Photo by Shunsuke Ono on Unsplash
If there’s one thing we love to check on at the end and beginning of any year, it’s the trends. Who got what right — or wrong? What did no one see coming? It’s all fascinating to witness.
Perhaps antithetical to my love for trend-watching, the biggest lesson I’ve learned from predictions is that no one can tell the future. We can only make observations based on data and the cultural landscape and cross our fingers.
Keeping that in mind, we — along with experts — outline what we’ve noticed people are picking up more of in the industry and make observations about what the future might hold for social media in 2023.
1. More AI-generated content – and accompanying tools to track it
Based on the current trajectory of interest, this is a more obvious prediction, but one that has to be made nonetheless.
The end of 2022 was bang-on 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 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 that 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 flip side, 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 passes, 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 quickly, making way for new voices in everyday people. Kasey Bayne, marketing consultant and founder of KBConsulting, predicts more "regular people" getting to share their voice, especially on video. Kasey predicts more people 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 want to add to this that more than ever, people want to see other people’s thoughts on the products and services they’re considering buying. According to Stackla, 79 percent of people say user-generated content highly impacts their purchasing decisions. So user-generated content created by these everyday people will be more valuable than ever.
A great 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, either with content or influencer marketing, as pointed out by Karen Okoro, Head of Digital Media at DG Sentinel. People are beginning to decipher what paid content looks like, so creators will have to push the envelope on how they create.
3. Brands will hire social media managers per platform
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 Dickieson, social media expert and founder of Flexible Creative.
Kendall also predicts that per-platform social managers will become a thing since 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 at one or two platforms instead of spreading their attention to multiple.
However, this might be wishful thinking in a time of layoffs that disproportionately affect marketing and other roles that are harder to prove their impact on revenue generation. But there might be a solution that can work for everyone – celebrity social media personalities.
4. Celebrity social media personalities will become more common
Adjacent to the idea of per-platform SMMs, brands that have to consolidate budgets will also face a reckoning with the changing requirements of social media managers. According to Hayley Rodgers, social media manager at Paddle, dwindling budgets might lead to more consolidation of the social media manager role and a shift in skills needed to be successful.
Video content creators that 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, elevated the brand to millions of views per post.
In an effort to not overwhelm their teams, user-generated content might come into play. There are signs that point to more brands adopting 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 are not necessarily highlighting the brand and are more focused on becoming a familiar face and name that consumers can latch on to.
LinkedIn partners with DeAndre Brown, a comedic creator whose content focuses on Gen-Z in the workplace, helping the brand connect to a new generation.
WhoWhatWear partners 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 buying decisions.
5. Creators will focus on brand building through owned platforms
2022 was the year that really drove home for 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 hone in on 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 have to figure out how to generate income outside of social media. Some might turn to newsletters, others to courses, and others still to paid communities.
6. More organic and high-quality content to make up for decreased paid social spend
Paid ads have been facing a reckoning in the past few years with major ad platforms, Google and Meta, getting fine after fine, restriction after restriction. Users are being given more power over how their data is used, so businesses will have to figure out new ways to reach their audiences.
Arielle Sanchez, marketing consultant and owner of Marketing Chica, predicts an increase in higher-quality, targeted content to combat the decrease in cookieless paid social.
Corroborating 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 foster those ideas. No more following a single influencer as a holy grail, but following communities that might have multiple influencers. Companies that create content with audience interests at heart won’t need to resort to paid.
An interesting example of this is Bobbie Goods, a small business that makes coloring books. The business’ TikTok attracts thousands of views to cozy and relaxing videos of the founder using her own products or packing orders.
7. Unexpected collaborations between brands and creators
Natalie Sportelli, Head of Content at Thingtesting predicts that we'll see many more creative and unexpected collaborations between companies, celebs, and influencers.
There’s already precedent for this, but as brands try to reach audiences that are important to them but that they haven’t captured, we may 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 working 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 a couple million views across the brand’s social media.
From stunts to product launches, collabs will create a memorable moment for consumers and help all stakeholders tap into each other's audiences.
Use predictions as a guide, not a certainty
To reiterate, predictions are merely assumptions about the state of the world after some time has passed based on what’s happening in the present. Avoid the temptation to follow the crowd and take everything on this list with a grain of salt. It’s all important to consider, of course, 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 about what social media could look like this year? Share them with us on our social media @buffer!