“Brands Need To Act Like Humans In Social Media To Have Success”, Says Hootsuite’s Content Manager

Updated: February 24, 2022
sarah dawley jam session

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We are no longer in a time where you just needed to make a post on social media to say that you have a strategy there. The social media market is a lot more professional and the public don’t want to just see ads in their feeds. This alert comes from the Senior Content Manager of Hootsuite, Sarah Dawley.

“People don’t just inherently care about your brand because it exists. You have to make them care, and that’s especially true on social media. You are interrupting people’s personally curated feed and that should really be seen, I think, as a privilege and not a right”, said Sarah during our Jam Session, Rock Content’s webinar with the world’s best in class marketers.

Hootsuite (one of the biggest social media management platforms in the world) launched Social Media Trends 2022, a comprehensive report about what we can expect from this channel this year. They divided the content into five trends, each one full of data and insights not only for marketers, but for everyone who wants to thrive in social media today.

In this Jam Session, Sarah, who supervised the entire report, goes through every one of the five trends to give even more details about them and give actionable tips and strategies to help marketers skyrocket in 2022. 

Is your marketing team working aligned with the customer success team? How is your performance in social e-commerce? Do you plan to invest in other platforms like Pinterest, TikTok and Snapchat or are you going to focus more on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram? And what about the ROI of your investments, do you measure this?

Check out this (and a lot more!) in the full video interview (or read the transcription below):

  • Intro
  • Trend #1 – Brands finally get community right (with the help of creators)
  • Trend #2 – Marketers get creative as consumers wise up to social ads
  • Trend #3 – Social quietly matures out of the marketing department
  • Trend #4 – Social becomes the heart of the post-pandemic shopping experience
  • Trend #5 – Social marketers save their brands from the customer service apocalypse
  • Q&A
  • Transcription

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Alright. There you go. Hello. Good evening from London. Good morning, good afternoon, depending on where you may be joining us from. My name is Giuseppe Caltabiano. I’m leading Creative Ops, Growth and Product Marketing here at Rock Content and it is my immense pleasure to host today’s Jam Session.Today, we have with us, Sarah Dawley. Welcome, Sarah.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Hi, thank you so much for having me.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Now, before I go into a proper intro, let me spend just one minute talking about our Jam Sessions. It’s a mix of interviews, you know, like the one we have today, podcasts, and webinars.

    They are hosted by us at Rock Content and feature top marketers, SaaS experts and innovators. And we do all of this with one common theme. We aim to provide advice and share trends and best practices on how to master successful content experiences.

    And today, we have definitely got one of those top marketers and innovators, Sarah, with a special topic. In fact, Sarah is the Senior Manager of Content at Hootsuite. And she will tell us all about the sixth annual report on global social media trends, one of the most renowned and prestigious reports in the social media and content field.

    Sarah, so glad you are here with us, today. Right, so, what we’ll do is…first of all, we have a pretty crowded event. I remember about eight hours ago, we had plus 800 people, which is a big number, so I’m expecting a lot of questions. But, we will do it, I will split the questions into different chapters to cover all the trends, if that’s ok for you.

    And, let me start, first of all, introducing you, Sarah. I want to start by asking you to tell us something about yourself, for the audience who still don’t know who you are.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Where to start…let’s see. So, my name is Sarah Dawley. I am coming to you live from a little town in the mountains of British Columbia, Canada. It’s called Kamloops. I moved here about a year ago from Vancouver. Loving it. Just surrounded by snow and hills. It’s just a gorgeous time of year to be up here. I’ve been with Hootsuite for almost seven years now on the content team the entire time. And, just really excited about these trends, really excited about where the social space is heading and excited to dive in with you more.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] The other side of the world compared to me.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Yes.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Right, can you please tell us more about your professional journey. Also, what’s your favorite part of your current role, and why?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] So I started out as a copywriter at a few different little ad agencies, doing some content marketing, a lot of PR, that type of thing. And then, in 2010, I was hired as the social media manager for a group of Canadian television stations. So, for anyone who grew up in Canada, you’ll know Much Music and MTV Canada. So, back when we played music videos on TV. So, I was the social media manager for those channels for about four years.

    I then made the move over to Vancouver to work for Hootsuite. So, while I was a social media manager, I was a Hootsuite manager. So, it was really cool to kind of come over with that perspective and I started as a copywriter on the content team. Moved up to senior copywriter and eventually to the role I’m in now, which is leading the content strategy and the content marketing team at Hootsuite.

    And, I think my favorite part of the job and my favorite part about Hootsuite as a whole is just how constant it’s changing and evolving.

