Want to slay your socials this year? From TikTok search to Instagram Threads, here are the hottest trends shaping social media in 2023.
The world of social media is ever-adapting. Each year, new platforms emerge, algorithms change, and user behaviors evolve. However, one thing is becoming clear year after year: innovation is the name of the game.
To keep up with this industry fuelled by change and creativity, businesses and marketers must adapt to succeed. Whether you’re a social media marketer, freelancer, or business owner, you must understand the trends shaping how we engage, connect, and market on social platforms.
Ready to dive into the top social media trends of the year so far? From TikTok search and social customer support to gaming platforms and social listening, here are the hottest trends shaping the digital landscape in 2023.
- Blending Sponsored Posts with Organic Content
- Using TikTok for Search
- Instagram Threads
- Quality Remains King
- Social Audio to Take Off
- AI Enters the Mainstream
- Social Customer Support
- Short-Form Video Continues To Dominate (Again!)
- Brands Turn Their Attention to Social Listening
- Gaming Platforms Open New Opportunities for Brands
1. Blending Sponsored Posts with Organic Content
When talking to today’s social media-savvy shoppers, subtlety is key. Social media users don’t want their scrolling interrupted by overt sales messages, so marketers must look for more understated, authentic, and organic ways to attract attention.
Alternatively, they risk getting called out – like in this TikTok video that points the finger at the clothing retailer, The Iconic, for failing to add value, provide entertainment, or connect with followers. The presenter encourages the brand to have more fun with their account and aims for a mix of authenticity among the more obvious ads.
“People come to social media for an enjoyable scrolling experience, so by blatantly selling products to them, you’re invading that space,” says Envato Social Media Specialist Hannah Copeland. “The aim should be to fit neatly into user’s feeds, barely recognizable as sponsored or promoted content. The easiest way to do this is to create social media content that is lifestyle focused rather than product focused. A lack of subtlety now translates as obnoxious to savvy consumers, causing them to tune out.”
A good example of a brand taking this approach is Kathmandu, which showcases its outdoor apparel on TikTok by sharing user-generated content and boosting videos that reflect how brand advocates create content on the platform. It’s low-key, personal, and feels like a friend is talking to you.
“Social media users trust other user’s content more than brands or traditional ads,” Hannah continues. “User-generated content often comes about organically – customers will tag in the brands they’ve used or featured in their posts. This offers an incredible opportunity to partner with the creator and roll out their content on your business-owned social accounts. UGC posts feel naturally embedded in the scroller’s feeds, showcasing the experience of using the products rather than the products themselves.”
Micro-influencers understand their followers’ demographics and preferences and can help brands connect with their target audience at a grassroots level. This crafty collab between a design-your-own t-shirt company, London-based fine art textiles artist, and cat-lover Selby demonstrates the value of working with influencers. But beware – Gen Z is becoming less and less impressed with influencer culture.
“In recent years, influencers have played a significant role in social media,” says Kasia Slonawska, Marketing Executive at NapoleonCat. “However, problems arose when overt sales communication took precedence over other forms of content on their profiles, and recommendations from individuals who could not objectively assess their value and properties began to disappoint the audience.
The new generation is challenging the existing (vanishing?) influencer trend. Instead of supporting influencers and their massive audiences, Gen Z is backing creators who co-create communities of individuals interested in similar topics or facing similar life situations.”
Blend your paid posts with organic content using this natural, lifestyle-focused Influencer Instagram Stories Pack, featuring fashion-forward layouts ideal for capturing everyday moments.
2. Using TikTok for Search
People are increasingly using social media platforms to find the answers to common questions and queries. Gen Z, in particular, is heading to TikTok to discover super-relevant results thanks to how it categorizes content. For example, say you watch a video about someone’s ‘5 to 9 before 9 to 5’; a search term will automatically pop up, leading to other videos featuring this popular productivity trend. A recent update shows standard search terms appear above each video or comments section.
“Increasingly, people are heading to social media platforms – instead of search engines – for answers to common questions and queries,” says Envato’s Social Media Manager, Rachel Ramsay. “As such, it’s time to start thinking about ‘Social Search Optimization’ – or SSO. For creators, this means featuring relevant keywords in often-overlooked places: captions, alt text, and closed video captions. Sprinkling relevant keywords throughout your text will ensure your content achieves maximum reach among users seeking your expertise.”
“Social media was bound to become a search engine sooner or later,” echoes Andreea Coroian, Social Media Manager at Planable. “The biggest impact will be social media users investing more time and energy in their strategy, not just creating content.”
