The social media landscape is ever-changing, and it can be challenging to maintain a competitive edge in a constantly evolving industry.
This continuous flux also presents a significant opportunity for marketers and business owners looking for fresh and creative ways of reaching their audience.
To implement a successful marketing strategy, marketers and business owners must keep a finger on the pulse of the latest and emerging social media trends expected to dominate this year.
Social media usage continues to explode and shows no signs of slowing down.
59.3% of the world’s population is active on social media. Over 4.74 billion active users were reported last year, an increase of 4.2% over the previous year. And people are spending more significant amounts of time on their preferred social media platforms.
This is good news for marketers and small business owners.
More people on social means more opportunities to grow your audience and increase revenues.
However, this also leads to increased competition as the effort is concentrated on a limited number of high-performing social media channels. This can lead to content saturation, user engagement fatigue, and budget overruns.
Considering that, it’s only rational to know where your marketing efforts should be focused and what trends you should consider for your marketing plan.
Let’s look at the ten most important Social Media Trends of 2023.
10 Important Social Media Trends of 2023:
1. TikTok: the one social network to rule them all
As we predicted in our look at marketing trends for 2022, TikTok became the most important social platform for marketing.
TikTok will continue to grow in popularity in 2023.
Updated features announced in 2022 indicate TikTok isn’t only interested in becoming the number one marketing social network. It wants to be the biggest social network on the planet.
A slew of additional features, plus TikTok’s partnership with Linktree, Woocommerce, and Shopify, including rumors about acquiring a podcast app, suggest that TikTok is on a trajectory to becoming a “super app.” (A super app is an application that combines social media, messaging, services, payments, and everything else you would typically do on the internet into one application).
This year alone, there have been at least seven features on TikTok directly inspired by competing social media platforms, including:
- Sept 2022: TikTok Now (BeReal equivalent)
- Oct 2022: Photo Mode (Carousels equivalent)
- Jul 2022: TikTok Stories (Instagram Stories equivalent)
- Mar 2022: Search Ads (Google Search ads counterpart in beta-testing phase)
- Oct 2022: TikTok Music (Spotify counterpart; teased only)
- Feb 2022: 10-minute videos (YouTube counterpart)
TikTok is also expanding into non-digital areas. Speculation has been rife about this Chinese-owned company planning to set up fulfillment centers in Los Angeles and Seattle to compete with Amazon in the e-commerce sector.
TikTok continues to grow its user base of 1.023 billion active users and is consistently the #1 app in terms of time spent and overall positive sentiment.
Additionally, Google Trends indicates that interest in TikTok Ads has increased by 1,125% since 2020. This is a positive indicator of business interest in the platform.
This interest is well-founded. Ad revenue generated by TikTok is growing so rapidly that it is on target to catch up with YouTube’s ad revenue by 2024.
As much as Google and Meta dominate the digital advertising market, this is a considerably successful growth spurt for an internationally-owned social media company.
How does this affect you as a business owner? This could be your signal to consider setting up an account for your business to market on TikTok.
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2. A spike in demand for more social commerce
Most marketing strategies emphasize meeting your customers where they are. Social commerce is a potent option for brands to grow and drive significant sales.
Facebook and Instagram were among the first platforms to offer social commerce options. Their decision was well-timed with the gradual shift to online shopping.
We expect that Facebook Shop and Instagram Storefront will become their platforms’ most popular features this year.
Approximately 54% of consumers use social media to learn more about a brand and its products.
With social commerce, your customers can move more quickly through your sales and marketing funnel and purchase your product or service faster.
We will see an increase in seamless online and in-app social media shopping.
It makes sense. It’s convenient, quick, and profitable.
With in-app social media shopping, it is now possible to communicate directly with the customer without leaving the platform and generate business in a matter of seconds.
Take, for instance, Facebook’s personalized ad experience. Eight hundred million people use Facebook Marketplace every month in 70 different countries. Facebook Marketplace is the perfect platform for accessing an ever-increasing pool of qualified buyers and targeting the right users. You will also benefit from easy-to-use product categorization and selling your products with relative ease. Depending on your target audience, you can dynamically change the format of your ads.
Additionally, Instagram’s “Checkout with Instagram” feature allows users to purchase products directly from shopping posts without leaving the app.
Brands will be able to tag posts/stories related to their products with “Checkout tags” and allow users to engage in a seamless buying experience with one click.
Whenever you brainstorm about the types of ads you should place on social networking platforms, remember this rule: Your ads should be targeted, dynamic, direct, and compelling.
Today’s buyers are more knowledgeable than ever before. They thoroughly research your brand and offering.
And when most consumers utilize social media to research products, allowing them to find information about your brand and your offering in one location is an irresistible road of convenience.
Customers can make an informed decision and purchase sooner if your brand is represented accurately, including customer interaction and reviews.
