7 social media platforms to watch in 2022

After social media became a stand-in for real life during the pandemic you may think that it’s popularity in a (mostly) restriction-free world would be on the decline. In fact, despite growing movement towards social self-care and reducing screen time, people aren’t turning their backs on social media just yet. As of January 2022, there are now 4.62 billion social media users around the world, equating to 58.4% of the world’s total population. Global social media users have grown by more than 10% over the past 12 months. With the pandemic creating seemingly permanent ripples in peoples work schedules, and the typical 9-to-5 job feeling like a thing of the past for many, social media usage has shifted to, from the times of day we’re most active to the way we consume (and create) content.

Here are some emerging social media platforms that have caught our eye, and a few established platforms that are rapidly changing.

1. BeReal

Launched in 2020, BeReal is a push-back against overly curated content and is capitalising on the drive for authenticity. At a different time each day, all users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a photo within a two minute window. It’s a little like Snapchat combined with Gen Z’s more casual Instagram, with no filters and no edits. BeReal have positioned themselves as a new and unique way to discover who your connections really are. The app doesn’t (currently) offer pay-to-play advertising options, but brands are finding interesting ways to promote themselves and capture user attention. It’s popularity is fast-growing, with a 315% increase in downloads since the beginning of year.

2. Supernova

Supernova claims to be the social network that gives back. They have pledged to donate 60% of their advertising revenue to global charities, with the money distributed according to users preferences. The experience is very similar to Instagram, with users sharing photographs and videos along with comments and messaging. Users can nominate in their profile which charitable cause they want to support (like climate action, homelessness, mental health etc) with the cash that Supernova gains from its ad partners. When a user’s post is Liked, their choice of charity will earn a bigger portion of the “Supernova Action Fund” as a donation. With 24/7 human moderation they promise a kinder, more inclusive community. Supernova could be the platform to offer brands an alternative to toxic social media.

3. TikTok

With more than 1 billion global users, TikTok is no longer a challenger in the game but is a well-established platform. However, TikTok has previously been seen as a network for primarily Gen Z, but now just 47% of TikTok users are between ages 10-29, compared to 62% last year. The platform’s user base is ageing up with 42% of users now aged 30-49. If this trend continues, we could see something like the Boomer takeover of Facebook. This is something to keep an eye on.

While content from leading TikTok influencers make up the majority of the most-watched sponsored videos, marketers can make their mark on users by posting shareable clips that reflect an authentic and fun side of their brand’s personality.

4. Instagram

You may be surprised to see that we’ve included Instagram on this list. It was created in 2010, bought by Facebook (now Meta) in 2012 for $1bn, and reached 1.21bn active users in 2021 – Instagram is one of the most well established social media platforms. However, last year Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, made it clear that they want to move away from being the photo-sharing app, and instead compete in the video space with TikTok and YouTube. There’s already been updates to how feeds display showing both videos and images in full-screen format, and updates to the algorithm to prioritise reels.

It’s time to say goodbye to the once famous Instagram square photo, as if posts aren’t formatted to the new 9:16 ratio they will have an auto-generated blurred border (attempting) to match the image’s background colour. It’s yet to be seen if this full-screen mode will help Instagram to compete, but it does mean that marketers will need to ensure that their posts on Instagram are in full screen, and ideally in video.

5. Twitch

Twitch is a live-streaming platform, mostly used by gamers to stream game play or to watch other gamers. Users can interact and engage with live streams or upload videos to Twitch for their audience. On average Twitch has 8.18m streamers per month, with an average of 2.72m concurrent viewers. Twitch is actively expanding its content base, which now makes it relevant to many more businesses. Twitch’s popular communities go beyond topics like programming, video editing and comics, reaching those interested in areas such as music, art, and DIY. Music broadcasters play guitar or piano or sing, sharing covers or original compositions.

Whether or not marketers create content for Twitch, it’s a great place to learn how to market in a more natural way. The Twitch community is very anti-marketing. Brands beware – if you share pitches or webinars, the community will tear you apart and you could do more harm than good, so livestream with caution.

6. Discord

Like Twitch, Discord started life in 2015 as a platform dominated by gaming but has now spread to a broader audience. Once they have an invitation, users enter a forum-like space where they can communicate with each other by voice or video calls, messaging and sending media either among communities – known as ‘servers’ – or in private chats. While Discord is still considered as primarily for gamers, it’s less intrusive approach and ad-free format makes it an attractive option for any brand looking to build a community, for example we’ve seen universities use the platform as part of their student conversion campaigns. Discord has over 350 million registered users so if it’s popular with your target audience, it could be a good place for your brand to engage and build your community.

7. The Metaverse

While not its own specific platform, the metaverse stands a good chance of entirely disrupting every social platform, and how we use the internet itself. For a simple explanation, the metaverse is the internet but in 3D, a virtual world where users share experiences and interact in real-time within simulated scenarios. It may sound like something of the future, but it’s here already from virtual bank branches to Paris Hilton DJ sets.

Mark Zuckerberg is clearly keen to own the space, after purchasing VR headset developer Oculus in 2014 and even rebranding Facebook to Meta last year. However, Zuckerberg’s metaverse is not the only one to watch, VR and AR worlds already exist and are inhabited by active communities like in the user-created spaces in VRChat and Roblox. These early versions of the metaverse feel lawless and like the unmoderated days of the early internet (with all the associated safeguarding concerns), but for the right kind of brand there is already potential within the metaverse. However, for the metaverse to truly take hold, VR headsets will need to become cheaper and more user-friendly. We’re just at the beginning of the metaverse journey and there will be lots more innovation to come, but it’s an area to watch.

Need some help with social media?

If you’re looking to establish your brand presence on social media or it’s time to refresh your social marketing strategy to grow your business, get in touch with our team of experts.