Deep-diving in the findings of Talkwalker's latest Social Media Trends Global Report.
In October, consumer intelligence acceleration platform Talkwalker released its Social Media Trends 2022 Global Report.
On this occasion, CEO Tod Nielsen spoke with Communicate to explain the research's key findings and trends.
The major trends outlined in this year's report seem to reinforce trends that were already rising (consumer rule, importance of omnichannel, evolution of influencer marketing, etc.). Has COVID-19 accelerated the maturity of these trends and if so, how?
COVID-19 has undoubtedly accelerated these trends as everyone has spent more time using digital channels to fulfill everything from entertainment, such as on-demand films, to procuring food and personal care items. Social media usage has increased in line with digital channel use, and brands that actively engaged loyal customers and fostered communities through social networks have seen engagement intensify during the pandemic.
The importance of social media has grown on the back of this because people are increasingly using social to learn about brands, identify deals, and discover the latest products. Customers have also learned that brands do pay attention when they complain via social channels, which of course has amplified this trend. Overall, the brands which monitor social media trends and pay close attention to what their customers say on social media are the ones that are performing well.
TikTok's massive growth is the highlight of this year's report. What were the main drivers of this massive boost and do you expect this growth to sustain itself long-term?
TikTok's meteoric rise is largely driven by humanity’s desire to create and be entertained. The pandemic has been a challenging period for all of us and TikTok has given many an outlet to let loose and laugh. TikTok has done a great job at making it easy for everyone to become a content creator by providing fun features to create videos. Many people wanted to escape from all the troubling issues during the pandemic and TikTok was the perfect remedy.
As long as there are creators there will be views, but it will be interesting to see which topics creators choose and how brands and media shape TikTok’s future.
Again about TikTok, brands are still slow to adopt the platform. How do you explain that and what is, in your view, the cost of this reluctance?
We're seeing brands starting to dip their toes into TikTok. It’s not a natural fit for some and, as it’s video, not all brands can continually produce enough content. Many brands know that campaigns on TikTok can backfire, so perhaps that’s another reason why adoption is slow. Gen Z is a very discerning audience and as they don't like “hard sells.” Brands have to try harder to build rapport and engage them in meaningful ways.
What are the main challenges that brands should address urgently in terms of social marketing to keep up with all the various dimensions that need to be taken into account?
Brands need to find ways to stay relevant and differentiated, which is why they need to pay close attention to what people think about their products, what competitors are doing, and what topics are shaping their market.
Social issues can be very challenging for most brands, particularly finding ways to take action and join the conversation in a meaningful way - part of this is because it exposes brands to scrutiny and criticism. But we’ve found that if brands don’t have an opinion already, they will either be on the sidelines when it’s time to shape key market developments or have others speak for them. Hence, brands need to formulate a strategy on key social issues that are impacting their industry.
We’re also seeing new trends emerge, like social selling and omnichannel engagement. In terms of the former, brands need to be aware if this is how consumers prefer to buy and whether it makes sense for them. They certainly don’t want to miss out on leveraging this channel if it’s a viable means of selling their product. With regard to challenges like omnichannel engagement, brands need to be mindful of where they are active, to be sure they are not engaging consumers on the wrong channel. Using a platform like Talkwalker to monitor trends, social, and other marketing activities ultimately helps brands find the insights needed to make the right decisions about how to address social marketing challenges.
On a separate note, Talkwalker recently announced its repositioning as a consumer intelligence company. What led to this decision at this specific moment, and what does it entail?
For the last decade or so, Talkwalker was known as a social listening company, able to translate data from social media, blogs, and news, and turn that into valuable, impactful insights for brands and marketers. What we came to realize is that we can take those deep listening capabilities and expand our platform to provide a 360-degree view of the consumer. Our new Market Intelligence and Customer Intelligence products additionally expand our capabilities into market research and customer analytics. Looking forward, we’re not just driving impact for marketers, but providing actionable insights for product innovation, customer experience, market analysis, and a whole spectrum of departments.
Download the full report here.