Social media has transformed the world of digital marketing. For better or worse, it represents most consumers’ preferred means of communication, entertainment, and information-seeking. That’s why many brands are eager to establish a strong social media presence — and these days, potentially even sell their products and services directly on the platform.
For years, the common wisdom has been that every brand needs a page on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Then, Snapchat became the hot new network. Now, it’s TikTok. Meanwhile, LinkedIn has emerged as the top platform for thought leadership and B2B marketing.
Add in Pinterest, Reddit, Medium, Clubhouse, and YouTube, and there is a dizzying array of social media options — with no clear way to “win” at any of them. Social media may be popular, but it’s also fickle. The platform where your brand dominates your niche one year may be a ghost town the next.
So, which platforms deserve your precious time and energy? Where are your ideal customers or clients most likely to engage with your brand? Is there any sort of predictability among social media networks?
Let’s answer these questions by reviewing who, when, where, and why consumers are using social media in 2022.
Social Media Behavioral Trends for 2022
As a pervasive digital presence, social networks connect and shape consumers’ online interactions. Understanding how users behave on each platform is vital to developing an effective social media marketing strategy. Here are the behavioral trends we’re seeing for 2022 and the near future.
Social Media as Social Proof
Social media is no longer solely a destination for selfies and funny cat videos (although those certainly haven’t gone away). Today, people log onto social media for many reasons:
- To post life updates
- To share content they find interesting
- To find answers to their questions
- To be entertained
- To connect with likeminded people
- To scope out brands and ask questions about their products and services
The last one is, obviously, the most pertinent to social media marketing. XX percent of customers will visit a company’s social media page to ask questions about their products and services. It’s a natural impulse when they’re already spending more time on social media than on checking email or searching the web.
Many brands have taken note, leveraging the platforms’ direct messaging tools to answer customer queries. On Twitter, companies such as PayPal have set up dedicated accounts to field questions.
Social media is also where consumers go to share their opinions about a brand — both positive and negative. Facebook pages include a “Recommendations” feature that can be an excellent source of social proof for marketers.
Social Media Trends by Platform
On average, consumers use about seven different social networks per month. Despite predictions to the contrary, Facebook remains the world’s most popular social network, with more than 2.9 billion monthly active users. Facebook’s mix of links, photos, and videos seems to attract older demographics who primarily use it as a source of information. Indeed, 1 in 3 adults checks Facebook for the news.
However, people are spending less time on the platform in favor of emerging platforms — particularly TikTok, which has grown by 105 percent since 2020.
That’s likely because TikTok offers an addictive feed of short-form videos. Today’s consumers have short attention spans and seek high reward. TikTok is the perfect mix of relatable, organic content and stimulating visuals. Many brands are finding that the platform promotes engagement. It also facilitates a fresh approach to content marketing: digestible, people-centric posts rather than thought pieces and company updates. (Save those for LinkedIn!)
TikTok does skew toward a younger demographic. Its American users are primarily aged 10 to 29, although plenty of older millennials and Gen Xers enjoy TikTok as well. The good news is that the platform’s robust creative tools and flexible format make a wide variety of posts possible. Many brands are earning a great reputation for tutorials, microdocumentaries, customer stories, and other engaging content. For example, Chipotle regularly posts funny food-inspired videos, Guess hosts TikTok challenges, and the San Diego Zoo makes reels of adorable animals (which is guaranteed social media gold).
Overall, TikTok has solidified the digital world’s shift toward video-based content. Other platforms have followed suit: Instagram implemented new video tools and adjusted its algorithm to favor Reels and Stories. As Instagram is now part of the Meta platform, it also recommends Reels to Facebook users. And even Facebook has become more video-friendly.
While TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook become more visually oriented, Twitter keeps in touch with its origins as a microblogging platform. Some brands have successfully built a loyal following with hilarious, occasionally irreverent posts. Look no further than Wendy’s or Charmin for an entertaining blend of offbeat humor and pop-cultural references. As Twitter is deliberately lightweight, marketers often find their greatest success by putting the “Like” in “Know, Like, Trust.”
Tweets quickly get pushed down the feed, so this isn’t the place for immersive content or soft sells. Keep the focus on real-time updates, entertainment, engagement, curated content, and real-time updates. For the latter, Twitter is now the preferred platform for customer service. No one wants to call a hotline or send an email anymore. More than 80 percent of all customer inquiries on social media happen via Twitter. It’s no wonder that brands including PayPal and PlayStation have created “@Ask[Brand]” accounts to handle questions and complaints.
Conversations Capture More Attention
Ostensibly, social media has always been about human connection. But for most platforms, the early versions were quite passive. Users logged on to publish updates, perhaps commented on others’ posts, then logged off.
Today, social media permeates almost every aspect of our digital lives. Moreover, we expect and crave engagement. Passive content simply doesn’t perform as well. That’s perhaps why Instagram’s engagement rate is 6 times higher than on Facebook, which has traditionally emphasized static posts and long-lasting content.
In addition to engagement-friendly posts and algorithms on Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter, we’re also seeing conversation-based social networks grow in numbers. These days, platforms such as Reddit, Quora, Clubhouse, and Medium are becoming new outlets for digital marketers who want to create buzz around their brands.