    We were talking about that a little bit earlier before we went live. It’s like no day’s the same, no week’s the same. The industry doesn’t stand still, and so, I just feel like I’m constantly being challenged and needing to learn from people and do things like this Jam Session, where you know, we’re connecting with people doing the work, out there in the real world and just learning and hearing from them is definitely my favorite part of the job.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] That’s fantastic and, in the end, content is the edge of marketing so you always have to learn and see new things, every single day. Now, first of all, let’s talk about the new report and it’s data. This is the sixth annual report and it’s coming from a survey of 18,000 professionals. Can you please give us more details about the participants? Where they come from, maybe their profile. If they’re marketers, if they’re not.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Definitely, so this was our biggest survey yet, which was very exciting with 18,100 respondents. We put the survey out globally, so it is truly a global look at what’s happening in the world of social media marketing. We put it out in five languages. We got respondents from about nine different industries, or we at least grouped them in nine different industries and they definitely weren’t just Hootsuite customers.

    It was open to everyone and anyone working in social media. And then in terms of breakdown in seniority level, I would say most people were either responsible for social media strategy or execution in some way. So, they are not necessarily social media managers. They might be digital marketers who have social as yet another thing on their to-do list.

    They might even be CMOs. 48% of the respondents were at a director level or above, and then 52% were managers or practitioners. So, a really nice even split of seniority, which I think really  helps this data paint a very comprehensive picture of where things are at.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Exactly, and if I look at all the trends throughout the full document, I think there is a common finding, at least that is my personal view, which we will now discuss individually. And this common finding is that social is starting to go beyond marketing. Organizations are aiming to achieve more with social than ever before. There are still, I see, some areas; brand awareness and customer acquisition driving conversions, which, of course, remain as the top social media goals.

    But, there are many surprises, in my opinion. For instance, I remember that the employee experience is jumping from something like 4% or 5%, to 20% this year. This is super interesting, in my opinion. Alright, do you want to maybe give us some general ideas about some common trends you found? Or would you prefer to go immediately to the first trend.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] I think there’s a couple things I could call out, actually. One is the one that you just mentioned. The fact that we saw, you know, things like brand awareness and customer acquisition still being the huge exception, or goal, of social.

    But, that jump from 4% and 5% of improving the employee experience, brand reputation management, and risk mitigation, also jumping from single digits to about 20%. And, it’s really showing how much more people are expecting out of social media, which is really exciting. And I think the other interesting data points that came from our survey, and you can actually download the full report, the full results of our survey on our social trends micro site.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Right

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] We asked marketers what platforms they found to be the most effective and we’ll get into this a little bit in trend 2, but we’re really seeing the perceived effectiveness of platforms like TikTok, Pinterest, Snapchat with incredible year over year growth. I think TikTok alone was a 700% change year over year in perceived effectiveness.

    So, some interesting stories came through in our survey data, like that. Overall, I don’t think there were any massive surprises. I think the trends that we saw from last year have just continued, and, if anything, accelerated. But, there are some very interesting breakdowns, especially when it comes to organization size. What do small businesses care about? What are the big brands focused on? And all of that you can see represented in that survey result deck that I mentioned.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Perfect, thank you, Sarah. Oh, and by the way, another thing that I really enjoyed are the info sheets, which means it’s not just the report, it’s not just about the trends. There is some actionable documentation which can be immediately reused by brands, large and small, and put into practice. Where did the idea of the info sheets come from?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] I think the world of social media and trends, in general, tends to be a little nebulous, a little bit, you know… they’re big ideas. It can be hard to look at that big idea or that big trend and say that makes sense, but how do I make that work for my brand? How do I make that work for a B2B company? How do I make that work for a small non-profit?

    And so, we’re always trying to help people connect those dots in our content because we could talk all day about TikTok, in general. We can talk about it as consumers, as people who use the app. We can talk about it as a marketing vehicle in very general terms, but everyone’s situation is so different. So, with those info sheets, we really wanted to give people at least a starting point of at least a few actions you can take to start putting these trends into practice no matter what industry you’re in. Just so that you can sort of start to make them a more tangible reality because it is very easy to read about them and a lot harder to put them into practice.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] That’s right. And I will try to do the same with the interview. So, we’ll ask you what the main actionable lesson could be for the brand, for each of the trends. So, let’s jump to the first trend, which is the brand strategy trend. Then, dive right into the first random brands, and finally, get the community right with the help of creators. Boy, that “finally” is not coming from me. It’s part of the title. Sarah, can you please tell us more about the first one.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Yeah, I think that the “finally” part of the title comes from the fact that a lot of brands or marketers really fall into that trap of believing that everyone inherently cares about their product or what you have to say. And that might sound a little harsh, but it’s true, right. People don’t just inherently care about your brand because it exists. You have to make them care and that’s especially true on social media. You are interrupting people’s personally curated feed and I think that should really be seen as a privilege and not a right.

