It’s been a wild ride over the last couple of years and trends have emerged (and re-emerged) that no one could have even predicted. 2021 was the year of questionable rebrands (Meta, we’re looking at you), of record-breaking social media use (over 4.5 billion users!1) and embracing nostalgia marketing, with the harsh realities of the Rona Coaster making everyone yearn for yesteryear.

While we don’t claim to be futurists, or even own an office crystal ball, we do spend a lot of time in the metaverse (that’s cyberspace for those still wishing it was 2019). The Paper + Spark team have honed in on some of the key trends we expect to accelerate and enter our daily marketing lexicon over the next 12 months. As we continue to dodge, duck and weave our way through the year, we know one thing is for certain…the metaverse will deliver a tsunami of change.

PR & Influencer Marketing

The year of nano and micro influencers: We’re going to see a boom in the creator economy with creators building niche communities that brands can tap into. These influencers will help brands to reach their target audiences in an authentic way and make the product recommendations feel like they’re coming from a friend. It might also help combat the influencer fatigue we’ve seen in recent years.

Collaboration is the major buzzword: Where silos once dominated the comms landscape, there is now a massive blurring of the lines in the comms disciplines of PR, marketing, advertising, content creation, event management, digital, and copywriting.

It’s all about bespoke, tailored, exclusive stories: Even with a launch, it’s incredibly important to tailor the messaging to specific media so that the launch messaging feels unique and authentic in each place it appears. Having access to a wide variety of imagery also helps with this.

Balancing people, environment and profit: Storytelling will be an intrinsic element of the PR world. Because of this, developing relationships with relevant/authentic advocates will continue to resonate and be more important than one-off relationships.

Social & Digital

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs): In 2022 we will see an increase of brands embracing NFTs in the Metaverse via their advertising and marketing campaigns. So far, many brands have jumped on board including Penfolds, Australian Open, Taco Bell, Twitter, etc. In fact, Jack Dorsay (CEO of Twitter) sold his First Tweet as an NFT for $2.9m in March this year.2

Video, video, (vertical) video: Now more than ever, Facebook and Instagram algorithms are prioritising video as they try to compete with TikTok. Facebook is specifically focusing on vertical video (optimised for mobile viewers) to compete in this space. Ensuring a healthy helping of video in your content mix will be key to staying in your follower’s feeds.

TikTok, duh: Users on this platform are continuing to grow at an astonishing rate, which means there’s an increasing opportunity to reach new audiences here (especially Gen Z and Millennials). If you have capacity to manage and create content for a new channel, this one should be on your priority list (not to mention, it’s super fun to create content for).

Privacy and security: This will continue to become increasingly important — although, worth noting Google will end 3rd party cookies in Chrome in 2023 now rather than 2022. As a side effect of increased privacy, we will likely see first party data becoming increasingly important.

Creative & Design

“Pseudo-Realism”: With our social media platforms becoming increasingly video-based, visuals are key. How we curate our online personas and content is everything. But unlike that early to mid 2010’s style of overly-posed, overly colour-coordinated, stiff looking content style, 2022 is likely going to welcome a more raw, natural and relaxed style. Our Creative Lead, Margot Alais, is calling it Pseudo-Realism, “because let’s be honest, it’s still posed and coordinated, it’s just not made to look like it.”

Romanticism & Escapism: Much like the original roaring 20s, the 2020s are all about escapism thanks to our not-so-beloved pandemic. 2022 is going to see a rise in escapism as a central creative theme, which we’re already starting to see a lot of on TikTok, particularly when it comes to romanticising life and travel.

Soft but fun: 2021 had its fair share of digital brutalism and the neon colour palette. It’s hard to say if we’re done with brutalism just yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if 2022 shows a rise in soft pop design as a panacea for the more hardcore styles that have been dominating 2021 trends.

Creative typography: The world has chewed up minimalism and spat it right back out. Ornate and retro typography was all the rage in 2021, particularly in that 1980s nostalgia space, and 2022 shows no sign of this slowing down. It seems everyone is embracing what the art of typography has to offer!

Brand & Customer Experience

Walking the talk: Audiences are becoming more and more clued-in to brands and their actions outside of the ‘façade’ that social media can sometimes be. Ensuring that as a company, you walk the values that you stand for, will support your authenticity, authority and audience affinity on socials (plus, it’s just an ethical and good thing to do).

Thoughtful CX: The number of platforms being used by companies to reach and be reached by customers is constantly growing. And managing these comms efficiently is seeing companies adopt CX technology in droves.

But with the reward of automating these comms comes the risk of getting it horribly wrong and losing customers to companies providing seamless multi-channel experiences that add value and feel a little more human.

A lot of companies are over-automating with very transparent attempts to mine their customers for every cent. But brands will get better at automation when they shrug off the myopia associated with adopting new technology and realise that just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.

Our strategies will continue to evolve from content marketing to creating content journeys that go beyond the point of conversion, reinforce a brands integrity and provides an opportunity for building deeper relationships. And our content execution will need to support these emerging technologies across an expanding list of integrated channels.

Innovation & Technology

As AI/Virtual influencers or ‘synthetic media’ become embedded as an acceptable alternative to human influencers we’ll also start to see brands engaging with them on a regular basis which will raise all sorts of issues.

You may recall Samsung did a big campaign a couple of years ago using Lil’ Miquela for the Galaxy phone and she is still going strong! It’s easy to forget she isn’t real when ‘she’ posts, so lines are blurring massively. But we’re still fans of what AI companies have done with bringing them to life.

Here’s a good read on Meta’s Ethical Framework for the use of Virtual Influencers: Meta Is Developing an ‘Ethical Framework’ for the Use of Virtual Influencers

Work & Culture

Hybrid Working: The human desire to have a career which provides us with enjoyment, connection, stimulation and meaning will see people continue to seek the right balance in their style of working. For many, 2022 will be a hybrid of #WFH and time spent in agency/studio when appropriate, to maintain the much needed human connection.

Organisations who rely on events to bring their audience together and develop marketing materials to share post-event now have the opportunity to investigate the new voice and video sharing platforms on channels such as LinkedIn, where we all still wear our business shirts over our tracksuits and have our dogs at our feet.



   customer experience, brand experience, digital, communication, future trends, social media
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