Four Emerging Social Media Trends to Prepare Your Brand for 2023 and Beyond

December 7, 2022

As 2022 comes to a close, there are important aspects on social media we will be taking with us into the new year, and many that will be left behind. Let's discuss what we are watching for 2023.

2022 was the year of authenticity and creator empowerment. We saw trends like Y2K and nostalgia take off with 11.6B views and 29B views on TikTok, and social platforms take a more creator-centric approach, like YouTube Shorts, which is set to give creators 45% of ad revenue in the new year.

So, What is up Next for Digital Entertainment, Social Media, and Marketing in 2023?

There will be some ways 2023 will be no different from 2022. Specifically, brands will continue to move toward more creator-centric approaches in their marketing and branding, and more importantly, how well brands empower their creator partners will become more critical than ever.

Gen Z users will also continue to push for more authentic and user-captured content.So, authenticity and transparency should remain on your priority list.

Beyond these returning themes from 2022, we have identified four unique social media and digital entertainment trends we believe will become even more essential in 2023. Without further ado, let's talk 2023:

Trend One: Social Media as the Search Engine of Today: Goodbye SEO, Hello SSEO

Social media is rapidly emerging as the digital generation's choice for search. This generation is finding traditional search engines, like Google, to be saturated with ads or unhelpful content and are choosing to remain on the platforms they are already spending a majority of their time onto find the answers to their questions.

Why should consumers spend their precious time searching on Google about a product when they can easily, and visually, discover the information they are looking for on TikTok or Instagram? 

Social platforms have already identified this trend and are optimizing their content so that consumers can bypass search engines like Google, and consumers are biting. 40% of Gen Z use TikTok as their preferred search engine, and 83% of Instagram users discover new brands and products in the app. 

Social media is also preferred because the answers come in short-form videos, from voices they know and trust: influencers. Influencer recommendations are so important because they put a personality behind a brand’s voice which, in turn, humanizes the brand to its audience. 

65% of 18 to 24 year-olds have purchased a product based on the recommendations of influencers. 37% of consumers trust influencers more than they trust brands.

This is a brand new discipline of search engine optimization: this is social search optimization.  

Currently, there are four distinct ways you can improve your brand's social search ranking: through hashtag keyword tagging, writing longer captions with keyword rich content, titling each video with strong keywords, and geo-tagging your content on the interactive map features. Each of these tactics improve your content's chances of appearing to your target consumer when they are searching on social media.  

In 2023, it will be essential for all brands to be well versed in social search engine optimization. We suggest you begin working with strong partners ASAP.

Trend Two: Live Shopping will Take eCommerce to the Next Level for Social Consumers

Live shopping has been on the horizon in the West for the past few years. It has had a rocky start, but we at Offbeat believe that 2023 will be the breakout year for the medium. Why? Because there is finally enough familiarity and trust with live content, that live shoppable content will be less of a learning curve.

A quarter of all of the video content watched in 2021 was live content. That number is expected to be significantly larger for 2022. This is being driven heavily by the popularity of live streamers and live streaming content on platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok live. So, a vast coalition of consumers are tuning into programming. It is not far off to believe these consumers would be poised to purchase products from this talent they are watching.

Additionally, live shopping with creators or hosts the audience likes interacting with makes the entire shopping experience more personalized and authentic. An esports super fan can ask their favorite player directly why they choose one key board over the other, or why a certain gaming chair is better than another. This reinforces the relationship the creator has built with their audience while authentically selling the product.

The data supports the soon-to-be overwhelming shift to live shopping:

The average browsing time of a live shopping site is 3x higher than eCommerce sites, and the average add-to-cart rate is 15%. With the most significant benefit for brands regarding live shopping events being the return rate of products bought on a live stream is 50% lower than when bought off a traditional eCommerce channel. 

When it comes down to it, live shopping is a win-win situation for consumers and brands. Done right, combining shopping with entertainment provides a fun experience for consumers and increase sales. We think the ground has been laid for a strong live shopping phenomenon in 2023, and you don't want to be left behind. Let's talk about how we can bring your brand to life.

Trend Three:  Community Owning will be the Key to Creator Enablement

A study conducted by Harvard uncovered that low community belonging means less happiness, poor health, and overall shorter life outcomes. While it could be called a little dramatic to say consumers are happier because they are connected on social media channels, Harvard’s discovery showcases that our social connections do directly impact our health. 

This physiological insight alone informs us why community platforms like Reddit and Discord have become so popular in the last few years. The ability to communicate directly with a brand or creator nurtures that social connection craving we have. Beyond this, the feeling of being 'in the know' or 'in the in-group' is an essential piece of the social media experience. Everyone wants to feel as though they are "in" on the joke, so smaller communities centered on the creators or unifying ideas will become even more essential in 2023.

Brands need to understand where their consumers feel "in" or wherever they hang out online to find more similar people. These communities are where word-of-mouth recommendations are happening and genuine conversations about their needs or wants.

These social communities will become more and more essential as algorithm shifts and platform policy movements will push creators

Take Discord, for example; its user number has tripled in three years, from 56 million in 2019 to 150 million in 2022.

Since users can message, call, and video chat on the platform in different channels within various servers, the platform processes 4 billion minutes of conversations and 850 million message exchanges daily.

This number will only increase after its recent update, allowing creators to monetize their channels through a 90/10 subscription revenue split. In the end, the popularity of community-based platforms ties back to how core the idea of community is to our experiences as humans. And Discord specifically will be an app to watch.

Trend Four:  Anonymity and Pseudonymity will Empower More Creators to Post Online

There is an emerging way to share content online pseudonymously that has been making an impact: “Virtual YouTubers” or VTubers for short. For context, a VTuber is an online entertainer who uses a virtual avatar generated from computer graphics rather than showing their face online. 

Not only does this allow these creators to retain a sense of privacy while their avatars serve as their public image, but it also allows people who may not be confident putting themselves in front of the camera to express themselves online. 

Let’s be clear, VTubers are not a new trend worldwide. VTubers have been popular for years in Japan, but the genre began to gain traction in western countries during the pandemic. A key player in bringing this trend to the western world was when the VTuber agency HoloLive launched its English-language division in 2020.

Now on Twitch alone, VTuber content is growing at a rate of 500% Year over Year. 

VTubers are not the only ones becoming more empowered by the anonymous qualities our digital world offers. The idea of having freedom in virtual self-expression has also dripped into gamer categories. 

45% of Gen Z gamers say, "I feel like my identity in the games I play is a truer expression of who I am than my real-life self.” Forty percent of these gamers say that it gives them self-confidence that they don’t have in the physical world.

The bottom line is online anonymity provides people with another outlet to share their voice confidently, or represent themselves more authentically. We believe the importance of this idea will only continue to grow in 2023.

Each of these Emerging Trends in 2023 Share a Simple Insight: People Are Looking to Feel Empowered Both Off and Online

Whether it be empowered to purchase a new pair of jeans on a live shopping stream or watching a VTuber collaboration with a beauty brand, consumers want to feel like the brands they engage with have their backs. 

2023 will be a year for the books, and you don’t have to try to navigate the new year alone. Social conversation moves fast, but our team moves quicker. Offbeat has had our pulse on these trends for a while now and is ready to help your company activate in 2023. 

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