Social Media, Thoughts

Social Media 2022, a year in review – looking back on this year’s trends and our predictions for 2023

Reading time: 6 min

In our first year of being completely lockdown-free, global social media usage continued to soar. As of July, we were seeing active social media users up by +5.1% year-on-year. Whilst overall usage continued to rise, social media engagement has plateaued since it hit an all time high in Q2 of 2020 (Global Web Index).

Social media networks have also gone through various changes. New platforms like BeReal made headway into the social landscape whilst long-standing social giant Twitter has experienced volatility, creating an uncertain future for the platform. TikTok has continued its impressive growth and was named the second-most popular video service for American users under the age of 35 (Omdia). However, it was Instagram that reigned the top platform for Gen Z users (GWIglobal data excluding China).

2022 also saw a plethora of platform updates and new feature testing with prioritisation of Creators and video content. Whilst there’s a lot to delve into, we’ve rounded up our top five takeaways on social media this year as well as our predictions of what’s to come in 2023 and exactly what it means for luxury brands.

1. Short-form video continues to dominate

TikTok’s popular short-form video style has been emulated and prioritised across several platforms. Instagram continued to heavily prioritise Reels in 2022 which didn’t go without causing some uproar.
Well-known personalities started the movement, ‘make Instagram, Instagram again’ after frustrations grew around feed and format changes. Instagram CEO, Adam Mosseri faced criticism and released a statement saying that whilst photos will always be part of Instagram’s heritage, the platform will naturally continue to become more video-focused over time. 

The result of this saw luxury brands evolving their content and Creator strategies. Whilst short-form video took precedence cross-channel, luxury brands realised that their content had to be platform specific. With this, we felt that luxury brands really found their stride on TikTok in 2022. Fashion giant Burberry stood out through its collaborations with niche TikTok talent in their continuation of the #ArtOfBurberry campaign, which saw them earn three nominations for the ‘Greatest Creative UK’ in the first TikTok awards

2. From search to purchase, social commerce grows in importance

Social commerce opportunities have been developing across the major platforms for the past few years. Insider Intelligence reported that it is set to grow three times faster than traditional ecommerce by 2025. Not only are social platforms enabling ease of purchase through their in-app shopping tools, users are taking to the platforms for product discovery in place of traditional search engines. Social platforms are facilitating the full funnel shopping experience, from inspiration and discovery to recommendations and purchase.

AR has a big part to play in this with luxury brands being early adopters of ‘virtual try-on’ tools. At the beginning of 2022, Prada and Farfetch utilised Snapchat’s AR filter as a way to showcase their products. Users were able to try on Prada clothing, glasses, bags and bracelets virtually with updated technology that detects and responds to body movements and facial dimensions, before being able shop these products via the product catalogue integration. 

3. Increased Creator monetisation opportunities

While Creators and Influencers have historically earned revenue through paid brand partnerships, we saw an influx of social platforms ramp up their Creator monetisation opportunities through new features.

From subscriptions on Instagram to tips and donations on TikTok, Creators are essentially being given more creative control with means to monetize without the restraints of a formal brand brief and approval process.

4. Emergence of new platforms

Whilst TikTok remained at the top spot in the app download chart in 2022, BeReal made a noticeable appearance in the top 10 and was also named ‘App of the year’ on both Google and Apple stores.

The popularity of the app could be marking the beginning of a shift into a more authentic social approach. Some of the app’s features have already caught on, with Instagram adding more BeReal like elements with its dual camera, ‘Candid’ and more recently testing new feature ‘RollCall’ which would enable group chat members to request that all participants add a photo or video of themselves to the chat within 5 minutes. TikTok also introduced the TikTok Now app where users are prompted to share a daily photo or video experience with their front and back camera to share their most authentic moments.

5. Twitter Demise

One of the major social stories of 2022 is the Elon Musk Twitter takeover, which has seen significant twists and turns in the company structure and subsequently its future popularity. A lot has happened with updates and retractions of new features so in an attempt to keep up-to-date, we recently reported on the timeline of activity so far since the takeover and what this means for luxury brands. With high profile personalities taking a stance by leaving the platform and numerous companies pausing their ad spend, the future remains uncertain for the long-standing social channel.

The latest twist from Musk however has seen a succession of Twitter advertorials showcase positive statistics around the usage of the platform from new user sign ups to active minutes being at an all time high. Whether Twitter holds a significant future for luxury brands remains to be seen. 

So, what’s to come in 2023? 

Whilst we’ve seen significant change this year at some of the social networks, we’ve forecasted what’s to come in 2023 and what this means for luxury brands.

Authentic Content

Content-wise, we’re seeing more video and more authenticity across all platforms. The introduction of BeReal and consequential copycat features from both Instagram and TikTok inform our prediction of an overarching shift from consumers wanting to see more ‘candid’ content. Brands like Chipotle and Elf cosmetics have been pioneers in joining BeReal, so could luxury brands be next? They were notoriously late to the TikTok party so we could see the same pattern here. 

Social Metaverse with more AR

With Facebook changing their name to Meta late in 2021, this year they’ve announced more plans for heavy investment into AR and VR as they continue to make their way into a virtual future. There will undoubtedly be an evolution of virtual innovation for luxury brands to take advantage of in 2023. With Farfetch, Prada and Piaget already being some of the first to do this successfully, we predict more luxury brands will be utilising a full funnel virtual shopping experience on social platforms in 2023 (Vogue Business).

Digital Influencers

Speaking of the virtual world, virtual influencers are said to be real inspiration for the younger Gen Z audience. A recent Instagram trends report noted that, ‘Over half of Gen Z social media users plan to get fashion or beauty inspiration from digital avatars or influencers in 2023.’ You can read more on this in our influencer report.

Social Commerce

From using influencers, virtual or otherwise, to drive purchase and taking advantage of social platform commerce features, social media will become even more important in the consumer purchase journey. Whilst the likes of TikTok and Instagram are increasing their commerce features, new apps like Flip and Supergreat are being solely created with commerce in mind. Social channels are set to become the beating heart of the consumer purchase journey. 

It’s been a year of change in the social media landscape but we’re ready to face 2023. With candid creative, new platforms, virtual influencers and commerce opportunities on the horizon, social media will certainly play an important role in your 2023 strategy. 

Get in Touch

At VERB, we have a team of experts who specialise in social media execution and management. To talk with us about evolving your social media strategy, please get in touch. We’d love the chance to work with you.