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The Six Most Important Social Media Trends in 2022

The Latest and Greatest in Social Media

It should come as no surprise that social media still ranks among the most powerful tools in your marketing toolkit. The ongoing challenge is that social media is constantly changing and evolving. As soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, it’s time to relearn everything you thought you knew. Gone are the days when you could get by posting a simple photo, a witty caption and a few relevant hashtags. Social media today is far more strategic, fast-paced and consumer-driven.  

To bring you this latest update, we consulted with a few top social media marketers, then dug through current research from several leading social media companies. Based on these efforts, here are the six key social media trends we think you most need to think about as you plan the remainder of your 2022 social media marketing.

  1. Short-form video rules all.

    TikTok. Instagram Reels. YouTube Shorts. What’s the difference? Honestly, not much. But if you’re not investing in some sort of short-form video content, you may be missing out on a valuable audience.

    In early July, one Google executive admitted that the company is actually losing some of its search traffic from younger users in the United States to Instagram and TikTok. Let that sink in for a moment.

    “In our studies, something like almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” Senior VP Prabhakar Raghavan said. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

    See? The world as you thought you knew it really is undergoing profound changes.

    So, with very little differentiation between the three short-form video platforms, does it matter where you post? The answer to that question should be based on two considerations:

    Where is your desired audience? Leading marketing expert Neil Patel says that if your audience skews younger (16-24), think TikTok. If it’s a bit older than that (25-34), Instagram probably makes the most sense. YouTube Shorts attracts the widest-ranging audience (15-35).

    Which editing platform do you like better? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with creating content on the platform with the editing tools you find most intuitive. Then, you can always adapt your videos to other platforms. Work smarter, not harder.

  2. Focus on accessibility, not gimmicks.

    When Twitter recently added new tools making it easier to add alt text to images, users also saw a renewed emphasis on making social posts accessible. Alt text on social platforms has been around for a while – Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest have all had this option for years now – but the importance of accessibility has never been more mainstream.

    In fact, NASA garnered headlines in The Washington Post in July for its vivid use of Twitter’s alt text feature when releasing the first images from the Webb Space Telescope.  

    So yes, if you aren’t yet adding alt text to every image on every social media post, the time to start is now. If you’re not sure where to begin, Alexa Heinrich, founder of Accessible Social (which launched earlier this year) has some great alt text writing suggestions. In fact, we recommend this entire website. It’s full of amazing tips for maximizing accessibility of both social posts and websites.

    Of course, one thing you want to avoid is using alt text inappropriately. Alt text is not the place for a cute gimmick, hidden text, or even photo credits. Alt text is meant specifically – and exclusively – for screen readers.

    “Just because alt text is now visible and easily read by everyone on Twitter does not mean that you should be using it for anything other than accessibility,” Heinrich tweeted in May. “It is highly inappropriate and ableist to twist the purpose of alt text for the sake of engagement.”

  3. Social selling is the new normal.

    More and more social media platforms are making it quicker and easier than ever for users to shop directly within the app. You’ve probably noticed posts with tags on the products and a shopping bag or “shop” button nearby. 

    While the technical aspects of social selling are becoming easier and more intuitive, the marketing side is still just as important. According to HubSpot’s 2022 Social Media Trends Report, brands need to think outside the box to attract customers. This includes incorporating live streaming and connecting with influencers.

    “Social selling will continue to gain in importance in 2022,” says Thilo Wessel, Head of Social Media International at Kaufland. “On the one hand, influencers who have been promoting products via their channels with vouchers will increasingly launch their own creations. … On the other hand, companies will develop new formats such as product live streams with direct customer feedback.”

  4. Influencers are a necessary part of the mix.

    Nope, influencer marketing wasn’t just a fleeting trend. In fact, the HubSpot 2022 Trends Report shows that the demand for influencers has indeed increased over the past two years as consumers looked for “infotainment” during the pandemic. Nearly half of consumers surveyed for this reported that they depend on influencer recommendations before making purchases.

    “Influencer marketing is no longer about blindly throwing precious budget in search of influencers with large followings,” writes Neal Shaffer, author of The Age of Influence, in the HubSpot report. “It’s about collaborating with content creators and developing relationships with them for a variety of mutual benefits to their business and yours.”

    If you don’t have a huge budget, consider investing in a micro-influencer or a nano-influencer. These influencers may have smaller followings, but they can often connect your brand with a more loyal and engaged fanbase.

    As HubSpot explains it, “everyday people are becoming influencers.”

  5. Memes are cool, but they move quickly.

    A great way to draw attention to your brand is to jump in on the latest meme. Or you could use trending audio for your short-form videos (and you are going to commit to short-form videos, right?). But here’s the catch: Memes and trending audio move fast. Like really, really fast.

    In fact, they move so fast that three of today’s hottest memes as I write this post – American Girl Doll, She’s a 10, and Little Miss – are probably ancient history by the time you’re reading it.

    So yes, find a meme. Just be sure to jump on the bandwagon as quickly as you can. Because if you wait too long and post a meme that’s already stale, you run the risk of doing more harm than good for your brand.

  6. Keep an ear toward audio.

    Clubhouse was the social media darling of 2021, with users flocking to the concept of live audio chats. While many marketers are now saying they’ll be decreasing the time and energy they invest into Clubhouse in 2022, the basic concept of live audio still holds strong appeal. Twitter Spaces and LinkedIn Audio Events are both gaining in popularity, and a whopping  44% of marketers surveyed by HubSpot said they plan on using live audio this year for the first time.

    Also not to be forgotten – Spotify. The familiar audio streaming service is becoming more and more social, particularly among Gen Z users who leverage social audio platforms to showcase their personal style with artists, albums, playlists and podcasts.

    “More than any other medium, audio provides the opportunity for (Gen) Zs to curate the stories they want to tell about themselves,” Spotify wrote in its Culture Next 2022 report. “As Zs embrace the idea that their listening habits provide a better reflection of who they are than most casual conversations, they’re seeking new opportunities to share themselves through audio – and looking to brands to help make it happen.”

So to summarize: capitalize on short-form video. Make the most of accessibility tools. Lean on social selling and influencer marketing growth. Leverage memes (quickly!). And keep your eyes – and ears – on social audio. Oh, and get ready for all the changes and new trends that’ll inevitably be redefining the game in the months and years ahead.

If this all feels a bit overwhelming, we understand. Social media has blossomed into a full-grown industry that absolutely demands serious investments of time, resources and attention, not to mention strategy, budget and planning. As Dr. Karen Freberg, Professor of Strategic Communications at the University of Louisville, puts it, “Social media is both an art and a science. It requires creativity as well as analysis and execution. And that means dedicated resources to social media are essential to success.” 

(Remember, The Roster represents great creative talent across multiple disciplines, including social media and audio/video production. Hit us up, and let us help you hire the right people the first time around.)

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