3 E-Commerce and Social Media Trends to Watch Through the Rest of 2022

Man looking at tablet

Credit: Getty Images by Tim Robberts

E-commerce sales have been on the upswing as a share of total sales since before 2000, and in the last decade, social platforms have played an increasing role. Then 2020 happened, driving an unprecedented spike in online sales. This year so far, we’re seeing social media mature as a force that drives e-commerce, in addition to emerging technologies like the metaverse and 5G. Here’s a look at how e-commerce and social media will intersect across three major platforms through the rest of 2022.

1. Instagram Retains its Leadership Position in the Social Commerce Sphere
This image-forward social platform is already a major player in e-commerce, with 72 percent of users reporting that they’ve made a purchase decision after seeing a post. Savvy brands have capitalized on Instagram’s visual-first design, placing content on the platform to keep consumers current on what’s new in stores or available online.

With a successful suite of e-commerce features and the No. 1 rank among social platforms consumers use to follow brands, Instagram is still in a strong position in terms of e-commerce and brand communication, and that’s unlikely to change in the months ahead. Keep an eye on new features on Instagram like variable focus and augmented reality (AR) tools.

2. Snapchat Plays Catchup
It may seem counterintuitive because Snapchat has a cutting-edge AR system, but the popular instant messaging app is losing ground in terms of active users relative to its competitors, and that makes it less of a player in e-commerce today. Instagram has well over twice as many active users, and TikTok has pulled far ahead, too. Snapchat remains popular with teens but has struggled to make inroads with older users, even as other apps have attracted new users.

That said, the platform’s Snap Scan AR scanning feature has much commercial potential and a reported 170 million users. Snapchat is also performing well financially: The company generated $2.5 billion revenue in 2020, a 47 percent increase over the previous year’s results, and in 2021, its stock value rose 350 percent over its 2020 performance, as reported by the Business of Apps. However, if Snapchat is going to live up to its early promise in the e-commerce space, it will have to play catchup with competitors in the months ahead.

3. TikTok is Set to Grow E-Commerce Revenue
Even though TikTok is the new kid on the social media block, the platform is showing incredible momentum, doubling the number of users more established competitors like Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter racked up since it came on the scene. The platform’s format is a natural for influencing purchases, and this year TikTok expanded its partnerships and added a shopping tab for business users as well as new ad options, according to TechCrunch.

TikTok has catapulted everyday users into influencers with a single video. Brands of all sizes use the platform to post content about products, and online retail giant Amazon.com got in on the act by dedicating a page to TikTok user recommendations. As TechCrunch noted, popular clothing brand Princess Polly garnered a six-fold return on ad spend and increased page visits by 50 percent using TikTok. Look for TikTok to expand its foray into e-commerce in 2022 and beyond.

Keeping an Eye on Social Media-Driven E-Commerce
No one can confidently say if new consumer buying habits formed during the pandemic will endure, but the evidence points in that direction. Even demographics that had previously been resistant to e-commerce started buying online. Smart brands are looking for ways to meet consumers where they are, and increasingly that’s on social media. Even hardware is reflecting this trend. At CES 2022, the Vivo V23 handset debuted with ultra-powerful front-facing cameras and software dedicated to high-res selfies, looking to target the selfie and influencer space, capitalizing on tech dedicated to virtual clothing try-ons, filters and other capabilities.

To stay ahead of customer trends, brand managers should keep an eye on social media-driven e-commerce in the year ahead, including Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. That’s the best way to prepare for what comes next as new features and capabilities change the marketplace again.

5 Ways to Meet Gen Z Consumers Where They Are

It all starts with striving for social impact 

AdWeek Generation ZJ_art/Getty Images

Generational marketing isn’t easy. Getting it right requires expert knowledge, consistent monitoring of trends and a willingness to make unexpected pivots. With five generations of consumers now in the marketplace, and with Gen Z on track to become the largest cohort of consumers in the near future—performance marketers must sharpen their pencils now or risk getting left behind the generational marketing curve.

That’s because each generation has its own set of beliefs, preferences and shared experiences, all of which influence the way they think and act. These factors also impact how they buy, interact with brands and consume products and services. Attitudes and habits for Gen Z specifically are different and influenced by social impact. Whether they’re watching videos or BuzzFeed reviews to see the latest tech gadgets, looking for recipes online that they can make at home or using interactive technology to color their own hair, younger consumers expect a similar experience online and offline.

