Our 2023 predictions for creators, brands and audiences on social media
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Looking back at 2022 on social media is like looking back at my behavior the morning after my Xmas work party. A rollercoaster. This year, TikTok solidified its position as a must-have platform for pretty much anyone who wants to say pretty much anything. BeReal stole our hearts. Elon got Twitter stans considering a migration to LinkedIn to ruin the vibe. Brands continued to sleep on Snapchat. And apparently Tumblr is back???

With an eventful year behind us, here’s what we predict for the year ahead:

Social commerce on the up

In 2022 we saw the TikTok girlies ordering actual cooked chickens on TikTok shop. The trend blew up, with audiences gobsmacked that you could actually order this thing on their FYP, and have it turn up the next day ready for an on-cam mukbang. I categorically support this brave and pioneering behavior. But for most of us, there’s still a bit of a trust gap when it comes to buying directly through social - regardless of whether we’re ordering a perishable meat product or not. 

But though this gap in trust may be a barrier for most, it’s an opportunity for those brands who address this gap, with social commerce expected to generate $30.73 billion in sales in 2023, accounting for 20% of global retail e-commerce sales.

UGC and Creator Economy will continue to expand

As audience’s become increasingly fatigued by brands, we’ve seen a big focus shift into partnerships, ambassadorships and creators. The creator economy is mammoth, and showing no signs of slowing down. Currently worth ​​$104.2 billion, 50 million people currently consider themselves creators. That’s a big pool of mostly untapped potential that brands should be taking advantage of. 

UGC is also on the rise, with tech platforms rising up to satiate the need for brands to have real evidence that real people actually like their stuff. But somewhere between the two lies the nano creator - a person with a small platform and tight community that truly cares about what they do and say. In my opinion, they’re the ultimate grail for any brand that wants to genuinely garner cultural capital and community. They bring everything good about UGC and marry it with content that’s actually watchable, interesting and entertaining. Credible, fresh, relatable. 

More relatable role models

In 2021 we met the ‘clean girl’. Flawless in looks, life and love, she was all we wanted to be and more. Until she wasn’t. The movement received wide criticism for being exclusionary and unattainable. But as always, it existed in opposition to its counterculture - in the form of complete chaos. Unflattering 0.5x selfies, high flash photography, shitposting and photo dumps thrived - but did so mostly in a vacuum.

In 2023, we expect to see this break out and skyrocket in the mainstream influencer landscape, as the “aesthetic life” takes a nosedive. After Lydia Millen got a hammering for swanning over to the Savoy when her heating was broken in a now deleted TikTok, we learned that tone-deafness is now one of the biggest sins in the Influencer bible. Audiences are looking for more relatable role models, and 2022 brought us chaotic queen @madelineargy, it girl @aliyahsinterlude1 and of course vibe master @rodgercleye to bring us all our “omg its me” moments. More of these kinds of creators will come in 2023.

AR and VR integrate into the path to purchase

2022 was a turbulent year for tech. The rise of this “metaverse” idea raised massive interest in Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) devices as the gateway to this future vision of the internet, with excitement gathering over an expected revolution in how we communicate. Arguably "metaverse" became one of the words of the year. But we haven’t really seen much in the realm of metaverse shopping just yet.

In 2023, we might well see more progressive brands leverage this tech to help nudge users along the path to purchase. From trying on digital fashion to trying out virtual experiences before you buy the real thing - we’ll see more brands take to the metaverse, whether they’re trying out virtual fitting rooms on Snapchat filters or going full steam ahead on Oculus.

Short and long form won’t compete. They’ll co-exist.

TikTok has spread its wings a lot this year. While keeping the foot on the pedal with super snackable content, mid-form video has really been driving a lot of love for the platform. 5 second videos are not enough to create a real connection with your audience, so creators have started combining these with longer form storytelling to create a deeper dialogue with their communities.

Success on TikTok is no longer pinned on creating 15 second ‘viral hits’. Anyone who wants to succeed in the era of TikTok, Reels and Shorts should consider both formats, building modular suites of videos that vary in duration and structure. 

A new wave of YouTubers

The dominance of TikTok caused any and all creators that existed on the internet to flock to the platform, making the most of the algorithm that prioritises discoverability amongst interest-based audiences. Amongst these creators, were our beloved YouTubers.

This is leaving a nice gap for new YouTube-specialist creators to head to the platform to make the most of the incredible monetisation opportunities there. Any creator can allow ads on their videos to generate passive income. An incredibly inviting bag for a new era of entrepreneurial entertainers.

There’s also a thirst for the kind of content and environment that YouTube fosters as a platform. The last couple of years have shown us that passion is cool. Creators like Francis Bourgeois gained superfame for being deeply passionate about his niche, and sharing that passion with the world. He showed us that being interested in something is interesting. Being passionate is a big ingredient in the secret sauce that is the new creator economy.

Another selling point for YouTube? Sometimes, we just want to rest our thumbs.

So, that’s our predictions for 2023 in social. Let’s see what the year brings. More than anything I just hope Elon sits down and chills out.