2022 has eight social media trends that are sure to drive huge ROI for Influencer Marketing practitioners and brands. We’re talking about a social media marketing strategy that includes augmented reality, the metaverse, e-commerce, and much, much more.

number blocks with "2022" on them plus the title "Trend Watch: 2022 Social Media Trends and What They Mean for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy"

Trend 1: Continued Rise of Ecommerce

While people have enjoyed shopping online for years, it became all the rage due to the pandemic. Tell me I’m not the only one who bought one too many tops for all of those Zoom meetings? While e-commerce isn’t new, what’s trending now is shopping within social media platforms. Statista reports that in 2022 the number of social buyers in the U.S. will grow by almost 37 percent. This is over 2020’s 79 million social buyers. This means that, by 2025, 108 million Americans will make purchases through social networks, primarily Facebook and Instagram. 

Social media platforms with e-commerce options are taking advantage of that rise by expanding their revenues in inventive ways. Specifically, they’ve strengthened their e-commerce capabilities to make purchasing products shown in stories and streams easier.

What the Rise in In-Platform Ecommerce Means for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Social media e-commerce will bring both benefits and challenges for brands. The value and appeal of Influencer Marketing have been the power of influencers sharing brands’ products and services. Namely, promoting their faves to their followers in real-life settings. With the latest e-commerce trends of in-platform social media shopping, these same followers can purchase a brand’s products and services. What’s more is that instead of clicking to a different website, they can purchase right then and there. This means two things for brands, according to HubSpot:

  1. For users, this will result in a shorter, easier buying journey. For influencers and brands, this means an opportunity to provide a more seamless journey. And, the possibility for easier ROI tracking.
  2. This will increase the necessity for brands to align with the right influencers. HubSpot says: “This … push marks a big opportunity for brands to align their products and services with relevant influencers to meet new audiences in a place where they are already spending most of their day.”

Check out the comprehensive details about the rise of e-commerce on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Twitter.

Trend 2: Augmented Reality (AR) Will Elevate Users’ Experience

Augmented reality (AR) is different than artificial intelligence (AI). The latter includes things like adaptive homepages and interactive real-time chats. In contrast, AR represents a whole other level of social media immersion for users. Up until now, AR has meant simple things such as cute filters or fun games like Pokemon Go. However, technological advances have fueled huge “metaverse” dreams for Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Namely, a place where users can meld their real-world and in-app experiences. 

In short, says Enterprisers Project:

Augmented reality refers to any technology that ‘augments’ the user’s visual (and in some case, auditory) perception of their environment. Typically, digital information is superimposed over a natural existing environment. Tailored Information to the user’s physical position and the task’s context help them solve problems and complete tasks.

image of a hand holding a phone up in front of them while they're in a clothing store, and the phone is showing them different augmented reality options, something brands should keep in mind for their influencer marketing strategy
Source: Istock

What Augmented Reality Means for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

As AR motivates users to devote more time to social media, influencers will follow suit to connect with their audiences. Relying on influencers—gaming and otherwise—to understand the ins and outs of AR could become absolutely essential. Influencers are sure to determine what content their audiences will want to see in that environment. Specifically, regarding things like non-fungible tokens (essentially, virtual collectibles) and cryptocurrency. In other words, it’s less legwork for you and a realization that Influencer Marketing has really come into its own.

Also, it may pay to take a cue from the gaming industry. Let’s take Roblox as just one example. Brands gained more traction on their campaigns when they partnered with members of the Roblox developer community. Developers helped them create in-game items and experiences. “Think of this as influencer campaigns,” says InfluencerMarketingHub.com. “User-generated content is important, and so community members become integral parts of the execution of your campaigns.”

Could your brand connect product developers with influencers to tell more stories, augmented by unique, immersive virtual tours?

Get the skinny on all things metaverse, as well as other augmented reality trends.

