Well folks we’re nearly at the end of yet another COVID year and if you’re like me you’d be just as glad to see the back of 2021 like we did with 2020 there is hope on the horizon that 2022 will be more like life as we remember it. We are not entirely out of the woods as some of the pandemic impact will likely play out for years or dare I say decades to come.
Digital marketing has and will continue to be impacted in many ways. Things like lockdowns have certainly changed online behaviours sparking all new trends like audio social and accelerating the growth of e-commerce and the ever evolving metaverse for digital connection.
So what can you expect to see from Facebook in 2022? With pandemic restrictions coming to an ease it is actually a little easier to predict next year with more suitable pathways appearing. There will be quite a lot happening so here’s a play by play per platform on what we believe we can expect.
Ok it has been one heck of an interesting year for Facebook who has had a steady flow of controversies, Facebook has managed to weather the storm and remained king of the mountain in 2021. With 2.9 billion active users forming the largest interconnected network of humans EVER.
There is a lot of evidence that the platform might be losing touch with younger audiences but on top of that it also continues to expand into other markets, which basically has offsetted any decline. It also continues to add more tools and features into its platform and create more ways for brands to connect to their clients.
On Top of everything we also need to consider Facebook’s move into VR. There are a lot of challenges they have yet to face and are no doubt planning more ways to work with different governments and agencies but this is a key development for the social network.
Some Key Focuses
E-commerce. Facebook has made a huge push into e-commerce especially at the start of the pandemic with the introduction of Facebook and Instagram shops, which basically provides another referral stream and way for businesses to connect with their consumers.
In stream shopping has become a new “yeau beaut” key element and focus for the platform that will no donut be pushed even more into 2022. You will see Facebook probably expand this with more shoppable posts, streamlined payment process and improved ways to search for products.
Like with a lot of things during the pandemic, live streaming is now an expectation, so live-stream shopping will also be a key feature. It’s already a HUGE feature in China with the market rising 280% from 2017 to 2020 and is on track to do AUD $565 billion by the end of next year.
Facebook will see a lot of potential in western markets and now more than ever is the perfect opportunity for them to push it. It’s the right place at the right time. There have been reports that Facebook is already experimenting on this so this will be a HUGE focus.
Facebook is making a good move in this now as an investment to offset it’s likely decline in ads spend which is probably as I’ll explain a bit further down.
Expect to see the next stage of Facebook AR glasses with more integration with Instagram, along with more interactive tools and technology like wristband control and nexxt level integration with Oculas and VR headsets.
Facebook has had a lot of bad press this year. The “Facebook Files’ ‘ expose looks set to be a significant moment in the company’s history and it has a lot of PR and damage control to do so make up for its lack of effort to rectify any change in it’s organisation. Time will tell if they take action to address this but to do so would be against their goals so I guess only time will tell.
Facebook has also made no secret that it will be moving on beyond it’s platform. So I believe we will see more experimentation from the social network to look at reducing things like political content and maybe even there is speculation it will allow users the ability to switch off the algorithm, maybe like they do on Twitter or something like an alternative newsfeed / timeline.
Removing algorithmic amplification was a key recommendation made by the Facebook whistleblowers Frances Haugen, so providing an alternate timeline might be the easiest solution to the problem. And think about it
- It gives users more control which is something they’ve been wanting but also shows Facebook is being progressive in working with them.
- Also as humans we can be a complacent species – so chances are we won’t use it anyway but it solves the problem.
A huge trend that has come out of the pandemic is audio social. So far the reigning champion of this is Clubhouse. But will it be a pandemic fad as people start to reconnect the way we’ve been doing since time began?
My theory is that it will be a bit of both, but I also predict in a few years we will be saying “clubhouse who?”…yep I said it, but Facebook will win this war because it is easily placed in an app with billions of users.
Like live video, audio streaming has become less compelling as it’s been made more widely available, because as with all media while anyone can create it, the ability to share a good compelling story of a piece of content is not universal. It’s why we have a job because people cannot be created 24/7 without a certain skill set. Being good at audio or video live streaming is a skill, and the big challenge that Clubhouse and Twitter are now facing is how do you ensure your showcasing the best audio content to each user. Neither is succeeding in this, but Facebook has taken a more measured and cautious approach, by restricting access to high-profile users and groups, it is far more a viable path and option.
One key step you can expect from Facebook is while they move more into VR you will have a connection of identity between your Facebook and VR online profile.
We’re already seeing this with the rise of NFT avatars, which will project how you appear to others in a virtual space. There’s also been a shift where Facebook has been getting users comfortable with creating their own virtual digital avatars. This has been something they have been working with on Facebook Horizon. We did a blog about this in 2018. I expect we will see a lot more 3D and virtual avatar movements, tools and experiences in 2022 as part of their next phase.
In regards to Facebook ads “trust the process” will be a key refrain with Facebook urging it’s ads users to rely on it’s machine learning and processes to guide ads spend. Apple have had a lot to do with this but Facebook will be diligently working around this and building in systems to maintain ads effectiveness.
The will be to educate ads users to rely on the early phase of the ads process where Facebook’s systems are testing and iterating results based on user response.
Facebook will likely push users to run longer ads so it’s learning can be effective and where it will integrate a new approach using things like Google Analytics and other methods to track results. Also store QR code scanning will be a feature we can expect to see.
It will be an interesting year for Facebook as page reach start to decline along with some campaign results, being on the ball more than ever is key and knowing your audience will be ever more important, thankfully there are alternatives like TikTok and YouTube to name a few where ads spend can be spent elsewhere if the decline happens. But Facebook will snake up this loss with better e-commerce tools.
Not to be outdone next year Instagram has become a key player in many aspects. One thing that is hard to tell however is if Instagram is growing. Since 2018 there have not been any update to it’s figures of 1 billion users.
The platform is becoming a trend follower in many ways. The main platforms it seems to follow for replication are Snapchat and TikTok. It has kept it relevant and engaging for younger users. Over the past year there has been a lot of negative press around Instagram when it comes to image and the impacts of image and mental health.
So what does Instagram have in store for 2022?
Like Facebook e-commerce is going to be a main focus and having the ability to make all posts shoppable on the app. The more shopping Instagram can build into it’s platform the more people will use it for their favourite shops and brands and they won’t look anywhere else.
In 2022 I’d expect to see more shopping options being tested in Instagram including things like advanced search options that let you search by product. They will also have a big push on live advertising like on Facebook.
Overall the point of this will be to provide more income streams for the platform.
Like Facebook AR/VR gets a push as Facebook works to become the leader in VR, Instagram will be a crucial player in this. Instagram will be directly connected into Facebook’s AR glasses and will evolve as the AR/VR space evolves.
With video becoming more and more of a focus I have no doubt Instagram will have 2 timeline choices. One where you can see the traditional timeline and the next where you will be able to see all your stories and reels.
Video engagement is already dominant on the platform with Reels being the fastest growing element. It makes a lot of sense for Instagram to put more focus on these elements and eventually retire the traditional feed. It is a huge leap from where it all started from. The app will evolve from instant pictures to user generated video on demand.
Overall these are just some shifts we can expect to see from Facebook and Instagram. With Apps like TikTok also looking to take advantage of e-commerce it will be interesting to see where this leads. I’ll write another blog on that and how the evolution of LinkedIn could lead to it helping you choose your ideal career path. None of this is set in stone. This is my humble opinion on where things are heading looking at the landscape as it is now. Anyway if you have read this far I appreciate you reading and catch you on the next blog.