    And, so, brands often as they try to interject and weave themselves into digital communities, they often feel like that guy at the party who only talks about himself and I think that does a real disservice to the power of social media and the power that are in these communities. And that’s the idea of being able to actively participate in that back and forth with people so that “finally getting the community right” part in the trend title was really a nod to that, the fact that we think creators present this very authentic, yet effective way for brands to participate and build communities online.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] You mentioned digital communities. Now, whenever I read about those digital communities, I immediately think about LinkedIn groups, Facebook, Facebook Groups, eventually Twitter community, new Twitter communities but also many other new things like Peloton, Lego, many other companies that are doing this right. Well can you give us some examples, in your opinion, of brands that are really understanding and doing it right with digital communities?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Yeah, I mean I think those are two really great examples. I’m a Peloton rider myself. I see one right behind you. I think the way they have created not just a service, not just a product, but a true community that revolves around their product and service, which has united people in a much bigger, deeper and more meaningful way is really amazing.

    And I even was listening to a podcast this morning where they were talking about the metaverse and Microsoft’s recent acquisition of the video game company, Activision Blizzard, and they were saying that the metaverse is already around us, right? You look at things like Peloton, people are getting much more comfortable with the idea of doing something that only exists in the digital world, and being a part of something that only exists in the digital world. 

    So, I think that’s a great example, Lego. I have a three year old son. I live in Lego and it’s forced me to go explore their website and their community a lot more. Their social channels have really built something special, as well. That not only encourages Lego fans to connect with each other, but to create new things and to submit ideas for new sets. And that co-creation aspect of their community, I think, is a really important one as well.

    That’s how you make people feel like they really are a part of a community. By giving them the autonomy and the opportunity to create something that they can have some sort of ownership over. And then one more example I had was, because people are always asking me about B2B.

    Hootsuite is a B2B company, so I’m always thinking of B2B, but Atlassian is a fantastic example, I think, of a brand that’s really built a strong community. If you go into their community tab of their site they have millions of people on this forum that are regularly communicating with each other and the brand has stepped out of the way, right.

    This is just the people helping the people, and they’re leveling up their skills helping each other solve problems in the product and outside of it. And I think that is a really powerful thing that makes people feel connected to the brand.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Right. And then you mentioned digital creators. Now the problem I personally have with the digital creators is there are probably more than 50 million people around the world that consider themselves digital creators. Can you please help me to define them?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Yeah, this is a hot topic. The question is ‘what’s the difference between a creator and an influencer?’ And I think it’s a thing you get asked all the time, I think. And there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s subjective. My personal take on it is that creators are just an evolution of this idea of influencers.

    So, back in the day, I don’t know, I’d say that as if it’s so long ago, it was just a few years ago, but the rage was all about influencers that had massive followings, like Kylie Jenner, and the rest of the Kardashians.

    They’ve got millions of followers and a brand pays them a lot of money to show off their product in one Instagram post and that’s about it. Creators, though, are the people that you see online who have amassed a decent following. I0t can be massive but it also can be twenty thousand, even fifteen thousand, who wield a lot of influence over those people, though. And they have amassed that audience because they are creating something. They are creating, whether it’s knitting or even streaming like video gamers.

    They are actively producing something that those people want to see them produce. And I think a big difference between them and the glossy big mega influencers is that the communities that creators have are often paying them.

    Whether it’s directly or through services like Patreon. They are often financially supporting the creator, so that they can do more of the work that they do. And I think that that’s a big difference between this idea of the mega influencer and the creator.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] What’s the main lesson for the brands? By the way, I think this first trend may work well for both large enterprises and small companies, right? I mean you may have small or huge communities that you may want to foster.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Totally. I mean that was sort of the whole narrative for us in this trend. It’s this idea that digital communities are thriving more than ever for so many reasons. That sounds like great news for marketers who want to be a part of them and who want to build digital communities of their own. 

    And big brands like Lego, like Peloton, like Atlassian, are doing a fantastic job of making that happen. But that leaves a lot of smaller companies scratching their heads and saying, ‘well how do we do that?’ We don’t have millions of users, yet. We don’t have a huge budget to create these big hubs to bring people together.

    And so our advice, and kind of the thesis of the trend if you will, is that you actually have a leg up as a smaller or mid-size business when it comes to cultivating community. People trust small businesses in a way that they embrace them in a way that they don’t always embrace big businesses. 

    So, when you see small businesses coming into communities online, I think they’re welcomed a lot more especially on platforms like TikTok. Small businesses also have amazing stories at the heart of them. The founder and how he or she came up with the idea to create the business and the people who are the lifeblood. Those are all stories that people really resonate with. 

    So you’ve got a leg up, I think, when it comes to creating community around your brand. But the trend being focused on creators is the idea of saying, hey you don’t have to start from scratch and build this community from the ground up.

