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US Social Media Trends
for 2022 & Beyond
| The Sprout Social IndexTM
Contents 3
Introduction
4
Talent rises to the top
8
Test, learn, evolve
15
Tried and true
23
Taking off
30
Conclusion
31
Methodology
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
2
Introduction
Remember 2013? Facebook redesigned its
news feed, Vine was introducing the world to
the joys of short-form video and no one had
heard of social distancing. It was also the year
Sprout Social started this annual report on the
top trends in social media.
Things have obviously changed since then.
The market for social media platforms is more
powerful and diversified than ever. Consumers
are more conscious with their screen time,
especially as they find their footing in a post-
pandemic world. Marketers have more channels
to choose from, algorithms to untangle and
audience preferences to rethink.
This is Sprout Social’s ninth year of trend
forecasting. If we’ve learned anything over the
years, it’s that social moves quickly. Trends,
platforms and use cases are constantly changing
and it can be hard to keep up. This report is one
of the ways we reflect and reorient ourselves to
the new landscape every year.
In this report, we surveyed over 1,000 US
consumers and 500 US social marketers to
understand how social media has transformed
on both sides of the marketing equation.
We’re using that data to break down shifts in
consumer expectations, new challenges social
faces as a strategic business function and
how the bets marketers are taking for the future
align with consumers’ desires.
“
Consumers are
more conscious
with their screen
time, especially
as they find their
footing in a post-
pandemic world.”
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
3
Rank 1 Bandwidth/Talent
Proving ROI
Social Execution
Resourcing
Social as a
Business Function
Rank 2
Rank 3
Rank 4
Rank 5
2019 2020 2021 2022
Social media teams’ biggest challenges
Talent rises to the top
(of marketers’ challenges)
Social media teams have come a long way in the past few years.
In 2019, teams were still trying to convince senior leadership that
social media was business-critical and struggling to get access
to tools, resources and budget. Now, the value of social across
functions is clearer than ever.
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. Brands
need to be thoughtful about social team growth—both in identifying
which social roles to hire and calibrating job descriptions to attract and
foster qualified talent.
#1 challenge:
Finding talent
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
4
Talent rises to the top
88%
of marketers
expect to
hire another
team member
over the next
two years.
Team expansion takes priority
for businesses of all sizes
There has never been a better time to be a job
seeker in social, regardless of your level of tenure.
Whether they’re hiring for practitioners, leaders or
specialized roles—like influencer partnerships or
employer brand—88% of marketers expect to hire
another team member over the next two years.
More than half (62%) anticipate hiring for between
2–6 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. There’s ample
opportunity for social media professionals—and
a lot of competition for hiring managers.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
5
Additional
social
team
members
11%
Not sure
25%
2–3 employees
1%
1 employee
1%
0 employees
33%
4–6 employees
29%
7+ employees
14%
4–6 employees
42%
2–3 employees
18%
1 employee
15%
0 employees
6%
7+ employees
1–50 1K+
51–1K
Organization size
16%
7+ employees
29%
4–6 employees
42%
2–3 employees 5%
1 employee
4%
0 employees
3% Not sure
5% Not sure
Anticipated social media team headcount growth over
the next two years
Talent rises to the top
62%
of marketers anticipate
hiring for between
2–6 new positions over
the next two years.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
6
The scope of who shapes
and executes brands’ social
strategy widens
What’s driving all this growth in social?
More departments are discovering the
value of social media and they want in.
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.
Figuring out who owns what, and which
proficiencies are needed across teams,
has to be addressed as social strategies
become more sophisticated.
32%
Human
resources
53%
Customer
service
3%
Other
20%
RD
48%
Corporate
comms
43%
Product
Social
strategy
Teams that
contribute to their
organization’s
social strategy
Talent rises to the top
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
7
Test, learn, evolve
You already know that your brand is in constant
competition for consumers’ attention, online and
offline. Savvy marketers need to understand where
their audience is going and what they’re looking
for when they get there.
“
Consumers find short-form
videos 2.5x more engaging
than long-form videos.”
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
8
The content consumers crave
But that number is based on what consumers
actually see in their newsfeeds. 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.
Length matters. Consumers find short-form
videos 2.5x more engaging than long-form
videos. In 2020, 50% of consumers thought
short-form was the most engaging type
of content and that’s only growing. In 2022,
66% of consumers report paying the most
attention to short-form content.
The most engaging types
of in-feed social content
Short-form video
66%
Images
61%
Live video
37%
GIFs/memes
32%
Text-based posts
32%
26%
24%
13%
11%
User-generated content
Long-form video
Audio
URL/links to other content
Test, learn, evolve
74%
of consumers
think the publishing
sweet spot for
brands is 1–2 posts
per day.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
9
Consumers want to see brand content that
features a product or service, or real customers.