3. Threads by Instagram
In July 2023, Instagram (Meta) threw its hat into the ring, launching Threads as a competitor to Twitter. With 100 million daily users recorded in its first week, this platform is pulling big numbers – and although it’s still early days, we’re predicting this platform will continue skyrocketing.
What is Instagram Threads?
Threads is a text-based app just like Twitter (you can post up to 500 characters in one post). Creators are loving the seamless integration of carousel images to spotlight their creative projects, as well as their hot takes. Right now, the big focus for Threads is creating an authentic community, a positive space, and – of course – having fun!
Head over to Threads and create your account today to join the conversation and stay ahead of the latest social media trends.
4. Quality Remains King
Rather than adopting a scattergun approach to your socials, take the time to explore what works and constantly refine your approach. While the prevalence of AI tools has people producing large volumes of social media content with the click of a button, the old adage ‘quality over quantity’ prevails.
“With the explosion of AI tools making it quicker and easier to churn out everything from a monthly content plan to a TikTok caption, it’s easier than ever to produce large volumes of social media content. But remember: more doesn’t always equal better,” says Rachel. “Amid the evolution of social media platforms, one factor remains consistent: engagement. If algorithms detect that your content isn’t hitting the spot, you’ll begin to see your reach tumble. However tempting it may be to shortcut content creation processes to fill up your calendar in record time, be sure that audience appeal doesn’t fall by the wayside.”
You should try different formats and diversify your social media content to increase engagement. We’ve even experimented with various formats on Envato’s Instagram account – from still images and carousels to this fast-moving, slogan-led video – to create an engaging, eye-catching feed.
“Diversifying your content with different sizes and formats on social media is crucial for maximizing impact and engagement,” says Envato Social Media Specialist Michelle Figueroa Castro. “By experimenting with a variety of content, you can capture the attention of a broader audience. Tailor your content to specific platforms, show your creativity, tell compelling stories, and adapt to evolving trends. Try not to limit yourself to vertical video and square images – experiment by embracing variety to stand out in the ever-changing social media landscape.”
Give your social media content a little something extra with this set of eye-catching templates. The modular structure is easy to customize to help your message stand out.
5. Social Audio to Take Off
What Is Social Audio?
More social networks are beginning to highlight audio-based content and integrate aural features into their platforms. For example, Facebook now enables its users to send voice clips via Messenger; on Instagram, you can share songs from Spotify directly to Stories; and TikTok has seen a massive increase in short, catchy audio tracks in our social feeds. In fact, many musicians are even becoming famous on TikTok due to the viral impact of the platform.
Lately, brand-affiliated podcasts are rocking our social airwaves, with listeners tuning in when it’s convenient to catch up on the topics that interest them.
“Despite most consumers’ preference for video content, social audio, like podcasts, is predicted to boom,” says Ahana Basu from StatusBrew. “Although Spotify and LinkedIn are pulling out of the social-audio space, Elon Musk’s backing of Twitter Spaces, Clubhouse’s feature expansion, and the continuous rise of brand podcasts have again grabbed people’s eyes toward social audio.
Podcasts can convey brand stories, connect with audiences and increase their participation. They can also help marketers understand the preferred topics and experiment with the content to reach their target audience more effectively. For example, brands like Sephora, Gatorade, and Slack have successful podcasts covering various topics the audience likes and relates with.”
Video podcasts also offer a great opportunity to repurpose content across multiple social channels – such as posting short, engaging snippets on Instagram or TikTok or longer deep dives on YouTube. For instance, the candid conversations recorded for LIPSTORIES, produced in partnership with Sephora Collection, allow the make-up brand to connect with its target audience through the stories of its guests.
6. AI Enters the Mainstream
From small businesses to big brands, social media content is in high demand – but creating graphics and captions can take a lot of time and effort. That’s where artificial intelligence tools come in to do some heavy lifting. For instance, the AI tool Chat GPT can brainstorm topic ideas and write posts based on a simple prompt, such as ‘write a Twitter post that drives traffic to my podcast about cats’.
“One trend reshaping the social media landscape in 2023 is the extensive utilization of AI across various aspects of content creation, ideation, analysis, trend prediction, DM management, and even image and video generation,” says Andreea Banu, Marketing Specialist at SocialBee.
“AI-powered content generation will become a game-changer in 2023 as it will offer an efficient and cost-effective solution to meet the ever-growing demand for engaging content. Harnessing the capabilities of AI, companies will be able to produce compelling and engaging content at an unprecedented scale. AI algorithms will analyze vast amounts of data, identifying patterns and preferences of target audiences to generate tailor-made content.”
And it’s not just about content creation; AI is already playing an important role in driving discovery by sharing recommended content tailored to a user’s online activity and interests. Similarly, AI-based insights can recognize trends and surface insights, making marketers’ lives much easier in the future.
