Written by Bea Canuel –
Social media usage is steadily growing, and we don’t see it slowing down anytime soon.
In 2021, over 4.26 billion people used social media worldwide. This figure is projected to increase to almost 6 billion in 2027.
The saying, knowing is half the battle, has never been more true.
That’s why we’ve reached out to the thought leaders in the social media sphere and asked what trends we can expect to see making waves in 2023.
From the rapid rise of short-form videos to leveraging the value of community building, here’s what they said that marketers should focus on.
TikTok’s Popularity Will Continue To Grow
Ilya Cherepakhin, Enterprise Consulting Lead At Media.Monks
Looking ahead to 2023, I predict that TikTok’s ascent as the go-to social media platform for both advertisers and consumers will accelerate.
Several trends are contributing to that, from what other social media players are going through to the way social media is increasingly embracing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) formats – a space where TikTok is uniquely positioned to lead.
TikTok will continue to benefit from weaknesses across other digital media platforms.
While TikTok is a social media platform first, it has evolved its service offering, and now it competes head-on for ad budgets typically directed to a range of digital ad platforms.
Thus, it is effectively competing for budgets that would otherwise go to Google or Amazon, just as it is competing for ad dollars a brand may be considering for Meta, Snap, or Twitter.
Once considered default options, many of the historic advertising platforms are increasingly getting their roles questioned, with TikTok emerging as the beneficiary.
In early 2022, The Wall Street Journal wrote about Facebook’s $10 billion shortfall. Meta’s troubles continued throughout the year, with ad spending and their stock continuing to fall.
With Twitter in flux and other historic digital platforms also struggling, TikTok is standing to capitalize on brands who are eager to invest where there is most potential.
User growth and engagement are also on the side of TikTok. Besides the number of TikTok users going strong (projected to reach over 800 million in 2023), TikTok users are leveraging the app in new ways.
During the pandemic, TikTok has been a destination for many, but not just for entertainment. TikTok has thus evolved from a platform for distraction to a source of valuable information.
As Pew Research points out, more and more Americans get news on TikTok, unlike other social sites that are seeing flat engagement or dropping.
This is coupled with a growing comfort with AR and VR features that TikTok is uniquely positioned to leverage.
Yes, it is true that other social media platforms also have similar offerings, like Snap’s lenses. However, TikTok’s first-mover advantage in this space, overall platform premise and customer base expectations make it a much likelier platform where brands are comfortable testing these vehicles.
And speaking of testing, this year, AR- and VR-related ad formats have gone mainstream by no longer being considered new or emerging.
Brands increasingly understand their capabilities, how to align them with their marketing needs, and measure their impact – which (again) spells more optimism for TikTok at the expense of not only other paid social platforms, but also concerning digital advertising players more broadly.
Greg Jarboe, President & Co-Founder Of SEO-PR
Marketers need to “skate to where the puck is going” to be in 2023, not where it has been.
That means focusing more attention on TikTok, LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube, which are skating headlong in the right direction, and less attention on Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook, which seem to have played a little too much hockey without the benefit of helmets.
Marketers also need to focus more attention on the countries with the fastest growing economies, like the UAE, Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and less attention on Russia, Italy, Germany, and the U.K., which are facing recessions in 2023.
Short-Form Vertical Videos Will Take Over The Content Game
Jacob Styler, Founder & Digital Marketing Director At Infinity Digital
I think that short-form video content will grow more in 2023.
With the rising star that is TikTok, it was quite clear that Instagram Reels, then YouTube Shorts took off, so no doubt the other platforms will follow.
I am already seeing Twitter prioritize short-form video content in the feed, so this will be a priority for brands to consider when producing content.
I also think the social media shopping experience will expand, so if you haven’t already got a shop feed setup on your socials, then get going with it and start experimenting with ads.
Bradley Thompson, Director Of Marketing At DigiHype Media
In 2023, we will continue to see a shift for content creators and businesses to focus on short vertical videos.
We already see the emerging popularity of short-duration vertical videos across the major social networks, and this is what marketers should be focussing on.
If you aren’t doubling down on vertical videos that are under 15 seconds in 2023, you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
Vertical videos are easy to produce and low cost, and the organic reach is superior to any other content type on the web, which makes it the best outlet for marketers and content creators.
If you want to grow your business or brand on social media in 2023, you should focus on creating content for the medium in which consumers spend most of their time.
