person or virtually). As such, we don’t share slides or record the sessions. So if you missed the event itself this year, don’t worry; in this post, we have rounded up the key insights from our guest speakers, along with some of the biggest predictions they presented for 2022. 

Brands on Instagram 

Our first speaker was Jonny Atter – associate director and our head of data and insights – who discussed the changing use of Instagram by some of the world’s most successful brands online. This was informed by Battenhall’s newly-launched Instagram Brands 100 report, which is free to download here

Jonny presented highlights of how the 100 biggest brands on Instagram are using the platform in 2021, as well as insights into other key social media platforms such as TikTok. Last year, Stories was the big story, as the ephemeral content feature overtook the main feed in terms of usage. This year, it’s adaptable video content that has risen to the fore. 

Instagram Reels, in particular, has been the big news, with 165% more posts year-on-year among the top 100 brands that we analysed. The percentage of brands using video formats such as Reels has more than doubled – from 40% in 2020 to 88% in 2021. The number of brands that used live video over the past year has also increased by 39%, and those with shoppable content increased to 67%, highlighting the immersive social media experience that is building. 

The way in which Instagram use changed mirrored the growth of TikTok; of our 100 leading brands on Instagram, 58% are now using TikTok on a weekly basis. But despite this shift, Instagram is still showing greater use by brands, consistent levels of engagement, and the 100 brands in our report attracted 261 million more followers this year – approximately 10% more than 2020.  

Social audio and deep communities

Our next trend, presented by senior consultant Nicole Mezzasalma, looked at the future impact of deep communities in audio social media. 

Nicole began her trend presentation by rewinding to January 2021, when live audio social media stepped up a gear. As a consultant with deep roots in community-building (Nicole was one of the first 100 active users on Twitter, alongside having a pro audio setup for podcasting), she immediately jumped into Clubhouse when it started rolling out invites at the start of the year. It helped Nicole to successfully land a role at Battenhall as the company’s first social audio specialist, and our Senior Clubhouse Manager. 

The social audio space has become huge in 2021 and Nicole now spends her time hosting Twitter Spaces, organising Discord servers, Telegram groups and LinkedIn Lives, as well as training clients and running events as a creator for brands. What she has found is that social audio has become more immersive than just audio on its own, with communities growing into audio from non-audio networks and vice versa. 

Nicole recommended brands conduct audits on dark social and ephemeral audio broadcasts, and look for ways to use social audio for community-building. With 2021 showing how social audio has developed into an influential and ubiquitous part of the social media ecosystem, she advocated for brands to conduct in-depth research into these newer channels and features in order to build well-rounded online communities in the year ahead. 

#AdultsOnTikTok

Our third speaker was Thomas Falconer, Battenhall’s New York-based senior consultant, whose trend for 2022 was TikTok’s potential to engage older and more business-focused audiences. Thomas analysed TikTok’s aging demographic and the impact that older adults are having on the social network, as well as on other social media communities. 

Thomas pointed out that, although he is among TikTok’s older cohort of users, he actually has the social media habits of a 22-year-old – and that he is not alone in that either. According to data shared by Thomas, adult users of TikTok now spend more time on the platform than adult Facebook users spend on Facebook. TikTok’s aging demographic is compounded by stats that also show a large proportion of TikTok’s users are not active on either Facebook or Instagram, showing the potential for the captive audience. 

Thomas also explained how TikTok communities, from #FinTock and #Bees to #GayTikTok and #HellsKitchen, are spilling over into other social networks, such as Twitter and Instagram, and shaping how they are used. For brands looking to gain maximum value from social media in 2022, it’s essential to examine how TikTok communities grow, how they affect other social media platforms, and how an aging user base is growing on TikTok.  

The multicultural multiverse

From her unique perspective on the cultural nuances of social media internationally, Rhea Mathew, our Dubai-based social media manager, illustrated the importance of understanding the many local versions of social media that exist globally. 

Social media is multicultural. It looks different depending on where you live, because of local laws and regulations. In the UAE, for example, local TRA law makes certain VoIP apps, including Clubhouse, Skype and FaceTime, unavailable. This gives rise to locally-approved apps. In India, content creators do not have access to TikTok, which means ‘Made in India’ apps, such as Moj, are very useful – as well as the likes of Instagram and Snapchat. Similarly in China, WeChat is the app most commonly used. Clearly, there is never just one kind of social media user. 

Rhea concluded by posing the question: how do you reach your next global consumer? Her tips are to make your brand culturally relevant and accessible. It’s not just about reaching one particular age group or demographic, rather thinking about what app might be best suited for your next global campaign to ensure long-term and wide-reaching success. 

You’re already in the metaverse

The last trend, presented by myself, was all about the future impact of the ‘metaverse’. Now that Meta and other social media platforms are leaning into it so heavily, I looked at the role brands have in shaping this exciting space in the year ahead. 

I have long been an early adopter of metaverse platforms and technologies. I had a blue-haired avatar back in 2006 on Second Life, I tested an early model of the now Facebook-owned Oculus VR headset in 2013, I now have both Facebook Ray-Ban AR specs and Dispo Vibe Glasses, and I have experienced many useful as well as not so useful examples of the metaverse.

My talk focused on what the metaverse might look like in 10 years, but also how we are already in it – many of us without realising. With the average Brit now spending 72% of their time in front of a screen, I looked at the array of virtual worlds that we consume through our phones, laptops and widescreens, and how this will evolve into more immersive layered reality worlds in future. 

With that in mind, I presented my ‘5 Ds for the metaverse’, to help brands shape what it becomes. They are: 

1. Discover: find out if your brand is already being discussed or used in layered reality worlds.

2. Dabble: buy a headset or some augmented reality glasses.  

3. Dive in: try out a virtual world that’s accessible, with my tip being Decentraland for starters.

4. Deal: have a go at buying, minting and selling some NFTs on Opensea, which is the eBay of digital goods for virtual worlds. 

5. Defend: make your preparations to research, register and protect your brand in the metaverse. 

Summary

In past years we’ve predicted the growing importance of groups in social media, trolling and brand protection, and even the impact of a little-known app called Musical.ly (now TikTok). Some trends happen faster than others and the impact is not always immediate, but the five themes outlined above should help you plan your future social strategy in 2022 and beyond.

If you’d like to talk to the Battenhall team about how we can help you make the most of any of these trends, please do get in touch.

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