In early 2022, Bush’s Beans capitalized on
consumers’ hunger for short-form, product-
centric content with the #BushsCanFilmContest.
They called on their followers to create bean-
centric TikToks and Reels for a chance to win
cash prizes or a slot in their Bush’s Beans
Can Film Festival. By leveraging this kind of
in-demand user-generated content, Bush’s
Beans received so many submissions that they
had to add five additional winner’s slots to
the competition.
Not all audiences respond to influencer
marketing in the same way. Younger generations
value collaborations with celebrities, influencers
or creators more than older generations: 33%
of Gen Z and 28% of Millennials value content
collaborations over just 17% of Gen X and 9%
of Baby Boomers.
51% 39% 34%
Posts highlighting their
product or service
Customer testimonials or
real customer demos
Posts highlighting the
brand's personality
34% 27% 26% 23% 14%
Authentic, less
produced videos
Contest or
promotions
Polished, highly
produced videos
Collabs with
celebrities,
influencers,
creators
Behind-the-
scenes content
Types of content consumers like to see from brands they follow on social
Test, learn, evolve
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
10
“
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. Who better to serve
as brand ambassadors than people who love your brand
so much that they create content for their personal channels
bragging about you?”
Jenny Li Fowler
Director of Social Media Strategy at MIT
Test, learn, evolve
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
11
Platform preferences:
Do you know where your
audience is?
It’s hard to have a conversation
about social without TikTok
entering the chat. It makes sense,
as 38% of consumers plan on using
TikTok, more than double the 17%
who were planning on it in 2020.
When it comes to video, you can’t
count out YouTube. More than half
of consumers expect to spend
more time on YouTube—but only
35% of marketers plan on
leveraging the platform, down from
52% in 2020. There’s not a lot that
we want to bring back from 2020,
but that year’s YouTube investment
might be worth revisiting.
Test, learn, evolve
YouTube 51% 35%
Consumers Marketers
Facebook 71% 65%
Snapchat 19% 9%
TikTok 38% 39%
Instagram 49% 59%
The top platforms consumers and brands
anticipate using most in the next 12 months
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
12
Test, learn, evolve
My brand uses social data for...
How often organizations
use social data
Daily
Weekly
Monthly
Quarterly
Not at all
60%
29%
7%
3%
 1%
“Sales strategy
is the number
one use case for
social data.”
65%
Sales strategy
46%
Content strategy
40%
Competitive insight
48%
Product development
44%
Customer experience
32%
Market research
Productive experimentation
and successful execution
starts with data
The power of social data is undeniable.
Most marketers are checking in on a daily
or weekly basis to stay agile in a world
where trends could last two weeks or
20 minutes.
Social data is useful for more than
keeping up with the latest TikTok
challenge. Sales strategy is the number
one use case for social data, especially
as social commerce becomes more
prevalent and social has more impact
on the bottom line. Understanding
how customers respond to posts about
your products and services can pave
the way for direct sales on the platforms
your audiences already use. Social
data takes the guesswork out of
social commerce.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
13
Social data also gives marketers a window
into how customers are using their products
and services. The insights from social can
be a powerful tool for understanding what
your buyers want—and when they want it.
Grammarly takes social data a step further with
a comprehensive tagging system that tracks
inbound messages based on content. By
standardizing their data, Grammarly can respond
quickly and correctly to customer needs, while
mining information for other departments like
product, sales and user experience.
Test, learn, evolve
“
Insights from social
can be a powerful tool
for understanding
what your buyers want.”
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
14
Tried and true
Marketers love hard measurements like
share of voice, impressions, customer
acquisition cost and revenue. But the true
goal of marketing isn’t quite so measurable.
We’re trying to build the kinds of brands
that people love and trust. Supporting your
customers when they need it and speaking
out on the issues that matter can’t be
quantified, but it can build relationships
that keep consumers coming back for more.
71%
of consumers think
it’s important for
brands to take a stand
on sensitive issues.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
15
Tried and true
When brands take a stand,
consumers stand with them
Most consumers (71%) think it’s important for
brands to raise awareness and take a stand
on sensitive issues—a 7.6% increase from
2017. That importance jumps up even more
for Gen Z (73%) and Millennials (77%). At the
same time, 48% of marketers say that brands
need to speak out on social issues to stay
culturally relevant on social media.
Strongly agree
Agree
Neutral
Disagree
Strongly disagree
34%
37%
22%
4%
3%
Leverage pop culture in
their social content
Are at the cutting-edge of using
new technologies and features
Have an easy to identify brand
Have a CEO active on social
Actively engaged with
responding to their community
Champion diversity, equity
and inclusion
Speak out and embrace
social issues
48%
46%
41%
35%
34%
31%
23%
Consumers’ POV: It is important for
brands to raise awareness and take
a stand on sensitive topics
Marketers’ POV: What does it mean
for brands to be culturally relevant on
social media?