“2023 has been a huge year for AI,” says Werner Geyser from Influencer Marketing Hub. “We’ve seen more content on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, being recommended by AI to drive increased user engagement. Facebook, for example, is introducing measures, such as displaying more recommended content on a user’s newsfeed. This makes TikTok-like discovery via the For You page possible.”
7. Social Customer Support
As more customers contact brands via Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and other platforms – whether to ask a question, praise a product, or make a complaint – it makes sense for customer service to extend to social. In fact, experts predict that in 2023, 60% of all customer service requests will be resolved through digital channels.
“Social customer support is expected to boom this year as most businesses will integrate their customer service support into various social media platforms, says Ahana. “This transition results from companies noticing customers reaching out to them or voicing their opinions on any product through social media. This may be due to social media user-friendliness or the lack of response on other customer support channels. But moving forward, social media will be a powerful customer service platform where customers expect brands to address complaints and reviews promptly.”
Many brands already utilize automated responses and AI-powered chatbots to reach people and resolve issues. Still, it’s often the human touch that’s most appreciated – like Starbucks’ response to a disgruntled customer, which includes an invite to DM them more details and signs off with the support person’s name.
Whether this trend is taking off because customers like the ease and immediacy of social or because they simply aren’t receiving a response via traditional channels, it’s one that’s worth sitting up and taking notice of – because these days, the experience offered on social media can make or break a brand.
8. Short-Form Video Continues To Dominate (Again!)
This may have been on our social trends list last year, but with short-form social videos generating higher engagement rates than text and image content combined, it’s clear this format is here to stay. Take advantage of Reels, Shorts, and Stories which enable you to reach users, even if they have short attention spans. Sportswear giant, Nike showcased highlights from its Be True collection on TikTok by posting a 20-second video packed with quick cuts and an original audio track.
“According to a recent study by Wyzowl, 2023, 91% of consumers want to see more online video content from brands,” Ahana says. “Start focusing more on creating short videos to increase customer engagement, analyze the performance of these posts, and discern the best platform for your audience – whether that be TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube Shorts.”
Create vibrant videos every time with these 14 customizable Instagram Stories from Envato Creator Motion4Pro. This template is perfect for product promos and special offers and makes adding your distinctive brand personality easy. Simply select the fonts you want to use and add your imagery to ensure shoppers can’t help but click through to your site.
9. Brands Ramp Up Social Listening
With the help of social listening tools, marketers can tap into audience insights, get notified when someone mentions or tags them, and improve their products, customer service, and campaigns. Done well, it can give brands a substantial competitive advantage.
While this isn’t a new trend, with the increased focus on UGC, customer service, and meeting consumer needs, brands have been ramping up their social listening to stay relevant and top of mind.
SPF brand Black Girl Sunscreen responded to a social shout-out that they might have otherwise missed if they didn’t use social management tools – for example, Sprout Social – to carry out social listening. With just a few letters and an emoji, the brand made a loyal fan feel heard and shared an authentic endorsement with its followers. It’s a win-win!
“Social listening helps brands keep updated with trends and implement them to gain a competitive advantage,” says Ahana. “If you’re looking for social listening tools to optimize your social listening strategy, many businesses use social media management tools like Sprout Social. However, many Sprout Social alternatives offer low-price models with unique features such as influencer identification (limited in Sprout), customization, reputation management tools, scalability, etc.”
10. Gaming Platforms Open New Opportunities for Brands
As people sought out new ways to engage and interact with each other during the pandemic, the gaming industry experienced a massive spike in popularity – and it’s not looking like game over anytime soon. Social media platforms now heavily rely on features originally inspired by gaming – such as live streams, competitions, and meme culture.
Marketers are leveraging gaming to inspire ad campaigns, promote their products, and offer an enhanced user experience through AR and VR features on social media. For example, the Nike Run Club app includes elements of gamification that promote engagement while encouraging users to log their sessions and participate in organized challenges with running buddies. Twitter even has its trending gaming category, with audiences sending 70 gaming-related Tweets per second.
“The gaming industry is predicted to reach $321 billion by 2026,” says Ahana. “This popularity is due to the introduction of AR and VR features in the gaming industry and is also one of the major reasons behind the industry’s growth. Marketers have started leveraging the popularity of the gaming industry to run ad campaigns and market their products and services. These features will help the users understand the product better, leading to an enhanced user experience.”
If you want to tap into the gaming boom, Discord is a social media platform and chat app designed for gamers! Now used by everyone and anyone, Discord allows users to access public servers, chat with other gamers, and even share videos and screenshots.