    Look at the communities that are already existing out there that are related to your brand. Find the creators in those spaces that are the most trusted, the most interesting, the most creative and then work on establishing a partnership with them that can help benefit them as a creator and you as a brand. And that’s something that is a lot more attainable for smaller or mid-sized brands.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] That makes sense. Thank you, Sarah. Let’s jump to the second trend. Trend number two, the social advertising trend. That’s probably my favorite one. Marketers get creative as consumers wise up to social ads, and I think in my view, the main concept here is about creativity. And we all know that creativity has been in decline for many many years now and there is a good hope that this trend is now reversing. Can you tell us more about the second trend?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Creativity is everything anywhere in the world of content, marketing and advertising, but especially on social. So, back in the early days of social, the simple presence of a brand on Facebook or Twitter was novel in itself and brands didn’t have to try that hard to reach a lot of people or get attention.

    And that’s obviously not the case anymore like any medium, the noisier it gets, the more people are going to start tuning you out. And the more you have to step it up to kind of break through and grab attention. So, I think we need to remember that social is inherently a fun place. It is where people are choosing to spend time connecting with their friends and family, which is still the biggest motivator for people to be on social.

    There’s some really great global web index data that proves that. And so again it’s a fun place. People are trying to connect with people on a really human level. So, if you think your brand is gonna get anywhere on social by being boring or not taking risks or not thinking about how you can do things differently to really earn that attention instead of thinking that you’re entitled to it.

    You’ve really got to be thinking differently.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] That’s right, and I think especially us in B2B, we have to learn a lot about creativity, because this gives us a kind of distinctiveness that we don’t have today. Now, when I think about platforms for digital advertising, I usually think again as a B2B guy and then maybe Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. But there are some surprises coming from the report, right? Can you tell us more about some emerging channel platforms?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] I hinted earlier at this fact that in our survey, TikTok, Snapchat and Pinterest all rose pretty dramatically in terms of perceived effectiveness for marketing. And we also found some research that suggested that consumers are actually more open and feel more connected to brands in those spaces. So, they are more receptive to ads on those networks.

    And I think a big reason why that’s happening is that networks like Pinterest and TikTok, and Snapchat really force you as a marketer to adapt to that platform, and it’s unique nuances. TikTok’s whole business wing, their tagline, is “don’t make ads, make TikTok” and that sort of sums it up right there. Don’t try to interrupt the experience people are having with your digital billboard.

    Create content that is going to seamlessly fit into that experience to the point where they might not even pick up that it’s an ad at first and you’ll see much better results. I think that is what’s causing these channels to provide some really great results for marketers, and a rise in that sense of perceived effectiveness.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Let’s make this practical. What’s in your opinion, the main lesson for brands coming from the second trend?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] I think it’s that you need to get familiar and maybe reacquainted with each social network and what makes it unique. You can really do that just by being a human being that uses these platforms. Take your marketing hat off and just be yourself and use the platform to see what you like, see what you don’t like. Especially on TikTok. We get a lot of questions about TikTok. And the first thing I always ask people in response is: do you use TikTok?

    Have you downloaded it? Have you spent time on it? And the answer is often no. And I tell them they cannot expect to understand what’s going to work on TikTok, or whether or not their brand should be on TikTok if they’re not using it themselves. So, that would be my number one piece of advice. To really get familiar with the platforms as a user before you try to tackle them as a brand.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Fantastic. Thank you, Sarah. Alright, let’s move to the third one, the ROI trend. Social quietly matures out of the marketing department. This is the one we mentioned at the beginning, right? Social going beyond marketing. Can you tell us more please?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] This is definitely the meatiest of our five trends and it sort of revolves around a point from our survey that showed that the companies that felt the most confident about the ROI of social had three things in common. And one of them was that they had completely integrated social with their other marketing efforts.

    They were using social listening and had felt it had risen in importance for them. They had completely unified their paid and organic strategies too. We also saw a point that senior level respondents, when asked what the most exciting opportunity in social was, responded with expanding social’s impact on other departments.

    So, our ‘sort of analysis’ of this is that we think that a lot of companies have cracked the code when it comes to the ROI of social for marketing, for brand awareness. They get it. They know it’s effective. They believe it now. They are even doing well when it comes to measuring it. But now they’re looking to expand that impact into a lot of other areas of business.

    So competitive intelligence, employee retention, recruitment and HR research and development: using social to infiltrate all of these other areas and bringing data and intelligence from social to these areas, is really setting organizations apart when it comes to being able to generate ROI. And also measure and prove it at a bottom line business impact level, not just ‘sort of’ engagement metrics.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Any examples of brands that in your opinion are getting this right?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Yeah, it’s one that we are helping a lot of our customers crack. So, this one really is for those organizations or businesses that are further along in their journey with social, but in the report we use Ochsner Health as an example. They’re a massive healthcare organization in the southern United States, and they’re not only using social to promote communications campaigns or their marcom’s efforts, but they’re using it to boost their employee experience. To show off staff and their accomplishments.

