1. Caution over influencersInfluencers are powerful social media forces that have helped launch brands and their products for the last fifteen years or so. And while they are not going to go away, many brands are having to rethink their influencer strategies.
One reason for this is that in today’s politically correct social sphere, there are quite a few influencers that have been deemed to act or speak inappropriately or have views that are at odds with general opinion. Brands that promote themselves with these influencers can find their reputations tarnished if that influencer finds themselves in hot water. Indeed, many brands have now got ‘social media crises plans’ that they can put into place if such a disaster happens.
At the same time, regulations covering promotion have become increasingly strict. No longer can an influencer promote a product, pretending they like it if they have been paid (or otherwise compensated) to do so. Instead, it has to be labelled as an advertisement. While it still might reach a wider audience, it doesn’t have the same impact.
2. Growth of social commerceNot too long ago, the main aim of social media advertising was to drive visitors to the company website to buy products. Today, social media companies have invested heavily into providing brands with the ability to sell directly from their channels – what the industry calls social commerce. As a result, more than 7 out of 10 companies now have social media outlets of one kind or another. Not only is the number expected to grow in 2022; businesses will begin to sell on a wider range of different social media sites.
Don’t, however, think that this signals the end of the website as an e-commerce platform, far from it. The demand for omnichannel shopping from the modern consumer means that we are likely to see an integration of these social media outlets with the main website in order to provide seamless customer experiences.
3. Social audioWhile video has dominated social media, we are now seeing audio becoming more popular. The demand for retailtainment and the growing enthusiasm for podcasts means more brands are turning to this medium to connect with their audiences and they are putting their content out there on social media.
There are now some very successful social media platforms that focus only on audio, but what’s likely to be more of a hit are tools like Live Audio Rooms and Twitter Spaces. Rooms is a feature introduced on the US version of Facebook, last year, which lets anyone create and broadcast audio podcasts and even radio stations over the platform. Spaces lets you host talk shows and stream news.
4. Livestream shoppingEven in the days of the internet, there are still round-the-clock, dedicated shopping channels doing well on TV. Scroll down your channel list and you’ll no doubt find them. Livestream shopping is a modern reincarnation that enables brands to promote and sell their products on social media sites during a livestream broadcast.
Making use of influencers and celebrities to draw in larger audiences, this is the online retailtainment that many consumers crave, providing them with an interactive and immersive brand experience where, instead of just being an audience, they can participate by asking questions, giving comments and, of course, making a purchase. Ideal for fashion, beauty and various other markets, it’s particularly popular in China and the US. Such is its appeal that all the main platforms have or plan to have livestream shopping tools for brands to use.
5. The need to be greenClimate change has altered consumer attitudes to shopping. More and more people are concerned about the effect their activities have on the environment and want to make purchases or use brands that minimise their impact. With nine out of ten consumers believing businesses need to reduce their carbon emissions, pollution and use of plastic, brands wanting to attract and retain eco-friendly shoppers need to show their green credentials on social media.
What’s more, they need to prove that those green credentials are genuine and not, to use the modern term, simply green washing their identity to make them look sustainable. Expect to see increasing numbers of brands posting about their environmental friendliness in 2022.