What’s Next for Social Media?

Stay up-to-date with the newest social media trends and improve your strategy.
Dino Kuckovic
September 16, 2021 - 7 min. read

Marketers live in times of constant platform changes, content overload, and intense competition across social networks. So how do you keep up with all these challenges and stay relevant to your audience? 

During DMEXCO 2021, we dedicated a masterclass to inspire marketers on what is coming up next on the social media horizon in terms of trends and movements. 

Here are some of the insights from our DMEXCO 2021 talk to help you shape your strategy and prepare yourself for a less bumpy 2022. 

The current situation. 

Once upon a time, social media marketing seemed like yet another fad, but it has since proved to be a valuable marketing vehicle that is here to stay.  

According to Statista, the average person in the U.S. spends 2.4 hours on social networks every day. People are looking for engaging content, discovering new products, as well as interacting with their favorite brands. 

With the right marketing strategy, your brand can reach out to 3.6 billion users out there on social media to: 

  • Build brand awareness and increase visibility  
  • Drive traffic to the website 
  • Generate sales 
  • Benchmark and overcome competition 
  • Provide real-time customer service 

The list of opportunities for your brand on social goes on and on. 

Let’s dive deep into the current situation to see what’s happening right now and the tactics that can help you gain clarity around your marketing efforts:  

The return of traditional channels. 

The pandemic affected the way people consume content. Even though it’s unlikely to see the same results as pre-COVID-19, we believe that traditional marketing and advertising will make a comeback. There is increased activity in offline channels, and TV, audio, and outdoor marketing are expected to grow in 2021.  

Global advertising is already growing faster than the predicted 19% for the year, and TV advertising is expected to rise by 9.3%, mainly because of the return of some major sports events. 

So, brands should consider traditional channels and mix them up with their digital and social media strategy. 

Ad spending across new platforms. 

We also see platforms like Amazon, Pinterest, and TikTok becoming important investment vehicles during pandemic times.  

For example, Amazon earned $21 billion from advertising in 2020. In 2021, the demand kept rising, and the average cost per click increased to $1.20 in June 2021, which marks a 30% rise.  

Meanwhile, WARC reports that 44% of brands expect to increase their spending on TikTok this year, thanks to the social network’s speedy growth in users and activity during the 2020 lockdown. 

A shift from short-term reaction to long-term planning. 

The pandemic shifted many brands’ focus to short-term planning and rapidly adapting to the challenging marketing landscape.  

But according to Forrester Research, in 2021, B2C marketers will increase their spending on long-term loyalty and retention marketing by 15% and cut back on the short-term product or performance-based campaigns.  

During the lockdown, brand loyalty decreased for many companies, with almost half of their consumers switching to new brands. Businesses should focus on building lasting relationships with their customers and adopting a long-term planning approach focused on business sustainability to recover from this. 

Measuring your different marketing efforts efficiently will also play an instrumental role in building up successful loyalty and retention strategies. 

Holistic measurement and agile planning are key. 

Marketers need a data-driven approach for building their social media strategies and defining their budgets to make the right business decisions and generate social ROI. 

“A new approach to measurement and budget planning is needed. Without these insights, it’s all too easy to make the wrong investment decisions – as shown by marketers saying they waste an average of 26% of their budgets on ineffective channels and strategies.”  

~ Spencer Ng, GfK’s Marketing Analytics Lead, APAC.  


What could social media look like in 2022 and beyond?  

It’s challenging for marketers to stay on top of the game when it comes to trends on social and digital. So, let’s take a moment, look into the crystal ball and check out some potential social media scenarios and movements. 

Trend 1: Decentralized platforms. 

The pandemic has disrupted the traditional ways of communication and doing business in general. And investing and decentralizing may very well become the blueprint for the future of social media. 

What if the next big social media platform uses blockchain and open-source technology with the intent to make the platform more democratic and grant its users full ownership of their accounts and profits?  

In this vision of the future of social media, users could have direct access to the decentralized platform’s algorithms. There would be no centralized rules of engagement and monetization, which will free content creators to have full ownership of their following and investments offered by it. 

Read this if you want to learn more about how you can balance personalization and data privacy. 

Trend 2: Investing in brands and influencers. 

Imagine a world where content creators monetize their influence on social media in a new form. Right now, they have no choice but to share a portion of their profits with the platforms. But what if social media evolves into connectivity and asset investing hybrid, where fans could directly invest in brands and celebrities they support and believe in?  

