4 Emerging Digital Marketing Trends Shaping Small & Medium Sized Businesses in 2022

The future of digital marketing is set to see the experience of social media platform shopping evolve as marketplaces work behind the scenes to enable customer payments without leaving social media apps, creating a seamless customer experience.

Small and medium-sized businesses are doubling down on digital marketing platforms to reach new audiences and grow their businesses, according to a new Research Report on digital marketing trends in 2022.

Among the SMEs surveyed, the majority of those currently leveraging digital marketing platforms have been in operation for less than eight years. Additionally, most are businesses that sell products, particularly in the beauty-care industries, and are more likely to pursue digital marketing. Finally, most SMEs report using multiple platforms to reach their digital marketing goals.

When evaluating the underlying motivations of SMEs digital marketing efforts, four key trends emerged.

Key Trend #1: Affordability Is a Top Concern for Small Business Owners Choosing a Platform

First, most SMEs leveraging digital marketing platforms are new or emerging businesses that value affordability above all else. The impact of Covid 19 and the war in Ukraine is having drastic effect on SMEs but at the same time cannot cut down on digital marketing.

Among social media platforms, Facebook came first in terms of SMEs’ perceived value for their marketing dollar. That said, 45% of SMEs who use digital platforms don’t engage in any paid marketing, relying solely on organic efforts. Which means SMEs do a lot of content promotion and engage with their customers.

In sum, SMEs said they find the most effective organic reach on:

  • Facebook (68%)
  • Instagram (66%)
  • TikTok (51%)

Key Trend #2: Creative Storytelling Is Key for Small Businesses

Of course, storytelling is a highly effective content marketing tool. However, this is especially true for small businesses seeking to forge a connection between consumers and their brands.

In response, digital marketers are looking for easy-to-use features that enable dynamic storytelling in a variety of formats. Approximately two-thirds of small business owners said that TikTok helps them tell stories in a creative way (67%), outpacing established competitors including Instagram (65%), YouTube (58%), Facebook (55%), and Snapchat (51%).

Key Trend #3: Platform Sentiments Are Shifting

To date, small businesses see Facebook and Instagram as their go-to marketing platforms. In fact, most SMEs credit their success on these platforms and growth in the form of:

  • hiring new employees
  • opening new locations
  • reaching new audiences

However, this is changing as Facebook usage declines and TikTok usage dramatically grows. Business owners are taking note. In turn, they are shifting their platform strategies to meet customers where they are. When it comes to digital marketing, content and trends are very important to the way consumers perceive brands.

Unsurprisingly, word of mouth recommendations is driving this shift significantly. For example, 43% of small business owners are now likely to join TikTok because they’ve heard reports of efficacy from fellow business owners. By contrast, only 23% said the same about Facebook.

These peer recommendations correspond with digital platforms that allow SMEs to introduce their brands and engage their audiences in more dynamic ways.

Of the five major platforms, SMEs indicated that they are most excited about their growth potential on Instagram (72%) and TikTok (67%).

How to Explain the Growing Popularity of TikTok

Despite being the newest platform, TikTok overwhelmingly stands out as an emerging key player. SMEs said it was the platform they were most excited to use in the future. Among SMEs already on TikTok, 78% said they plan to increase their investment in the platform — the highest rate of all platforms surveyed.

The survey asked SMEs what qualities and features they valued in various digital platforms. Key factors that set TikTok apart from competitors include:

Ease of Use

Of SMEs using TikTok, 81% said it was easy to use, and 73% said it was fun to use.

Audience Reach & Engagement

Interestingly, when ranking the most valuable aspects of using TikTok to promote their businesses, “reaching new audiences” came out on top, followed by the “ability to get discovered” and “reaching the right audience for the business.”

Business Growth

Notably, while 58% of SMEs using TikTok have been on the platform for less than six months, they’re generating fast results. For instance, fifty-nine percent said TikTok helped grow revenue. Meanwhile, 42% said TikTok helped them safeguard their business against the impact of the pandemic. Finally, 32% said TikTok helped them raise capital.

Interestingly, the most common reasons SMEs said they were not on TikTok were that it seems too complicated, and that the platform has a narrow, youth-focused audience. This indicates a clear need for TikTok to better educate small businesses about its creative tools, ease of use, and broad audience reach.

Key Trend #4: Understand Your Data Better with Chatbots 

According to LinkedIn, the “Digital Marketing Specialist” role is among the top 10 most in-demand jobs, with 860,000 job openings. The most requested experience in digital marketing includes social media, content strategy, SEO, analytics, and more.

Chatbots are considered one of the top digital marketing trends in the future, the AI-based technology makes use of instant messaging to chat with customers, and with site visitors. It is designed to communicate with customers by textual or auditory methods.