Social media is now an integral and increasingly valued part of strategy, regardless of the company, but Sprout Social finds it’s still being under resourced.
Its ninth annual trend forecast, “US Social Media Trends for 2022 & Beyond,” surveyed more than 1,000 US consumers and 500 US social marketers to understand how social media has transformed on both sides of the marketing equation.
Marketing teams were previously trying to convince senior leadership that social media was “business-critical,” but now the value of social across functions is clearer than ever, the report finds.
But the new responsibilities of social teams come with new challenges. Creating the outcomes businesses have come to expect from social calls for more talent. More than half of marketers (52%) say that finding experienced talent is their number one challenge this year.
Eighty-eight percent of marketers say they expect to hire another team member over the next two years, and more than half (62%) anticipate hiring between two to six new positions.
LinkedIn reported that social media managers are the third most in-demand marketing position by posting volume in 2022, while social media coordinator roles have the third most year-over-year growth of all marketing titles.
“Social is no longer limited to marketing, with functions across the business weighing in on strategy. But as a more diverse set of stakeholders gets involved, core social teams will need to adapt,” Sprout Social says in the report. “Figuring out who owns what, and which proficiencies are needed across teams, has to be addressed as social strategies become more sophisticated.”
For example, since every platform has a different algorithm, brands may need to post more often to make sure their customers see the ideal number of posts. The length of a video post matters as well. In 2020, 50% of consumers thought short-form was the most engaging type of content, and that’s only growing. In 2022, that number has risen to 66%.
Social platforms may differ, but the one you can’t ignore is TikTok. Per the report, 38% of consumers plan on using TikTok, more than double the 17% who were planning on it in 2020.
There are nuances in audience demographics who are able to be reached on different social platforms that only specialist social media marketers may be in touch with.
For example, not all audiences respond to influencer marketing in the same way. Sprout Social finds that younger generations value collaborations with celebrities, influencers, or creators more than older generations and that polished, highly produced videos are not necessarily the best way to win likes.
“Today’s consumers seek authenticity, and a super polished or overly stylized piece of content isn’t it. A produced video is essentially your opinion — and consumers aren’t interested in your opinion. They want to hear what other people think of your brand and/or product,” Sprout Social warns.
That message extends to the type of creator partnerships deemed most effective. Consumers care about creators’ qualifications, so you need to choose wisely.
“Consumers are more marketing savvy than ever — they can tell when there’s a disconnect between a brand’s values and how they promote a product or service,” says Jayde Powell, a content creator and marketer quoted in the report. “This is no different for content creators. While many creators believe you need to have hundreds of thousands of followers to get brand partnerships, that’s not necessarily the case. Having an engaged community, consistent voice and content style is what attracts opportunities.”
There are implications for creators as well — 81% of consumers will unfollow creators if they post sponsored content more than a few times a week.
And yet, while all of this points to the need to grow the social media team and budget within an organization, two-thirds (66%) of marketers report having to encourage leadership to create company positions on the big issues.
Sue Serna, founder and CEO of social media consulting agency Serna Social, comments: “Many leaders think social media managers are ‘the people who post stuff on Facebook.’ But the best leaders take the time to learn about their social media operation — the strategy, the day-to-day ins and outs and the pain points.”
She adds, “Leaders who have invested this time position companies to act quickly and with precision when a crisis or major issue is brewing. When leaders lack that understanding, things go sideways — often making headlines for out-of-touch responses and missing the mark.”