Five Marketing Megatrends for 2022

These days it feels difficult to plan for much more than the day after tomorrow. My usual enthusiasm for annual planning has waned, and in its place, a lacklustre resolve to remain flexible – hopeful for opportunity, but also prepared for disappointment. On good days, I call it “living the moment.”

Yet, amidst this collective languishing in the day to day present, there are undercurrents of progress and quantum shifts in business and marketing that excite me tremendously. I truly believe many will look back at this time in history as something akin to where the internet and social media were in 2005, and wonder “how did we miss the signs of what was going on?”

There is a ton happening in the AR, VR, and AI space. We got a glimpse of it back in the fall, when Facebook rebranded as Meta, in a bid to be a future first mover in the Metasphere and Web 3.0 space.

Likewise, interest in crypto currencies and blockchain technology is spilling over beyond just software programmers and tech space geeks. While an increasing number of people may be playing with investments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or numerous other crypto currencies, it’s still not mainstream, even though it may seem that every 20-something you know is day trading on their phone.

And when jpg art is sold as an NFT, commanding prices that not even Leonardo DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street could top with his Ponzi scheme “sell me this pen” challenge, it can be easy to dismiss the whole thing as “over blown, weird, I don’t get it” type stuff.

Indeed, that was exactly my position until December 2021, when I decided to commit 40hrs to diving deep and learning more through a UC Berkeley Crypto Currency and Blockchain fundamentals course, just in case there were dots I was failing to connect. Indeed, there were.

I am now convinced that all of these pieces will intersect in the future, and they will be as germane to our lives as the internet and social media are today. In fact, they just may replace the internet and social media in some new decentralized version of Web 3.0

Let’s take a look at some of these bigger trends at play for 2022 with some predictions, along with some thoughts about why they’re happening and what you should do about it.

#1. The Metaverse will materialize

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, will likely develop a closed crypto community in 2022. See my past blog post “Where is the Metaverse leading us?” to learn more here.   Rather than have people play in the larger, as yet to be built decentralized metaverse, Meta will make a pre-emptive move on their own decentralized land. Yes, like Ready Player One. Watch the movie. Or the trailer here. It should scare the bejesus out of you. Mark Zuckerberg will try to dominate in the digital property space, and launch something big in 2022. He already signalled his intentions in late 2021 with the rebranding of Facebook to Meta. Instead of people living on their phones, he expects many to live their lives tapped into a virtual world experience. Facebook acquired Oculus VR, and have partnered with Rayban for AR glasses. Gamers will be early adopters, but for people who don’t yet get crypto, Meta will be the gateway to get them in the VR space. Facebook has over 6 billion users worldwide, so even if they only get a fraction, and monetize that virtual space with things you can buy with Meta’s own crypto, they will likely succeed. This is where it’s going folks. I don’t like it either.

Why is this happening?

The metaverse is coming whether we like it or not. It’s fueled by technology, innovation and capitalistic greed. Well-funded tech giants are driving the development of VR and AR. While public discussion about the impacts and whether we really want this change may well take place, they will come long after the roll out or government’s ability to regulate.

What does it mean for you?

Get in early, learn, and figure out if there’s a revenue stream here for you. Or act with your conscience, and question it all.

#2. User data and privacy will finally matter

If anything gives me hope against Mark Zuckerberg’s very own decentralized metaverse land, it’s the possible revolt around user data and privacy, and the equally possible boycotting of social media in general because of it. Meta has far too much money to be stopped, and I think governments will be powerless, but people might rise up.

Yes, 2022 could well be the year that regular consumers will care about data privacy. Questioning the use of user data will become mainstream. Governments will begin to catch up, but will still be hopelessly behind the breakneck speed of technology being rolled out.

Why is this happening?

Some of this will be driven by alarm, media coverage, or perhaps an incident or scandal that tips the scales. Or it could be driven by people questioning VR, AR, where it fits into society and moves made in 2022 by Meta. Protecting user data and privacy will also be driven by the rise of interest in crypto and NFTs and the decentralized blockchain networks they are hosted on, which protect privacy and user data as a core principle. People will increasingly become more accustomed to and like the data anonymity that they have in those spaces, and will question the data sharing that happens with the internet and social media. Web 3.0 and crypto people want sovereignty. The quest for privacy could well be led by those people.