“
Brands need to speak out on social issues
to stay culturally relevant on social media.”
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
16
Despite the overwhelming consumer desire for
brands to take a stand, social media marketers
are having a hard time pushing their companies
and leadership teams to do so. Two-thirds
(66%) of marketers report having to encourage
leadership to create company positions on
the big issues.
Tried and true
As someone involved in social media at my company,
I often have to push my company/leaders to raise awareness
or speak out on social issues.
26%
Strongly agree
40%
Agree
19%
Neutral
10%
Disagree
5%
Strongly disagree
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
17
Tried and true
“
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. Leaders
who have invested this time position their 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.”
Sue Serna
Founder and CEO of social media
consulting agency Serna Social
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
18
Knowing and embracing your audience’s
personal values—where it makes sense—has
a clear tie to revenue. Company alignment
with personal values is 74% more important to
consumers than it was in 2021. Your products and
services are still important, but consumer
preferences are increasingly fueled by trust and
shared values.
Adidas proved this point in February 2022
with their “Support Is Everything” sports bra ad
campaign. By featuring 25 sets of bare breasts
of all shapes and sizes, they sparked a greater
conversation around body positivity. It paid off
for them, with their launch Tweet alone garnering
over 34,000 likes. But your position has to be
authentic to your brand’s culture. Your company’s
values may not always align perfectly with your
customers’ personal values, so you’ll want to be
prepared when you find that intersection.
Tried and true
I trust the brand
The brand aligns with
my personal values
The brand understands
me as a customer
I rely on the brand’s
product or services
58%
40%
36%
32%
45%
23%
21%
12%
2021 2022
74%
more important to
consumers than it was
in 2021.
Company alignment
with personal values is
What affects consumers’ decision
to pick a brand over a competitor
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
19
Customer care expectations:
High for consumers, higher
for brands
How soon should you respond to that message?
We ask that question in our personal lives
and it’s one that brands ask themselves when
it comes to replying to consumers on social.
More than half of marketers say their
organization has an average response time
of two hours or less. But what do customers
expect? More than three-quarters of consumers
expect a response within 24 hours, meaning
that brands hold themselves to a higher standard
than their audiences do.
Less than 1 hour
1–2 hours
2–12 hours
12–24 hours
24–48 hours
48 hours
Never contacted
a brand on social
2%
N/A
3%
30%
29%
23%
13%
13%
22%
22%
19%
12%
5%
6%
US Consumer US Marketer
Tried and true
How quickly consumers expect a
response on social vs. brands’ average
response times
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
20
But lower customer expectations aren’t an
excuse to sit back and relax—taking too long to
respond has consequences. When this happens,
36% of consumers say they’ll share that negative
experience with friends and family. A comparable
31% won’t complete their purchase, while 30%
will buy from a competitor instead.
One space where consumers and brands are
in sync is their preferred channels for customer
care. Consumers are turning to Facebook,
Instagram and YouTube, while brands are turning
to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There’s
a lot of potential for brands to invest proactively
in educational or product videos on YouTube
to meet their customers where they are and
boost engagement.
Tried and true
The platforms US consumers and brands
use most for customer service
Consumers Marketers
Facebook 60% 69%
TikTok 21% 29%
Instagram 35% 60%
YouTube 33% 31%
Snapchat 13% 14%
Twitter 15% 32%
WhatsApp 10% 7%
Pinterest 9% 9%
LinkedIn 7% 20%
“Consumers
are turning
to Facebook,
Instagram
and YouTube,
while brands
are turning
to Facebook,
Instagram
and Twitter.”
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
21
Tried and true
23% 3.5%
6.5%
29%
Engaging with community members
38%
Customer care Marketing our products or services Not sure Other
The role of private messaging/direct messaging
in brands’ social media strategy
model to the next level, with a major focus
on direct messaging. Their team maintains an
average first response time of 19 minutes on
Instagram, where they receive thousands of
monthly inbound direct messages, comments
and mentions.
The days of dialing 0 to speak to a representative
or emailing asynchronously with a support rep
are coming to a close with 60% of brands saying
private/direct messaging plays a role in their
customer care strategy. Further, 55% of brands
use direct messaging for marketing purposes,
showcasing the enormous opportunity that social
commerce provides. Don’t make the mistake
of viewing DMs solely for support.
Consumers want more personalized and
conversational opportunities, and messaging can
be a lucrative way to provide them. Loungewear
brand MeUndies has taken its customer care
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
22
Taking off
Social is a world of constant change, whether
you’re keeping up with new platform features
and algorithms, deciphering which trends are
here to stay—or ones you can set yourself—or
refining strategy to meet your evolving business
goals. Diving into emerging technologies
and trends is a huge part of why marketers
get into social and the next few years are
full of opportunity.
