3 Social and Digital Media Trends for Higher Ed in 2022

Discover three strategies that will help your social and digital content shine this year.

One of my annual rituals at the start of each new year is to read predictions and trends within the social and digital marketing space for the year ahead. Who doesn’t love a good guide for the future?

Three strategies stood out to me as opportunities for higher ed communications professionals to make the most of social media in 2022. Refreshing and refining these concepts will help your social content shine this year.

UGC in content marketing

We are still living in the pandemic era. People are craving and authenticity in digital content. UGC, user generated content, is not new in the social media marketing realm but the value of UGC to connect real people with brands and organizations is more meaningful than ever. People trust people more than they trust brands.

How to find UGC? Ask your fans to send it to you! Post callouts on IG Stories and on your posts encouraging fans to DM you content (photos, videos, testimonials) about their experiences with your brand. For example, CSU Social posted a callout on IG Stories in early February for fans to submit photos of their CSU sweethearts just in time for Valentine’s Day. We’ve received dozens of submissions and they will be part of our Valentine’s Day social posts.

Listening to what your audience is already saying about your brand will help drive informed content strategies. Keep an eye on your mentions, tags, DMs and hashtags as they are prime opportunities to engage with your audience and source UGC.

Micro-content: Snack-sized video

I feel like we hear this every year: people’s attention spans are shrinking. The explosion of TikTok, growth of Instagram Reels and introduction of YouTube Shorts show the demand for short, entertaining and authentic videos… aka, micro-content. Micro-content is not a new concept but following user behavior trends there is a clear shift in the way people consume digital content. Throughout my readings, this type of content has been described as “bitesize” or “snack-sized” video content.

Micro-content tends to perform well on Instagram (Feed, Reels, Stories), Twitter and clearly TikTok. Short-form content doesn’t necessarily mean jumping on the latest TikTok trends. Grab your viewers’ attention quickly with strong visuals. Deliver your message succinctly. Don’t be afraid to have fun. Informational content can be entertaining. Use trending audio as a way to deliver your content in a way that is creative and relevant.

Key insight: HubSpot’s 2022 Trend Report found that TikTok content is regularly diffused and engaged with across platforms, making TikTok content valuable on an omnichannel level. For time and resource-strapped digital communications teams, repurposing TikTok content on other channels could be the shining star of 2022.

At CSU Social, we’ve upped our micro-content game this past year with Instagram Reels. In 2022, we’re excited to welcome our student TikTok squad who will create snackable video content that we will explore leveraging across different channels. Thinking about getting into TikTok? Read about why universities can’t ignore TikTok anymore.

Rise of the creators

Move over influencers, the creators have arrived. Gen Zers prefer to create content vs simply consuming it. Further, TikTok’s democratization of content creation means that anyone can be a creator.

Armed with creative tools and apps, creators bring the value of authenticity and rawness into their work that is different from traditional influencers. Creators are solutions-oriented and have a distinct point of view affiliated with their content. They also typically have a sizable social following making them ideal for micro-influencer opportunities.

Our new student TikTok squad and the strategic approach to their work is a blend of all three trends: UGC, micro-content and creators. Cannot wait to see what the team co-creates this year.

Honorable mention: Audio platforms such as Spotify, Clubhouse and Twitter spaces are digital places where people are making meaningful connections with creators and communities. If your audience is here, it may be time exploring and investing in these mediums.