What does it mean for you?

Know that protecting user data and privacy will drive many changes, particularly updates to apps and social media platforms. You can count on less access, and ability to track from any of these platforms, further driving the need to have your own direct connection with your community. This is where it leads into trend #3 and the importance of creator communities.

#3. NFTs, social tokens and creator communities will be hot

NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) are digital assets sold or held on a blockchain, using smart contracts, representing art, music, collectibles or real-world experiences. They give creators a direct connection with their community, and they offer a way to be financially reimbursed for their work, while allowing those that hold the NFTs to demonstrate what they support through the purchase or investment. Currently NFTs can be purchased with crypto currencies like Ethereum, but that is also expanding, with platforms like Coinbase simplifying the user experience.

While the initial vertical for NFT’s has been art, that’s a bit like saying Amazon sells books. It’s early days, but NFTs are likely to explode in the music industry in 2022. And anyone with a loyal community online will be able to leverage NFTs for events and experiences. Smart contracts open up endless application opportunities and verticals.

Social tokens are another new piece at play in the virtual space. Similar to NFTs in that they are part of the blockchain and issued by content creators to their communities, but social tokens are essentially a form of crypto currency that the creator issues, and utilizes within their community in exchange for special privileges – access to events (virtual or in person), online courses, exclusive content, or coaching for example. Like NFTs, when people own something, they evangelize it, doing much of your marketing for you. Social tokens allow creators to control the supply chain, not being hostage to a centralized platform or financial model. Check out to learn more about creating social tokens, or see what Joe Pulizzi is doing over at The Tilt. Listen to this podcast, “Social Tokens: What Businesses Need to Know” discussion between Joe Pulizzi and Michael Stelzner from Social Media Marketing World if you really want to go deep in understanding this stuff.

Why is this happening?

Growth in the crypto currency and blockchain space is based around the fundamental belief in a decentralized system, one where no central authority (be it a bank, government or a powerful social media platform owner) having control. The art and music industries have been notoriously hostage to centralized authority for promotion and distribution systems. Indeed, that has been the case for almost every creator. NFT’s reverse the power balance. Plus, they offer the same social proof as social media when held in public wallets for those who purchase them. Likewise, social tokens connect creators and their communities in all new ways through a decentralized environment, where true community can be nurtured.

What does it mean for you?

If you’re a creator (music, art, written or spoken word), or have an online community (perhaps currently limited in access via a centralized social media platform), you own it to yourself to learn more about NFTs, social tokens, and creator communities in 2022. Check out the NFT Now podcast, sign up for their newsletter, or read/watch/listen to anything Gary Vaynerchuk is publishing these days. He’s all over the NFT trend. Check out the podcast with Joe Pulizzi and Michael Stelzner, noted above, to get a fundamental understanding of social tokens.

The ecosystem for NFTs still seems in the early adoption stage, with years of innovation ahead to broaden the horizons for the world of non-fungibles. Likewise, social tokens are relatively new, but interest is growing. The good news? It’s still early.

#4.Web 3.0 will go bang but not bust

2022 will have some big incident that will shock and spook many in the crypto space, and it’s likely to be related in some way to the evolving Web 3.0 space, the growing popularity of NFTs and crypto currency trading. Whether it’s speculation in crypto valuations, the coming massive minting of NFTs and the near zero value some will have once giddy speculation and trading is removed, or simply a blockchain fail, it will likely come crashing down, not unlike the bust. There will be crazy Ponzi schemes at the height of it all, again not unlike what rocked the financial markets in 2008. But, it will all eventually bounce back, just like it did before with the subsequent emergence of the internet and social media. Only this time the timeline will be compressed. And that will usher in the decentralized Web 3.0 space, centered around blockchain technology, and dominated by crypto and NFTs once the dust clears. This decentralized space could even replace the internet and social media as we know it. That’s how big and important this shift is. But the complete transition will take a lot longer than just the year 2022! If you’ve got the stomach for it, hang on for a crazy ride. This is the beginning of something big.