Reddit is the 21st-century version of old-school newsgroups and forums. Users can join a broad variety of “subreddits,” each of which is dedicated to a particular theme. Although most subreddits don’t allow promotional posts, many brands have found value in discussing relevant topics, thereby gaining their ideal audience’s trust and subtly raising their banner. And with 430 million monthly active users and more than 130,000 active subreddits, there’s plenty of opportunity to find your crowd.
Quora is a question-and-answer platform that’s emerging as an overall brand knowledge base. Just as users log onto Facebook to check a company’s reviews, they’ll also hop on Quora to ask about a particular product or industry. Many marketers can benefit from answering questions on this platform — which boasts more than 300 million monthly active users!
Medium and its close competitor, Vocal, have given traditional blogs a run for their money. These innovative writing platforms add a social aspect to self-publishing. Medium’s 100 million monthly active users can release their own articles, comment on others, and curate collections. The algorithm both delivers a user’s content to their followers and recommends it to others based on their interests. This one-two punch makes Medium and Vocal great for long-form content marketing and discoverability. Brands such as Amazon and Starbucks have turned to Medium to release thought pieces, how-to articles, and other immersive content.
Clubhouse is geared toward consumers who love to listen to podcasts and other audio content. However, this social network allows you to drop into the conversation. It’s essentially an audio version of the old-school chatrooms. Marketers can easily add value to existing topics or host their own rooms where people can add audio notes, ideas, and testimonials.
While Clubhouse was insanely popular in early 2021, its banner has dropped slightly, and it’s not yet a household name. However, it still garners attention from more than 10 million active users every week. If brands can find a relevant community on Clubhouse, it’s worth considering for its easy conversation-starting and highly digestible content.
Social Media E-Commerce Trends for 2022
E-commerce is a notoriously saturated space no matter the industry, which can make it hard for brands to stand out in the ever-growing crowd. As online-only brands rely on digital marketing for conversions, social media is the double-edged sword in their toolkit. If they’re too promotional, they isolate their ideal customers. If they’re too relatable, they may get lots of engagement but few sales.
A thorough review of 2022’s social commerce trends can help marketers discover their ideal positioning in this busy market.
Consumers Are More Willing to Shop Via Social Networks
For years, promotional content was anathema to social media. Algorithms de-prioritized obvious advertising (unless the brand paid for an ad spot). Users quickly learned to ignore sales pitches. Facebook certainly didn’t make it easy, lowering brands’ Page posts in the feed while labeling any boosted content as “Sponsored,” lowering some users’ confidence in its authenticity.
Today, though, users are much more accepting of e-commerce content on social media. In fact, 70% of consumers actually look at Instagram to find their next purchase. Plus, Facebook’s Marketplace features make it simple for businesses to capture orders right there on the platform. As users can easily check for social proof, they have fewer objections to overcome before conversion.
And as mentioned above, consumers now rely on social media to research companies. They will review a brand’s Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to see what people think of them. That’s why marketers should maintain an active, valuable presence on their target audience’s preferred platforms.
So, which demographics spend the most time on which platform in 2022?
Social Media Demographic Trends for 2022
It’s important to note that each social network’s primary demographic shifts yearly. For example, while Facebook was formerly dominated by millennials, it has lost younger female millennials to other platforms and gained users from older generations.
That said, here are some notable trends for 2022:
Globally, Facebook is currently most popular among men aged 25 to 34. Women of the same age group are the second most populous user demographic. In the U.S., the trend skews female and older, with more than 64% of women and 41% of those aged 30-49 preferring Facebook. The platform’s American users are predominantly white and high school-educated.
Twitter’s top American demographic comprises white males aged 18-29, mostly college-educated and white.
Among American users, Instagram’s top demographic is predominantly female, aged 18-29. The same is true for TikTok, which shares the largest percentage of Black and Hispanic users with Instagram. Globally, most TikTok users are between the ages of 10 and 19.
These trends are only big-picture snapshots. As with any audience segment, consumers’ interests, values, and buying behavior affect how they interact with social media. For every Gen Zer who joins TikTok, there is a Gen Xer eager to see more relatable video content.
Certain professions also lend themselves more to specific platforms. For example, consumers seeking professional guidance or creative inspiration are more likely to hop on Instagram or Medium, while hobbyists or casual creators are more likely to choose Pinterest or TikTok.
As with any aspect of digital marketing, the key is to know your audience and craft content that aligns with their needs and interests.
Social media may be an ever-changing beast, but annual trends aside, the recipe for success is usually the same: deliver value to your ideal audience, meet them where they are, and publish consistently. Resist the temptation to establish a brand presence on every single platform. It’s not only hard to manage but also guaranteed to dilute your efforts. With so many options, it’s simple to choose the top 2-4 platforms that will grow your brand.
For that same reason, it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket. However permanent a social network seems to be, there’s always the possibility it will go under. A complementary, cross-channel approach will keep your digital brand presence active no matter what happens!
Try a cohesive marketing automation, CRM, and lead nurturing platform in order to conveniently coordinate and align your social media content across channels.
Originally published on the SharpSpring blog
My Left Foot is Canada’s Platinum Certified SharpSpring partner.