Black Friday – TICK!, Cyber Monday – TICK! Yep, now it’s time for all the emails and adverts to pop up telling you what the marketing trends are for 2022. It’s one of the very few bandwagons I do jump on, so forgive me.
I’m not going to give you a huge list of things because, if I’m honest, it’s overwhelming, and most of you reading this will be running SMEs, or if you’re in a bigger organisation, you are probably part of a small marketing team. If I suggested 50 trends, you’d think, how am I going to find the time to do this, and implement nothing. So the list below isn’t everything I’m expecting to see; it’s pointers to the marketing trends I believe will affect most businesses. It’s a small list, so if you only have limited capacity, just pick one and make sure you take it forward in your marketing activities for 2022.
#1 Marketing Fundamentals
January is a great time to launch new marketing initiatives. As we jump from trend to trend, we can be forgiven for forgetting the basics. Quite often, the latest marketing trends are the reworking of something that has been around for years. So if you don’t have the basics right in the first place, you are building on unstable ground. Not a good idea, folks!
Your avatars and personas have changed habits since 2018/2019, and so if you haven’t looked at this in detail and made changes accordingly, you are leaving money on the table! Don’t make assumptions; rework these so you know the marketing activity you are producing is landing. Tweak your messages if you need to; look at that social media platform you’ve always said is only for kids! There have been shifts in how the public communicate with brands, shifts in lifestyle have meant we all buy in a different way, and attitudes towards brands have changed as consumers have become wise to the tactics used to gain loyalty.
With this information, audit your website and social media channels with fresh eyes. If your whole strategy is based around gaining leads, but there’s nothing on your website to generate leads, guess what? – That’s a basic you’re missing. If your social channels are not communicating what you do and who you help, your basic messaging needs a refresh.
I should throw a line in here about brand too. A brand that is clear and consistent helps generate trust. If your website looks completely different to your LinkedIn branding, and that’s different to Facebook, and the branding in your posts is all over the place… well, I think you get the message here without me even finishing the sentence!
This is going to be one of those words marketers ruin. The people you are selling to are using several social media channels and mediums, so it follows that you can not stick to one. I’ve always suggested that less is more, and I still believe that, focus on having fewer awesome channels rather than masses of crappy ones! That’s the basic lesson here.
Your next client is likely hanging out in different places for different reasons. (Instagram for social, LinkedIn for business, Facebook to stay in touch with extended family, etc.) Alongside these usages, they’re also highly likely to be part of online communities such as Facebook groups. The options for these communities were previously quite limited, but now we’re seeing the development of digital communities via platforms like Slack or Discord. (Discord was initially a platform for gaming communities, which over the last 12 months has become used more for creators to manage communities (and monetise them) on a whole different level). I suspect this really is going to be one to watch for anyone in the B2B space.) There are also tools such as Mighty Networks that allow you to create what is essentially an App that you can use to run your online community on.
#3 Community Creates Loyalty
It makes sense to add this here as I’ve already started to discuss it. You have two options, and I suggest implementing both in this order. 1. Be part of someone else’s community. 2. Create your own.
No one sells in these communities; they give support and advice where it’s appropriate. Being active and becoming known is the key to success here. You can’t use a cookie-cutter approach to content within these communities either. The reason they work is that members are coming to see content from people they care about on subjects they’re passionate about. They’re consuming content that has been designed only for them and their peers. It’s a far more personal connection, and so loyalties and friendships grow for the individuals (or brand) offering the most value to them.
#4a Alternative Formats For Content
2021 was a year for alternative content; more specifically, I’m referring to Voice and Video.
Let’s tackle voice first. Podcasting was already on the rise, and then in Q1 we saw the Clubhouse trend seriously take hold. Fast forward to the end of the year, and there are some real Clubhouse advocates, and everyone else is asking if it’s even still a thing! I am telling you, social audio is here to stay, my friend! With so many platforms either having launched or announced they’re working on their audio-only alternatives, my honest opinion is that people will use the format where their tribe hangs out. (See points 2 and 3 above!) The coaches seem to have found their home on Clubhouse, the creatives are using Green Room on Spotify, Facebook Rooms are still quite new, but I suspect this is where influencers will give their followers real-time access to them. LinkedIn’s working on their version – that’ll be the C-Suite’s poison of choice, Amazon’s working on theirs – that’s one for the authors… and there will be more!
One of the impacts of social audio is that suddenly a bunch of people have realised that they not only have something to say, but also something people want to hear. This has pushed growth in the creation of podcasts big time. Whereas so far, social audio is more of a real-time experience, Podcast is permanent and on-demand. For this reason, listenership is also increasing despite a decrease back in 2020 when the world stopped commuting!