Why is this happening?

IT developers have had too much time on their hands, and investors too much money during the pandemic. Just kidding! Well, sort of. The fundamentals for Web 3.0 and crypto were already there. The pandemic, and our consumer patterns of behaviour during it, just accelerated things. Real time audio platforms like Clubhouse and Twitter brought interested groups together in the NFT and crypto space this past year, and provided them a megaphone to a larger community. Ultimately the drive for digital privacy is at the heart of decentralized autonomous applications. And ironically, it’s that feature of blockchain that Web 3.0 is all built on, which could save us from Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for our future, circling back to trend #1!

What does it mean for you?

Get in and learn about the metaverse, crypto currencies, blockchain, NFTs and the concept of decentralization. They are all part of Web 3.0. And if you intend to be in business 5 years from now, this stuff will matter. Especially NFTs and blockchain. Want to learn more? Check out Gary Vaynerchuk’s cool video about understanding NFTs.

#5. Tech companies will launch or acquire creator networks

There was lots of testing in 2021 around content creator networks, and the growth/monetization of them. 2022 will be a year of catch up for tech companies to get in on the game. And since most will have more money than patience to build their own, many will simply acquire successful creator networks. Some of these media acquisitions will be huge, like Lions Gate Studios being bought be Netflix, or Apple buying Disney, or perhaps a combination of smaller studios coming together for the acquisition that produce web shows, podcasts or private productions previously for other networks.

We’ll see media holding companies in places we’ve never seen before. Traditional software companies like Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce are apt to get in on the game too. Content producers like The Verge, Vice Media and Viacom are also apt to be gobbled up, or divided off. We’ll see streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime buying production studios like Lions Gate, Marvel or Relativity Media.

But we’ll also see smaller acquisitions to build creator networks at scale. Podcasts, podcast networks, blogs, email newsletters, communities – anyone with a large audience, or fiercely loyal niche audience, hosted on their own platform, could well benefit.

Why is this happening?

Marketing has traditionally been seen as an expense. But content marketing and creator networks have demonstrated that marketing can actually be a profit center, a place for new media revenues. The licensing of content, getting access to creator audiences, is all part of that. And it’s being driven by increased costs to reach audiences through pay-to-play social media. Some of the content creator economy is also being driven by the emergence and growing popularity of NFTs, creator coins and the crypto space too, as noted earlier.

What does it mean for you?

Clearly, direct access to owned audiences, and the creation of original content, is fueling these acquisitions. If big companies are moving this way, what does it signal to you? Maybe doing all that work to build a community and create your own original content actually has value. Our future will not be on platforms where you are held hostage by centralized ownership. It will be through direct, decentralized connections with your true fans.

A Deeper Dive on Post Pandemic Consumer & Global Trends

This presentation “Post Pandemic Trends and Insights” was delivered to the Grand Connection, global networking group back in late November 2021. The video was a practice recording prior to the actual event the following day. In it I take a deeper dive into several of the macro trends mentioned here, as well as more granular trends manifesting at the consumer level.

The pandemic caused considerable shifts in consumer behavior. And goodness knows, Omicron has tossed us some recent curve balls. While we’ve yet to see what will remain permanent in a post pandemic era, there are certainly hints of what to expect based on extracting insight from macro trends already emerging. I go deeper in several macro trends discussed in this week’s content, but I also dive into five key consumer trends as well.

Curious about having me deliver this presentation customized for your industry? Let’s talk

Lots to unpack and think about this week! Thanks again for being here, and referring this blog and my weekly newsletter to others. SUBSCRIBE here if you haven’t already.

Remember how we were lamenting the inability to plan much more that the day after tomorrow at the beginning of the article? While planning certainly offers the illusion of control, sometimes stepping back to consider the megatrends at play, and their far-reaching global patterns related to behavior, can prepare you for the quantum leaps of tomorrow.

Buckle up. 2022 and the years that follow are going to be one heck of a ride!


Mary Charleson

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