2022 social media predictions: TikTok, NFTs, commerce & meaningful engagement

The Drum reporter and former social media executive Amy Houston asks industry experts what they predict will be some of the big trends on social in 2022 to help you inform your strategy.

The past year has produced some major milestone moments in the social media landscape. Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta to the world, Jack Dorsey stood down as Twitter chief executive, Facebook faced one of its biggest scandals to date and, as usual, the memes were on point throughout it all.

It’s hard to imagine what 2022 could have in store, but as we all know, social media moves quickly and it’s good to be prepared for all eventualities. So, I asked some top industry experts to weigh in on what the next year on social will entail.

Donna Herron, head of social media, Extreme

TikTok continued to reign supreme this year and Herron predicts that consumers will shop more on, and in, the video-sharing app and through livestreams. It’s “one of the fastest-growing platforms [so] you can also expect to see ad spend shift to TikTok in 2022 – either from other social channels or traditional media,” she added.

On the topic of commerce, she notes that “one in four online purchases (according to Visa) are now made via an interaction with a social media platform,” and we can expect this to increase throughout 2022, with the possibility of more “AR features and the ability to checkout in-app – we know how these social platforms don’t like us to leave.”

Privacy and data was a massive debate this year. Herron says this will continue through to next year, and it will impact the way we use data to measure social attribution and ROI, which could mean “less reliance on tools like Google Analytics and a renewed focus on using first-party data to measure success. Although this could be a big challenge as in-house teams at all levels adjust to a digital world with less data.”

Alistair Parrington, chief solutions officer and creative social, Jellyfish

A massive trending topic this year was the introduction of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which had a lot of people asking WTF actually are they? Next year will see the “increasing onset of Web3 permeating our behaviors and interactions online and on social – in other words, a decentralized, blockchain-based internet in which NFTs establish themselves across the social landscape,” predicts Parrington. He says that social media users should “expect the idea of being able to buy and own moments from your favorite shows, influencer’s online lives and selfies to become ever more mainstream as the year progresses.”

Up until now, social media has been mostly about facilitating sharing, but “2022 will see it continue moving toward participating, and this includes the idea of owning and driving forward the economy of the internet,” notes Parrington. He hints that the entire model of social may start to become questioned and challenged by new “blockchain-based social platforms such as DeSo, upon which users are paid for their interactions and posts, allowing those users to bypass the traditional social channels that have generated revenue by serving them ads, and instead capture and generate this income directly for themselves.”

He concludes that Meta will continue its foray into wearable tech with the launch of its watch in summer 2022 “despite questions being raised about the take-up and popularity of its smart glasses launch this year.”

Peter Gasston, creative innovation lead, VCCP

The expansion of social commerce continues to be a huge topic for the upcoming year with businesses “increasingly looking at social platforms as an e-commerce opportunity,” says Gasston. This might be through “product catalogs and curated collections, tagged media, engagement in groups or messaging channels, or creator collaborations.”

Social media communities will become more important than ever as interactions shift to interest-based groups. “Facebook is giving Groups moderators better tools to foster healthy interactions, Twitter is pushing Communities and Topics as better ways to interact, and Instagram even recommends people start a new account to clear out the cruft of legacy follows,” he adds. We’ll also see the continued growth of Reddit, and the rise of Discord and even Roblox.

Aurelien Pakula, social and influencer director, VCCP

Will long-form content make its way back in 2022? It’s clear that 2021 was the year of short-form media with the explosion of TikTok, the growth of Instagram Reels and the introduction of YouTube Shorts. However, “it seems like there’s a subtle change happening across social platforms. TikTok has expanded to three-minute-long videos, Reels went to 60 secs, Facebook Watch now has its own tab on the mobile app and Facebook Gaming seems to attract more and more viewers,” notes Pakula.

Philip Ossai, social media executive, Restore Digital

More brands will start to see the benefits of more meaningful social interactions and community-based strategies in the next year as a better way to “connect with their audience,” says Ossai. With many creators building engaged audiences organically on Linked and TikTok, Ossai predicts that organic reach will still be attainable on these platforms in 2022 and that brands need to leverage this.