Where to watch

In late 2021, YPulse surveyed about 1,200 weekly social media users aged 13-24 in the U.S. and produced the 2022 Instagram Trend Report. “We tapped into the minds of Gen Z to learn more about the rising Instagram trends across categories including music, fashion, creators, beauty, social justice and so much more,” YPulse states.
Here are five top trends that all performance marketers should consider when developing campaigns and strategies that meet younger consumers where they are:

PJs are being replaced with “real” clothing again as consumers get back out into the world. After spending two years in athleisure, young people are making bold moves with their style choices, using fashion as a vehicle for joy, optimism and self-expression, YPulse reports. “Expect to see alt-fashion (think Goth, Dark Academic, Goblincore, etc.) reach its peak as people spend more time together.”

Natural beauty is in. YPulse’s survey found that 33% of young people are interested in learning more about and buying “clean” makeup and skincare in 2022. This includes plant-based skincare, vegan makeup, using less products on their skin in general (i.e., skin minimalism) or more manufactured from “clean” ingredients.

Games are the new malls. Quarantine fueled a boom in video games, and this isn’t slowing down anytime soon. “More young people are spending more time inside playing games, especially in those that also double as social spaces,” reports YPulse, which says 40% of teens and young adults expect to see more video game trends in 2022, and that 3 in 10 expect to livestream others playing video games.

Young consumers like the DIY approach. When quarantines kept them home, consumers across all generations learned to lean on themselves for services that they would otherwise outsource. Knowing this, companies like L’Oréal are coming up with new innovations that feed the DIY trend. At CES 2022, for example, it introduced Colorsonic, a brush-like concept that aims to make home hair coloring easier, and Coloright, an AI-connected system for salon stylists, which allows virtual try-ons and the creation of custom shades.

Technology continues to proliferate. This is happening in response to customer demand for innovative products—and because vendors have the resources needed to bring their ideas to reality. It’s been nearly a decade since the original Oculus Rift was born. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets have been slowly improving since then, as evidenced at this year’s CES show. Some of the newer entrants include Sony’s PS VR2 headset, HTC’s Vive Wrist Tracker and Shiftall MeganeX’s ultra-lightweight headset.

Performance marketers should keep these trends in mind as they plan their campaigns for the rest of the year and seek out new ways to reach Gen Z consumers where they are. Whether these young customers are gaming at home, buying natural makeup products, doing their own hair or testing out the latest gadgets, marketers should focus on establishing meaningful connections and trust with this valuable consumer group, which already boasts an estimated collective buying power of $150 billion.

10 Innovative Ways Brands Can Leverage Facebook And Instagram Stories

Facebook and Instagram have been incredibly effective marketing channels for quite some time. Now, brands can also leverage the Stories feature on both platforms to create deeper connections with users. Stories often offer more interactive options than regular social posts, and companies can use this to their advantage by creating unique content that captures the attention of consumers as they scroll through their feed.

Forbes Agency Council

As with any social media marketing, coming up with a solid strategy is the key to seeing the strongest returns on investments in this particular area. When it comes to utilizing the Stories feature on either platform, brands have a wide spectrum of effective approaches to choose from. Here, 10 members of Forbes Agency Council explore some of the most innovative ways companies can leverage the content they share via Stories to better connect with consumers.

1. Maintain The ‘Human Touch’ To Make Stories More Approachable

The key to making the most of Stories is maintaining the “human touch.” With so many interactive features, such as polls, questions, custom stickers, etc., Stories can be more approachable and fun than an average post. You can also get away with toning down your brand voice and introducing a more laid-back vibe, while still delivering eye-catching and informational content. – Russ Williams, Archer Malmo

2. Use The Shopping Feature And Post Time-Sensitive Promotions

Instagram now allows brands to use a shopping feature on their Stories. It will let the audience see the product details and price, and if they press it, it will take them to the page on the website where they can purchase the product. Stories disappear after 24 hours, so brands can post time-sensitive content, such as promotions that their audience can’t miss. – Jonas Muthoni, Deviate Agency

