Social in focus: 2023 trend projections. - MG Empower
social in focus 1
Written by - Daniel Shale

Social in focus: 2023 trend projections.


Where does one even start with social media in 2022? BeReal got huge, AI went mainstream, TikTok grew even bigger (it’s now one of Gen Z’s favourite search engines), Instagram rolled out new Creator features, and Twitter was bought by one of the world’s richest men. Yep, Elon did… things. Moving on!

Over in the land of celebrity goss, Jennifer Coolidge and Julia Fox kept our TikTok feeds busy throughout the year with a shared, no-shits-given refusal to be anything other than iconic. Recent transatlantic troubles may have overtaken them though – did ‘Spare’ Prince Harry take the (metaphorical) throne? Or did Greta Thunberg steal the show with her infamous Twitter comebacks?

 Alas, you can count on the Megas and celebrities to shine year in and year out. The real surprise stars of the year were the normal, everyday Nano influencers and UGC creators (who, by the way, are only going to get bigger). ‘Community’ was one of 2022’s biggest buzzwords and we don’t expect that to change as people continue to seek social refuge and influencers continue to provide it.

 So that’s where we’re at. For the year ahead, we’re predicting an even bigger shift to community-led content, a focus on qualitative performance metrics, original storytelling, democratisation of social media, and much more – all part of the unstoppable evolution and growth of the creator economy. Let’s get into it.

 Community, community, community.

The value of influencer marketing has increased from $1.7BN to $16.4BN in a decade and is growing faster YOY. Today’s kids want to become YouTube stars instead of astronauts when they grow up. And TikTok has officially surpassed Google as Gen Z’s favourite search engine. The creator economy’s impact on people, business and culture has been staggering – and we’re predicting even more growth in 2023. Instagram has been steadily scaling up investments in creators, YouTube has hinted at monetisation opportunities soon to come for Shorts, and the culture-shaking success of community-first apps like BeReal and Twitch is further proof that people trust people over brands.   

66% of users say communities have made an impact on brand loyalty, hinting that brands will be leaning on creators and their communities more than ever to tell their stories. That’s part of a larger trend, fuelled in part by general consumer trust in brands being at an all-time low: brands will focus more on participating in conversations than interrupting them.

“TikTok surpassing Google as the most popular search engine is a great insight into why social media remains so powerful. Users are now looking to these platforms and their specific communities to find information. And they’re relying on content from their favourite creators to help their path to purchase. This just further supports the relevance and importance of the creator economy and the power of this community-driven era.” – Social Media & Events Manager at MG Empower, Bianca Patel

Vibe shift: from fixed to fluid.

We’re predicting a vibe shift. Or, to be more accurate, the climactic fruition of a shift that’s been underway for years: from curated to authentic, fixed to fluid, exclusive to inclusive, and passive to collaborative. Why? 

Because gone are the days when people just consumed content; people are becoming part of the conversation. We probably won’t see the end of doomscrolling but generally, we expect mindlessness to give way to mindfulness as audiences become more purposeful than disengaged – largely fuelled by Gen Z’s proclivity for being active and vocal agents of social change.  

As a result, co-creation, interactive technologies, and platforms that encourage collaborative communication like TikTok, Twitch, BeReal (more groundbreaking than gimmicky) and the metaverse are all going to become more important to brands’ 2023 marketing strategies. 

We’re seeing even more powerful, even more out-of-the-box influencer programs that authentically showcase products and encourage organic conversations with highly engaged audiences, centred around brands.

Speaking of realness and authenticity, one huge trend to watch is the rise of Nano influencers. With a global recession around the corner and brands actively searching for more economical ways to tell their stories, it’s with near-absolute certainty that we can say 2023 will mark the rise of the Nano influencer. Why? So many reasons. Budget-friendliness aside, influencers with smaller audiences often have stronger relationships with their online communities, making them a brand’s best friend when it comes to tapping into new audiences and building loyalty.

Media mixology: influence will be more integrated.

Over the past year, influencers have really shown their full-funnel value. They’re no longer just used for promotional purposes but also for awareness, helping brands communicate their stories using their homegrown expertise in the integrated media landscape. After all, as our MG Media experts often say, synergies between paid, earned and organic media lead to deeper and longer-lasting influence.

So, we’re predicting more mixed media campaigns and an evolved perception that influencer marketing is not just an ‘add-on’ to strategies, but rather a central connector through a variety of multichannel touchpoints. Brands will (hopefully) see paid media, live stream shopping, uniquely immersive experiences, and in-store activations much more holistically – understanding how crucial media mixology is to encouraging engagement in different moments and constructing a more intuitive customer journey.

Conversations = connections = conversions. 

With new features, frameworks and platforms emerging from the sidelines and competition for attention ramping up, the internet as we know it is only getting more complex. The way we measure performance on social will have to adapt. 

We’ve already touched on the importance of authenticity, and that doesn’t only correlate to what brands project, but also to what data they gather behind the scenes. When we’re talking about impact, brands need to remember not to get caught up on vanity metrics such as likes and followers, but instead deep dive into what your audience engages with. With that in mind, one of the most impactful metrics to measure is conversation. For example, really tracking the number of comments or replies on average each of your posts receives. Again, this will tell you how strong your brand’s community is, and how engaged your brand makes them which is also a great sign of hitting the right audience. 

Conversations lead to connections which lead to conversions. And it’s important to think of it in that order. We’re not saying quantifiable metrics will be ditched in favour of the qualifiable, but rather that the lines themselves are blurring. AI has got incredibly good over the past few years: what was once immeasurable, like quality of conversation, can now be accurately captured by complex behaviour-tracking systems like MG Platform.

The rise of the internet as we DON’T know it.

The very nature of the metaverse and Web 3 is to provide an ecosystem that is more interactive, intelligent, and decentralized. Meaning that this new economy will be based on user engagement and attention – not the unequal distribution of power that we see in the current landscape. The metaverse is so perfectly aligned with the cultural shifts we’ve explored in this blog that we think it’s something to prepare for, for sure.

 And how exactly will brands bring their audiences into these unmapped worlds? Influencers, of course. Based their ability to educate and build awareness in non-daunting ways, we predict they will guide huge swathes of society into virtual and interactive worlds, so watch this space! 

Wrapping up.

Social media is no stranger to change. In fact, being in a constant state of flux is pretty much its defining characteristic. That’s the beauty of this new world we’ve created for ourselves! Online doesn’t just mirror offline, it compounds and concentrates reality, capturing cultural moments before magnifying and moulding them into something entirely different.

As marketing experts, our job is to make sense of it all – the rises, the falls, the vibe shifts and the cultural rifts. And whether or not any of our predictions come true, you can bet we’ll be watching 2023’s social media landscape like hawks. Hold tight, we’re in for a wild ride!

 At MG Empower, we keep our fingers on the pulse of all things social, digital, experiential and beyond – and we can help your brand connect the dots.

Connect with us here.

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