Predictions for Social Media Marketing in 2022

By November 15, 2021No Comments

We’re quickly nearing the end of another COVID-disrupted year, and while many will be glad to see the back of 2021, with a return to normal now on the horizon, we do still have some way to go yet, with the full economic impacts of the pandemic likely to play out over decades, and in varying ways.

That will also have implications for digital marketing, with the pandemic-induced lockdowns changing online behaviors, and sparking all new trends – like audio social, the accelerating growth of eCommerce and the evolving metaverse for digital connection. There’s also the work from home shift, and the migration to hybrid work models, which will also have impacts for broader digital connection. All of these elements will play a part in what’s coming next in the social media space, and from the major platforms specifically.

So what can you expect to see from Facebook, Twitter and the rest in 2022? With the pandemic disruptions easing, it seems a little easier to predict the next stages, with more stable pathways appearing – though our predictions for 2020 and 2021 were also fairly accurate, even amid the chaos.

There’s certainly a lot happening – here’s a platform-by-platform overview of key trends you can expect to see take shape in the 12 months ahead.


Despite rising challengers, and a steady stream of controversies (both real and invented), Facebook remained atop the social media heap in 2021, with its 2.9 billion active users dwarfing all others, and forming the largest interconnected network of humans ever created.

The platform may be losing touch with younger audiences, but it also continues to expand into markets, offsetting any major usage declines, while it also continues to add new ad tools and business options to build a more complete platform, and facilitate the next stage of brand connection.

And that’s before you consider its move into VR, and the evolving metaverse concept. It still faces challenges, of course, and various investigations around the world, but Facebook looks set for more growth as it continues to develop in more, and different ways.

Here are the key elements of development for The Social Network.

eCommerce focus

Facebook made a big push into eCommerce at the start of the pandemic, with the introduction of Facebook and Instagram Shops, providing another way for retailers to connect with their audiences.

In-stream shopping has since become a key element of focus for the platform, and in 2022, you can expect to see Facebook expand this even further with more shoppable posts, streamlined payment processes (potentially through the development of Facebook Pay and its own Diem digital currency), improved product discovery and more alerts for buyable products in-stream.

Live shopping will also be a key element of focus. Live-stream shopping has become a key trend in China, with the value of China’s live-commerce market rising some 280% between 2017 and 2020, and now on track to become a $423 billion market by the end of next year.

Facebook sees similar potential in western markets, and with the general consumer focus more firmly aligned on eCommerce, now is the perfect time for Facebook to make a bigger push as it looks to make live-commerce a bigger element.

It’s already experimenting with this, and you can expect to see this become a bigger focus.

Facebook’s also working to become a foundational element in the digital infrastructure of emerging markets, with eCommerce also set to play a big role in this shift. Given this, you’re going to see even more shopping tools slowly merging into the Facebook experience over time, as it works to integrate more utility into the platform to counter likely losses in ad spend.

AR/VR development

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already staked his claim to the Metaverse shift, which, theoretically at least, could provide a means to integrate its various social media and evolving tech projects.

Expect to see the next stage of Facebook’s AR glasses, more specifically integrated with Instagram, along with the emergence of more interactive tech, like wristband control for AR overlays and next-level social and workplace tools for its Oculus VR headsets.

If Facebook can own the trending Metaverse space, that will be a big win for its future ambitions, and it’s already building the foundations in this respect.

Algorithmic shifts

The recent ‘Facebook Files’ expose looks set to be a significant moment, not so much in terms of the revelations about the company (many of which we already knew or suspected), but in regards to the extent that Facebook itself is aware of the negative impacts it’s apps can have, and the efforts it’s then made – or not – to rectify such.

Will Facebook look to address these key areas, even if such action would run counter to its business interests?

As Facebook eyes the next stage of digital evolution, moving beyond the Facebook platform itself, I suspect we’ll see more willingness from The Social Network to experiment with things like reducing political content in News Feeds and giving users an option to switch off the algorithm, either by an easy, Twitter-style toggle, or an alternate, swipeable timeline.

Removing algorithmic amplification was a key recommendation made by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, and by providing this as a simple, optional feed alternative, that may well prove to be the easiest way forward, in that:

a) It gives users more control, which shows that Facebook is working to address this, and

b) Because most people won’t use it anyway, which lessen the impact for the company.

Facebook has tried this in the past (as per above), but I suspect we’ll see more prominent, more user-friendly feed alternative options soon, which will make it even easier for users to control this element – or at least feelmore in control of their in-app experience.

Audio social

Will audio social remain a long-term usage behavior within social apps, or was it a pandemic-inspired fad, which provided another way for people to connect amid COVID restrictions?

I suspect it’s a bit of both, but I also predict that Facebook will eventually win out in the audio social race, specifically because of one key element: Discovery.

As with video live-streaming before it, audio social has become less compelling as it’s been made more widely available, because as with all media, while anyone can create, the capacity to share compelling, interesting content, consistently, is not universal. Being good at audio or video live-streaming is a skill, and the big challenge that Clubhouse and Twitter are now grappling with is how do you ensure that you’re showcasing the best audio content to each individual user, to generate optimal engagement with broadcasts in real-time?

Neither is succeeding in this, but Facebook, which has taken a more measured, more cautious approach, by restricting access to its audio rooms to high-profile users and groups, is actually on a far more viable path for the option.

The open reach of Twitter may hold more appeal to some, but Facebook’s audio strategy will, eventually, see it get the most out of the option, even if it doesn’t remain a key connective option post-pandemic.

Building digital identity

Another key step that you can expect to see Facebook take action on in 2022 is digital identity, and building a bridge between your Facebook profile and your VR/metaverse presence.

We’re already seeing this with the rise of digital art-based NFT avatars, which will formulate how you’re projected to others in the virtual space, and Facebook is experimenting with its own NFT profile display optionsto lean into this shift. Facebook’s also gradually guiding more users towards its digital avatar creation tools, with advanced gesture and response options, and as the metaverse push continues to gain momentum, you can expect to see Facebook add more of these character tools to help more users build their virtual representation and depiction.

Expect to see a lot more 3D characters of your friends, in different forms, across Facebook’s apps, as it looks to shift focus to the next stage.

Trust the system

In regards to Facebook ads, ‘trust the process’ will be key refrain, with Facebook urging ad partners to rely more on its machine learning processes to guide spend, as the impacts of Apple’s ATT update continue to muddy the attribution waters.

Facebook’s working to build systems that’ll help brands to maintain ad effectiveness, despite data restrictions, and it’ll increasingly be looking to highlight key examples which show that it can still provide good results, but the learning period for each campaign – the early stage where it’s systems are testing and iterating results based on user response – will now be more critical than ever.

Facebook will continually push for advertisers to run longer campaigns, and to be patient, while marketers will increasingly move to a hybrid reporting approach, using Google Analytics and other methods to track response (don’t be surprised to see Facebook try to make a push on in-store QR code scanning as well, as a means to provide more direct attribution).

But eventually, with Page reach in decline, along with campaign results in many cases, more marketers will look to rising alternatives, like TikTok and YouTube CTV ads, to replace Facebook ad spend. That will impact the company’s bottom line, though it’ll be working to replace those losses with eCommerce tools, while also pointing to the next stages of digital connection.

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