    And they’re also using it to manage their reputation and a lot of things like risk management, which of course in the era of Covid is really important for a healthcare agency to be monitoring for misinformation and things like that. They can get ahead, so I thought that was a really great example. And one that you can find in the report I mentioned.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Perfect. Thank you, Sarah. Let’s move to the fourth one. This social commerce trend is interesting. Social as the heart of the post pandemic shopping experience. I think this is relevant for all of us. The ones who are now hit by a new pandemic wave, and the others where the wave is slowly fading. Now the trend is about how social has become the heart of the post-pandemic e-commerce and shopping experience. I think it’s an interesting opportunity for all the brands regardless. Can you please introduce the fourth trend and tell us something more about it?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite]: I think when people hear the word “social commerce”, they immediately think about things like Facebook or Instagram shops where you’re buying a product directly from an Instagram post. And that’s a huge component of social commerce obviously and one that, like you said, is really picking up steam. God knows I blow enough money buying random stuff on Instagram or Facebook. 

    But we really want to expand that definition of social commerce and challenge people to think about it as more than just a buy button that you add to your social posts.

    Social commerce is really about the entire buying journey taking place on social, from discovery and evaluation to that moment of purchase, but then also what happens after the purchase and that follow-up and the customer service angle, which we’ll get into in trend five. 

    But, we think that the reason why that needs to become your working definition of social commerce is that younger generations are turning to social to research brands, more than they are search engines.

    And that statistic comes from the report that we put out every year with We Are Social. It’s called ‘Digital’, well this year, it’ll be ‘Digital 2022’ and that comes out next week (note from Rock Content: it was already launched and can be found here)

    And that stat has held true from last year to this year. So, I think for all generations it’s the number two way that people are researching brands. But, as I mentioned for younger generations, it’s the first one. 

    So, that condensing of the buying funnel. The fact that you can discover a brand, check it out in more detail, and buy the product in one Instagram post, makes it very urgent to start thinking about making that experience you’re creating for people on social as seamless and as quick as possible, which changes the game for so many brands.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Do you remember any good cases in B2B and B2C?.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Oh, let’s see what have I bought lately? No, I think I’ll actually go back to the brands that we reference in our report because I think they’re great examples.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Mmm hmm, yeah.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] So there’s a small lash, like eyelash and brow studio, in Toronto, that we profiled in the report. And you know they relied completely on in-person appointments and then the pandemic hit.

    And they had no option but to move completely online and they developed a line of products and started selling them directly through Instagram, as well as through a website like a traditional e-commerce model. But on top of that they were doing regular Instagram live events where they were showing people the product in action and answering their questions.

    And it has now just become, even though the studio is back open, this other kind of second half of the business. And it’s completely changed their income streams. It’s completely changed the way they are engaging with customers and it’s completely changed their community, as well. 

    Because they now have a lot more fans and followers that are only in that digital community that have never stepped foot into the Brow Studio. And I think that’s a really great example. In the report we also called out on the other end of the spectrum one of the biggest brands in the world, Gucci, who is taking this idea of social commerce and just blowing it up.

    They are so far ahead, I think of almost any other brand working in this space. So they created this thing called the Gucci Garden in the gaming platform, Roblox. It’s a very metaversy experience and they had millions of people coming through this virtual showroom. And there was actually one bag in particular that was a digital replica of a bag that you can buy in real life and the digital version sold for more than the real physical version retails for.

    And that was just kind of mind-blowing to me that somebody would pay more for a digital version of a bag than they would a real life bag. But, I think we’re going to see this trend continue and the stuff that Gucci is doing and experimenting with is, you know, maybe not going to trickle down exactly to smaller or mid-sized brands. But, I think you can learn a lot from what they’re embracing and the demand for it as well. Like I said, this is millions of people. They are going to these experiences and looking at products, and buying them through these virtual social gatherings and I think that’s very interesting.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Thank you, Sarah. These are both in the consumer sector, right? Can you remember anything in B2B that’s probably more difficult?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] It’s more difficult but I think we’re seeing a lot more in terms of, again, that whole buying process where B2B can really shine in terms of social commerce is in that discovery and evaluation phase. So, B2B buying cycles are longer, it’s more relationship based, so people reach out for example on LinkedIn and cultivate those relationships and send content. That’s all part of social commerce. That is people taking the traditional buying cycle and making it happen through social.

