If there’s one thing we like to look at at the end and start of any year, it’s the trends. Who is right – or wrong? What did no one see coming? It’s all fascinating to watch.
Perhaps at odds with my love of trend watching, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from forecasting is that no one can tell the future. We can only make observations based on data and the cultural landscape and cross our fingers.
With that in mind, we – along with experts – outline what we’ve noticed people in the industry are picking up more and make observations about what the future of social media may hold in 2023.
1. More AI-generated content – and associated tools to track it
Based on the current trajectory of interest, this is a more obvious prediction, but one that should be made nonetheless.
The end of 2022 was bang for AI with the release of OpenAI’s ChatGPT. We, and much of the internet, were instantly hooked on the tool and its potential applications. We’ve seen it used to manage and write emails, tweets, and, more controversially, to make art.
Mohammed Asaduallah is the CEO of BetterwithBenji, a tax software platform for creators. He predicts that social posts will be generated by ChatGPT after being trained with a company’s brand persona. Writer, the AI writing platform, is already pushing out a feature that promises to achieve this, called CoWrite.
Of course, the danger of increased AI use could lead to increasingly mediocre content flooding the internet. Daniel Sobey-Harker, head of community at Windscribe, predicts that companies will mistakenly believe they can replace writers with AI tools — leading to a deluge of mediocre content that creates an aversion to long-form articles in general.
On the other hand, there is a golden opportunity for writers, artists and creators with a unique voice, style and perspective to stand out. I personally predict that once the hype wears off, human creativity will become more valuable than ever. After all, AI isn’t trained on AI-created content – it’s trained on human content.
2. Regular people will become creators
The era of the rich, aspirational creator is fading fast, giving way to new voices in everyday people. Kasey Bayne, marketing consultant and founder of KBConsulting, predicts that more “regular people” will share their voice, especially on video. Kasey predicts that more people are becoming creators on TikTok, not in a way that necessarily becomes their full-time gig, but to share and be rewarded for the content they put out there.
I would add that more than ever people want to see other people’s thoughts about the products and services they are considering buying. According to Stackla, 79 percent of people say that user-generated content has a big impact on their purchasing decisions. User-generated content created by these everyday people will therefore be more valuable than ever.
A good existing example of this is Keith Lee, who reviews small, often family-owned restaurants using the same format. His videos have helped small businesses gain new fans and revenue.
In the same vein, there will be a push for authenticity with social media marketing, whether with content or influencer marketing, as pointed out by Karen Okoro, head of digital media at DG Sentinel. People are starting to decipher what paid content looks like, so creators will have to push the envelope on how they create.
More brands will realize why their social media team can’t also be their PR team, copywriters, content creators and everything in between, predicts Kendall Dickiesonsocial media expert and founder of Flexible Creative.
Kendall also predicts that per-platform social managers will become a thing as brands can be more efficient and devote their attention to one platform. Also, with nuances between platforms, social media managers will want to specialize and become experts on one or two platforms instead of spreading their attention across multiple.
However, this may be wishful thinking at a time of layoffs that are disproportionately affecting marketing and other roles that are more difficult to impact on revenue generation. But there may be a solution that can work for everyone – famous social media personalities.
In addition to the idea of SMMs by platform, brands that need to consolidate budgets will also take into account the changing requirements of social media managers. According to Hayley Rodgers, social media manager at Paddle, dwindling budgets could lead to more consolidation of the social media manager role and a shift in skills needed to be successful.
Video content creators who are great on camera will be sought after to create social-first, video-first content for TikTok and YouTube Shorts. Zaria Parvez, Global Social Media Manager at Duolingo, is a classic example, her work for the company’s social media and especially TikTok, has elevated the brand to millions of views per post.
In an effort to not overwhelm their teams, user-generated content can come into play. There are signs that more brands are hiring existing creators within their niche to create content for their social media. More than using their product or service and selling their video, these creators don’t necessarily emphasize the brand and are more focused on becoming a familiar face and name that consumers can latch on to.
LinkedIn is partnering with DeAndre Brown, a comic creator whose content focuses on Gen-Z in the workplace, helping the brand connect with a new generation.
WhoWhatWear works with Andrea Cheong, a creator who focuses on sustainability in fashion. Andrea has a broad knowledge of the fashion industry and focuses on helping consumers make better purchasing decisions.
5. Creators will focus on brand building through own platforms
2022 was the year that really dawned on many creators that they don’t own the platforms they build their following on – and anything can happen to something you don’t own. From “Make Instagram Instagram again,” to the Twitter takeover to TikTok’s will-they-won’t-they with various governments – no platform or creator was safe.
Jennifer Reardon, Communications Director at AltExchange predicts that creators will tune into email marketing and focus more on building their own brand and creating their own businesses than relying on brand partnerships.
More than ever, creators will need to figure out how to generate revenue outside of social media. Some may turn to newsletters, others to courses, and still others to paid communities.
6. More high-quality organic content to make up for reduced paid social spend
Paid advertising has faced a reckoning in recent years with major ad platforms Google and Meta facing fine after fine, restriction after restriction. Users are given more power over how their data is used, so businesses will have to find new ways to reach their audiences.
Arielle Sanchez, marketing consultant and owner of Marketing Chica, predicts an increase in targeted, higher-quality content to combat the decline in cookie-less paid social media.
Confirming that statement is Duarte Garrido, global head of social media at Standard Chartered, who says that we will see a resurgence in organic content due to the pivot from the social graph to the interest graph. Basically, instead of a hyper-focus on interest in individuals, audiences will be more interested in overarching ideas and the communities that promote those ideas. No longer following a single influencer as a holy grail, but following communities that may have multiple influencers. Companies that create content with audience interests at heart don’t need to turn to paid.
An interesting example of this is Bobbie Goods, a small business that makes coloring books. The business’s TikTok attracts thousands of views to cozy and relaxing videos of the founder using her own products or packaging orders.
7. Unexpected collaborations between brands and creators
Natalie SportelliHead of Content at Thingtesting predicts that we will see many more creative and unexpected collaborations between companies, celebrities and influencers.
There is already precedent for this, but as brands try to reach audiences that are important to them but haven’t captured, we can see both small and large scale examples of this. Two collaborations that fall into either category already come to mind:
The first is Mr. Beast teaming up with Shopify to go to Antarctica, do a quick ad spot and name a mountain after the brand – all set to a soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. The video of the expedition reached 73 million views in two weeks.
On a smaller scale is Martha Stewart’s collaboration with water brand Liquid Death. The celebrity chef created a candle in the shape of a severed hand for Halloween. The video has reached several million views across the brand’s social media.
From stunts to product launches, collaborations will create an unforgettable moment for consumers and help all stakeholders engage with each other’s audiences.
Use predictions as a guide, not a certainty
To repeat, predictions are simply assumptions about the state of the world after some time has passed, based on what is happening in the present. Avoid the temptation to follow the crowd and take everything on this list with a grain of salt. Of course, these are all important to consider, but it’s more important to have a solid strategy in place, understand your audience, and create content that serves your brand.
Do you have any thoughts on what social media might look like this year? Share them with us on our social media @buffer!