Moreover, this trend will likely grow as other social channels begin experimenting with similar features and ways to offer businesses new sales channels.
Points to consider
Social commerce has become one of the most prominent social media trends in the past year. Marketing professionals in North America and Europe scrambled to position themselves to capitalize on a new way to make money directly from social media as sales in China exploded past $350 billion.
Despite success in China, North American and European consumers have been slower to catch up. As a result, some social networks have scaled back their shopping features, particularly those related to “live” shopping, which is less common in western markets:
- Affiliate product tagging on Instagram has been discontinued
- Instagram has removed its Shop feature
- Meta has discontinued live commerce functionality on Facebook
- Live shopping has been delayed by TikTok in Europe and the US after a test in the UK failed to meet expectations
While the live shopping experience may not have been a hit with Western audiences, it does not necessarily mean that social commerce is dead.
Social commerce includes a variety of strategies, including shoppable posts and ads, augmented reality shopping, referrals, and even second-hand marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace. All of these tactics are growing in popularity in North America and Europe.
Businesses in the retail and e-commerce sectors should continue to pay close attention to social commerce. Here’s what you can do:
- Offer easy returns and refunds, display ratings and reviews from other buyers, and keep customers informed of the status of their purchases throughout the buying process to convert skeptical shoppers into buyers.
- Live shopping is not yet a good investment if your audience resides in North America or Europe.
- Spend part of your marketing budget on shoppable Instagram and Facebook ads.
- If your budget is tight, TikTok offers the most significant potential for organic growth in social shopping. When the TikTok Shop tab becomes available in the United States, post using the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.
3. TikTok and social SEO on the rise
For years, Google has dominated the world of search engines, answering queries from billions of users every month in search of businesses, travel destinations, and general information.
However, social media, especially TikTok, are slowly taking that crown away from Google.
An executive from Google reported that 40% of Gen Zers use TikTok or Instagram to find a place to eat. This new strategy, called “TikTok SEO,” is expected to become a big trend in 2023, as other social media giants such as Snapchat will follow suit.
Research from Google indicates that 40% of 18- to 24-year-olds now use social media as their primary search engine. TikTok has even been dubbed the “new search engine” for Gen Z by the New York Times.
TikTok is aware of this rising trend within its platform. In addition to launching a “local” feed feature that displays search results located nearby, it enhanced existing search capabilities, such as improving the searchability of video captions by increasing the character limit to 2,200 characters.
It also is testing a dedicated shop feed that includes different shopping categories and search functionality.
Meanwhile, Hootsuite has found that keyword-optimized captions were more effective than hashtags in increasing reach by 30% and engagement by twice as much.
With all this in mind, marketers and small business owners should start adding keyword research to their social media strategy in 2023. Use keyword research to inspire you to create content that people are already searching for, rather than just adding hashtags to the end of your posts.
With TikTok SEO, you can match buyers and sellers on social media and even offer an in-app payment option for faster checkout.
And significantly, marketers and businesses must optimize their brand content as early as possible to rank highly on TikTok’s search page
And be patient. You might not see an immediate and massive increase in traffic and engagement. Things like that take time to build. But use that time to learn about the content pillars and formats that resonate the most. The worst-case scenario is that you get lots of ideas for new social posts.
4. Nano and microfluencers
Instagram has given rise to influencer marketing. 89% of marketers still consider Instagram the ideal social network for influencer marketing campaigns.
But, influencer marketing is undergoing a dramatic change. Today, brands seek influencers on social media who are not A-list celebrities.
Instead, brands and businesses are looking to micro- and nano-influencers who target a particular audience.
The term “nano-influencer” pertains to community leaders with a modest following of 1,000 to 5,000 followers. Within their community, they are regarded as trustworthy and authoritative figures.
A micro-influencer is an individual who has between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Micro-influencers are considered topic specialists or industry experts specializing in a specific niche or area.
There will be a heightened emphasis on nano- and micro-influencers this year.
In an era where users are increasingly shopping from home, your brand promotion strategy will depend on partnering with influencers to reach their audience.
Social media has become increasingly popular, causing costs to rise and well-known influencers to charge high fees when promoting a brand. Consequently, smaller businesses lose out on significant market share.
Hence, reaching out to smaller influencers within your business’ particular niche may be a more effective strategy.
A-list celebrities have minimal time to engage with millions of followers. In contrast, micro and nano influencers are able to engage potential customers through creative and customized content and respond to all comments. These interactions significantly influence digital marketing campaigns.
Today’s self-aware consumers seek brands and influencers who offer authenticity, substance, and trustworthiness. It is also critical for brands to be aware of “fake influencers” who only sell the number of likes they receive as proof of their influencer success.