    So, in B2B there’s absolutely tons of opportunity there. Then, we’re even seeing on the more advanced end of the spectrum, B2B organizations using tools like conversational AI tools and chatbots to actually set up appointments and virtual meetings and that type of thing. So, I think there’s a lot of opportunity no matter what type of business you’re in or what size of company you work for.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Great. Let’s move to trend number five, the customer care trend. Social marketers save their brands from the customer care apocalypse and now you have to tell us what the customer care apocalypse is and what the trend number five is all about.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] We got very dramatic with this one, which I love. The idea is social marketers save their brands from the customer service apocalypse, and the reason why we framed it this way is because of the pandemic global supply chain issues, the great resignation happening and staffing shortages. There’s a lot of forces at play this year that might result in many brands depending on the industry they’re working in having an influx of not so happy customers.

    At the same time we’ve been seeing people, especially over the past two years, realize that it’s very easy, convenient and fast to get a response or an answer, or a problem solved by a brand, by reaching out to them directly on social media versus emailing or waiting on hold for hours.

    And I don’t think people are going to go back to those things once they’ve realized that’s their preferred method for reaching out to a brand and getting customer service, they’re going to stick with it and they’re going to expect that from the brands that they buy and purchase from. Which is why this trend is so intertwined with the trend prior, the social commerce trend. 

    So, what we’re seeing though is that traditionally, organizations have their marketing teams and then they have their customer service teams. And they’re very separate. They use separate tools. They have separate goals. That’s got to change. So they need to be using the same tools. 

    Hootsuite, for example, acquired a company last year called SparkCentral. And this is really a platform that can bring those two teams together and bridge that gap so that you can see all of the interactions a customer has had with your brand in that same dashboard, whether they’ve reached out to you on social or you’ve been talking to them on email or SMS or even if they’ve been interacting with your call center. 

    Social marketers need to know that. Otherwise they’re flying blind and they’re just replying to somebody who seems very angry and they don’t know why.

    And the expectation is on them to make them happy and so they need all the information that a customer service team has. They need to know why this person’s upset. “Oh, I see that you’ve reached out to us many times over the past month and you haven’t gotten your problem solved. Let me get to the bottom of that.” 

    So, it’s just really, bringing these two teams together using the same tools. Keeping track of that stuff can really help elevate that experience and make it just so much more seamless and less painful for customers at the end of the day, which I think a lot of brands are going to need this year and beyond.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Right, so it’s unifying tools and probably better collaboration between different teams, right? Do you remember any brand that is doing this right?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite ]The one from our report was a customer of Hootsuite and of SparkCentral by Hootsuite. The name was Careem and it’s a middle eastern company, and a subsidiary of Uber.

    And they use SparkCentral to really consolidate all of their social activity, so our customer hero over there was the head of community management, not the head of customer service because, again that’s the trend that we’re seeing. Those teams are coming together. Those functions come together. And they’ve united that on SparkCentral to really provide that seamless convenient experience for clients who are expecting all of their answers to be handled and resolved right within social.

    Not getting bounced from channel to channel because Lord knows how frustrating that can be. I’m sure everyone has had that experience happen to them personally. So, again taking off your marketing hat and just thinking about a person. Like how can we make this easier for somebody like me.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Awesome. Thank you, Sarah. I think it’s the right time to start with some questions from the audience. The first one is coming from Jose Enrico and it’s about trend number one. Jose says listening to you speaking about communities feels so smooth and simple, but it doesn’t feel like this in real life at all. In a more practical behavior, where do we start? It feels impossible.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Oh, Jose. I feel you. I feel where you’re coming from and I think that’s why we created those info sheets I was talking about because, yeah, it’s very easy to pontificate about these things at a really high level. And then, like I said, you get to work the next day and you fire up your computer and you’re thinking, “where the hell do I start?” So, I think when it comes to communities, it’s really the best place to start and the most simple place to start is just listening.

    So, tools like Hootsuite make it really easy to curate a stream where you’re just listening to a certain set of keywords or a certain hashtag, so that you can start finding those communities and finding those people that are either geographically relevant to your business or topically relevant to your business depending on the goals and limitations that you that you have in your organization.

    And that’s a really great way to just start absorbing what’s happening, and then starting to think about how we could fit into this in a way that is not going to interrupt what’s happening? How can we come in and add some value, come in and add some education, or come in and just add some entertainment. So, always thinking about how we can fit into this rather than how we can get a piece of this pie. I would suggest social listening as the number one place to start.

    Whether that’s tracking hashtags, tracking certain profiles, just tracking groups, just sitting back and listening and then almost taking a behavioral economics approach to it. Look at what’s motivating these people. What are they trying to do? How can we best tap into it? That would be  my advice for that one.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Thank you very much, Sarah. Second question from Carl. What are the social commerce platforms you think we should definitely focus on and why?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Hmm, Facebook and Instagram may definitely make it the easiest. It’s very easy to set up an Instagram shop or a Facebook shop and import your product catalog, if you are selling a tangible good.

