It’s been one heck of a year. If you own a small business, give yourself a pat on the back and then several more pats after that, because you deserve it.
Thanks to the ongoing pandemic and economic uncertainty, many small businesses are focusing on survival.
Even many ones deemed essential that provide local services have seen their growth opportunities shrink in 2021.
Thankfully, with the new year upon us, lights are beginning to shine at the end of the tunnel.
With some elbow grease and a little luck, owners and operators of small, local businesses can market their business, scale their revenue and get the reputation they deserve in 2022.
So what are some of the key marketing trends for 2022 that owners of small businesses can leverage to achieve these goals?
In this article, I will introduce emerging trends for small business marketing in 2022 to help you take your business to the next level and enter 2023 stronger than ever!
It’s no secret that 2021 has proved to be one of the most challenging years in a generation for small businesses and society in general.
Like the year before it, 2021 was defined by an ongoing global health pandemic that shook local economies and left a lot of small businesses wondering how they can scale their operations.
But when it comes to small business marketing, there are some trends that you can take advantage of.
For instance, online search traffic, marketing influencers and even advertising costs on certain platforms like Facebook have all seen growth in 2021.
Customers have become accustomed to searching for and learning about local services online more than ever before.
Likewise, small businesses have adapted by marketing and selling online more than ever before.
Some of these advancements in digital marketing won’t last but many will. So let’s look at the landscape to find some hidden gems and marketing trends that will define 2022.
Here are the top emerging trends in digital marketing for 2022 that small businesses can start exploring to increase their sales!
What social networks should your small business focus on in 2022?
Facebook still leads the pack in customer usage. For that reason alone, it should continue to be at the forefront of small business digital marketing.
Facebook’s 2021 numbers exceeded 2.8 billion monthly active users and 1.84 billion daily active users worldwide, increasing by approximately 12% and 8% respectively from the prior year.
This blows all other social channels out of the water.
And in the U.S. alone in 2021, over two-thirds of adults reported that they use Facebook.
Bottom line? If you’re not marketing to customers on Facebook, then your chances of growing your local business drop by a lot.
But Facebook is beginning to crack and Instagram is showing signs of filling the void.
Every year, fewer young people use Facebook. From 2019–2021, the percentage of teenagers on Facebook fell by 13%, with Facebook themselves projecting that drop will hit 45% by 2023.
That means Facebook’s average user is getting older and total active usage is already peaking.
But Instagram has experienced steady growth year over year, including from 2020 into 2021, while over 70% of their user base remains under the age of 35.
In 2010, only about 10% of U.S. adults used Instagram, but that metric cracked 40% for the first time ever in 2021, an increase of approximately 8%, or three percentage points, from 2020.
By comparison, the size of Facebook’s adult userbase in the U.S. has virtually flatlined since 2016.
So what do these statistics mean for small business marketing going into 2022?
Every small business owner should strongly consider expanding their marketing strategy on Instagram.
Whether you increase your budget for Instagram ads or share more organic posts to promote your service, all small businesses stand to benefit from Instagram marketing.
Below I’ll outline a couple specific ideas of small business marketing strategies you can take from Instagram in 2022.
First off, what is reputation marketing?
Reputation marketing is the strategy of using customer reviews to promote your company’s reputation in creative ways across different channels.
Sharing stories of your work as screenshots of customer reviews or images of the job done captioned by a review goes a long way towards success.
Creating Instagram reviews to market your business online is an excellent way to attract leads and grow sales.
That’s because about 80% of users go to Instagram for help in making purchasing decisions from local businesses.
And social proof is effective for these users. Social proof is a type of reputation marketing whereby you utilize customer reviews as “proof” of your company’s reputation.
So using Instagram for social proof reviews attracts new leads via brand awareness. It also validates potential customers’ decisions when they’re closer to the point of sale.
And remember, get more reviews from customers to generate more social proof for your Instagram reviews and grow your business in 2021.
I bet you thought that SEO on Instagram was impossible?
That’s because Instagram previously only allowed users to search for content by hashtags, location tags, usernames and profile names.
But starting in late 2020, Instagram implemented its largest feature upgrade ever, at least for small business marketing: Instagram keyword-searching.
So as of 2021, businesses were able to optimize their Instagram posts for target keyterms, and now that the new feature has had a year to settle in, users have noticed and come to expect it.
And now that you know of it, 2022 is your year to start taking advantage of it.
Say you’re a window cleaner in Fargo, North Dakota; you can attract leads by posting reviews or photos of sparkling clean windows with the headline “Fargo Window Cleaning.”
Before, your post only would’ve appeared in Instagram Search if both you and the buyer used the hashtag #fargowindowcleaning.
And be honest, no one would ever search for such a hashtag (no offense Fargo—we love the film and show named after your fine town!).
With small business SEO on Instagram, your local company can start using Instagram more in 2022 to become the top service provider in your region!
2022 is the year to go all in on your Google Business Profile.
First off, Google doubled-down on its commitment to local businesses by rebranding Google My Business to Google Business Profile in 2021, with product-dashboard updates to match.