Trend 3: Increase in Short-Form Video Content

While it’s no secret that video is king these days, shorter videos are having their day in the sun. According to Wallaroo Media, in Q1 of 2020, TikTok was downloaded 315 million times. This was the best quarter for downloads of any app ever. Since then, it has reported explosive growth.

While still not as big as Meta (Facebook) or Instagram, it has sustained its upward trajectory. Other platforms adopting features to compete with TikTok speak to the longevity of short-form video content. Instagram Reels, Snapchat Spotlights, and YouTube Shorts all launched in the wake of TikTok’s popularity, says Stackla.

Shameless plug! We especially loved partnering with Jelly Belly Gum in celebration of National Gum Day. Any guesses how much gum popular TikToker @pooky_face could get into her mouth during this short-form video?

@pooky_face

#sponsored GIVEAWAY: Comment below with your favorite flavor and why you love it for a chance to win “Gum for a Year!” ad #jellybellygum #jellybelly

♬ original sound – Pooky

What Short-Form Video Content Means for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Influencer Marketing experts agree on the power of video. The thing to keep top of mind in 2022 is the current trend of short-form video. Namely, how it differs from video trends of years past and how it varies from platform to platform.

For example, TikTok is still relatively new to the social media scene. So, before diving in and investing your budget on this platform, get the TikTok basics. Specifically, test to learn how to maximize your dollars and meet your objectives.

Additionally, though TikTok is all the rage, cast more than a glancing eye at short-form video options on other platforms. Specifically, YouTube, Instagram, and even Facebook.

Explore what the short-form video trend will look like in 2022.

Trend 4: Rise in Live Streaming

Speaking of video, some industry professionals also speak of a rise in live streaming. Tarek Amin, Director of the North Africa and Middle East markets for YouTube, says:

Video has become a common language to many of us, helping to meet our evolving need for connection, which is stronger than ever before. This is why we’re seeing more people turn to live-streamed, immersive and relatable content on YouTube to find that sense of togetherness. There is an opportunity for brands and creatives to connect more deeply with their audiences by tapping into the relatable and participatory creativity by YouTube’s diverse community of content creators.

Indeed, live streaming definitely increased over 2020 and 2021 and continues to be “a popular way for consumers to engage with influencers, attend virtual events, watch video game content [not just on Twitch], and more recently, discover products through live shopping,” says Emarketer writer Blake Droesch. It’s a format that lends itself particularly well to Influencer Marketing. Specifically, by helping influencers’ audiences feel more included in the “it crowd” events the influencer attends or hosts.

What Live Streaming Means for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

While some brands have been hesitant to create marketing strategies with live streaming, now is the time to add it. Besides its rampant success in China, all signs indicate that it will continue to grow in the U.S. In fact, Sprout Social predicts that the live-streaming market will surpass $25 billion by 2023.

As most video influencers will tell you, brands should be selective about which live-streaming platform they require their influencer partners to stream on. Specifically, choosing a platform with great live-streaming capabilities and where and how the influencers get the most engagement is key. Be sure to add those items to your list of criteria (which we explore in this ebook) when you’re vetting influencers.

Get the low-down on which platforms to have your influencers live-stream on.

Trend 5: Omniplatform Integration

Multi-platform or multi-channel social media strategy in its simplest form is not new. For example, brands and influencers have been posting the same content across multiple platforms for a while now. However, omniplatform marketing is different. It means taking into account the various touchpoints a potential customer may move through to progress in the buyers’ journey. Namely, via your brand’s social media channels or webchat, emails, through influencers’ channels, on users’ phones, tablets, or desktops, etc.

Additionally, omnichannel marketing means strategically integrating communication across various channels. This ensures everyone is on the same page (e.g., your social media, email marketing, public relations teams, etc.). Best practices suggest guiding potential customers seamlessly through the awareness, consideration, and activation stages with progressively more targeted content. HubSpot points out this has implications for Influencer Marketing as well as for all of your marketing strategy efforts.

