Written by Caroline Stringfellow and Chris Cable; final edit by Chris Cable

2021 brought a lot of changes to our lives - virtually and IRL. YouTube became America’s favorite social media platform, followed by Facebook (thank you boomers). Netflix clung onto its title as king of the streaming wars, with Amazon Prime and Disney Plus narrowing the gap with their rapidly growing subscribers. Live videos drove the most engagement, leading to increased ad spend on Facebook and Instagram. Public trust in TV and major news reached a new low. Our point is that content consumption, and where it lives, is evolving daily. Here are a few new things that have changed in content, platform and media recently.

The Meaning of “Content”

As the craze and cravings for consumable clips, bite-sized blurbs and compelling podcasts surge on, the endless supply of content never fails to keep up. In 2021, TikTok increased in search demand by 173 percent, and we can attribute the platform’s success to two key factors. The first, the platform’s understanding of consumers’ desire for original, individualized content. The algorithm feeds users customized, niche content that keeps them engaged. The second, their introduction of a creator marketplace, which nurtures and supports this system. In the last two years, TikTok also introduced advertisements and business profiles and encouraged advertisers to create ads mimicking organic content. Consumers proved to be more receptive to ads on smaller channels like TikTok, Pinterest and Snapchat because the native ads were less disruptive. 

Audiences identify and engage with content that supports their interests, which is one of the reasons they’ll follow a creator from one platform to another. In 2022, which is already being deemed “the year of the creator,” creators are increasingly perceived as entrepreneurs and brands are treating them as such. Networks have begun shifting to provide more managing and monetizing tools for creators to support their businesses and influencer strategy is becoming increasingly important to the success of social commerce. Businesses are projected to spend $15 billion on influencer marketing in 2022 and brands are planning ahead to use them to manage everything from newsletters to social media accounts as they help convert awareness into online sales.

The New, Emerging Platforms

Competing for users’ attention, many platforms attempted to recreate popular features from other networks, including short video “stories” and IGTV reels, without success. Seeking variety in media types, users shifted their attention to podcasts. Eighty percent of listeners listen to all or most of each episode, and there are now over 2 million shows for them to choose from. The success of podcasts covering a wide variety of niche topics and genres is consistent with other data that supports consumers’ increased interest in personalized content. 

Although IGTV and FB Watch weren’t successful, Mark Zuckerberg has plenty of other new additions to the Metaverse to keep his platforms relevant. He has already begun integrating AR and VR developments into existing platforms and emerging tech projects. We’ll start to see new additions to the Facebook wearables collection, among them: workplace tools for VR headsets, AR glasses programmed with Instagram and AR overlays with wristband control.

The Ever-Evolving Media Landscape

With a shift in content and platforms comes a shift in the creative tools available for digital and social media marketing. New media tactics have had to evolve to match the shift in landscape, making way for more innovative opportunities to display ads in a native style. Facebook and Instagram story ads, for instance, allow brands to transform an image or animation into a full-screen placement with music, polls and tailored calls to action. Facebook has taken it a step further with instant storytelling taking over the whole screen. It's engaging, scrollable and more effective.

Organic strategies are also ever-changing. Engaging with consumers directly through social media channels by resharing some of their posts, asking them questions and responding to inquiries and sentiments they share about your business is a great way to gain favorability and relevance. In this creator atmosphere, crafting unique, entertaining content in forms users are receptive to (like fleeting stories, short videos, podcasts, and influencer posts) is an effective way to create and retain interest.

We don’t expect things to slow down or stop evolving anytime soon. By learning about our audiences’ interests, needs and expectations, we can interpret and respond effectively. Use today’s emerging assets to connect with audiences in new and advanced ways. As always, if you need help navigating new content development, media planning and placement, or platform integration, management or building, Designsensory is here to help.