For nano- and micro-influencers to be effective, they should embody the brand’s voice, tone, and values. In this way, brands using their services have the opportunity to exert greater influence on their audience and reap significant marketing benefits.
Influencer marketing offers the opportunity to reach a larger number of ‘likes’; however, a few isolated likes here and there will not impact a brand’s marketing or financial performance.
As is most often true, quality is more relevant than quantity.
5. Be prepared for BeReal to get really big
BeReal is a photo-sharing application that encourages users to share one unfiltered, unedited picture daily with selected friends. When photos are taken outside the two-minute time frame, the time stamp indicates how many minutes late they were uploaded.
As of 2022, the network has grown considerably in popularity since it was launched in late 2019. In October 2022, it ranked as the top social networking application on the App Store with approximately 29 million installations.
The majority of BeReal users are female and young. Most of them are under the age of 25. The app does not include ads or features for businesses, which many believe is an essential aspect of its appeal.
Compared to today’s highly curated, ad-heavy social media space, BeReal reminds one of the early days of social media when users posted images to show their friends what they were up to.
BeReal’s official communications often sound like your best friend is texting you. When a large outage occurred on their app, the company simply tweeted, “all good now.” This is contrary to the highly professional communication strategies we’re used to seeing from other major social networks.
Additionally, each user is limited to 500 friends, so your brand’s standard marketing strategy will not be effective.
Yet, despite this, brands such as e.l.f. Cosmetics, Chipotle, and Pacsun, have taken notice of BeReal’s popularity. In addition, TikTok and Instagram have developed clones of the dual camera feature. However, it remains to be seen if any of the platforms’ users are using it.
It might be wise to bet on BeReal in 2023. Its impact is undeniable.
- Wait and see if BeReal caves in to the pressure to monetize for business purposes. In the meantime, you must pay attention to this new app.
- Set up a profile and familiarize yourself with the platform.
- Test the dual camera feature on a platform where you already have a presence — Instagram or TikTok –to see if it will gain traction.
6. Instagram Reels will still matter
Instagram continues to be a primary marketing platform for many brands. Here are some figures to show why:
- It is estimated that there are 1.5 billion daily active users on Instagram and 2+ billion monthly active users.
- A total of 220 million users joined Reels between July 2022 and October 2022.
- 62% of Instagram users say they use it to research brands and products (Facebook comes in second with 55%).
- Young people aged 16 to 24 still prefer this application, surprisingly beating TikTok.
- As its ad platform and in-app shopping tools have been available for years, you do not need to gamble with your ROI.
Additionally, Instagram continues to emphasize video content.
Instagram videos, for instance, are now categorized as Reels, and Instagram’s recommendation algorithm highly prioritizes Reels. This means that Instagram Reels are the best way for marketers to reach new audiences on the platform.
The rise of TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Amazon Video Shorts, and Facebook MyDay makes it easy for you to cross-post your videos, although it is not encouraged (be sure to remove all logos and watermarks before posting).
Short-form video content
It is estimated that 92% of marketers believe video is a crucial component of digital marketing. Since its inception, YouTube has been the dominant video content and advertising source. Short videos, the latest trend in video content, threaten its format.
A number of major social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, are improving their video content to keep up with this snowballing trend, which has been attributed to TikTok’s rise.
In recent years, short videos have become increasingly popular with younger generations, specifically Generation Z. These videos are inexpensive, easy to produce, and have a high level of engagement.
YouTube has responded by launching YouTube Shorts, a short video content service running alongside the leading platform.
As part of its effort to embrace short videos, Instagram introduced Instagram Reels, which has become a popular feature since its launch.
Younger audiences prefer shorter, more concise, and punchier content due to a reduced attention span across generations.
- Get acquainted with short-form videos by exploring your Reels tab.
- Establish a distinction between evergreen video production with original audio and video production that relies on trending audio, replies, stitches, etc.
- Learn how to download TikToks and Instagram Reels without watermarks to cross-post them on all your preferred platforms.
- To create viral-style videos, you should keep an eye on the current trends. But note that you probably will not be able to cross-post them as easily.
7. LinkedIn will be less about jobs and more about your personal life
Does your LinkedIn feed seem to be filled with more and more personal posts lately? Is this content you would typically expect to see on your Facebook page?
The platform seems to have become more personal than it used to be. Some individuals are even using the platform to find dates.
Did LinkedIn’s algorithm change to favor more personal posts?
Have we lost our ability to distinguish between personal and professional lives?
Is it possible that trust in Facebook, where we would typically post such content, has dropped to an all-time low while confidence in LinkedIn remains high – along with engagement rates?
Hootsuite reported that LinkedIn posts without links outperformed posts with links, suggesting an algorithm change favoring content that encourages users to stay on the platform longer. As of 2022, most viral posts contain a mix of long-form personal storytelling and photos (almost like a blog post) rather than links to other sites’ content.
