5 Social Media Trends to Leverage in Brand & Reputation Management in 2022

November 25, 2021

With the current year coming to a close and 2022 year plans in development, it’s the perfect moment to seek inspiration and guidance when it comes to social media & digital innovations. Social media platforms remain the #1 most visited type of website (followed by messaging and search) and continue to be absolutely essential for brands to implement effectively in order to reach and engage with their audiences.

The Social Digital & Innovation specialists at Omnicom PR Group looked back on 2021 and forward to 2022 and shortlisted the 5 most impactful trends to leverage next year in your communication strategy:

  1. The disappearance of ephemeral formats
  2. The comeback of audio
  3. The shift to brand purpose content
  4. The rise of influencers’ own platforms
  5. The metaverse as the future of social media(?)

#1: The disappearance of ephemeral formats

After years of implementation across almost multiple platforms, ephemeral content formats are now starting to “disappear” themselves. Originally created by Snapchat and replicated by Instagram, ephemeral content is typically seen in the form of stories but refers to any content that is online for 24 hours and then disappears. Facebook and YouTube followed suite with the launch of stories but has seen less success. LinkedIn and Twitter also briefly tested a stories format this past year but recently discontinued the function due to lack of use. Another app that became hugely popular in a short time is Clubhouse. Clubhouse originally featured ephemeral only audio chats, although now audio is recordable and available for replay.

How to leverage it in 2022?

  • Keep it ephemeral: use ephemeral content where it works and continue to leverage the original core values and strengths of ephemeral content (especially on Instagram).
  • Split stories vs feed: be sure to keep it truly ephemeral in order to safeguard the “fear of missing out” effect and increase authenticity. Stories should complement your feed, not duplicate it.
  • Repost UGC (user-generated content): repost UGC to bolster horizontal relationships and create dialogue and interaction.
  • Be discerning: always good to remind, what works on one channel may not work on another so don’t feel the  need to share the same content on each channel.

#2: The comeback of audio

Podcasts started back in 2004, but they’ve never been so trendy! Following years of the growing success of video content with “sound off” and “as short as possible” features, this comeback may seem quite counterintuitive. However, the pandemic has given the popularity of audio formats a huge push. As mentioned, 2020 and 2021 saw the rapid rise of the app Clubhouse and its audio chats (private and public) have since been copied by a number of bigger, richer platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Spotify. The big advantage is that audio content is less complex and easier to produce and, unlike video content, it can be recorded remotely and is typically more affordable.

How to leverage it in 2022?

  • Join forces with an expert audio supplier: this will ensure the necessary technical quality
  • Broaden your casting: audio only is a lower barrier to entry and less risky than video so more spokespeople will be more likely to become involved. Keep it diverse and interesting with a variety of internal and external speakers.
  • Build your own unique audio branding: define your branding and format to ensure structure, recognition and consistency

#3: The shift to brand purpose content

“Advertainment” is over. Worldwide we are facing serious challenges like the acceleration of global warming and the rise of discrimination. Consumers expect companies to talk less and act more … and then talk about what they’re actually doing. This is why companies are (re)defining their brand purpose, their role and ambition in this world, and starting to promote it more prominently, especially on social media.

Consumers want authenticity and real, tangible and emotional connections with brands. Gone are the days of picture perfect marketing. Gen-Z, in particular, is fighting hard to change the world with a long list of social and environmental concerns. They follow and engage with brands which align with their values. Creating a brand purpose is not a one-time event or campaign. Your purpose must be interwoven in everything you do and must evolve across months and years, but it’s never too late to start!

How to leverage it in 2022?

  • Conduct research, be humble and “on brand”: before addressing any (sensitive) topic, you must thoroughly research, listen and pick your (relevant) battles
  • Embody your commitments: do what you say and use inclusive imagery and language
  • Actions speak louder than words: instead of announcing, show concrete actions via social media.
  • Be optimistic, be positive: show that you’re doing your best and taking responsibility. No one is perfect!

#4: The rise of influencers’ own platforms

Influencers are taking back their independence by becoming entrepreneurs (and vice versa). In addition to creating their own brands and products, they are also stepping away from their “dependence” on social platforms and its ever-changing algorithms and rules by creating their own platforms and services. Many influencers use a subscription model where their followers have to pay to access premium content. This allows them to reach a very engaged audience via a social platform and really communicate with each other (app or service) for a stronger, deeper connection with a smaller, core audience that main platforms can’t provide.

How to leverage it in 2022?

  • Create a deeper connection: The power of these micro communities is the ability to create a real connection and enrich an influencer’s connection and engagement with their audience.
  • Adopt the right mix: these new platforms won’t replace the main social platforms, so let’s find the right balance between these touchpoints and make sure they are complementary. For example, brands could test a new product or service via an influencer’s app or other small, engaged community and then launch it to a broader audience via its broader social media. 
  • Enrich influencers’ connection with their audience: on these emerging owned media, brands should offer news, content, products or experiences which will reinforce their relationship. 

#5: Is metaverse the future of social media?

This is a question which we don’t (yet) have the answer to. Invented by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash” and recently boosted by Facebook’s name change to “Meta”, the metaverse refers to a fully immersive, computer generated “3D virtual world inhabited by avatars of real people”. The very first metaverses were open and virtual world video games such as Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox and Second Life. The metaverse isn’t a single product or one company, but just like the internet, includes different companies building different pieces of a larger, interconnected metaverse.

How to leverage it in 2022?

  • Create: carefully create a friendly, respectful environment and sell “digital goods” (not ads) where applicable
  • Brands must stretch themselves to succeed: visual identity, brand codes, tone of voice, etc. might not be the same as in the real world.
  • Make PR announcements: a few brands, such as Balenciaga, Burberry, Nike, Stella Artois, Wendy’s and more, have already been widely discussed in the news after they sent a press release to media and influencers.
  • Test and learn: the metaverse is a new, work in progress and no one has the answers yet so discover and experiment now before your competitors make the most out of it … Be innovative!

Which trend or trends will you leverage next year? Want to know more about implementing these trends for real brand impact? Reach out to the Social, Digital & Innovation team at Omnicom PR Group.

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