    It’s really easy to do that if you use an e-commerce platform like Shopify. Those networks also make it very easy to integrate that right into your social profiles on either Facebook or Instagram. I’ve been seeing TikTok step up their social commerce game, as well. If that’s an audience, or you know that the demographic on TikTok is a fit for your brand. 

    It’s also easy to create ads that push people to your website so they can make the purchase there. And then even, honestly, platforms like Twitter and Youtube. They’re working fast and furious on social commerce features but I would definitely suggest starting with Facebook and Instagram.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] And this is mostly for B2C, in your opinion, or for both consumers and business?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Mostly B2C. I do think that’s a bigger opportunity for B2C, although B2B brands using social advertising, using ads on Facebook to start the buying journey to grab the attention, that then pulls people either into a piece of content or a landing page that you’ve created to get them into your nurture flows, to get them as a lead into that database. Social ads are a really great way to reach new audiences on those platforms, which is all a part of social commerce as well. And then of course, LinkedIn.

    So having your employees super active on LinkedIn, building those personal brands. That relationship, as I mentioned, is also a form of social commerce if we use the definition that we presented earlier.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Perfect. Thank you. Still, Carl is asking if social media channels are overloaded with poor, snackable content today? In your opinion, what has been the number one mistake people are constantly making on social, and eventually how does one change it?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] I would agree that social channels are overloaded, and that really was at the crux of trend two. People have just gotten really sick of ads, and really sick of brands trying to force their way into the conversations or the trends that are happening on social. I think the number one mistake would be brands coming in, and as I said, just inherently believing they’re entitled to attention rather than working really hard to earn it. And I think the way you work hard to earn it is through very smart creative that inherently values the time and attention that you’re asking from people. It’s got to be worth it whether you’re teaching something, whether you’re just entertaining, or whether you’re inspiring.

    If you put that at the center of your creative strategy, I think you’ll see a much better response because people will understand that they’ve taken the time to understand this platform, to understand the people on it, to understand the cultural nuances of the platform, and how people are using it. That changes month to month.

    And I think that the work won’t go unnoticed.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] I agree 100%. And if I may, I think creativity is also the key point here. We’ve been using social media, as you mentioned, for ads and performance marketing in 99% of cases. Maybe if we switch to creativity and fun entertainment that may change things, and make our brand more distinctive than they are today. So yeah, trend number two is probably the one answering this question correctly.

    There’s a new one from Laurie. Do you agree that people are more concerned about creating rubbish posts than getting to know their own products and services to create more meaningful conversations?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Yes. Yes, Lori, I do. I think that comes from a very understandable place. I think marketers are under a lot of pressure to drive revenue and to drive conversions and clicks, right? If you look at all the engagements or the metrics that we use to measure success on social, they’re often focused on classic performance marketing metrics. Things like clicks, impressions, engagements, website visits and conversions. And those are all really important things, for sure.

    But, what you lose when focusing entirely on those things is you lose that long term gain. You lose the brand strategy, the differentiation, the distinctiveness that you’re mentioning and I think the key to marketing whether it’s on social or not, is finding that sweet spot in the middle between the long and the short.

    And there’s fantastic work out there by Lesinan and Peter Field, the godfathers of this, the long and the short of it is called. And I think that applies to social so much because you can get really caught up chasing the clicks, chasing the engagements and the impressions when the reality is that people are so much more consumed on social passively, rather than directly.

    So people are consuming social passively more than they are posting or clicking or engaging. So just because you put something out there and it doesn’t rack up all those metrics right away, doesn’t mean that people didn’t see it, they didn’t feel it, if that’s what you’ve created. 

    If you’ve created something for them to feel and think about and something that’s going to stick with them so the next time your product categories are mentioned, they immediately think of your brand.

    That stuff is gold, right, it’s gold and it has to work hand in hand with performance marketing. Obviously we need to make money, we need to keep the lights on, but social is just such a great place for both types of marketing if they’re working very strategically together. And that’s where the whole paid versus organic comes into play as well.

    I know that wasn’t part of the question but I think it is relevant. Paid advertising is such a great way to simply reach more eyeballs. And then organic social media is so important for that community building and strengthening the relationships you already have with existing followers and customers. 

    I think sometimes people almost swap the two or they think that organic is still a really great way to reach more eyeballs. And that’s just not necessarily the case anymore so much as just being strategic. When are you going short? When are you going long? Respecting the platform, respecting the audiences that are on it. It sounds really simple but when you look at it from that high of a level, it is.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] I will go with the next question. What are your sweet next steps? Is there anything you and your team are planning right now? Anything you may want to share with our audience?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] I’ve mentioned it once or twice already, but our big Digital 2022 report. That launches next week. And that report, when I say big, I am not exaggerating. It is over 300 slides of data on everything from social media use, demographic breakdowns of every single social platform, e-commerce, internet usage, social advertising.