Mari Smith, CEO At Mari Smith International, Inc.
One of the most important Facebook marketing trends is a short-form vertical video, which will continue to grow throughout 2023 and beyond.
On Facebook, marketers should try publishing in the Reels format and short vertical videos as regular feed posts. In some cases, the latter may perform better!
But, more importantly, it is the sea change I began to see throughout 2022 that will only grow stronger in 2023.
And that is the shift away from focusing on all the public-facing proxy or vanity metrics of more followers, more reach, more engagement, etc. And, instead, moving towards focusing on metrics that matter, quietly building relationships and growing our businesses without much fuss and fanfare.
Katie Lance, CEO & Founder Of Katie Lance Consulting
I think it will be more important than ever to focus on creating a content library that goes with you regardless of the platform.
There are no guarantees with social media. Social media is rented ground.
For everyone creating short-form vertical videos, make sure you are repurposing that to TikTok, Instagram and Facebook Reels, and YouTube Shorts. And for those platforms, I also think that it will be less about trends and music and more about creating original and unique content.
Marketers Will Need To Diversify Their Content Strategy
Angie Nikoleychuk, Content Marketing Manager At SEJ
Social media in 2023 will have three main themes: diversification, risk, and investment.
Up until now, brands focused on a small handful of text-focused networks. Twitter’s instability is proving why this is such a bad idea.
That’s why, in 2023, anyone using social media for marketing, customer service, and PR should be making huge shifts if they haven’t already. Images and other alternative media are a driving force, but that’s just part of it.
Brands will need to move away from the idea that just being seen is enough since many of the newer networks on the scene don’t have the reach of Twitter. The newer networks are more focused and limited, but these smaller cliques are strong and engaged. Think of it like a pressure washer versus a lawn sprinkler.
Smart social media marketers will also make big changes to their strategies in 2023.
They will be choosing networks for a particular purpose and sharing specific content for that specific audience.
For example, this could include SlideShare for customer education and authority building, YouTube for product awareness and brand building, email marketing for customer retention, and Qwoted for media and journalist connections.
That’s a lot of work and a big investment, but here’s the thing: With so many new networks rising, big features being released, a recession on the horizon, and Twitter expected to continue stumbling from grace over the next year, the companies willing to invest, make a statement, and take risks right now will see huge payoffs.
Existing Social Trends Could Tip The Balance For B2B Marketers
Matt Mudra, VP Of Planning & Performance At SCHERMER
Regarding social media for B2B, here are just a few expectations for 2023.
LinkedIn will continue to be a B2B marketer’s go-to channel due to superior firmographic targeting options and its focus on workplace-related conversations. I doubt we’ll see LinkedIn’s dominant position for B2B marketers change in the next year.
We will also continue to see some major changes at Twitter in 2023 with Musk at the helm, hopefully including some new targeting solutions that will make the channel more attractive for B2B marketers.
Additionally, other social media channels that are traditionally used more for B2C marketing, like TikTok or Pinterest, will expand their offerings to include clean rooms and other targeting solutions that will open the doors for more B2B marketers. I expect Meta will be offering a clean room solution soon as well – first-party data activations on social will take off in 2023 and beyond.
As TikTok continues to surpass Google and Bing for Gen Z searches, B2B brands will also begin exploring using TikTok for search strategies.
Lastly, social commerce will continue to grow, and hopefully, we’ll start seeing some applications for larger B2B brands to tap into, but that may be a few more years out.
Viral Marketing Will Take The Lead In Powering Up Brand Engagement
Mike Dickerson, CEO At ClickDimensions
My prediction is that 2023 will be the year of viral marketing.
The era of the ‘handshake deal’ is well and truly over as B2B buyers and sellers fully adopt the digital-first approach to business.
For marketers to grow their brand in 2023, they need to reach customers online and adopt a more conversational and viral way of digitally marketing their company.
Social media, websites, and ads are great ways to garner interest and surface-level awareness for your brand, but with so many other companies doing the same thing, getting your business noticed and having an impact on potential customers has proven to be a bit more challenging over the past couple of years.
The solution is strategic viral marketing. Viral marketing pieces make the audience feel something. Whether they are entertained, educated, or engaged, customers leave feeling something that becomes a memorable interaction with your company.
By measuring digital engagement, such as the likes, shares, and comments the content garners, companies can see how successful and impactful a viral marketing piece is.