Let’s take this a step further. What if, by doing this, followers earn a premium on their investment if it turns out that they believe in the right people and brands? 

It remains to be seen which platform will emerge as the go-to for brands that love to leverage the monetization factor on social media. 

Trend 3: YouTube is gaining in popularity. 

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 81% of U.S. adults say they use YouTube.  

The social network is used mostly for the consideration stage of the lead funnel and for returning customers. It gives brands great opportunities to elaborate on the benefits of the products and services, benchmark those against their competition, and stand out from the crowd with their unique selling points. 

YouTube can also be used to deliver tutorials and installation videos to help you build trust amongst your audience. 

You can also use the platform to humanize your brand with behind-the-scenes videos. 

And don’t forget to repurpose long-form video content by slicing it into micro-content and sharing it on other social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, etc.  

Trend 4: Facebook and Instagram are still important. 

Social selling has been here for a while, but 2022 promises to be the year of eCommerce on social. 

Most social networks have been working on creating a new and simple shopping experience for their audiences. And COVID-19 significantly changed people’s online behavior, which boosted eCommerce on social networks. 

The social networks are also where leads seek social proof for the products or services they are interested in buying. 

Facebook and Instagram are a great starting point for your brand. 43 million people use Facebook in Germany as of July 2021, and forty percent of U.S. adults say they use Instagram.  

Trend 5: Don’t underestimate the power of Pinterest. 

You can leverage Pinterest to generate traffic, leads, and revenue. Many people also use Pinterest as a search engine, and they are 70% more likely to engage with product tags in scenes.  

Consider this opportunity and show your product in action. You can also repurpose visual content on the network to increase your web traffic and engagement. 

Trend 6: Target B2B professionals on LinkedIn. 

LinkedIn is the place to find and target your B2B leads. 28% of U.S. adults use LinkedIn, and 51% of adults who have a Bachelor’s or advanced degree use LinkedIn. Here are some ideas on how to utilize the social network: 

  • LinkedIn groups. 

LinkedIn groups seem to be here to stay, so why not get to know and utilize it for your business? 

  • LinkedIn videos. 

LinkedIn users are 20x more likely to share a video on this platform than any other type of post. And therefore, LinkedIn seems to invest more and more in video discovery tools and encourage video content.  

With this said, they recently deprecated their Story format with the idea of focusing on lasting videos, which their community asked for. 

  • LinkedIn user-generated content.  

Engage your audience by sharing valuable content from your users. Consider reviews, blogs, professional publications on your social media, and platforms like Trip Advisor, iFood, Yelp. 

Trend 7: A generation ignored by digital marketers booms on social. 

From Gen Z and their TikTok dances to the millennial stories on Instagram, we think of the younger generations when we think of social media. However, ‘older’ audiences are also getting involved. 

From how to remove stains on walls and ’Things I wish I knew in my 20s’ to fashion advice and rediscover their style, older generations are increasingly growing their share of voice on social, seeking advice from — as well as giving advice to — the young ones. 

This new level of crossover and interaction between generations means brands should think twice about who they can reach and how when it comes to their social media plans. 

Trend 8: Nostalgia Marketing. 

For brands with rich histories, it’s worth referring to the past while looking toward the future. That’s called nostalgia marketing.  

Nostalgia is like comfort food. It transports us back to a simpler, happier place and gives us comfort and stability – things we all long for in times of uncertainty.  

It has been over a year since the first lockdown that put our lives on hold and turned everything upside down. Since then, masks, distance learning, and working from home have become the new normal, which has a knock-on effect on the types of content people are consuming.  

A recent study exploring the effects of COVID-19 on entertainment choices found that more than half of consumers are finding comfort in old TV shows, films, and songs from their youth. Pokémon cards are skyrocketing in value, and stars of 2000s TV shows like High School Musical have been a huge hit on TikTok. 

Use this opportunity to bring some feel-good memories to your audience and thrive on social as a brand. 

That’s a wrap. 

By embracing these trends and movements, your brand will gain the attention and loyalty of your current and past customers. 

Despite the ever-changing landscape of social media, planning for the long term is never a bad idea. 

How to measure your Social Media ROI.
If you are looking for more inspiration on how to improve your social media strategy and business results - check out our ebook.