3. Create Stories That Enhance Your Online Customer Relationships

If you think of Stories as an extension of the relationship you have with your customers on Facebook and Instagram, note the things that attract the most engagement on your pages. Use this information to create Stories that serve as “teaser” content to increase the fun factor or to show one aspect of your brand in a playful way. Or, cross-pollinate Clubhouse activity with your Instagram stories. Authenticity is key. – Megan Devine, d.trio marketing group

4. Use Paid Advertising To Extend The Reach Of Your Stories

One great way for a brand to leverage Facebook and Instagram Stories is to create and post vertical-friendly content as their Stories, then promote those Stories to larger audiences using paid advertising. In doing so, the brand’s Stories are not only available for longer than 24 hours, but can also then be shown to new, relevant demographics. – Jonathan Durante, Expandify Marketing Inc

5. Use Interactive Features To Gain Audience Insights

Stories are an effective way for brands to connect with their audiences in real time. Instagram and Facebook Stories have features that allow brands to gain insights directly from their followers. Try using tools such as polls, question stickers and quizzes to gain an understanding of your audience and immediate feedback on their preferences and insights. – Jason Wulfsohn, AUDIENCEX

6. Expand On Other Social Posts To Extend The Life Of Creatives

A Facebook or Instagram story can be used to expand on other social posts from the brand to extend the life of a single creative. If the original post is about an article, a story can highlight multiple text excerpts from the article with imagery to add more description. A story can also show a sequence that led up to the final image of the highlighted post and provide context and background. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne LLC

7. Let Influencers Collaborate On Or Take Over Your Stories

Stories are like a conveyor belt of content. What starts out as innocent scrolling through a friend’s content quickly turns into a steady flow of Instagram Stories and advertisements that can be viewed with just a swipe up. Influencer collaboration and takeovers are a great way to use Stories, along with polls and questions that encourage interaction. – Joe Gagliese, VIRAL NATION

8. Tell Unique Stories Through Carousel Ads

Using carousel ads in the Stories format on Facebook or Instagram is a great way to tell a unique story through three back-to-back images or videos. Businesses can use these to share three parts of a story or follow an “attention, benefit, action” format to increase performance. Story ads work amazingly because they appear in vertical format and take up the entire mobile phone screen, ensuring that the ad is seen. – Brian Meert, AdvertiseMint

9. Chop A Larger Piece Of Content Into Smaller Pieces

Take a larger piece of content and chop it into smaller pieces. For example, a recorded Facebook or Instagram Live stream could be chopped down into a Reel on Instagram, Stories on both platforms and even a regular News Feed post. As far as specific content for Stories, posting inspirational quotes, customer testimonials, quizzes, polls and other peoples’ relevant content can all work to create a solid narrative. – Christopher Tompkins, The Go! Agency

10. Give Viewers A Behind-The-Scenes Look At Your Culture

Facebook and Instagram Stories offer a great way to show a behind-the-scenes look into what’s happening at the company. This will give viewers a look into your company culture and give them a sense of belonging and transparency. You can take it one step further and start your own company show on Stories with live streams. – Stefan Katanic, Veza Digital

How-tos for Generational Marketing to Millennials vs. Gen Z

Millennials and Generation Zers are both notorious for shaking up the status quo in more ways than one. They’ve both broken out of a shell that generations prior were determined to mold themselves to. This fact, along with their closeness in age, have led many to believe that they have a lot of commonalities that can accommodate similar generational marketing strategies.

Millennial and Gen-Z Marketing

While they are adjacent generations, the qualities in which they have gained notoriety differ, especially as consumers. The rise of the newest wave of consumers, who make up roughly 40% of all customers in the market, is certainly creating changes as Gen Z’s desires are not perfectly aligned with their older generational neighbors. The people who make up this group were born between 1997 and 2012.

At the same time, this does not imply that advertisers should stop pushing their marketing efforts toward Millennials. Simply put, Millennials largely contribute to the U.S. economic capital with a generational wealth estimated at $24 trillion. This group is made up of people born between 1981 and 1996.

With these statistics in mind, it is important that brands learn how to make the most of both unique generational consumer behaviors. Here are different elements advertisers should keep in mind when targeting a Millennial vs. a Gen Z demographic.

