Live video has become indispensable for marketers in 2021. This year proved that live streaming is popular and profitable even when half the globe isn’t stuck in pandemic lockdowns. Live content will stick around in 2022 as well, and it’s vital for marketers and brands to know the major live streaming trends to look out for if they want to make the most of it.

From live shopping and faster internet speeds to shorter videos and 4K streaming, these are the trends for streamers to watch in 2022.

👀 Live streaming stats

Before diving into the trends, let’s look at the current state of live streaming with some key statistics:

Live video got a huge boost thanks to stay-at-home orders throughout the 2020 pandemic, but that momentum didn’t stop in 2021. Live streaming continues to grow and will only get bigger in 2022.

What can you expect from major streaming platforms and the movers and shakers of the live streaming space? Music and sports live streaming are set to have a big year, and e-commerce will roll out in a major way as well. Streams will get shorter, some platforms will finally hop on the live streaming bandwagon, and 4K streaming will rule the day.

Let’s take a closer look at these 13 trends.

1. Social media stories

Stories on Instagram dominated short-form video content for a few years, but they’ve been surpassed by TikTok and Instagram’s own Reels. LinkedIn Stories and Fleets, Twitter’s short-form response to Stories, didn’t make it to the end of 2021. What does this tell us? That short-form content will be huge (see trend no. 7), but it has to be the right kind of content to take off.

Social media users aren’t going to watch a video just because it’s shorter. They want live videos that are engaging and entertaining. The decline of Stories and similar features on other platforms also indicate that viewers might be tired of limited-availability content, or videos that disappear after 24 hours. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a big motivator of social media users’ habits.

2. In-stream shopping

E-commerce live streaming will be big in 2022. It’s already gained a foothold, especially in China, but several platforms plan to amp up their live video shopping features worldwide. Social commerce — selling products directly on social media — is a huge market, worth $51.2 billion in the US currently. The possibility to combine shopping and live streaming on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter will herald a new era of in-stream shopping in 2022.

Live shopping is already transforming the consumer experience. Brands partner with influencers, who help their loyal audiences discover, review, and purchase products, all within the same live session. Facebook and Instagram plan to expand their built-in buying options for live shopping, making it even easier for users to purchase within the platform.

3. Music live streaming

Live-streamed music performances and DJ sets are slowly replacing traditional radio stations. Music live streaming didn’t really take off until the pandemic forced concerts to become virtual, and in 2022, it’s going to get even bigger. Fans can get closer to their favorite artists or listen to high-quality radio shows.

Live streaming giant Twitch even added a separate category for Music channels as a result of the rising demand for music live streams. If you’re a musician or work in the music industry, live streaming should definitely be on your radar for 2022.

4. Sports live streams

People have always loved watching live sports. But now, live-streamed sports are replacing previously televised broadcasts, making them more widely available. Like music events, sporting events had to go virtual during the pandemic, and now the demand for live-streamed sports matches is higher than ever.

With the Olympics in 2021, sports streaming reached new global heights. This edition of the Olympic Games saw the greatest number of countries active on social media, with 170 countries making around 67,000 posts. About 10% of those posts were videos. In 2022, sports leagues and events will still have a major online focus — especially if they want to keep the high levels of engagement they saw in 2022.

5. Hosting live streams with influencers

Brands have understood the power of influencer marketing on social media for several years now. But with the rising popularity of live shopping and greater interest in live streaming in general, companies should look to live video collaborations with influencers as well.

Deeper partnerships with influencers are what will boost brand exposure on social media in 2022. Live video content, like tutorials, product demonstrations, interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, and unboxing, is popular and easy to do with influencers. As influencer marketing progresses, both brands and their ambassadors look for ways to engage with their audiences even more, and live streaming is the natural solution.

6. 4K and VR streaming

Streaming in 4K resolution uses up a prohibitive amount of internet bandwidth, so it’s not a standard in live streaming…yet. With 5G rolling out all over the world, many internet users will have the extra bandwidth needed to produce high-quality streams in 4K. Currently, the only major streaming platform to offer 4K streaming is YouTube. As internet speeds get faster around the globe, however, we might see more support for it on other platforms as well.

VR streaming will also become more widespread in 2022, with the release of Facebook’s affordable VR Oculus headset. VR capabilities make live streaming more engaging and immersive, truly defining a new live experience for audiences.

7. Shorter live streams

The massive success of TikTok — a 45% user increase in less than a year — indicates how hungry people are for short-form videos. In 2020, 60% of videos were less than two minutes long, and only 3% of business videos were between ten and 20 minutes long. What does that mean for live streaming content? People prefer shorter streams on social networks and head to e-learning platforms or webinars for long-form content.

