Social Media Trends to Watch in 2023

One of the best parts of working in PR is that no two days are the same. I spend my days on my toes in anticipation of what’s to come – ready to learn, react and pivot at any moment. Living for the element of surprise makes me especially fond of social strategy. Year-over-year for the past decade, social media has played a continuously integral, yet fast-evolving, role in entertainment, consumer decisions and socialization. It’s my job to make sure my clients are adapting to change and earning the engagement their social content deserves.

As I prepare 2023 social plans and strategize how to maintain my clients’ social KPIs for another 12-month stint (and beyond), I’ve identified four trends to watch like a hawk in the new year.

Video Will Maintain Its Footing, But Prioritize Brevity

When I recapped my thoughts on social media trends in 2021, video content was just beginning its engulfment of social media. Since then, communicators have increasingly admired the versatility of video content, notably short-form video and its tremendous impact on ROI, engagement and completion rates across popular platforms. Made popular by TikTok and Instagram Reels, the format is beloved for its ability to inform, entertain, promote and persuade within a digestible 60 seconds or less.

Heading into 2023, I predict we’ll see content creators and brands continue to explore the fruits of short-form videos. Searchable audio and hashtags have leveled the playing field and made it easier than ever for creators to discover and participate in viral trends. Moreover, virtually all major social media platforms have adopted auto-play for their feeds, so content can reach consumers automatically without them needing to press play. I expect short-form video content to continue its reign, integrate into more platforms, and introduce additional features for editing, sharing and boosting to extend the possibilities even further.

User-Generated Content Will Reign Supreme

This might be an unpopular opinion (especially for the Kardashian family), but I believe we’ve witnessed the rise and fall of influencers as we know them. The era of user-generated content (UGC) is here: Rather than celebrating idealism and luxe, more viewers are looking for creators with unfiltered qualities and content that resonate with them. A recent report from Stackla revealed that nearly 90% of consumers mark authenticity and relatability as key purchase decision drivers. Subsequently, consumers will more likely trust a brand with user-generated content – reviews, tutorials, and endorsements – than any other marketing content.

This makes sense considering how humans make decisions day-to-day: We swear by the advice our parents gave us over a decade ago, immediately check out Yelp before trying a new restaurant, and phone a friend to weigh options when faced with tricky circumstances. Currently, only 16% of brands are spearheading this strategy, so I believe 2023 will be the year that more brands embrace UGC to make personal connections with their customers.

Content Plans Will Embrace Augmented Reality

Augmented reality, or AR, blurs the lines between reality and digital experiences with the overlay of computer graphics. This feature made its first viral social media appearance in 2015 with the launch of Snapchat Lenses (who could forget when the puking rainbow Lens was all the rage?). Filters have come a long way since then, and platforms have been quick to welcome the new functionalities AR presents to users.

In addition to entertainment and airbrush effects, brands are using AR filters to enhance in-app experiences. Users can visualize products in their space, try on clothes and cosmetics, play games with friends, tour spaces, make purchases, and more right on their smartphone screen. In 2023, I’m expecting that AR will play a larger role in social content strategies than in previous years, moving away from novelty and into standardization, especially for products and services. Especially as conversations around the metaverse continue to buzz, there’s ample opportunity for AR to do more for end users.

Conversations Will Drive Conversions

Social media platforms adjust their algorithms regularly to deliver more curated content to their users. One trend across all these updates is the value of organic, natural engagement. Most platforms prioritize two-way communication between users and brands, boosting high-performing posts and cracking down on forced engagement to keep high-quality posts at the top of feeds where the content will best resonate. Notably, LinkedIn made significant changes to its algorithm in 2022 that prompted companies and thought leaders alike to boost organic engagement efforts.

In 2023, creators and brands will (or should) embrace the challenge of fostering genuine rapport with viewers. It’s certainly doable now that there are more tools available than ever to drive organic engagement. From “Ask a question” stickers to polls, and from repost tools and embedded interactive media, brands can harness the power of mass communication to source feedback, evaluate sentiment, reinforce or establish relationships, and more.

What trends are you looking forward to in the new year? And which ones do you think will be most essential to your business? Let me know on Twitter @lexie_gardiner and @caster_comm!

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