First off, what is a Google Business Profile and why is it important?
If you aren’t using a Google Business Profile for your small business marketing, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.
Google Business Profile is Google’s platform that promotes businesses across Google Search and Google Maps.
When you search for a local business or a nearby service, you’ll likely find Google Business Profiles.
For instance, customers can look up profiles and find snippets via the “Local 3-Pack” for local companies.
Benefits of a Google Business Profile include greater visibility for your business on Google Search and Google Maps. This leads to more search traffic and increased revenue.
Make sure to check out our guide on Google Business SEO to learn how to set up, verify and improve your Google Business Profile to improve your local-SEO metrics.
Google Business Profile also has one other key element: customer reviews on Google.
There are lots of ways to get customer reviews on Google. But no matter the method, customer reviews mean more 5-star ratings, higher search traffic and more collateral for social proof.
Remember, you can’t get Google reviews online without a Google Business Profile.
So what about 2022 makes Google Business so special?
To start, online searches for business services are up in 2021—way up.
The amount of Google searches for local businesses has skyrocketed; for example, queries that contain “near me” have increased by 136% in the past year.
Whether this rate of growth will continue into 2022 after the pandemic (hopefully) downgrades to an endemic is unknown. But current trends show that some baseline growth is expected.
With customers relying more on search engines to find local businesses, Google Business will pay off more than ever before.
Local Services Ads are a type of paid advertising on Google for small, local businesses.
Google launched them back in 2018 but they started to take off in more recent years—and not only because of the global health pandemic.
That’s because Google is aggressively expanding the availability and the features of Local Services Ads. This means they’ll become vital to your success in 2022 and beyond.
And guess what? They’re the first thing potential customers see when they search for your business service on Google. That’s the kind of advertising placement that’s nearly priceless.
(And speaking of price, Local Services Ads tend to be cheaper than the traditional Google Ads, so that’s an added benefit too!)
For 2022, Google is expected to increase the number of metropolitan areas where they display Local Services Ads. More industries and business types will likely see availability increase too.
And although you don’t need to have a Google Business Profile to qualify for Local Services Ads, you’re better off having both and connecting the two.
That’s because you can use your Google Business customer reviews as Google Local Services reviews, and your ads can’t rank well without lots of reviews.
Google regularly updates its Google My Business features for companies. With better features comes more benefits and leads for your business.
Remember that Google’s main motivation is to provide the ultimate user experience on its website. That’s how Google constantly stays ahead of its competition.
With more potential customers relying on Google to find and evaluate local businesses, it’s important to use Google’s upgrades to stay ahead of your own competition in 2022.
Because according to 2022 marketing statistics, phone and messaging leads, including from Google, are 10–15 times more likely to convert than website leads.
Of course, the whole benefit of Google Business is that it’s a convenient interface for your users to book with you directly without necessarily having to find your website.
In late 2020 and moving into 2021, Google launched a new messaging feature in Google Business to improve how businesses find and talk to leads online.
This helps leads who might otherwise ask themselves why they should choose your business if they can’t communicate with you directly on the first page of Google Search results.
With this new messaging feature having rolled out throughout 2021, its adoption continues to increase, strengthening Google’s interests in building around this feature for 2022.
But what’s new going into 2022 for small businesses with Google Business Profiles?
From the previously mentioned rebrand, businesses can now better create and edit their Google Business Profile directly in Google Search or Google Maps.
Soon Google will discontinue the unique app for Google Business Profiles altogether so business owners can get accustomed to this additional flexibility.
What does it mean for you? Ultimately, it’s a more convenient and streamlined ease-of-use with the platform to better enable you to leverage your Google Business Profile in 2022.
If you’re not going all in on Google My Business, your 2022 sales growth will stall.
So make sure that when customers search for your services that your Google Business Profile is the first thing they see.
With the dawn of a new year, there is promise for hope and a fresh start.
It’s been such a difficult 2021. Setting yourself up for success in 2022 is key to growing your business and becoming the go-to service provider in your region.
So let’s summarize the major trends for 2022.
First, don’t forget about Facebook but also start taking Instagram more seriously.
Use reputation marketing and Instagram reviews to engage your audience and reach new customers.
Second, strategically caption your Instagram posts and even how you define your business on your profile. Instagram SEO has started to become a gamechanger since its launch.
Third, look into Local Services Ads by Google and see if you qualify. They’re inexpensive and they enable small businesses to capture more leads.
And last, check that you have claimed and verified your Google Business Profile.
Then invest resources into posting and messaging on the platform. Most people will begin to expect service from you right on Google—and many already do!
One common denominator between these marketing trends and your ability to successfully leverage them is customer reviews.
Customer reviews are a great tool to use on Instagram. They will also make or break your growth opportunities on Google Business.
The more Google reviews you have, the more your Local Services Ads and Google Business Profile will appear online.
Which is to say that the more reviews you get, the more money goes into your company’s pockets in 2022. And after a year like 2021, we could all use a little bit of good news.