The world of social media has always been unpredictable, but the past few years have brought even more change than usual. Between the 2020 pandemic and a series of cultural movements, the influencer landscape — and digital communication as a whole — is no longer the same as it used to be.
So what does that mean for marketers trying to keep up with the ever-changing world of social? We'll explore the latest social media marketing trends so you can stay ahead of the curve.
How Social Media Marketing Has Evolved
Gone are the days of being able to make a few Facebook posts and call it a day. Now, social media is more nuanced than ever – here are some of the ways it's evolved in recent years.
The Rise of TikTok
For much of its existence, the social media landscape has been dominated by American companies. From behemoths like Facebook to smaller competitors like Snapchat, the most popular social media platforms were born and raised in the U.S.
But Chinese companies have challenged that status quo in the last several years, the most notable of which is ByteDance with its internationally popular social media platform, TikTok.
After its global launch in 2017, TikTok quickly became one of the hottest apps available. It's now been downloaded more than 200 million times in the U.S. alone, and major brands like Old Navy are shaping their ads around its content.
For social media marketers, TikTok represents an exciting but challenging new frontier. And with all types of brands finding success on the platform, from luxury cookware makers to workout clothing labels to video game studios, there's plenty of inspiration to be found.
Don't take our word for it — Ryanair's hilarious videos of anthropomorphized airplanes (and their millions of views) are proof in and of themselves:
Long story short, TikTok is here to stay, and brands that take the time to create content for it are sure to benefit.
How to leverage TikTok for your brand: Look at what other brands in your vertical are doing on TikTok and see what you can learn from their successes (and failures). Create content specifically for TikTok, and partner with influencers who are relevant to your brand.
A New Era for Influencers
Just as with any other new industry, the early years of influencer marketing were unregulated and unpredictable. Some influencers found success early on and were able to exchange their reach for fair compensation, but many were not.
The findings of a new large-scale study have confirmed as much. In the survey of more than 1,600 content creators:
- 93 percent say that being a creator has had a negative impact on their lives.
- 77 percent worry about depending on social media platforms for their income.
- 70 percent say a dip in earnings due to an algorithm change could seriously impact their lives.
- 65 percent feel overworked and/or underpaid.
As a result, creators are embracing a fresh set of principles built on their terms. Researchers call it the New Creator Manifesto:
Long story short, influencers are refusing to be treated as tools for brands to use. They're their own brands, and they're prioritizing independence and fair treatment above all else.
How to leverage the New Creator Manifesto for your brand: Approach influencer marketing with the intention of building a genuine relationship, and treat creators as partners rather than products. The authentic content and lasting growth you'll get in return will be more than worth it.
The Search for Authenticity
Speaking of authenticity, it's now more important for successful social media marketing than ever.
That's especially true for Millennials and Gen Z: 82 percent of Gen Zers and 79 percent of Millennials say they trust a brand more if they use images of actual customers.
In the same vein, 72 percent of Gen Zers and 69 percent of Millennials are more likely to buy from companies that contribute to social causes (Gen Y is in agreement here, with 62 percent saying the same):
The bottom line is that today's customers don't want marketers to show them an unobtainable fantasy — they want authenticity instead.
How to leverage authenticity for your brand: Demonstrate authenticity by creating content that features real customers, standing up for social causes you believe in, and prioritizing honesty.
Suffice it to say that social media marketing isn't what it used to be, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, today's social media marketing trends are pushing everyone toward content that's more genuine, fun, and fair — we don't know about you, but that sounds pretty fantastic.
And if you pay attention to how social media marketing is evolving and persistently listen to what your customers want, your brand's competitive edge will be razor-sharp.