The social media and influencer landscape is ultra-competitive and eventful. Just think about the controversy around Twitter under Elon Musk’s control to see just how crazy it can get!
But the social arena is the place for brands to make their mark and engage their customer base. With so many social media networks to choose from for your marketing activities, it can be difficult to keep up with what’s new and what opportunities are out there for driving brand awareness.
we’ve talked with our experts to find out what’s coming down the line in 2023 in social media and influencer marketing.
- Social media goes back to its ‘roots’
- TikTok offers new features and attracts B2B
- Social networks are beginning to decentralize
- A new era of influencers
- The emergence of a ‘super app’
- Vertical and long-form video is on the rise
1. Social media goes back to its roots
Marketers use social media channels for many purposes. It could be to get in front of a new audience, retarget previous customers or try out new creative content. But in 2023, digital transformation expert Neal Schaffer believes social media will go back to its roots.
“In 2023, I believe companies will continue to question and reimagine what their social media presence should look like. Social media is really going back to its original roots as being a place for brand awareness, not for traffic generation, but truly as a way to connect with other people,” he says.
His own experience has seen web traffic to his site from social media decrease from 2 percent to just 1 percent. So, what’s the solution? He believes brands need to make better use of social and think about what it is and will continue to mean.
“We’ve seen the rapid emergence of TikTok, and a brand new social media culture that focuses not on the number of followers, but on the content itself in this era of what they’re calling recommended media,” he says. “For that reason, brands are even more challenged to create the type of content that social media users today crave.”
For example, in 2022 Meta launched a Facebook ‘Feeds tab’ that recommends content from friends, groups, or pages to users that are customized and can be curated in a ‘Favorites’ tab.
Instagram is also active in promoting recommended media, creating ‘Candid Challenges’ in response to the rising popularity of the app BeReal. This feature will prompt users to capture and share a photo of their environment in a different two-minute window each day.
2. TikTok offers new features and attracts B2B
TikTok is continuing to evolve as a social media platform in 2023. The platform announced its focuses for this year as actionable entertainment, making space for joy, and community-built ideals.
What this means for marketers is they will need to create videos that are entertaining, personalized, and uplifting rather than focusing on a selling point. Second is a focus on joy and providing a solution to drive people to make a purchase.
Finally, TikTok advises marketers to lean into the specificity that makes its communities special. “Don’t be afraid to target layered identities—speaking to #TiredMoms instead of all moms, or #CozyGamers instead of all gamers.”
TikTok is also working to make its business tools simpler and more usable. There are also new targeting options for ads. “You could target everybody who has used #thanksgiving on TikTok. You can target people based on all kinds of different videos that they’ve watched, whether that’s beauty, whether that’s fitness, whether that’s food-related, whether it’s fast or gourmet food,” says Alison Battisby, Social Media Consultant and Co-Founder of Avocado Social. “(TikTok) are really challenging Meta in terms of the user data they have available for advertisers now.”
Battisby has also noticed much more B2B content on TikTok than ever before. For B2B brands it’s a platform to consider and worth exploring as there’s a lot of education happening on TikTok.
“There are experts in quite dry-sounding industries, lawyers and accountants and all sorts there. There’s a divorce lawyer I follow on TikTok and she’s got over 1,000,000 followers. It’s definitely an opportunity to go and explore. It’s about going where the audience is,” Battisby advises.
It’s worth noting that SEO is now becoming more important on TikTok. You should optimize your videos so they get found on the network through search. It’s also worth knowing that while Google did not previously index social media posts, these now show up in the SERPs. Great ways to optimize your TikTok videos are to look at keywords, expertise or authority, and relevance.
3. Social networks are beginning to decentralize
Many users are looking for a new type of social media platform – one built by the masses and owned by everyone (as opposed to a billionaire). This desire has seen the emergence of new platforms such as Mastodon.
“On Mastodon, you can join different ‘instances’, which are essentially forums based on your interests or geographical location. And the idea is that you move your social media profile between these instances, rather than having access to one central newsfeed like on Twitter,” says Battisby.