Cracking the creator code
Creator partnerships are extremely effective
when done correctly, but they can fall flat
if they’re not. Choosing the right creators to
partner with is key. Consumers care about
creators’ qualifications, so you need to choose
wisely. 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.
81%
of consumers will unfollow
creators if they post sponsored
content more than a few
times a week.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
23
1
2
3
4
5
Their experience with the product
Their authenticity (i.e., they seem like a real user of the product)
Their use of high-quality content (e.g., visually appealing posts)
Follower count
Their demographics in relation to me/our audience (e.g., similar age, sex, gender)
Taking off
The most important qualifications of creators working with brands
Ranked by marketers and consumers
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
24
Taking off
“
When building a brand, authenticity is everything.
That’s a quality that resonates with consumers at every
touchpoint when interacting with your brand. 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.
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.”
Jayde Powell
Content Creator and Marketer
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
25
Who’s ready for the VR
revolution? Not everyone
When it comes to emerging
technologies, there are two types
of crowds: early adopters and
those who prefer to wait and see.
Marketers are clear early adopters
while consumers aren’t quite as
eager, whether they’re thinking
about augmented and virtual reality
(AR/VR) or non-fungible tokens
(NFTs). While Gen Z and Millennials
are most likely to anticipate using
AR, VR or extended reality (XR)
to interact with brands in the future,
they’re still in the minority at only
46% each.
Consumers Marketers
Cryptocurrency 35% 44%
NFTs 17% 25%
Metaverse 24% 39%
VR, AR or XR 39% 50%
None of the above 33% 16%
Taking off
How consumers and brands
anticipate emerging tech
playing a role in their
interactions over the next
12 months
More than two-thirds (67%) of
marketers anticipate investing at
least a quarter of their budget into
metaverse tactics over the next
12 months, with 33% of marketers
believing their brands are ahead
of the curve for implementing
AR/VR into their social strategy
and 28% saying they’re ahead of
the curve in integrating metaverse
efforts. Though marketers are
ready for the next big thing in tech,
it’s important to strike a balance
between meeting customers where
they are and showing them what
the future can hold.
Percentage of budgets
marketers anticipate
spending on metaverse,
AR  VR social strategy
in the next two years
29%
0–25%
38%
25–50%
23%
50–75%
3.5%
Don’t know
6.5%
75–100%
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
26
Taking off
“
There’s no doubt that metaverse
and AR/VR technologies will play
a significant role in social media’s
future, and brands are incredibly
curious. Investing now is akin to
building out social media capabilities
in 2006. It’s an opportunity to
be an early adopter, test and learn,
and gain a competitive advantage.”
Brendan Gahan
Partner and Chief Social Officer at
independent creative agency Mekanism
Some brands are diving in head-first. In March
2022, brands including Forever 21, DKNY
and Estée Lauder teamed up for a metaverse
fashion week. The four-day event brought
together legacy and start-up brands to sell both
physical products and NFTs in a virtual space.
The event is an exciting peek into the future
of these opportunities.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
27
Sophisticated brands are leveling
up all employees’ social expertise
As social becomes more prominent in brands’
overarching business strategy, social teams are
relying on employee advocacy programs to
extend their reach beyond their own bandwidth.
More than two-thirds (68%) of marketers report
that their organizations have an advocacy
program for social. Marketers are using these
programs to increase their brand awareness and
build an employer brand that attracts a pipeline
of qualified job applicants. While many advocacy
programs are informal side projects right now,
sophisticated brands will find ways to formalize
and evolve them through dedicated staff, tools,
processes and employee training.
Taking off
Does your organization have
an employee advocacy program
for social media?
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
28
1
2
3
4
5
6
Increase brand awareness
Increase # of qualified job applicants
Control over brand messaging
Drive more qualified leads
Establish thought leadership
Networking opportunities
The most important business outcomes
of an employee advocacy program
Taking off
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
29
The real strength
behind the strategy
This data shows some of marketers’ biggest social media
questions, challenges and priorities. But the story behind
the numbers is that the effective social strategy of tomorrow
relies on people.
Success on social depends on the consumers who are rethinking
what it means to engage with brands and where and how they’d
like to spend their time. It depends on the creators who drive traffic
to platforms and partner with brands to produce compelling content.
And it depends on the experts who are ready to grow and lead
social media teams, take smart risks and collaborate across the
organization to realize the true power of social media.
As we look into the future of social, the tactics might change,
but the values that underscore marketers’ efforts are stronger
than ever. The companies that can translate those values into
action are positioned to win.
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
30
About the data
The data referenced was collected as part of Sprout Social’s
2022 Index project. Participants ages 18–75 were recruited by
Lucid between February 22 and March 01, 2022, via online survey.
Selected US consumers (N=1,236) were those who use at least
one social media platform and follow at least one brand on social
media. Selected US marketers (N=506) were those who hold a
full-time job in marketing and were involved (i.e., performed the job
themselves or managed someone who does) in managing their
brand’s social media strategy.
