Social media remains a powerful marketing tool that can introduce your brand to new customers, establish credibility and encourage brand loyalty. The Harris Poll, on behalf of Sprout Social, found that:
- 55 percent of consumers learn about new brands on social media.
- 68 percent of consumers agree that social media enables them to interact with brands and companies.
- 78 percent of consumers are willing to buy from a company after having a positive experience with them on social media.
Yet like traditional media, the landscape is constantly changing: who’s seeing your social media, how they’re consuming it, and when. Staying on top of these changes will maximize the return on your social media investment, and ensure that your efforts continue to reach the people you want to reach.
Here are five social media trends seen so far in 2022:
1. Best Posting Times Aren’t Necessarily Intuitive
It seems obvious: post during daytime or early evening hours when most people are using social media. Yet because the algorithms used by social media platforms to rank posts don’t necessarily display posts in chronological order, when you post won’t necessarily mean that’s when your followers will see it.
For example, according to Sprout Social’s analysis of their social media data, the best time to post on Facebook is 3 a.m. CST on weekdays. However, that’s also indicative of Facebook’s global reach and people viewing in different time zones. Your industry matters, too. Healthcare does best very early in the morning, for example, while finance does better at midday according to social software company Onlypult.
All this means is that your posting schedule should be based on a well-researched strategy that matches your industry, location, and customers with optimal posting times. Agencies committed to their client’s success take extra steps to conduct social media listening and research to ensure all content is optimized.
2. Advertising Gets Better Returns on Smaller Channels
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter remain the four most popular social media channels for paid advertisements, and with good reason. Facebook remains the most used social media platform followed by Instagram, according to Pew Research Center, LinkedIn is the best for business-to-business connections, and Twitter is a highly visible network. (Pew also includes YouTube as a social media site, but we’re excluding it here, as it’s not exactly the same as those other sites with posts.)
Yet whether due to advertising fatigue on those four channels, or the fact that video and graphics are more engaging than text ads, research commissioned by other social media sites show that you may get a better return on your advertising spending on smaller channels like TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest.
Like with posting times, much of this will depend on your industry and target audience. Older Americans are on Facebook, but younger Americans are on TikTok. Pinterest and Snapchat may be great for consumer products, but LinkedIn and Facebook are probably better for professional services. Again, this highlights the importance of undertaking research to develop a well-informed social strategy tied to your business goals—and the need to regularly examine your own social media data and see what’s working and what isn’t.
3. Putting the “Social” in Social Media
One of the biggest missed opportunities on social media is forgetting that it’s “social.” As the aforementioned Harris Poll pointed out, people want to engage and interact with brands, and positive interactions are a significant factor in purchase choices. Yet many companies treat social media as a one-way broadcasting channel, instead of a two-way communication channel.
That will need to change the way things are trending now. Gartner’s “Hype Cycle for Customer Service and Support Technologies, 2021” report estimates that chatbots, customer engagement center and virtual customer assistants will all be heavily adopted by 2023. These are tools that can be used to manually or automatically respond to social media messages to simulate the two-way communication.
On another note, highlighting the importance of the social aspect of social media, 42 percent of consumers expect a response to a complaint on social media within 60 minutes and nearly one-third expect a response within half an hour, according to Convince & Convert.
Social media strategies moving forward must include customer care tactics. Whether you employ an agency, assign someone in-house, or start deploying tools like chatbots or virtual customer assistance, your organization must come up with a process for timely responses to followers’ comments and messages.
4. Keep Your Videos Short
For a while there, social media companies seemed set on making their sites places to watch long-form videos. Instagram had IGTV, while Facebook introduced Facebook Watch. Yet these efforts have faded as the data consistently points to social media users generally wanting videos they can quickly consume.
YouTube remains the leader in long-form video on the web, but even they’ve introduced “YouTube Shorts.” The number of short videos uploaded to YouTube in a vertical, mobile-friendly format has exploded, too, such as TV shows uploading highlight clips from their full episodes as Shorts.
Times will vary according to the social media platform, but in general, unless you’re creating engaging episodic content, keep your videos no longer than one minute if possible. For videos designed to be consumed on mobile, try to keep them around 15 seconds and no longer than 30 seconds.
5. TikTok Continues to Grow
TikTok reached 1 billion monthly active users last year, and is investing in developing its ad platform. While TikTok remains most used by younger folks—7 out of 10 American teens are on TikTok—its rapid growth has drawn in more adults and suggests that, like Facebook before it, it’s only a matter of time before even more adults are using the platform.
For a platform where users spend an average of 89 minutes per day on the app, TikTok presents an opportunity for organizations and companies looking to reach that younger demographic, while securing a foothold in the rapidly growing platform. TikTok also has high engagement and several different ad options.
This doesn’t mean every organization and company should be on TikTok. But it does highlight that, depending on your product or service, your organization should determine which channels it should be on. If you can’t have many channels due to resources, undertake the research and determine which channels are the best for you and focus your attention there.
Enable Your Future
There’s a common thread to all of these trends: research. None of these trends make sense for your organization until you do the research to understand where you need to be, when you need to be there, and what you need to post. TikTok may be a waste of time for you, or it may reach a huge market you couldn’t tap into before.
Whether you’re undertaking your social media strategy in-house or with a trusted agency partner, social listening reports, research into demographics and content, and then—perhaps even more importantly as the work you do today—continued social analytics to measure your performance tomorrow and beyond.
The constantly changing social media landscape requires continuous attention, research and analytics to ensure that your organization doesn’t fall behind. Yet whatever trends come up tomorrow, you won’t have to read about them in a blog post. Because you or your agency will already know what trends would work for your organization and which would not, through giving your social media efforts the attention, research and analysis they need to succeed. As Antoine de Saint Exupery wrote, “Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it.”