Predictions 2022: Social commerce, the metaverse, and the battle for creators

Mariam Cheik-Hussein
By Mariam Cheik-Hussein | 6 December 2021
Flying the Nest

As social commerce continues its rise, platforms will battle it out to win creators with increased funding and education.

Last year, online shopping took off at the start of the pandemic. According to We Are Social’s 2020 Digital Report, Australians were shopping more online throughout the pandemic, with 74% of Australians having bought something online from June to July.

This trend has continued and as a result the battle for creators has become even more important.

Tribe founder Jules Lund says platforms themselves will fuel this battle, with TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat all developing their own creator funds.

Taryn Williams, The Right Fit CEO, also sees the battle for creators heating up, adding that there will be a further investment by brands into influencer marketing as they see a reduction in ROI from Facebook ads due to the iOS changes.

“Data deprecation will inevitably prompt marketers to spend more on strategies that convert - namely working with influencers that have access to the audience that advertisers want to reach,” she says.

Others predict the rise of the metaverse, which Facebook has invested heavily in recently, as well as the continued strength of video.

2022 predictions:

Jules Lund, Tribe founder
Influencer Marketing now sits atop a much larger ecosystem called The Creator Economy - already estimated at US$100B. Ironically fuelled by the social platforms themselves, who are now in a fierce battle to win the creators. If you win the creators, you win the users. If you win the users, you win the advertisers. The advertisers then fund the creators. The flywheel continues. But social platforms don’t have time to wait for advertisers to fund creators, so they’ve released their own Creator Funds; TikTok committed $1B, Instagram & Facebook matched that, YouTube has a $100m fund, while Snap paid top creators $1M a day. In 2022, expect the quality and quantity of creators to explode with the release of money, education and opportunity.

Aaron Brooks, Vamp co-founder
The future is looking bright for social commerce in 2022, but its success will lie with influencers. This year, platforms like Instagram and TikTok have paved the way with shoppable ad units and features, yet few brands have been able to adapt to the updates. Many are also struggling to close the loop between inspiration and purchase, so there’s still a lot of untapped potential.

Influencers will bridge that gap. They’re the absolute experts in building shopping confidence and that’s going to be invaluable in this new world of S-commerce. We’ve seen a lot of success this year both with ongoing partnerships that engage the same influencers for extended periods, and with the boosting of influencer content, which makes it shoppable. These are two strategies I’d encourage marketers to explore to maximise the S-commerce opportunity. If you can invest in influencers and get it right, the pay off will be huge!

Clare Winterbourn, Born Bred Talent founder
Influencers are diversifying their content and reach across multiple channels more so than ever before and 2022 will see this trend continue. Influencers are developing their audiences into omni-channel communities across TikTok, Instagram, Podcasts and varying other platforms to grow their reach and commercial offering with brands following suit. My prediction is that we will see a new breed of influencer step forth with reach that spans both traditional audiences and developing ones, with an increase in unique content and in turn brand stratagems to follow.

Furthermore, we are entering a new age of social content with conscience - consumers are more awake to the social and political pressures facing the global community than ever before (feeding into this ‘cancel culture’ mentality) which places a pressure on content creators and brands to step up and provide a truly authentic platform that has measurable and tangible impacts for good. I predict that 2022 will see more influencers and brands stand up in face of this pressure.

Clare Winterbourn

Clare Winterbourn

Natalie Giddings, Hoozu CEO
Rather than focusing on adding another channel to your mix - think about working with influencers that are able to produce inspiring video content for your brand. Regardless of the channel, our data shows video content converts. Video can inspire, educate or entertain an audience. Products or services that need more time to explain, perform better with video. With formats like Instagram Stories, you can take the audience through the entire buyer's journey from awareness, consideration & conversion.

All channels, from Instagram to Pinterest, are prioritising video, and it's driving the majority of the performance on our programs in reach, interactions and conversions. It’s no longer about the perfectly curated unattainable pictures. Video in the context of working with influencers, offers the audience relatable, raw, unguarded moments of people’s lives. To join the conversation, building true connections with consumers through personal stories via video is key for 2022. Leverage video for different purposes from entertainment, tutorials/how-tos, product demonstrations, behind-the-scenes glimpse, announcements/reveals while building anticipation, interview and Q&A and live events.

Suzie Shaw, We Are Social CEO
People are spending more and more time in the metaverse, so there are more eyes and wallets to monetise, with the result that brands are increasingly thinking about how to set up virtual shops. The metaverse has a lot to offer for brands, from frictionless virtual shopping to immersive digital brand experiences. The usual first movers, from Gucci to ASOS, from Disney to Netflix, are already leveraging this space to connect with their audiences. To attract more people to the metaverse, influencers will have a big role to play. With large established communities and incontrovertible levels of influence over their audiences, they have the power to draw a crowd to new environments. The metaverse offers an opportunity for both brands and influencers to evolve their narrative in an innovative and creative way and we expect to see more and more influencers dip their toes in these virtual spaces in the year ahead.

