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Social Media Week: Trends & Recap


Adweek’s Social Media Week, we brought the industry’s sharpest minds together in NYC to share knowledge on social media trends. With the skyrocketing success of the creator economy and TikTok as an invaluable resource for brands to reach Gen Z, we’re diving into the key takeaways from #SMW.

1. Creators Are Essential to the Future of Brand Social

Day one of Social Media Week focuses on collaboration between creators themselves and between creators and brands. Creators emerge daily on TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and other social media platforms. They often grow in popularity due to their ability to create highly personalized content that caters to their unique audience of followers and the platform they’re sharing it on.

Hootsuite CMO Maggie Lower led a discussion on the challenges brands today face when trying to connect with the incredibly digital-first group of consumers that make up Gen Z. Along with empathy, purpose, and diversity; Gen Z expects authenticity and transparency from modern-day brands online. Additionally, they expect it fast — with the rise of short-form video and personalized content came a shortened attention span.

?ATTN: Attention span has dropped to 2.5 seconds ? @maggiemlower @hootsuite #smw pic.twitter.com/d2ACY065lQ

— Saba Bokhari (@SabaBok) May 9, 2022

The most talked-about brands today know the importance of collaborating with rising creators to understand how they connect with their online audiences. And we’re not just talking about traditional influencer marketing—brands like Gymshark, Duolingo, and Alo Yoga both feature and emulate the content of successful creators, looking to them as strategic leaders in the social world.

Delta’s social team utilizes influencer content, UGC, and brand content on its TikTok profile—all maintaining the authentic, raw feel of the creator’s TikTok content, which often goes viral.

2. TikTok’s Authentic Content Style Paves the Path to Purchase

Brands that embrace the authenticity of user-generated content (UGC) and work with content creators to build a social media strategy that resonates with this generation are ultimately poised for ecommerce success. But the ones that take it a step further incorporate the actual purchasing experience into their approach to social.

Luis Carranza of Social Native led the workshop “4 Tactics to Convert Social Views to Sales in a TikTok Era,” focusing on the idea behind the viral #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag. This movement on TikTok focused on creators sharing content around everyday items like leggings and lamps but using TikTok audio clips, challenges, and trends to make users buzz about them.

Now, Luis Carranza of @SocialNative discusses future social commerce trends, overcoming challenges with scaling high-performing content and meeting growing consumer demands for sophistication and personalization. #SMW https://t.co/2m3Frq9hka pic.twitter.com/IoKoLuG6Qo

— Adweek (@Adweek) May 11, 2022

Most notably, however, this trend took off because of TikTok creators’ abilities to portray a lifestyle that their followers could also attain. This is where brands come in — by sharing the positive experiences of real customers on social media; your followers can visualize themselves owning your product and their experience with it.

Even a water bottle can be presented in a trendy light on TikTok with the proper presentation. It’s all about that humanized feel on TikTok.

Beyond the content itself that contributed to this trend, adding an element of social commerce fueled brand success — both on and off of TikTok. While brands built on Shopify can allow viewers to add products to their cart and checkout without leaving the TikTok app, other brands integrate the shopping and social experiences by creating a Shoppable TikTok feed on their websites.

Embroidery brand DMC uses Pixlee TurnTo to create an inspiration gallery of TikTok videos from the brand’s handle that users can shop directly.

3. Personalization is Key to Brand Content In the Metaverse

Social Media Week 2022’s second day of discussions and workshops centered around the convergence of the natural world and the virtual world arising with Web3, the Metaverse, and the NFT craze. While most brands are still learning how to approach this shift and create a fitting social media strategy, one element will continue to be crucial: personalization.

Arthur Gerigk and Eva Valerio from Google’s session on day two emphasized that hyper-personalized content is necessary for brands to stay relevant as social media platforms and the Metaverse grow. Social users aren’t just heading to TikTok or Instagram for a traditional feed of their friends’ posts; they now expect to be entertained, educated, and inspired by brands they interact with online. UGC and creator content are already beginning to bridge this gap.

Glossier CMO Ali Weiss touched on how beauty brands are redefining their approaches to social media to align with changing consumer expectations and omnichannel marketing. This flexibility and the leadership of content creators in the beauty sphere will contribute to brand success in the “virtual world.”

Cosmetics powerhouse Morphe reshares content from beauty influencers catered specifically to the brand’s target audience—both on and off social media. Coining the hashtag #MorpheBabes, Morphe also features UGC and creator media across its website and emails using Pixlee TurnTo.

4. From UGC to Creators, Brands No Longer “Own” Social Content

All this talk of creator collaboration, UGC, and a virtual world raises one important question: How will content ownership be defined as the lines blur between brand and community media? The Adweek team joined forces with Falon Fatemi, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Fireside, to discuss the relationship between brands and creators.

I just took the main stage at #SMW. @falonfatemi & @ItsAdamW. He gets more monthly views than @netflix! #ContentCreator pic.twitter.com/NuMwGweKtx

— Christina Linnell (@C_Linnell) May 11, 2022

This session and the rest of Day 3 stressed the value and power of creators in a changing social landscape — something brands should both respect and proudly showcase when executing joint campaigns. Accurately attributing ownership and credit to online creators is a win-win; people are more likely to trust content that looks like it’s coming from an actual human rather than a faceless brand account.

The four main trends covered at Social Media Week 2022 revolve around authenticity. It’s clear that even as social media platforms and posts change over time, people will still crave transparency and realness in the content they consume online.

Thank you to all who joined our happy hour at Social Media Week!

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