The other one to mention is BlueSky which is being built by ex-Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey. It aims to be a new decentralized offering that’s less a social network and more of a protocol to build other platforms,
“It’s essentially going to offer users more choices in terms of what kind of algorithms they would like to use, and their usability. That’s available for people to sign up for the waitlist and I can imagine that’s getting a lot of signups,” Battisby concludes.
4. A new era of influencers
Influencer marketing has been hailed as a trend for years but in 2023 the concept of the word ‘influencer’ is changing. It’s not just about the mega influencers with millions of followers, it’s about influencers with dedicated followers and niche knowledge that can create great user-generated content.
It’s important to know the difference between influencer content and UGC content. While the first involves sponsored posts and a contractual agreement, user-generated content is someone talking about your brand or content related somehow to it. Check out our blog on ‘What is User-Generated Content & How Can Your Brand Use it (Plus 4 Great Examples)?’ To find out more.
“As social media becomes more pay-to-play, brands should be looking more to influencers and to user-generated content to help them really appear, and be seen through the noise, not from their own voice, but from the voices of others,” says Neal Schaffer.
That means it is about finding influencers that matter to your audience or industry. This is particularly important for small or medium-sized businesses and B2B brands. As consumers look for content they need and crave, companies need to collaborate with influencers and content creators that have sway in that area.
Schaffer believes that this means “holistically, this could also include internal influencers, such as your employees, or non-influencers, i.e customers, or other subject matter experts from a B2B marketing perspective.”
5. The emergence of a ‘super app’
With the demise of cookies and focus on first-party data, companies like Apple and Google are looking for other ways to access customer data to drive personalization. It’s the social media network that moves first that will grab the market to provide an ‘everything app’ that follows people on their customer journey.
“WeChat is known as the ‘everything app’ in China. People have been talking for almost a decade about how we could do this in the West. There are lots of reasons why it hasn’t happened yet, but when we look at this new data landscape, that brings a sense of urgency to creating a super app,” says Digital Transformation Expert, Clark Boyd.
A new super app would have access to the customer at many touchpoints and track behavior and preferences.
“If you can just track (customers) wherever you go, you don’t need to build that infrastructure. It’s a waste of money if you can’t track people when they leave your app, you have an impetus to try and create an all-encompassing solution that will keep them within your orbit, and will make sure you can sell the data,” concludes Boyd.
To compete with Google, the search engine Bing (owned by Microsoft) is making moves to integrate with Open AI’s ChatGPT. The chatbot will be used to improve search results on Bing and is planned to launch in early 2023. Microsoft is also rumored to be looking to create a super app to ‘break Apple and Google’s hold on mobile search’.
6. Vertical and long-form video is on the rise
As marketers, we know the power and influence of video marketing. The format provides an effective way to provide information, entertain and engage.
In 2023 the video landscape is becoming more complex as different formats become more popular. “All of the social platforms now are prioritizing video content, and their algorithms, including platforms that may be traditionally text-based like LinkedIn,” says Battisby.
With nearly 5.5 billion mobile users worldwide according to Datareportal, people use their devices to watch videos and access social media. That makes thinking vertically important. This format is not only better for mobile viewers but social media platforms are embracing it. Just think about how you hold your mobile when scrolling or taking a photograph. Here’s a great example from Adidas that embraces vertical.
Long-from video is also seeing a rise in popularity. In the B2B space, this can be particularly useful as it helps to convey more complicated information in a visual and easy way.
“Video is a great way of getting across”my quick take on what I’ve learned this week,” or “the best three things I’ve read or heard.” It’s a great way for you to be, kind of act like a maven, a connector, and draw people into your content and feed, because you become someone who becomes a trusted source of information, and doesn’t just bang on about your own products and services all the time,” says Stephen Walsh, co-Founder of Kineo and Anders Pink.
Long-from videos can be used on LinkedIn live too. This will help businesses host webinars, workshops, or seminars to inform and influence prospects and customers.