Similarities

Before we break down the differences these two generations have as consumers, it’s important to acknowledge they do still have quite a bit in common. First, both groups are well-versed in social media and the amount of time they spend plugged in doesn’t vary too drastically.

Even at an average of 20 minutes less per day, Millennials were young and impressionable when the age of the Internet came to be and, as such, they are just about as savvy in social media as is Gen Z.

Second, both generations place importance on diversity, equality, and progressive social values. In contrast to generations prior, Millennials and Gen Zers have questioned many social norms that Boomers and Gen Xers have accepted as reality.

Though there are undoubtedly many similarities in the grand scheme of things, these generational differences must also be considered in order for marketers to successfully cater to both.

Attitude Toward Spending

Interestingly, the way Millennials’ and Gen Zers’ finances differ is quite great.

Many Millennials were young adults when the Great Recession hit the U.S. in 2007. Growing up with a poor economy at large taught this group to place value on quality over quantity, as they remain mostly optimistic about their personal finances.

With Gen Z being quite young at the start of the economic downturn, this generation adopted the notion of practicality and financial preparation from an early age.

How Can Brands Successfully Cater to Both Spending Behaviors?

For Millennials, quality over quantity means they are looking to invest their money in brands that create a unique product or experience that will noticeably enhance their quality of living. Millennials are inclined to do significant research before making a purchase, ensuring they’ve found the most beneficial product or experience for them. This is good news for marketers, as Millennials are constantly on the lookout for the next best thing to help them in their everyday lives. All brands need to do is prove they are the ones Millennials should be investing their time and money in, and they may have customers for life.

For Gen Z, it’s best to get right to it. Let the consumer know exactly why the product or experience is the best one for them and why it’s worth the money. As previously mentioned, this generation is very focused on responsible spending as a result of their early memories of the Great Recession. So, if you want to sell to Gen Z, make sure you keep your brand’s feet firmly planted on the ground. Approach selling in a practical manner and make sure your product has a clear purpose for its consumer.

Feeling Connected Through Social Media

It is apparent that both generations are avid social media users, and the feeling of connection that social media creates is well enjoyed by both. However, the ways they best receive those feelings of connection vary.

Millennials feel most connected through the more traditional sharing, pinning, and forwarding; predominantly on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Gen Zers have had social media at their fingertips for the majority of their lives and, as a result, they consume more media on fewer platforms. This group is very visual and prefers rapid consumption, mainly through Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and, most recently, TikTok.

How Can Brands Leverage Connection in Their Marketing Efforts?

Millennials prefer the more traditional social media platforms and sharing techniques, because they’re easy ways to feel seen and heard. Brands can leverage this in their customer journeys through interaction: asking consumers questions, encouraging them to communicate in comments sections, and more. This creates a space where Millennials feel valued and contributes to their attitude that a brand can better their lives on a deeply personal level.

Gen Z’s short attention span makes their marketing needs exclusively geared toward them. Cut to the chase and get down to benefits of the product — this is the best way to reach them on their preferred social platforms. Utilizing influencers for brand marketing is an effective way to connect to this audience. With 10-second Instagram stories and #sponsored posts, brands can use their preferred social platforms to connect in a unique way that feels authentic to Gen Z.

Embracing Generational Differences as Marketers and Advertisers

As two groups who came one after the other, it’s no surprise that Millennials and Generation Z are very similar. Both known for questioning common ideas the predecessing generations easily accepted, the two generations have redefined marketing in a new era for brands. They value authenticity, social responsibility, and inclusion. But both have different consumer behaviors when it comes to their finances and how they connect. For marketers, it is more important than ever to optimize and strategize based on their ever-changing habits as consumers

An Instagram World With No ‘Likes’ — How Does the Test Impact Advertisers, Users?

Instagram made a big move. What’s the official motive behind testing a social media world with no “likes”?

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, stated in the announcement that the test in the U.S. and Canada was “about creating a less pressurized environment, where people feel comfortable expressing themselves.

Hundreds of Likes

For all intents and purposes, Instagram’s latest power move has an alibi: The platform claims to be more concerned with the well-being of its users than with making a profit. Whether or not the company’s true motives are in line with reducing mental illness in its young users — including their stress, anxiety, and depression — the test has certainly changed the way the platform operates.

