We Are Social’s top digital trends for 2022

We Are Social has launched its latest trends report, Think Forward: ‘Brave New Worlds’, which highlights 5 key trends expected to shape social over the next 12 months.

The global socially-led creative agency breaks down the trends as: In-Feed Syllabuses; The Vibe Economy; Prime-time Platforms; Social Cynicism; New Materialists.

It’s based on a series of trends identified by We Are Social’s global cultural insights team and is supported by a survey of 3,000 people aged 18+ who use social media daily from the US, UK, France, Italy, China and Australia.

But while people who are on social media daily might be expected to be the most digitally literate, We Are Social’s research found that 87% of this group do not currently know what the Metaverse is, while 85% are in the dark when it comes to understanding the concept of NFTs.

The report found 8% of the world’s social media users have bought an NFT, while a third of Gen Zers who are on social platforms have spent money on digital clothing.

Among the Australia-specific stats of note were:

  • 83% of Australians don’t understand new internet concepts like web3
  • 36.2% of Australians want to know more about 5G and 34.8% about cryptocurrencies
  • 82% of Australians rely on their families for practical life skills. They also feel they learnt more skills from social media than the University (49.6% vs. 48%).
  • 35% of Australians turn to YouTube for educational content; Facebook is second with 16.5%, and Linkedin 10.3%.
  • 60% of Australians would not go to a desert island without their favourite VOD platform
  • 50% of Australians believe algorithms on social media are biased and have a negative impact on society
  • 10.4% of Australians have bought digital clothes
  • 16.2% of Australians would consider buying digital art

The Think Forward 2022 trends are:

In-Feed Syllabuses

In general, social media users say they have better life skills acquired from social platforms than from university (57% vs. 51%). With immersive content formats and a new appreciation for innovative learning solutions, social media is being repurposed as a platform for self-directed learning. As a result, brands are able to impart knowledge directly to audiences through their feeds.

The Vibe Economy

A combination of social video and a heightened desire for connection post-pandemic has resulted in a new form of creativity that evokes specific emotions. With 30% of 18-34 year old’s saying they use social with sound more now than before Covid-19, social has never been better equipped to accomplish this goal. It’s a great opportunity for brands to inspire emotions in audiences, which is the ultimate goal of many long-term marketing campaigns.

Prime-time Platforms

TikTok data shows that 35% of its users say they watch less TV and streaming services since downloading the app, indicating a fragmented entertainment landscape where social has become the lynchpin. Using social-first formats, broadcasters can work with influencers and creators to create innovative content. Brands can also engage audiences in more online storytelling with the help of this technology.

Social Cynicism

Almost half of Gen Z users worldwide agree that the algorithms that determine what we see on our feeds negatively impact their media intake. Increasingly, creators poke fun at overused tropes and worn-out memes in response, much to the delight of audiences. Companies need to follow suit – novelty is in.

New Materialists

NFTs to Fortnite skins, more and more people are seeing the value in digital goods, including 33% of Gen Zers who have invested in digital clothing. A brand can get involved in this new new money, but the rush to be in the first wave might not be the smartest move.

Lore Oxford, global head of cultural insights at We Are Social, added: “Think Forward 2022’s predictions about the directions social content is headed highlight some really exciting trends for the creative minds in our industry. In particular, when it comes to curating a mood, it feels like the advent of a whole new artform, while the art of trope-busting is something our business excels at. We’re on the brink of a renaissance in creativity on social, in which brands and creators alike are going to have to work harder and better to make us laugh, move us, and connect us.”

Suzie Shaw, CEO at We Are Social Australia, commented: “When looking at the local context, Australians have a good grasp of the current digital landscape and understand how algorithms impact their view of the world. But new concepts such as web3, cryptocurrencies and the metaverse feel less familiar. Regardless, they stimulate their curiosity and entice them to dip their toes, as 1 in 10 users have already bought digital clothes, and 16% of people would consider buying digital art. Brands need to understand what motivates these consumers and consider who to approach them, to ensure that if and when they will launch their first branded NFT, it will be effective in engaging the right audience.”


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