– Jonathan Lemze
Developments in marketing have been influenced this year by fundamental changes to audience behavior following the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a lasting impact on people’s lifestyles and consumer habits. Not only is there more widespread engagement with user-generated content and short-form video, but we are also experiencing the dawn of social commerce and the rise of the “creators”. This article will help executives navigate these changes and integrate any learnings into their marketing and communications strategy for 2022.

The Year of Video

Billions of videos are now being watched daily on TikTok, YouTube, and Facebook (FB). There has been a significant shift in online consumer habits, which has even led Instagram (IG) CEO, Adam Mosseri, to announce: “We are no longer just a photo sharing App… We are seeing that video is driving more and more of the growth… people are continuing to tell us that they’re interested in particularly short form…”. This might make you question: Does my brand effectively utilize strong and entertaining short-form videos? Are we investing enough in this type of content?
Short-form video, which has fueled TikTok’s success, is here to stay. Some of the world’s leading social platforms, such as YouTube, FB, and IG, have now begun to encourage the creation of this type of content by giving brands and creators greater exposure. Users, in particular, have given a “thumbs up” to short-form video, and they continue to interact with this type of content on a global scale. According to an ANIMOTO survey, 93% of consumers said that video is helpful when purchasing a product, and that it’s their favorite type of content on social media.
This is not an isolated phenomenon. Marketers agree that video is the way forward. According to a survey by MotionCue, 70% of marketers said that videos show a positive ROI; and 93% of marketers said that it has become an important part of their marketing strategy, according to Wyzowl.
In sum, brands must start funneling more resources into the creation of short-form video content. But where do you start?

UGC Is the New Norm

While most of us would have relied upon our travel agent for tips and advice before booking a vacation, the modern consumer is now more likely to review hotels and destinations online. This preference for online information and services has heightened during the COVID-19 across most verticals, from FMCG to Fin-Tech. It seems marketers have finally learned to utilize various forms of user-generated content (UGC) in their marketing strategies (e.g., reviews, hauling, recommendations, unboxing, demonstrations). “Creators” are now making ads that look better than what some studios might produce.
No wonder marketers have embraced it with open arms; not only does it reduce production costs, according to TINT’s ‘State of User-Generated Content 2021, but 93% of marketers also agree that consumers trust content created by real people rather than content created by brands. Econsultancy goes further by saying that site visitors who are lured by UGC tend to double their dwell time. It is also more likely to generate a sale, with those making a subsequential purchase increasing by 184%, and spending 45% more on average.
That is why more and more brands rely on UGC throughout their consumer journey. For example, you could easily find rave reviews for digital bank, Monzo, via its IG and Twitter accounts
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A post shared by monzo (@monzo)

Aldi UK offer a weekly review of new in-store products on their TikTok channel. Target does the same but goes further by including home styling tips for once you’ve brought those products home.

boho? say less🤚 @classycasita ##bohoaesthetic

♬ original sound – target
It’s no wonder they choose UGC when creators have been able to create breathtaking ads from the comfort of their homes.

My neighbors think I’m crazy ##fyp ##fypabcxyz

♬ Redrum by Sxmpra – nic teran
So, instead of organizing another costly and expansive shooting day, you should ask yourself: how can I better utilize UGC for marketing purposes? Even if it requires you to relinquish control of the creative process and entrust a creator, it is worth your investment.

