Why do prediction posts have to be written at the end of the year? There are no hard fast rules as to when they officially have to go out. I suppose it’s just sexier if it’s before the start of a new year. In my case, it’s just been delayed because I’ve been sitting on them, waiting for them to happen. Actually, that’s not true, it’s just been a severe case of procrastination and I apologize. Suffice it to say, the guilts have driven me to finish this piece. I could probably have shortened this post up dramatically though by just saying that Tik-Tok will be THE platform of 2022, but what’s the fun in that? Pardon my buzzword bingo but let’s get a bit more… granular.
As 2021 dry-heaved to a thankful close we had no choice but to be optimistic in 2022. For most of the inhabitants of this earth, the last two years have been fraught with challenges that we never could have imagined. During that time, the one binding thread that kept us all on the same page, so to speak, was information. Both real and imagined.
With that said, I’ll start by going out on a relatively sturdy limb and say that social media, as a source for information, disinformation, and entertainment, in all its various shapes and forms, has been the absolute center of our global universe for the last five years.
What has 2022 brought to us all? Simply put, more of more. More trials and more tribulations. From the standpoint of a traditional predictions piece, it really was a no-brainer for me to say or write that social media was going to continue to be the heartbeat of chaos and reason and the pulse of saints and sinners. Absolutely. The volatility of it all, every platform buzzing, converging all at once, 24/7, the noise, it’s all still there.
I know that’s not a prediction as much as it’s me being the observer of the obvious, but let’s continue.
If you’re wondering who receives thank-you cards for social media’s newfound prominence in our daily collective conversation, be sure to include Covid, politics, the war in Ukraine, and inflation; and while you’re at it, write out a few more for a lot more Covid and a lot more politics.
For those that say they don’t pay attention to social. I’m going to have to call you out on that. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but let’s be real, it’s really hard to avoid avoiding it. It is virtually impossible to avoid rubbing bumpers with social media on a day-in and day-out basis. It’s not just Twitter and Facebook anymore either. It’s Snap, Reddit, Instagram, Twitch, Tik-Tok, We-Chat, and What’s App, in addition to a host of newcomers such as GETTR, Discord, Truth Social, and Clubhouse.
In fact, chances are, on any given day, a headline that you see in your email, or online, or in ‘your feed”, was fueled by social and you may not even know it. As hard as it may seem to fathom, social media is the engine that drives the world’s collective opinion. Right or wrong, good or bad, social media sits there daily waiting for you and if you don’t see “it” that day, don’t worry, they’ll be more tomorrow. Social resets every day.
With that said, let’s focus on social media’s impact in a B2B world. It’s just as volatile and equally as uncertain for those in the B2C space, but for those trying to make a buck, it’s never been more unpredictable and yet still so promising.
Four+ months in, the stone-cold reality in 2022 is that the business world needs social media. It’s a necessary evil. You can’t not do it. Whether you and your teams know what you’re doing in social media will always be debatable, but business teams must embrace it from an overarching Comms POV. In 2022, NOT utilizing social media in any capacity is probably the reddest of flags and biggest of mistakes. Specifically, for B2B, social media is a complicated love/hate relationship. It always has been. With that in mind, what does the future hold for B2B’ers? What’s in store for the remaining 7 months?
Let’s start with this. 2022 will be the year in which we all think we know what an algorithm is and does even though we don’t actually know what it is and what it does.
The user or consumer or whatever it is that we want to call ourselves, is getting smarter. We know we are the heart of the conversation, as it has always been and always should be; the only difference is we know “what’s up” now more than ever. In other words, we’re a little bit smarter and a little bit savvier on how this social media thing works.
The question though is, do the social platforms really care about us the user or us, the data source? They better care because 2022 could also be the year of the empowered user.
In no particular order here are a few other 2022 social media predictions I had written about prior to the new year in which I thought we’d see a lot of discussions about:
- 2022 will be the year that trust becomes the currency of choice in social. What does that mean? How is that defined? It’s simple. Users speak with their actions and their words. What does The Street care about when it comes to valuations for social platforms? It’s all about daily active users or DAUs and monthly active users or MAUs. Namely, it’s all about a platform’s ability to attract and retain users over time. However, what we need to see this year and beyond is an elevation of understanding and acknowledgment of what consumers expect. They can’t regain what they’ve never had. Have you ever wondered why these platforms bury their EULAs, their T’s and C’s and their privacy statements? Because if the user actually took the time to read and understand what they were agreeing to in order to “use” the platform, they would never check that yes box.
- Strategy and tactics will take a back seat to community and conversation in 2022. The former will still lead to the promised land, i.e. conversions and leads, but the value of the latter will never be higher. At the end of the day, social media is still a transactional, arrangement between strangers but to bolster and validate Seth Godin’s 2008 book, Tribes, everyone has a tribe and, thus the strength and growth of communities will continue to deliver on that notion.
- The proliferation of apps and tools for creative purposes skyrockets in 2022. Everyone is a creator even if they are not creative and thus teaching a man to fish has never been more attainable. Folding creative apps into social media is no different from peanut butter teaming up with jelly. It’s a natural fit.
- Brands finally get it in 2022 that the key to great social media engagement is telling real stories. Don’t talk at me, talk with me. You can look no further than the explosion of video. People love stories about real people and about real things. According to Statista, US residents spend an average of 323 minutes per week watching video content – on mobile phones alone! Rubber, meet the road.
- Social and search continue to be drivers of conversation and commerce in 2022. This isn’t as much a prediction as it is an acknowledgment that people search whether it’s via Google or via Facebook. They also use both for research, which can then drive consideration, which in turn can drive a commerce-type activity, eventually. My point? Social and search are inextricably joined at the hip.
- The value of how “to do” social “right” for brands and businesses becomes non-negotiable in 2022. In addition to this, the business value of social media can never be underestimated and thus the emphasis on brands getting it right becomes an unavoidable focal point. There’s an old saying, “you never get a second chance at a first impression,” which could not be more accurate when it comes to social. Brands are under a microscope and social media, done right, can give them an opportunity to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers, stakeholders, and shareholders.
In conclusion, I’d venture that these “predictions” could be used next year to a certain extent and even the year after. The takeaway is that users or consumers are getting smarter in how they use and “see” social media. They’re getting savvier if not more comfortable. Unfiltered conversations are becoming a driving central force and a more accepted theme on social platforms, and brands have never been more vulnerable to fact and fiction, and yet, they’ve never had a more golden opportunity to get it right or fail miserably. The question is, do they want the user to decide? We’ll see in 2023.