Diving into the many possible outcomes of this potential change is essential for marketers and Instagram users, alike, in order to best understand what to expect from the future of social media.

Whether positive or negative, the removal of likes has garnered opinions from the masses. Feelings toward the test range from anger to animosity to excitement. The fact of the matter is, likes have been a major catalyst in the way Instagram is used and success is measured, both personally and professionally. For brands utilizing influencers for promotion, likes have acted as a currency by showing how engaged an audience is, while effectively helping brands make decisions on whether or not an influencer should endorse their product or not. Without it, the marketplace will have to be optimized by these advertisers as they uncover what’s to come on the forefront of social media marketing.

Why Instagram Users Are Angry

It comes as no surprise that many of the users who are angry fall under the influencer and celebrity category. For many of them, Instagram likes have completely built their platforms as social media stars. Many of them uncovered the amount of engagement it took from early on and were able to build a fan base of loyal likers in order to gain enough clout to start being paid for promotions. It has been hypothesized by some influencers that Instagram doesn’t actually care at all about the well-being of its users. In fact, while its CEO claims the company “will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people’s health,” others are claiming that the test goes deeper than that, and is ultimately in favor of Instagram’s business: It has been hypothesized that this is being done as a means for control.

While influencers do have a home on Instagram, the brand deals and partnerships they forge on the platform do not currently have anything in them for InstagramThus, the removal of likes could make it so that marketers opt to spend their advertising dollars directly through Instagram, more heavily utilizing Instagram’s advertising tools. This begs the question(s): Why would they no longer go through influencers? Can they still get a feel for the overall engagement a user has? Unfortunately, because the metrics marketers rely on when selecting influencers will no longer be visible, it may become challenging to obtain real and true metrics, as these numbers can be easily manipulated if sent over from the source.

And frankly, for some losing likes simply means stripping down and removing their online social status, and they don’t like it. The measurement of likes acts as a symbol for popularity and fame, and many have expressed their dislike toward the change because of this. Removing likes will make it harder for users to determine if someone is cool simply by measurement, and understandably, for those for which Instagram has helped shape careers, this poses a threat to their success.

Why Instagram Users Are Excited

More obviously, many Instagram users are excited; particularly younger users and their parents. Having the platform to rely on for social status and humble brags has created uncharted territory in the adolescent social scene. Likes are the most obvious cool factor when looking at a user’s profile. For regular users who peruse Instagram as a social tool and not to create a business, the pressure to depend on likes as a means of validation, a measurement of self-worth, and a ranking of social status, could completely shift the way young users post. This feeling of “not being enough” if you don’t have the most likes in your social circle is exactly what Instagram claims to be tackling head-on with this test.

But this may not just be a positive change for common users; some influencers have actually expressed their excitement and support for the change, as well. As mentioned, Instagram has evolved over the years from a simple photo-sharing tool to a space where people are constantly trying to be the very best on the scene.

Many users claim that a major shift in the way Instagram was used happened when it changed the feed from chronological order to placing the most engaging posts at the top. The reason many influencers rose to where they were when this change occurred was because people genuinely enjoyed the creative energy they were putting into their profiles. When top-engaging posts were the first thing seen upon opening the app, influencers (and regular users, alike) had to evolve with the change, if they wanted to continue to get the attention they were used to. As a result, many sacrificed their own creativity by means of posting something less original that would guarantee high engagement.

For those who have felt the need to conform to the more popular style of posts, removing likes would mean they may no longer feel constricted or bound to posting things that are guaranteed to perform well (i.e. attract enough likes to deem them relevant enough for the top of the feed). This may allow for a more fruitful array of postings from influencers, celebrities, and young users of Instagram, bringing back into the picture a sense of creative freedom and self-worth.

What It All Means for Users and Marketers, Alike

Whether or not the test is here to stay, the statement it’s made so far has shaken many of its users, and most have an opinion. From regular users — particularly those in Generation Z — to influencers and celebrities, and brands that use Instagram as part of their sales funnel, the feelings of frustration and utter glee are certainly worth evaluating as Instagram chooses how to move forward.