Relationships between variables collected were analyzed using
parametric statistics for statistical significance.
For questions about the data, please contact pr@sproutsocial.com
sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial
31
Sprout Social offers deep social media listening and analytics,
social management, customer care, commerce and advocacy
solutions to more than 31,000 brands and agencies worldwide.
Sprout’s unified platform integrates the power of social throughout
every aspect of a business and enables social leaders at every
level to extract valuable data and insights that drive their business
forward. Headquartered in Chicago, Sprout operates across
major social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,
Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.
Learn more at sproutsocial.com

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The-Sprout-Social-Index-Edition-XVIII_US-Forecast (1).pdf

  • 1. US Social Media Trends for 2022 & Beyond | The Sprout Social IndexTM
  • 2. Contents 3 Introduction 4 Talent rises to the top 8 Test, learn, evolve 15 Tried and true 23 Taking off 30 Conclusion 31 Methodology sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 2
  • 3. Introduction Remember 2013? Facebook redesigned its news feed, Vine was introducing the world to the joys of short-form video and no one had heard of social distancing. It was also the year Sprout Social started this annual report on the top trends in social media. Things have obviously changed since then. The market for social media platforms is more powerful and diversified than ever. Consumers are more conscious with their screen time, especially as they find their footing in a post- pandemic world. Marketers have more channels to choose from, algorithms to untangle and audience preferences to rethink. This is Sprout Social’s ninth year of trend forecasting. If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that social moves quickly. Trends, platforms and use cases are constantly changing and it can be hard to keep up. This report is one of the ways we reflect and reorient ourselves to the new landscape every year. In this report, we surveyed over 1,000 US consumers and 500 US social marketers to understand how social media has transformed on both sides of the marketing equation. We’re using that data to break down shifts in consumer expectations, new challenges social faces as a strategic business function and how the bets marketers are taking for the future align with consumers’ desires. “ Consumers are more conscious with their screen time, especially as they find their footing in a post- pandemic world.” sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 3
  • 4. Rank 1 Bandwidth/Talent Proving ROI Social Execution Resourcing Social as a Business Function Rank 2 Rank 3 Rank 4 Rank 5 2019 2020 2021 2022 Social media teams’ biggest challenges Talent rises to the top (of marketers’ challenges) Social media teams have come a long way in the past few years. In 2019, teams were still trying to convince senior leadership that social media was business-critical and struggling to get access to tools, resources and budget. Now, the value of social across functions is clearer than ever. 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. Brands need to be thoughtful about social team growth—both in identifying which social roles to hire and calibrating job descriptions to attract and foster qualified talent. #1 challenge: Finding talent sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 4
  • 5. Talent rises to the top 88% of marketers expect to hire another team member over the next two years. Team expansion takes priority for businesses of all sizes There has never been a better time to be a job seeker in social, regardless of your level of tenure. Whether they’re hiring for practitioners, leaders or specialized roles—like influencer partnerships or employer brand—88% of marketers expect to hire another team member over the next two years. More than half (62%) anticipate hiring for between 2–6 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. There’s ample opportunity for social media professionals—and a lot of competition for hiring managers. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 5
  • 6. Additional social team members 11% Not sure 25% 2–3 employees 1% 1 employee 1% 0 employees 33% 4–6 employees 29% 7+ employees 14% 4–6 employees 42% 2–3 employees 18% 1 employee 15% 0 employees 6% 7+ employees 1–50 1K+ 51–1K Organization size 16% 7+ employees 29% 4–6 employees 42% 2–3 employees 5% 1 employee 4% 0 employees 3% Not sure 5% Not sure Anticipated social media team headcount growth over the next two years Talent rises to the top 62% of marketers anticipate hiring for between 2–6 new positions over the next two years. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 6
  • 7. The scope of who shapes and executes brands’ social strategy widens What’s driving all this growth in social? More departments are discovering the value of social media and they want in. 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. Figuring out who owns what, and which proficiencies are needed across teams, has to be addressed as social strategies become more sophisticated. 32% Human resources 53% Customer service 3% Other 20% RD 48% Corporate comms 43% Product Social strategy Teams that contribute to their organization’s social strategy Talent rises to the top sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 7
  • 8. Test, learn, evolve You already know that your brand is in constant competition for consumers’ attention, online and offline. Savvy marketers need to understand where their audience is going and what they’re looking for when they get there. “ Consumers find short-form videos 2.5x more engaging than long-form videos.” sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 8
  • 9. The content consumers crave But that number is based on what consumers actually see in their newsfeeds. 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. Length matters. Consumers find short-form videos 2.5x more engaging than long-form videos. In 2020, 50% of consumers thought short-form was the most engaging type of content and that’s only growing. In 2022, 66% of consumers report paying the most attention to short-form content. The most engaging types of in-feed social content Short-form video 66% Images 61% Live video 37% GIFs/memes 32% Text-based posts 32% 26% 24% 13% 11% User-generated content Long-form video Audio URL/links to other content Test, learn, evolve 74% of consumers think the publishing sweet spot for brands is 1–2 posts per day. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 9