    It honestly covers anything you can think of in terms of the digital world. We call it the ‘Global State of Digital’ and it really is. There’s also specific country reports. So almost any country has its own specific version of that report. So, it’s an incredible resource. And yes it drops on Wednesday, January 26, which is just less than a week from today.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Perfect. As a content strategist and social media expert what is the advice that you would like to give, a very general advice, to the marketers and professionals that are attending today’s session?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite]I think we’ve touched on a lot of it. Those themes that kept coming up of creativity and working to earn the attention that you’re trying to get, but I think something that we learned, putting social trends together as well and putting together that great microsite that we did with Rock Content is the importance of providing value and storytelling.

    And so what we did this year was that we ungated the report. We’ve usually kept our social trends report behind a gate. And we ungated a lot of it. So if you go to that microsite you’re going to be able to just explore our social trends, but we created a lot of additional pieces of content that continue the story and provide more value and that’s what we put behind the gate because we believe it really deserves that type of treatment from a content marketing standpoint. 

    So, I think that was a big lesson for me because it was scary to sort of unleash your work upon the world when typically you have been, for sure, getting a lead in return for it.

    But, what we’re seeing is that we’re earning people’s trust by giving them more of the content up front and then earning the lead. So again, it comes back to actually working hard to earn the attention, to earn the lead, to earn people’s email addresses because you need to be giving them something that’s going to be valuable and worth their time, not just locking everything away. So, that’s been a really great experience and a good lesson for me and something I haven’t done yet in my career. So, that’s been great.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] That’s a great insight. Thank you, Sarah. There are no other questions, so I think we can close now, Sarah. Thank you so much. It was fun. It was a real pleasure. Thank you for finding the time to be with us and share your insights. Well, also thanks to the Hootsuite team. What’s the best way to contact you and eventually to download the report?

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] Anyone can follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn, just @ Sarah Dawley. The Hootsuite report can be found here, but if you go to Hootsuite’s webpage, I’m sure you’ll be able to find it or just search Hootsuite social trends and we’ll be the first thing that you see. So, go explore and download the survey data. Like I mentioned, that’s such a great companion piece to the report where you can see every survey question broken down. That’s a great way to really dig into the data a bit more.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Perfect, perfect. Thank you, Sarah. And I think that our Content Team has been posting the link on the public chat, so you should be able to see the link and download directly from there.

    [Sarah Dawley – Hootsuite] You guys are the best.

    [Giuseppe Caltabiano – Rock Content] Thank you again. Thank you everyone online. Thank you for being with us for this new episode of our Jam Sessions. Thank you to all participants. Have a great day and a great rest of the week. Thank you.

    Extra Content:

    Brands getting results with creators

    As mentioned by Sarah Dawley in Trend #1, brands are currently using creators to get expressive results on various platforms. Rock Content already covered this topic here on the blog, where we showed some examples of brands that used creators as a strategy to increase brand awareness and even to get more revenue.

    Instagram and TikTok have dedicated pages showing success cases of brands who partnered with creators on their platforms. All the cases are full of numbers showing the real achievements brands got with this strategy. It’s worth checking it out.

    TikTok cases

    Instagram cases 

    Peloton and the community

    Sarah mentioned Peloton as one of the most successful brands who managed to create an active and passionate community around their products. This success came mainly because the company promotes a lifestyle of health and wellness, rather than just relying on fitness. When you really care about the well-being of your customers, they will be proud to be a part of your brand.

    People already created a Reddit channel to discuss everything about Peloton. It now has more than 275k people there. Besides that, there’s a Peloton Forum online too where people talk about their products, give tips to improve performance and discuss overall news about the company.

    Gucci and Roblox

    A virtual bag sold for more money than the real one? Well, that happened in Roblox, an online game/game creation system with more than 200 million monthly players. Gucci, the famous luxury fashion house, created an immersive experience inside the game (using Roblox’s creation system) mimicking the Gucci Garden, a real multimedia space located in Florence, Italy.

    Well, in May last year, the company hosted an online exhibition inside the Gucci Garden and sold a digital version of the “Dionysus Bag with Bee” for 475 Robux, the game’s currency. That was equivalent to US$ 6, a fair price for a unique, but virtual product limited only to Roblox.

    But, as you can sell and buy products directly from other players, people began to offer the bag for very high prices. While many players turned down the offer, one bought the bag for 350,000 Robux, equivalent to US$ 4,115. That’s almost US$ 800 more expensive than the real bag, which sold for US$ 3,400 at that time.

    That shows how heated the commerce inside social platforms is and how it can become one of the main places people go to buy – virtual and real – stuff.

    If you want to dive deeper into the five trends in the Hootsuite report, go check it now. The full Social Media Trends 2022, it’s free and open to everyone!


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