Adweek’s Social Media Week 2022 brought the industry’s sharpest minds together in NYC to share knowledge on the trends shaping social media. With the skyrocketing success of the creator economy and TikTok as an invaluable resource for brands to reach Gen Z, we’re diving into the key takeaways from #SMW.
1. Creators Are Essential to the Future of Brand Social
Day one of Social Media Week 2022 focused on collaboration between creators themselves, and between creators and brands. Each day, creators emerge on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms. They often grow in popularity due to their ability to create highly personalized content that caters to their unique audience of followers as well as the platform they’re sharing it on.
Hootsuite CMO Maggie Lower led a discussion on the challenges brands today face when trying to connect with the incredibly digital-first group of consumers that make up Gen Z. Along with empathy, purpose, and diversity, Gen Z expects authenticity and transparency from modern-day brands online. Additionally, they expect it fast — with the rise of short-form video and personalized content came a shortened attention span.
The most talked-about brands today know the importance of collaboration with these rising creators to understand how they connect with their online audiences. And we’re not just talking about traditional influencer marketing — brands like Gymshark, Duolingo, and Alo Yoga both feature and emulate the content of successful creators, looking to them as strategic leaders in the social world.
2. TikTok’s Authentic Content Style Paves the Path to Purchase
Brands that embrace the authenticity of user-generated content (UGC) and work with content creators to build a social media strategy that resonates with this generation are ultimately poised for ecommerce success. But the ones that take it a step further incorporate the actual purchasing experience into their approach to social.
Luis Carranza of Social Native led the workshop “4 Tactics to Convert Social Views to Sales in a TikTok Era,” focusing on the idea behind the viral #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag. This movement on TikTok focused on creators sharing content around everyday items like leggings and lamps but using TikTok audio clips, challenges, and trends to make users buzz about them.
Most notably, however, this trend took off because of TikTok creators’ abilities to portray a lifestyle that their followers could also attain. This is where brands come in — by sharing the positive experiences of real customers on social media, your followers are able to visualize themselves owning your product and the experience they’d have with it.
Even a water bottle can be shown in a trendy light on TikTok with the right presentation. It’s all about that humanized feel on TikTok.
Beyond the content itself that contributed to this trend, adding an element of social commerce fueled brand success — both on and off of TikTok. While brands built on Shopify can allow viewers to add products to their cart and checkout without leaving the TikTok app, other brands integrate the shopping and social experiences by creating a Shoppable TikTok feed on their websites.
Social Media Week 2022’s second day of discussions and workshops centered around the convergence of the real world and the virtual world that we see arising with Web3, the Metaverse, and the NFT craze. While most brands are still learning how to approach this shift and create a fitting social media strategy, one element will continue to be crucial: personalization.
Arthur Gerigk and Eva Valerio from Google’s session on day two emphasized that hyper-personalized content is necessary for brands to stay relevant as both social media platforms and the Metaverse grow. Social users aren’t just heading to TikTok or Instagram for a traditional feed of their friends’ posts; they now expect to be entertained, educated, and inspired by brands they interact with online. UGC combined with creator content is already beginning to bridge this gap.
Glossier CMO Ali Weiss touched on how beauty brands specifically are redefining their approaches to social to align with changing consumer expectations and omnichannel marketing. This flexibility along with the leadership of content creators in the beauty sphere will contribute to brand success in the “virtual world.”
Cosmetics powerhouse Morphe reshares content from beauty influencers catered specifically to the brand’s target audience — both on and off of social media. Coining the hashtag #MorpheBabes, Morphe also features UGC and creator media across its website and emails using Pixlee TurnTo.
4. From UGC to Creators, Brands No Longer “Own” Social Content
All this talk of creator collaboration, UGC, and a virtual world raises one important question: how will content ownership be defined as the lines blur between brand and community media? The Adweek team joined forces with Falon Fatemi, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Fireside, in discussing the relationship between brands and creators.
This session, along with the rest of Day 3, stressed the value and power of creators in a changing social landscape — something brands should both respect and proudly showcase when executing joint campaigns. Accurately attributing ownership and credit to online creators is a win-win; people are more likely to trust content that looks like it’s coming from a real human rather than a faceless brand account.
The four main trends covered at Social Media Week 2022 revolve around authenticity. It’s clear that even as social media platforms and posts change over time, people will still crave transparency and realness in the content they consume online.