  • 10. Consumers want to see brand content that features a product or service, or real customers. In early 2022, Bush’s Beans capitalized on consumers’ hunger for short-form, product- centric content with the #BushsCanFilmContest. They called on their followers to create bean- centric TikToks and Reels for a chance to win cash prizes or a slot in their Bush’s Beans Can Film Festival. By leveraging this kind of in-demand user-generated content, Bush’s Beans received so many submissions that they had to add five additional winner’s slots to the competition. Not all audiences respond to influencer marketing in the same way. Younger generations value collaborations with celebrities, influencers or creators more than older generations: 33% of Gen Z and 28% of Millennials value content collaborations over just 17% of Gen X and 9% of Baby Boomers. 51% 39% 34% Posts highlighting their product or service Customer testimonials or real customer demos Posts highlighting the brand's personality 34% 27% 26% 23% 14% Authentic, less produced videos Contest or promotions Polished, highly produced videos Collabs with celebrities, influencers, creators Behind-the- scenes content Types of content consumers like to see from brands they follow on social Test, learn, evolve sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 10
  • 11. “ 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. Who better to serve as brand ambassadors than people who love your brand so much that they create content for their personal channels bragging about you?” Jenny Li Fowler Director of Social Media Strategy at MIT Test, learn, evolve sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 11
  • 12. Platform preferences: Do you know where your audience is? It’s hard to have a conversation about social without TikTok entering the chat. It makes sense, as 38% of consumers plan on using TikTok, more than double the 17% who were planning on it in 2020. When it comes to video, you can’t count out YouTube. More than half of consumers expect to spend more time on YouTube—but only 35% of marketers plan on leveraging the platform, down from 52% in 2020. There’s not a lot that we want to bring back from 2020, but that year’s YouTube investment might be worth revisiting. Test, learn, evolve YouTube 51% 35% Consumers Marketers Facebook 71% 65% Snapchat 19% 9% TikTok 38% 39% Instagram 49% 59% The top platforms consumers and brands anticipate using most in the next 12 months sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 12
  • 13. Test, learn, evolve My brand uses social data for... How often organizations use social data Daily Weekly Monthly Quarterly Not at all 60% 29% 7% 3% 1% “Sales strategy is the number one use case for social data.” 65% Sales strategy 46% Content strategy 40% Competitive insight 48% Product development 44% Customer experience 32% Market research Productive experimentation and successful execution starts with data The power of social data is undeniable. Most marketers are checking in on a daily or weekly basis to stay agile in a world where trends could last two weeks or 20 minutes. Social data is useful for more than keeping up with the latest TikTok challenge. Sales strategy is the number one use case for social data, especially as social commerce becomes more prevalent and social has more impact on the bottom line. Understanding how customers respond to posts about your products and services can pave the way for direct sales on the platforms your audiences already use. Social data takes the guesswork out of social commerce. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 13
  • 14. Social data also gives marketers a window into how customers are using their products and services. The insights from social can be a powerful tool for understanding what your buyers want—and when they want it. Grammarly takes social data a step further with a comprehensive tagging system that tracks inbound messages based on content. By standardizing their data, Grammarly can respond quickly and correctly to customer needs, while mining information for other departments like product, sales and user experience. Test, learn, evolve “ Insights from social can be a powerful tool for understanding what your buyers want.” sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 14
  • 15. Tried and true Marketers love hard measurements like share of voice, impressions, customer acquisition cost and revenue. But the true goal of marketing isn’t quite so measurable. We’re trying to build the kinds of brands that people love and trust. Supporting your customers when they need it and speaking out on the issues that matter can’t be quantified, but it can build relationships that keep consumers coming back for more. 71% of consumers think it’s important for brands to take a stand on sensitive issues. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 15
  • 16. Tried and true When brands take a stand, consumers stand with them Most consumers (71%) think it’s important for brands to raise awareness and take a stand on sensitive issues—a 7.6% increase from 2017. That importance jumps up even more for Gen Z (73%) and Millennials (77%). At the same time, 48% of marketers say that brands need to speak out on social issues to stay culturally relevant on social media. Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree 34% 37% 22% 4% 3% Leverage pop culture in their social content Are at the cutting-edge of using new technologies and features Have an easy to identify brand Have a CEO active on social Actively engaged with responding to their community Champion diversity, equity and inclusion Speak out and embrace social issues 48% 46% 41% 35% 34% 31% 23% Consumers’ POV: It is important for brands to raise awareness and take a stand on sensitive topics Marketers’ POV: What does it mean for brands to be culturally relevant on social media? “ Brands need to speak out on social issues to stay culturally relevant on social media.” sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 16