Regardless of the reason, it does not appear that this significantly less “professional” trend will diminish anytime soon.
The company released carousels, and reaction buttons found initially on Facebook and Instagram.
LinkedIn established a $25 million Creator Fund to pay 100 creators $15,000 each to “share content, spark conversations, and build communities.” (This goal is remarkably similar to that pursued by Instagram and Facebook, which are neither explicitly professional platforms.)
Furthermore, LinkedIn launched a podcast network and a version of Clubhouse known as LinkedIn Audio Events.
- When it comes to thought leadership on the platform, it is a good idea to dig deeper. Show the human side of your brand by offering ideas and advice through a personal lens. Keep your message genuine and grounded in reality to avoid backlash.
- It may be a good idea to hire a ghostwriter to help you develop your LinkedIn content strategy and to write posts that do not use jargon.
- Add linkless posts to your posting strategies, such as encouraging words, cheesy jokes, or short stories about yourself.
- Don’t overshare. While personal content is becoming more popular, LinkedIn remains a professional app, with six people being hired every minute.
8. Brands and the rise of UGC creators
The term user-generated content (UGC) refers to content created by ordinary individuals rather than content produced by organizations.
UGC is a fantastic marketing tool for brands looking to increase brand awareness and enhance customer relationships. Authentic social proof enhances brand loyalty, and makes the UGC creator feel appreciated.
However, Gen Z perceives the term “UGC” very differently. They consider UGS as social media posts produced by freelancers or micro-influencers on behalf of businesses.
To put it in Gen Z terms, brands pay “UGC creators” to produce content that appears to be organic.
In contrast to traditional influencers who promote brands through their own channels, UGC creators distribute their content through the brands’ official channels. There is less brand advocacy on the part of these individuals than on the part of paid content creators.
This is all part of a more significant social media trend: brands outsource their social media labor to the creator economy.
Expect that in 2023, businesses, especially larger ones, will continue to seek the assistance of social media creators to reach their target audiences.
There is a new aspect of the creator economy to consider: freelance content creators who are not necessarily influencers but who are just good at social media and can sell their services to brands.
It makes sense to do so. In recent years, reels and TikToks have become more popular. They require both technical skills and high charisma. Not everyone can make a Reel or TikTok worth watching.
Take note that the typical UGC is not as valuable on social media as it once was. Social proof is still crucial to potential customers, but with social algorithms favoring videos, it’s unlikely that a photo of the shoe you bought will reach many people.
Furthermore, as businesses turn to cheaper content creation during this recession, using freelance creators for one-time videos seems viable.
This social media trend is expected to continue into 2023 and beyond.
Consider Fiverr or Upwork to find a freelance creator (particularly if you need help creating Reels or TikToks) or post a job to your social media accounts.
9. Videos will feature closed captions
Most social media users have been scrolling through videos on silent since Facebook and YouTube launched their mobile apps in 2008.
Now that short-form video has taken over the internet, it makes sense to anticipate that captions will be the default standard in 2023.
There are compelling reasons for this:
- Accessibility. It is not just for people trying to watch a video on silent, but people with hearing impairments can participate and access digital content more broadly now.
- Engagement. Captions keep viewers interested throughout the video.
- Discoverability. Using keywords in captions is an integral part of optimizing videos for search engines, increasing the number of people who are likely to see them.
- Your video should include keywords that you say out loud so that they will also appear in the captions.
- Add closed captioning to your short- and long-form videos.
- You can use TikTok’s automatic captioning feature if you are pressed for time.
10. Billionaires buying social media platforms
Several prominent figures, including Elon Musk (Twitter), Peter Thiel (backed Rumble), Donald Trump (Truth Social), and Jeff Bezos (who purchased Twitch in 2014), have launched and/or owned social media platforms.
This trend is expected to continue in 2023 as social media becomes an increasingly powerful force in society and business, and suspicions regarding the objectivity of algorithms increase (along with fears of censorship and fake news). More billionaires may create their own social networks.
- Marketers and small businesses cannot control which billionaires purchase social media platforms. Changing ownership could result in changes to ad revenues, network policies, and algorithmic decisions. Some social networks could benefit from an ownership change, while others would be chaotic. The wise thing to do now is to stay up-to-date with the news.
- Keep creating content that resonates with your audience. Such content will always be relevant.
- Ensure that your followers follow you on all your social media channels (just in case one of your channels tanks overnight).
Trends in social media are constantly changing. It’s essential to stay ahead by keeping an eye on the buzz on social media and experimenting with new opportunities and networks. Early adopters often get exponentially more significant benefits.
Don’t spread yourself too thin, however. Focus on a couple of trends you can incorporate into your marketing plan and execute them effectively. Pay attention to your audience and keep testing and learning what works for you and your business.