Nick Brignell, GroupM specialty businesses general manager
In the influencer space in 2022, brands will start focusing more on business outcomes with influencers, particularly across e-commerce. The pandemic has taught us influencers are vital cogs in converting awareness into sales across the funnel. 'Creator loyalty', like good old-fashioned brand loyalty, will see brands start to foster more substantial long-term relationships with influencers that go beyond one-off partnerships. TikTok will be at the forefront of this e-comm influencer boom with its rising popularity and e-comm partnerships. Its 7 billion total views of the #tiktokmademebuythis hashtag as well as its new full-service shopping solution is just the start, and shows the growth potential. NFTs will be huge currency among influencers when they start to monetize their content, and coupled with strong brand and creator partnerships, they will be able to drive evocative brand experiences.

Shivani Maharaj, Wavemaker chief content and partnerships officer
As we see the rise of social commerce and influencers’ role in that purchase journey, my prediction is that we will see an increase in IP and licensing deals being done by brands with Influencers to sell products. We see it all the time with celebrities and A-Listers but I think we will see it more on a local level with Macro Influencers. Influencers are becoming brands in their own right and there are consumers who will seek out and products that influencers they trust and find compelling are aligned to or are an expert in. Influencers and creators have become an established part of culture in this country. It’s why #tiktokmademebuyit is such a huge trend and why 74% of Australian Instagram users say they use the platform to connect with Influencers.

Detch Singh, Hypetap co-CEO and co-founder
The industry has been talking about social and creator commerce for a long time but we haven't seen it come to life in a big way yet. In 2022, success for social commerce will be driven by the ecosystem in which marketers execute their influencer marketing campaigns and their strategy around it. Data, creative and paid media will need to work cohesively to drive real business outcomes for brands with influencer content front and center. By this I mean:

  • Having a strong view of the customer with first party data
  • Strategic, long-term influencer programs backed by a social and paid media strategy
  • Using the right platforms, formats and narratives to achieve different business objectives
  • Rigour around optimising these programs

Investment in building out this kind of ecosystem will be essential for the brands who want to outperform in the influencer marketing category.

Detch Singh

Detch Singh

Taryn Williams, The Right Fit founder and CEO
I think 2022 will see a few things:

  • Further investment by brands into influencer marketing as they see a reduction in ROI from FB ads due to the iOS changes. Data deprecation (loss of third party cookies etc) will inevitably prompt marketers to spend more on strategies that convert - namely working with influencers that have access to the audience that advertisers want to reach
  • Battle of the platforms to win (or win back) creators. Youtube with Shorts & the Shorts Fund. Facebook ads monetisation for influencers & allowing them to monetise livestreams. Pinterest adding video & creating a fund for creators. TikToks creator fund will grow to over $1 billion in the U.S. and more than double that globally. The platforms all know the value of creators/influencers and there will be a fierce battle to win their loyalty and audiences
  • Regulation of 'Finfluencers' - especially as we see further shifts towards the more mainstream adoption of crypto and businesses being built around crypto & blockchain
  • Cross channel campaigns - but with content still designed for platform first. Brands engaging influencers and opinion leaders across two or more channels (Podcast + linked in, Insta + snap, etc) to create more meaningful content and touchpoints to tell the brand story

Anthony Svirskis, Tribe CEO
2022 will see the rise of TikTok and the commencement of Social-Commerce. TikTok has had explosive growth on the user side, but brands remain under-educated about the channel, what performance looks like, and what constitutes good content. TikTok is working hard to bring the industry up to speed, but brands will still need hand-holding and a leap of faith when entering the space. Meanwhile, both TikTok and Instagram are in a race to release S-Commerce tools, which are still under-developed and clunky. Once creators can easily tag products that their audiences can buy directly within these apps, the entire industry moves to a new level.

Naomi Martin, AnalogFolk associate creative director
It’s likely that influencers will be less about inspiration, and more about facilitating seamless shopping experiences. Social platforms have been integrating social commerce for a while - so that isn’t new. But using influencers to actually convert customers to buy directly from content? That is. For brands, it’s much more beneficial to measure and track sales rather than engagement or reach, so this shift will be good for brands, partners, and customers alike. (We all know the frustration of not knowing where to get our hands on something!) As this shift happens, it’s likely that the engagement models will shift too. As sales could be directly attributed to their content, potentially they could get a bigger slice of the pie with it.

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