Instagram has caught on and is finally scaling back efforts of the long-form video platform IGTV, which was meant to rival YouTube, focusing instead on the short-form Reels, which is the platform’s answer to TikTok. YouTube also took on TikTok by introducing YouTube Shorts. The winds of social video are changing, and if you want to produce long live streams in 2022, make them educational and brand them as courses or masterclasses; or make them a virtual event like a concert.

8. More paid advertising

The decline of organic reach on social media isn’t a new trend to watch for in 2022; it’s been noted for the last few years. So, if you haven’t started investing more in paid advertising, then you’re already behind. The inability to reach new customers with organic posts was a particular pain point for small and medium-sized businesses in 2020 and 2021.

Organic posts still work to increase brand awareness, provide customer service, and build relationships, so you shouldn’t abandon them altogether. But for reaching a larger audience and boosting leads and conversions, you’ll have to consider promoting some of your top-performing posts. When it comes to live streaming on Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms that allow monetization of live video, experiment with advertising options to achieve more leads.

9. TikTok is the most important social network for marketing

With TikTok’s meteoric growth in 2021, it’s set to become the most important social media platform in 2022. It reached one billion users in September 2021, making it the seventh most popular social network in the world. As more and more people become interested in TikTok, marketers are seeing the potential for reaching new audiences on the platform.

The introduction of business profiles, ads, and the creator marketplace has also made TikTok more business-friendly this year. TikTok is also looking to hop on the live shopping trend by offering live streams for brands and products. It’s also expanding live streaming to general users. If you’re planning your live video strategy for 2022, TikTok should definitely be on your list.

10. Affiliate marketing on Twitch

Twitch streamers have several ways to monetize their channels, including donations, becoming a Partner or Affiliate, or the new Boost feature introduced in October 2021. But in 2022, affiliate marketing will drive monetization for Twitch streamers, as 76% of viewers appreciate brands that help their favorite streamers achieve success.

Collaborations can pay off for both Twitch streamers and brands, helping drive sales of promoted products and boosting visibility for streamers. Twitch already has a limited form of live shopping that allows viewers to buy full games or in-game content through the platform as they watch streamers play the game. But general e-commerce streaming likely won’t arrive on Twitch the way it will for social media platforms in 2022. As a marketer, look more toward promoting your affiliate programs to Twitch streamers.

11. Live audio

Most of us probably thought the live audio craze started and ended with Clubhouse. The audio-only app was all anyone could talk about at the start of 2021, but by April, downloads had decreased by 89%. Once live audio became more widely available, it lost some of its shiny newness and, thus, its appeal.

But like live video streaming, live audio will stick around thanks to professional creators. Producing live broadcasts of high quality isn’t easy — once the fad fades away people will only keep listening to live audio on social media if it's good. For this reason, platforms will prioritize their high-profile and professional live audio creators, as Facebook is already doing. Don’t dismiss live audio on social media just yet; we’ll see a resurgence of high-quality audio content in 2022.

12. Live streaming comes to new platforms

On every major social network (save TikTok and Pinterest) almost all users can live stream. These two platforms won’t be left behind for long, however, as both plan to roll out live streaming options in 2022. On TikTok, the live streaming focus will be live shopping and e-commerce, with the addition of TikTok shops as well.

Pinterest benefitted from a major shopping and e-commerce boost thanks to the pandemic and should add live streaming functionality if it wants to join in on the live shopping trend coming in 2022. The platform will also focus on video content more generally and may introduce an AR placement feature so users can “try” products in their own homes.

13. Super high-quality streams

As live streaming has become more widespread in the last several years, viewers’ standards for quality have gone up. 2022 will be no exception, and streamers will have an even thinner margin for error. More than half of viewers abandon poor-quality streams in 90 seconds or less. If people don’t watch the stream, they don’t see the ads or engage with other monetization options. Poor quality equates to profit loss in live streaming.

If you want to make your streams look professional in 2022, you need an intuitive streaming tool that makes it easy to get professional-looking streams every time you go live. Restream Studio is a browser-based live streaming studio that lets you broadcast on multiple channels simultaneously in just a few clicks. Whatever your live video goals are in 2022, Restream Studio can help you meet them.

2022 is set to be a big year for live streaming. We’ll see if live video has true staying power two years after global stay-at-home orders. With e-commerce streaming, live TikTok videos, live VR, and more on the horizon, there will be plenty to watch in this space in 2022.