Content Partnerships

We quickly grow familiar with the actors, models and presenters who front our beloved brands, irrespective of the celebrity’s affection or alignment with that brand. Nowadays, a more coherent relationship is being created between companies and their ambassadors based on shared values. We might “blame” it on Gen-Z, but using Influencers who successfully manage to accumulate a large following by just creating content in their day-to-day lives make more sense.
Content partnerships have gained traction in 2021 and this will continue strong into 2022. Content collaboration with “Brands” that share similar values and create a more holistic solution for their audience is becoming more important. Think, for example, about e.l.f. cosmetics creating a line with Mexican franchise, Chipotle, both of which are doing amazing work on social media (and especially on TikTok).
Another example is the collaboration of Dunkin’ with the American social media personality, Charli D’Amelio. They created a collection together as part of a rebranding of “Dunkin’ Donuts”, which has significant appeal in the eyes of today’s generation.
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A post shared by cd (@charlidamelio)

A third (but certainly not final) example is that of the love affair between fast-food franchise, Wendy’s, and the animation show, Rick and Morty. Not only do you enjoy a drive-thru experience (and you can sign us up for a Pickle Rick), but their Ads also manage to capture the essence of both franchises.
These collaborations have greater Value-Add for these brands, echoing a shared tone of voice and appealing to new audiences. With people now spending upwards of two and a half hours per day on social media, and even longer among younger audience, it’s no wonder that more and more franchises are looking to form these bonds.

Always-On Social Marketing

When we consider how many hours are spent on social media and recall the panic in which FB’s server outage left us, it makes strategic sense that brands wish to extend their “Always On” presence.
Whether you refer to it as “organic”, “recency” or “Always On”, brands understand that they should continuously engage with their audience via two-way, real-time interactions, and not resort to stand-alone campaigns for the launch of a new product. According to Salesforce’s State of Marketing report, 78% of marketers say that they engage customers in real time across one or more marketing channels.
COVID-19 has accelerated this trend, with more and more consumers relying on digital channels to communicate with companies. Social Media Examiner states that 84% of marketers plan to either keep or increase organic marketing efforts on FB (47% plan to increase); 87% on IG (64% plan to increase); and 83% on YouTube (62% plan to increase).
Because the organic reach of brands is decreasing on most social platforms, companies should invest in the promotion of their Always-On content. This should be included in a brand’s social marketing budget as part of the efforts to relay its messaging.

The Death of the Cookie and the Rise of Zero-Party

According to a survey by Saleforce, 78% of marketers say that customer engagement is data-driven, yet we are now seeing the death of third-party cookies alongside ever greater privacy regulation. It should be no surprise that some companies are, therefore, turning to zero-party data.
Zero-Party data, a term coined by Forrester, is data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. This might include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context and/or how the user wants to be recognized.
Social Media marketing has an impact on this. Not only are brands creating lead ads for customers to share their preferences, but they are also initiating campaigns and loyalty programs specifically for those purposes. Whether it calls on potential leads to subscribe to a newsletter, obtain a promo code, or win a present for “man’s best friend” (i.e., provided that the lead supply the name, breed and size of the dog), zero party efforts offer the brand notable opportunities on social media.

Social Commerce                                                                                                                                                                     

Facebook Marketplace has more than one billion monthly visitors while IG Shops has over 250 million, claimed CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, in the Group’s Q1 2021 earnings call with FB investors. But FB is not alone. In August 2021, TikTok announced a partnership with Shopify that will allow users to make in-app purchases. This is being promoted in collaboration with Kylie Jenner’s brand, Kylie Cosmetics.
We do not yet know which brands/sectors will prevail, but there is no doubt that this has redefined the social marketing landscape. It could now house the start and end of the consumer journey.

The Dissolution of the Hegemony

While Facebook remains the #1 social media platform with around 2.9 billion monthly active users globally, we have no doubt that short-form video is here to stay. TikTok is fast becoming a mainstream platform with a billion monthly active users; it is also reaching an ever broader age demographic. For other platforms, such as Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and even the new star Discord (the instant messaging App for gamers), it seems that their supremacy is hanging in the balance.
Remember: your brand may have unreached audiences on any one of these social platforms, and they are changing the way that content is made and consumed. So, maybe it’s time to update that famous acronym (KISS) to Keep It Short Silly.
Havas-Blink is a Social-First agency and forms part of the HAVAS group. Our motto is “Content before Distribution”