  • 17. Despite the overwhelming consumer desire for brands to take a stand, social media marketers are having a hard time pushing their companies and leadership teams to do so. Two-thirds (66%) of marketers report having to encourage leadership to create company positions on the big issues. Tried and true As someone involved in social media at my company, I often have to push my company/leaders to raise awareness or speak out on social issues. 26% Strongly agree 40% Agree 19% Neutral 10% Disagree 5% Strongly disagree sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 17
  • 18. Tried and true “ 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. Leaders who have invested this time position their 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.” Sue Serna Founder and CEO of social media consulting agency Serna Social sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 18
  • 19. Knowing and embracing your audience’s personal values—where it makes sense—has a clear tie to revenue. Company alignment with personal values is 74% more important to consumers than it was in 2021. Your products and services are still important, but consumer preferences are increasingly fueled by trust and shared values. Adidas proved this point in February 2022 with their “Support Is Everything” sports bra ad campaign. By featuring 25 sets of bare breasts of all shapes and sizes, they sparked a greater conversation around body positivity. It paid off for them, with their launch Tweet alone garnering over 34,000 likes. But your position has to be authentic to your brand’s culture. Your company’s values may not always align perfectly with your customers’ personal values, so you’ll want to be prepared when you find that intersection. Tried and true I trust the brand The brand aligns with my personal values The brand understands me as a customer I rely on the brand’s product or services 58% 40% 36% 32% 45% 23% 21% 12% 2021 2022 74% more important to consumers than it was in 2021. Company alignment with personal values is What affects consumers’ decision to pick a brand over a competitor sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 19
  • 20. Customer care expectations: High for consumers, higher for brands How soon should you respond to that message? We ask that question in our personal lives and it’s one that brands ask themselves when it comes to replying to consumers on social. More than half of marketers say their organization has an average response time of two hours or less. But what do customers expect? More than three-quarters of consumers expect a response within 24 hours, meaning that brands hold themselves to a higher standard than their audiences do. Less than 1 hour 1–2 hours 2–12 hours 12–24 hours 24–48 hours 48 hours Never contacted a brand on social 2% N/A 3% 30% 29% 23% 13% 13% 22% 22% 19% 12% 5% 6% US Consumer US Marketer Tried and true How quickly consumers expect a response on social vs. brands’ average response times sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 20
  • 21. But lower customer expectations aren’t an excuse to sit back and relax—taking too long to respond has consequences. When this happens, 36% of consumers say they’ll share that negative experience with friends and family. A comparable 31% won’t complete their purchase, while 30% will buy from a competitor instead. One space where consumers and brands are in sync is their preferred channels for customer care. Consumers are turning to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, while brands are turning to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. There’s a lot of potential for brands to invest proactively in educational or product videos on YouTube to meet their customers where they are and boost engagement. Tried and true The platforms US consumers and brands use most for customer service Consumers Marketers Facebook 60% 69% TikTok 21% 29% Instagram 35% 60% YouTube 33% 31% Snapchat 13% 14% Twitter 15% 32% WhatsApp 10% 7% Pinterest 9% 9% LinkedIn 7% 20% “Consumers are turning to Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, while brands are turning to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.” sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 21
  • 22. Tried and true 23% 3.5% 6.5% 29% Engaging with community members 38% Customer care Marketing our products or services Not sure Other The role of private messaging/direct messaging in brands’ social media strategy model to the next level, with a major focus on direct messaging. Their team maintains an average first response time of 19 minutes on Instagram, where they receive thousands of monthly inbound direct messages, comments and mentions. The days of dialing 0 to speak to a representative or emailing asynchronously with a support rep are coming to a close with 60% of brands saying private/direct messaging plays a role in their customer care strategy. Further, 55% of brands use direct messaging for marketing purposes, showcasing the enormous opportunity that social commerce provides. Don’t make the mistake of viewing DMs solely for support. Consumers want more personalized and conversational opportunities, and messaging can be a lucrative way to provide them. Loungewear brand MeUndies has taken its customer care sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 22
  • 23. Taking off Social is a world of constant change, whether you’re keeping up with new platform features and algorithms, deciphering which trends are here to stay—or ones you can set yourself—or refining strategy to meet your evolving business goals. Diving into emerging technologies and trends is a huge part of why marketers get into social and the next few years are full of opportunity. Cracking the creator code Creator partnerships are extremely effective when done correctly, but they can fall flat if they’re not. Choosing the right creators to partner with is key. Consumers care about creators’ qualifications, so you need to choose wisely. 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. 81% of consumers will unfollow creators if they post sponsored content more than a few times a week. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 23
  • 24. 1 2 3 4 5 Their experience with the product Their authenticity (i.e., they seem like a real user of the product) Their use of high-quality content (e.g., visually appealing posts) Follower count Their demographics in relation to me/our audience (e.g., similar age, sex, gender) Taking off The most important qualifications of creators working with brands Ranked by marketers and consumers sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 24