This lasting impression keeps your business in the minds of potential customers, increasing brand awareness and expanding your marketing reach through digital engagements.
Viral marketing will dominate the industry in the coming year. Marketers need to learn how to leverage it effectively across social media, webpages, and digital ads to have the greatest impact.
To begin structuring your viral marketing campaign, focus on using conversational tones and emotive tools, and always focus on what the audience is interested in rather than just what the company wants to say.
Brands Will Strive To Build And Maintain An Engaged Community
Alex Macura, Founder Of Your Digital Assembly
The phasing out of third-party cookies means brands will work harder to build closer relationships with customers and followers – in real life and on social networks.
Suppose the goal is meaningful user experiences to drive authentic connection and move the user through the funnel. In that case, marketers will double down on integrating online platforms with in-store experiences: omnichannel.
You will also see more brands involved in digital communities. While this is not new on Facebook, you will see an increase on platforms such as Mighty Networks, Circle, Slack, or Discord.
Sarah Goodall, CEO & Founder Of Tribal Impact
There is a huge opportunity for social media managers to look beyond paid and organic in 2023 and invest in the power of earned social.
It takes longer to cultivate, but empowering and enabling your employees with the confidence to talk about your brand on social media is more credible, scalable, and trustworthy.
But there are so many more benefits than just increasing your reach. Your employees become content generators, creating relatable and timely thought leadership that your customers prefer to engage with.
Your employees amplify the culture in a way that your employer branding team would thank you for – attracting talent through authentic advocacy.
Your employees will be more engaged – give them the training and confidence to build their professional brand, and they’ll connect more closely to your brand.
Your customers want more authentic relationships – they don’t want to be passed from department to department. They want trusted partnerships and relationships. The potential for social media to become embedded into the organization’s culture is huge, benefitting all parts of the customer and employee experience.
Social media managers that recognize this strategic advantage and opportunity will be the ones that can potentially lead quite a transformation for the organization.
Mari Smith, CEO At Mari Smith International, Inc.
As a ‘contingency plan’ for community development, you might check out non-Meta alternatives such as Mighty Networks (my favorite), Circle, and possibly Slack, Discord, or Telegram.
The popular online business platform, Kajabi, recently acquired a community platform for integrating into their product, which is great news. The online course platform, Thinkific, recently launched a community product as well.
Thankfully, we’re returning to our social media roots when connecting on the big social platforms was enjoyable, and we could easily create meaningful and lasting connections. Community is everything. Relationships are everything.
So, here’s the bottom line: If it’s a fit for your business, lean into establishing your own rock-solid community of raving fans who love you and love to buy from you. You can still use your public social media channels to get the word out about your new community.
A Renewed Focus On Adaption And Attribution Will Be Vital For Success
Heather Campbell, Director Of Marketing At SEJ
You’ve got your social strategy set for your “comfort” platforms (the ones you rely on and have been optimizing for years). But what about all these new platforms popping up?
To play in these new spaces, you will have to learn to adapt and try new things. What works on one platform will likely not work on a new platform. So, you’ll need to be flexible and test the waters.
But before you jump in with both feet, research, research, research.
Research isn’t exactly a new trend, but it should help you make the best choices for your goals. Don’t just jump on the bandwagon because it’s new, especially not because your competition is there.
Make sure it’s the right fit for your goals and that you have the time and resources to devote to managing another platform. Remember, spray-and-pray nor set-it-and-forget-it rarely work.
Let your research and your goals help guide you to a platform where your audience is and where they are actively open to engaging with your brand.
So, now that you’ve found the platform for you, the only way to know if it’s working is through proper attribution.
Sure, we can throw a UTM tag on there, but that only gives you a partial picture. It’s time for full attribution to take center stage for your social campaigns, too.
You’ll have an easier time getting buy-in from the boss if you can fully attribute performance back to social. This means really looking at how your social strategy is holistically impacting your marketing and your brand.
For example, showing how your social reach and engagement are driving brand awareness (something that’s difficult to track) can give you the leverage you need for additional budget or resources.
It will give your boss the peace of mind that these new tests you want to run will be monitored, analyzed, and optimized more quickly.
Editor’s note: All interviews have been lightly edited for clarity, brevity, and adherence to our Editorial Guidelines. The views expressed by the interviewees in this column are theirs alone and do not necessarily represent the view of Search Engine Journal.
Featured Image: DisobeyArt/Shutterstock