No one can write an article on trends for 2022 without mentioning TikTok! My advice to you is to stop thinking of TikTok as a social platform if you don’t think your audience is there. Instead, think of it as a tool for content creation. TikTok is by nature creative and allows brands to show a completely different side to them without disappearing off-message. There’s more I want to say here, but that’s really for the next thing on the list…
#4b Take a Multi-Media Approach
This is very much tied to the point above, but it deserves its own section!
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a trend for bite-size, snackable content. This means you should be using carousel-style posts, polls, etc., that carry short, easy to comprehend messages.
The trend of snackable content has been tightly linked to the ephemeral content trend (think Stories), and those things are not disappearing. TikTok style videos are everywhere, Instagram has not only developed Reels as what is pretty much a carbon copy, but they’ve also now pretty much stated that this is the content they want us to be creating on the platform. Creating 15-30-second video clips is definitely a trend that will continue and grow in 2022.
However, these should be seen as breadcrumbs that lead to something that is longer form that offers a deeper dive. For example, I could create a Story on Instagram saying ‘X trends for 2022’ and reel off a list. But if people want more detail, they need to be directed to this article for the deep-dive. What’s great about that example is that the experience is multi-media. Starts with video – takes you to written content. If I record a reading of the article, those who are more aural can opt for audio content. Perhaps we want to take this to a live experience.
Yes – I said Live! Do not underestimate the value of Live stream content. If you’re disheartened at live attendee numbers, you need to do more to market the live as an event! It’s amazing how many people know about the Green Umbrella live lunch show who I’m sure haven’t actually ever attended it or have only ever watched a few minutes!
As a side note, in 2022, you need to ensure what your long-form assets are worth tuning in to. Think substance over style; what you create must be of high value and content-rich, or it won’t be consumed!
Essentially, there are four media types available to you that are essential in 2022 – Written, Audio, Video and Live video. Make use of what’s most comfortable for you, but make sure there are options so you can serve your audience with what’s more comfortable for them. Creating long-form content that can be broken down into something more snackable to ensure the long-form is seen is essential for success!
#5 Hyperpersonlisation and First-Party Data
There was a time when we could just rely on the data Facebook and Google held to reach the right people. There was a time when using a first name merge tag meant you were sending something personalised… and then we had scandal after scandal, GDPR, privacy-related stories were in the news day after day, and so people started taking action to limit what was getting shared across the web. And so, as marketers, we need to adjust our practices.
The more you understand the people on your database, the more personalised your marketing can be. You see why I’ve put these two things together! Obviously, you should only hold the minimum amount of information necessary on any individual, but you do need to be clear on what information you need to hold in order to market to someone efficiently so that you can understand who you’re attracting, and go out and find more of them! You need to be smarter with landing pages on your website and, instead of relying on cookies, have some sort of interactivity that you can measure, so that you can target that person to take the next step. (Previously, you’d have just asked Facebook to show an ad to anyone who had been on that page in the last x days, but it’s no longer possible to retarget someone this way reliably. Not without it costing far more than it did!)
The great thing now is that if you have the first-party data right (i.e. the stuff you’ve collected yourself), you can offer some truly personalised marketing that is more likely to create conversions. We work with recruiters, if I don’t know who is, or isn’t a recruiter and I want to promote an event in their inbox, I’m going to annoy a bunch of people with irrelevant information. If what I’m promoting is for solo recruiters in the south of England and the data I hold means I only send the message to the people who fit that criteria, the communication is far more personalised.
Marketing Trends For 2022 – there’s more!
I always try to keep this to a max of 5 points as it really can be overwhelming.
But I’m kicking myself for not discussing how people are wanting to communicate with brands 121. Those of you that are ahead of the curve should look into automation of DMs via your Facebook messenger and Instagram messages, plus how you can use WhatsApp Business as a communication channel.
Then there’s also the fact that we’re all wise to the idea of a lead magnet and bored of webinars! We need to be innovative with what we use to attract prospects, or smart with the language we use! A Webinar is now a masterclass, or we string a series of them together as a summit. What would have been an eBook is now a 5-day challenge delivered via video. Quizzes are making fantastic shareable lead magnets that create engagement because they’re highly interactive. There’s a huge amount you can do here, and I would love to swap ideas on that one if you’re stuck!
In closing – 2022 is the year of opportunity from a marketing perspective. There is so much more that I’m seeing that I could switch out from the above. I think that if I were to create a list of 10 trends for every sector and industry out there, each list would be different! You know I love talking marketing, so if you’re stuck on where to take your marketing in 2022, you need to reach out to me. Don’t get left behind!