  • 25. Taking off “ When building a brand, authenticity is everything. That’s a quality that resonates with consumers at every touchpoint when interacting with your brand. 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. 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.” Jayde Powell Content Creator and Marketer sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 25
  • 26. Who’s ready for the VR revolution? Not everyone When it comes to emerging technologies, there are two types of crowds: early adopters and those who prefer to wait and see. Marketers are clear early adopters while consumers aren’t quite as eager, whether they’re thinking about augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) or non-fungible tokens (NFTs). While Gen Z and Millennials are most likely to anticipate using AR, VR or extended reality (XR) to interact with brands in the future, they’re still in the minority at only 46% each. Consumers Marketers Cryptocurrency 35% 44% NFTs 17% 25% Metaverse 24% 39% VR, AR or XR 39% 50% None of the above 33% 16% Taking off How consumers and brands anticipate emerging tech playing a role in their interactions over the next 12 months More than two-thirds (67%) of marketers anticipate investing at least a quarter of their budget into metaverse tactics over the next 12 months, with 33% of marketers believing their brands are ahead of the curve for implementing AR/VR into their social strategy and 28% saying they’re ahead of the curve in integrating metaverse efforts. Though marketers are ready for the next big thing in tech, it’s important to strike a balance between meeting customers where they are and showing them what the future can hold. Percentage of budgets marketers anticipate spending on metaverse, AR VR social strategy in the next two years 29% 0–25% 38% 25–50% 23% 50–75% 3.5% Don’t know 6.5% 75–100% sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 26
  • 27. Taking off “ There’s no doubt that metaverse and AR/VR technologies will play a significant role in social media’s future, and brands are incredibly curious. Investing now is akin to building out social media capabilities in 2006. It’s an opportunity to be an early adopter, test and learn, and gain a competitive advantage.” Brendan Gahan Partner and Chief Social Officer at independent creative agency Mekanism Some brands are diving in head-first. In March 2022, brands including Forever 21, DKNY and Estée Lauder teamed up for a metaverse fashion week. The four-day event brought together legacy and start-up brands to sell both physical products and NFTs in a virtual space. The event is an exciting peek into the future of these opportunities. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 27
  • 28. Sophisticated brands are leveling up all employees’ social expertise As social becomes more prominent in brands’ overarching business strategy, social teams are relying on employee advocacy programs to extend their reach beyond their own bandwidth. More than two-thirds (68%) of marketers report that their organizations have an advocacy program for social. Marketers are using these programs to increase their brand awareness and build an employer brand that attracts a pipeline of qualified job applicants. While many advocacy programs are informal side projects right now, sophisticated brands will find ways to formalize and evolve them through dedicated staff, tools, processes and employee training. Taking off Does your organization have an employee advocacy program for social media? sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 28
  • 29. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Increase brand awareness Increase # of qualified job applicants Control over brand messaging Drive more qualified leads Establish thought leadership Networking opportunities The most important business outcomes of an employee advocacy program Taking off sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 29
  • 30. The real strength behind the strategy This data shows some of marketers’ biggest social media questions, challenges and priorities. But the story behind the numbers is that the effective social strategy of tomorrow relies on people. Success on social depends on the consumers who are rethinking what it means to engage with brands and where and how they’d like to spend their time. It depends on the creators who drive traffic to platforms and partner with brands to produce compelling content. And it depends on the experts who are ready to grow and lead social media teams, take smart risks and collaborate across the organization to realize the true power of social media. As we look into the future of social, the tactics might change, but the values that underscore marketers’ efforts are stronger than ever. The companies that can translate those values into action are positioned to win. sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 30
  • 31. About the data The data referenced was collected as part of Sprout Social’s 2022 Index project. Participants ages 18–75 were recruited by Lucid between February 22 and March 01, 2022, via online survey. Selected US consumers (N=1,236) were those who use at least one social media platform and follow at least one brand on social media. Selected US marketers (N=506) were those who hold a full-time job in marketing and were involved (i.e., performed the job themselves or managed someone who does) in managing their brand’s social media strategy. Relationships between variables collected were analyzed using parametric statistics for statistical significance. For questions about the data, please contact pr@sproutsocial.com sproutsocial.com • @SproutSocial 31
  • 32. Sprout Social offers deep social media listening and analytics, social management, customer care, commerce and advocacy solutions to more than 31,000 brands and agencies worldwide. Sprout’s unified platform integrates the power of social throughout every aspect of a business and enables social leaders at every level to extract valuable data and insights that drive their business forward. Headquartered in Chicago, Sprout operates across major social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn. Learn more at sproutsocial.com