In 2022, brands are finding themselves in a long-term and increasingly complicated love-hate relationship with social media, due to the many challenges facing the sector. We are at a pivotal point in the future of these ‘new’ platforms, whose pioneers will celebrate their 20th anniversary. As TikTok is in full swing and the uses of the platforms are diversifying, businesses are feeling the heat. But solutions exist. That’s what Romina Gonzalez Galetto, managing director of Hootsuite France told us [disclosure, Hootsuite has been our client on several occasions, as part of the social network barometer].
Brands and social media: rising up to the TikTok and UGC challenge
Brands and the evolution of the social media landscape
TikTok is constantly gaining new users (see chart below). Its use is very much in the hands of content creators. And in the face of this, “brands on this network are still trying to find the answer”, Romina explains.
At the same time, Facebook and Instagram are losing revenue for the first time, but these media platforms are still essential for businesses, the French head of the Canadian company told us.
“We found out after the pandemic that users needed to interact with brands,” Romina points out. “Consumers were keen on these ‘one-to-one’ exchanges on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram.”
With WhatsApp, for example, a company can send notifications to its customers and nurture more personalised relationships. Companies are increasingly resorting to these techniques.
There is a shift in the number of active users, but new use cases are emerging, making a certain balance in network usage possible
There is also a change in the age of Facebook users. “The youngest give priority to TikTok, while older subscribers are increasingly present on Facebook.”
But connection volumes and, above all, conversations and customer engagement continue to be important, especially with Messenger.
A change in perception
While the use of social media is shifting towards conversations – between subscribers and with brands – its importance is not diminishing according to Romina.
There are also differences in usage between services, and even silos, as we had pointed out back in 2018.
Nope, social media isn’t bound to disappear
Despite numerous pleas for the deletion of one’s social media accounts, “for the time being, the disappearance of social networks is not on the agenda. On the contrary, we highlighted the amazing vitality of these platforms in the trends 2022 report,” Romina added.
Turn to the right platforms for your audiences
The conclusion to be drawn from this observation is that brands must select the networks that suit them best. And above all those that are most in tune with their audiences.
The time of frantic all-out social presence is well and truly over.
While TikTok is widely used, it may not be the right platform for all brands
“Brands therefore need to consider whether they are able, depending on their DNA, sector or speciality, to create engaging content on TikTok.”
Each social network has a specific purpose
“If you want to deliver information to your community, for example, Facebook or Instagram will be more suitable than TikTok,” Romina adds.
“A brand must first define its social media objectives and strategy.”
It then needs to identify the networks that will enable it to achieve these objectives, particularly in terms of engagement.
Brands should not adopt a social network just because it is trendy
In a sense, this is not revolutionary, as we have been saying for quite some time. But what is new is that this strategic choice is now a must.
Brands and social media in 2022: a reminder from the latest Hootsuite barometer
Here we see again what we observed earlier on in the Hootsuite/Visionary Marketing barometers, especially in 2021.
On the one hand, there are users who are migrating to the new platforms (Snapchat was mentioned at the time, but TikTok is much more popular now). And on the other hand, we noticed that companies were less able to produce content for these platforms.
However, things are changing, under the impetus of communication agencies.
Content creators, brands and social media
“Companies are better able to feed into more traditional networks like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram,” Romina explains.
Facilitating a community on TikTok with truly compelling content is much more difficult
However, this difficulty can be overcome.
It is indeed possible to “muster a community of content creators“.
“Our trends report this year highlighted the importance of social media influencers: those brands that are more mature turn to them first when they want to make their publications more engaging and more relevant to the company’s target audience.”
“This is both easier and more rewarding,” says the CEO of Hootsuite France.
Marketing professionals should therefore manage this social mix: the networks they can run by themselves and those platforms they had rather entrust to content creators.
This new landscape completely transforms the way companies work on social media
The irresistible rise of UGC
We see in more mature companies that the uses of networks go beyond the marketing team. They include, among other things, employer branding.
Brands are mobilising their employees around their social media strategies
“We are also noticing a UGC boom,” Romina points out.
“We are witnessing an increase in the complexity of the social media landscape, which implies knowing how to diversify one’s techniques and resources according to the different uses.”
What does the future hold for Twitter? Only time will tell
Even though 2022 has been a year full of twists and turns for Twitter – and it’s not over – the blue bird platform is still alive and well.
Users see Twitter as an informational and interpersonal communications network
“Twitter is still very present, its use remains important, even if it is a tad less than before,” remarks the general manager of Hootsuite France.
Nothing is certain, and the future holds many surprises. So let’s wait and see what happens to Twitter, Meta and the others.
In the short to medium term, platforms will evolve dramatically, but they will not disappear.