As social media continually evolves with changing cultural trends, user behavior, consumer preferences and technology, it’s not always easy for marketers to plan for or leverage new opportunities.
It’s our job to keep up with these platforms’ next moves. Here’s where we see the biggest social media platforms headed this year:
Facebook — A Renewed Focus on Groups and Gamers
With the launch of Meta, Facebook is looking to survive by tapping into unique markets inside its platform. According to the New York Times, “Facebook use among teenagers in the United States has been declining for years, and is expected to plummet even further soon — internal researchers predicted that daily use would decline 45 percent in 2023.”
Facebook will focus more on Facebook Groups and its gamer audience to stay relevant. Why? Gen Zers are turned off by Facebook’s member demographics and many believe the platform is a host of misinformation and has cultivated a toxic environment. However, Meta taps into these consumers’ interests such as gaming, non-fungible tokens and creating content.
In the last year, Facebook updated its Groups platform to increase engagement and add value for clients and brands through greater ability to control and monitor conversations. This could allow the platform to add advertisements to Groups. This could also be an opportunity for a live shoppable feature within Groups to allow consumers to make purchases directly on the platform.
Recently, Facebook announced the role of community leaders in Facebook Groups “as a force for good” to help drive societies forward. This initiative aims to show users that Facebook can be an everyday resource that offers human connections, impact social causes and give community leaders a forum.
Instagram — New Opportunities Through Live Shopping
Instagram has grown into a shoppable platform for consumers and its recent launch of Live Shopping brings forth more commerce opportunities. We predict live shopping will become popular among small business owners and trickle into big brands, especially during big holidays such as Fourth of July, Labor Day and Black Friday.
We’ll also see the return of the chronological feed this year. In 2016, the platform introduced an algorithmically sorted feed, which served content that people liked vs. showing posts of friends or family in chronological order. A return to chronological order will de-escalate content that whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed can be harmful to young users, especially teen girls. Still, there is a call for users to have more control over the platform settings and greater regulation of younger users.
TikTok — The Dawn of Digital Creators and Protecting Younger Audiences
Last year, TikTok launched its Digital Creator platform to help influencers enhance their skills and expand brand partnership capabilities. TikTok is the first platform to shift terminology from “influencers” to “digital creators,” as influencers are associated with negative traits such as being lazy and famous for no reason or wanting free items. The more “digital creator” grows as a career, the more likely TikTok will explore other ways to support them through professional development and tutorials to help creators understand the platform’s updates.
Beyond paid brand partnerships and giving creators tips, we predict TikTok will provide other types of financial support for creators, such as webinars with financial advisors, credit cards, loans or 401K programs. In 2021, tipping became a popular behavior to help financially support creators; we predict in 2022 tipping will become a normal user behavior while watching live events.
TikTok may also start policing its platform to protect its younger audience and regulate content that threatens online child safety.
Twitter — Users Are Finding Love on Twitter
Twitter could become the newest dating app, as there was a 65% uptick in conversations about dating last year. Twitter users are craving connections, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see a shift from virtual dates to in-person interactions. This could be an opportunity for Twitter to create a safe dating space for people who want to meet in person, similar to other dating apps.
Reddit — Tomorrow’s TikTok Copycat
Is Reddit slowly becoming a version of TikTok? The platform updated its search bar to incorporate video streams, similar to TikTok and Instagram Reels. Reddit’s goal is to increase engagement and help users discover new subcategories by reworking its interface to match consumer expectations of in-app video players. We predict Reddit will invest in content creators in 2022 and develop platforms similar to Facebook’s and TikTok’s.
As social media platforms are subject to greater scrutiny by users, advertisers and Congress, only those who listen to and support users, push out innovative tools and experiences, and self-regulate can expect to thrive — or survive.