What Omniplatform Integration Means for Your Influencer Marketing Strategy

Omniplatform could potentially be the hardest trend to integrate into your Influencer Marketing strategy this year. Why? It entails adding another item to coordinate a seamless consumer journey. Simplify the process by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you have editorial calendars shared among agency and brand teams? Specifically, so that team members are not posting duplicate or disjointed content across the brand’s social media channels. 
  • Are you connecting your blog team with your email team? Namely, so that the latter can promote or disseminate that blog content in the best, most relevant way possible. 
  • Do other vital roles/teams speak to each other? For example, the web development team, the advertising team, the messaging and text marketing teams, etc.?
  • Are you listening to your customers and monitoring brand sentiment? Across all of your brand’s and influencers’ channels? 
  • How are you doing at sending reminders and incentivizing clients to make additional purchases? What about motivating them to refer your brand to their friends? Specifically, are you making it easy for them to join your loyalty programs? How about take advantage of discounted offers and give your brand high ratings and positive reviews?

If you answered “no” to the above questions, omniplatform integration could be for you.

Nick Martin, Social Engagement Specialist at Hootsuite, says:

In 2022, social listening, and subsequently social intelligence, will be a key trend. Brands aren’t seeing the full picture of their industry and audience if they’re not performing social listening, gathering insights, and making strategic decisions based on those learnings. 

Most importantly, omnichannel marketing means adding another layer of both planning and tracking. Specifically, as you create messaging for influencers that aligns with the rest of your content strategy. All of that sharing, connecting, and listening might seem overwhelming. However, when you break the tasks down into steps, they represent opportunities to impress consumers.

Get all those implications and the tips, tricks, and stats you need to immerse yourself in omniplatform knowledge.

Trend 6: More Opportunities to Pair Affiliate Marketing With Influencer Marketing

Affiliate marketing done right could be seen as an extension of your Influencer Marketing strategy. Or, you could view affiliate marketing as one channel through which you execute your Influencer Marketing strategy. As the number of influencers continues to grow, so will the competition between them to stand out. Namely, to brands while also remaining true to their audiences. This means a wider pool of influencers for you to draw from, requiring a more streamlined vetting process. But don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of tips on vetting influencers!

We predict that in 2022, opportunities to work with influencers will increase. Namely, by pairing affiliate marketing—also known as partnership marketing—with Influencer Marketing. After all, not every influencer’s audience is primed to make a purchase by clicking on links. Additionally, affiliate networks form a most-often necessary third party. Therefore, some brands might be hesitant to pair the two models and instead, are looking for the perfect third alternative; hence partnership marketing.

What Increased Pairing of Affiliate Marketing Means for Influencer Marketing

Insider Intelligence reports that “much of this hesitancy…[has been]…underpinned by a lack of understanding around the [affiliate marketing] channel’s inherent value.” So, if your brand is looking for new channels on which to promote your products, think about learning more about what affiliate marketing is and how it can augment your Influencer Marketing strategy. 

Get our playbook for mixing affiliate marketing with Influencer Marketing.

Trend 7: Development of Creator Organizations to Standardize the Industry

Since the start of Influencer Marketing, creators have often struggled to define monetary rates for their services. Even though more influencers have talked with each other about what they’re making, a pay gap still exists. For example, a Black influencer discovered her rate was £1,000 less than a white influencer on the same campaign. Even though the white influencer had fewer followers and lower engagement, the gap remained.

This pay gap has compelled both more discussion among influencers and the formation of creator unions. In June of 2020, two important organizations were launched. 1) The Creator Union in the U.K. And, 2) The American Influencer Council. Both aim to standardize the influencer industry, address the influencer pay gap, and support diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Additionally, existing unions, such as the Screen Actors Guild, have expanded their membership to include certain types of influencers.

What Creator Organizations Mean for Influencer Marketing

With increased creator knowledge and organization comes the need for brands to be accountable for how they compensate creators. Brands should no longer assume that influencers don’t communicate with each other about their pay. While standard rates still need to be defined, brands should offer fair compensation. This means the same rate for the same amount of work. Rates may be higher or lower depending on expertise, follower counts, engagement, and other notable mentions. But, compensation should not vary based on race, ethnicity, size, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other influencer criteria.

I predict that achieving equity will involve listening to what these unions have to say. Then, where necessary, it could mean adjusting your Influencer Marketing budget.

Find all things about this issue and these unions in our guide.

Trend 8: Emergence of NFTs in the Metaverse

NFTs, or Non-Fungible Tokens, are both as simple and complex as they sound. “Non-fungible” defines anything that has unique properties. For example, the wooden rocking chair your grandpa made for you when you were a child. Or, a computer file containing a song you wrote. You couldn’t exchange them for any other chair or song file because they’re unique. Tokenization is the process of proving ownership of a particularly unique item. In the real world, that could mean having a certificate of ownership of an original painting. On the internet, that ownership would be represented by a token. That token is what can be sold, sometimes for millions of dollars.

For example, digital artist Beeple (a.k.a. Mike Winkelmann) sold this piece, entitled “Everydays—The First 5000 Days,” for $69.3 million dollars.

A whole new market, complete with its own currency, tracking platforms, and Discord servers has sprung up around NFTs. In fact, it has made some digital artists and creators rich overnight. NFTs, though, aren’t just unique, digital pieces of art or depictions of real-life items. They can be anything from a unique “skin” or avatar for a video game character to an essay.

The metaverse was envisioned as a virtual, maybe even holographic or “Ready-Player-One-esque” meeting place. As such, it could open a lot of opportunities for creators to show and sell their NFT’s. For example, this unique pair of sneakers could be shown as an augmented reality try-on experience on Snapchat. Imagine partnering with influencers who craft exclusive digital versions of a limited-edition product for you. Additionally, envision them designing games with “celebrity” avatars that provide tutorials on how to use a service you sell. The sky’s the limit.

Source: Bitskistatic

What the Emergence of NFTs in the Metaverse Could Mean for Influencer Marketing

NFTs offer a unique opportunity for brands and creators to partner on next-level collaborations. Both parties can work together to co-create branded NFTs that can be purchased. NFTs in the metaverse could mean, for example, allowing creators to cook, play sports, travel, or game  “together.” As far as games go, games such as Axie Infinity have been created online in the NFT space, and is an NFT in and of itself. In Axie Infinity, players adopt, train, and battle Axies, which are creatures very similar to Pokemon. Each Axie is also an NFT that can become more valuable and sell-able as it becomes more experienced and powerful. Hackernoon.com says: “Axie Infinity is a virtual world where people interact through digital items from opposite corners of the globe. It is, in some respects, its own limited version of the metaverse.”

What NFTs and the Metaverse Could Mean for Your Brand

What could this mean for your brand? Maybe you develop a branded NFT character. Additionally, you could have a virtual influencer playing a game. Or, you could partner and have an influencer host a virtual concert. Furthermore, they could conduct a silent auction of donated NFTs as part of your cause-marketing efforts. The possibilities, while maybe a little complicated in the beginning, are endless! Right now, brands should educate themselves about how much traction this trend is getting. Then, do a deep dive into influencers who know what NFTs are. And, ensure they know how to make them and use them to get audiences’ attention in the Metaverse.

Check out these examples of brands using NFTs to achieve their marketing goals.

Wrapping It Up

The long and short of it is that 2022’s trends could mean more creativity and more ROI for your brands. Specifically, via these trends: in-platform e-commerce, augmented reality, and short-form video. Plus, live streaming, omniplatform integration, and affiliate marketing pairing (partnership marketing). And, creator organizations and NFT opportunities. Stay the path with your tried and tested tactics. Then, dip your toes in the water of some of these newer or more popular trends. As always, let the numbers do the talking to see what drives the greatest results.

Additional Resources

Sources

Trend Watch: In-Platform Social Media Ecommerce Trends for 2022
10 Influencer Marketing Halloween Campaign Ideas That Will Wow You