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Out with the 3, in with the We: Digital and Social Trends for 2023


VCCP London's Hannah Mahony and Peter Gasston on what trends 2023 holds as we move away from the individual to 'twenty-twenty-we'

Out with the 3, in with the We: Digital and Social Trends for 2023

Hannah Mahony is social and influence director at VCCP London focussing on social media, creators and digital content. Peter Gasston is creative innovation lead at VCCP London and runs the Curious digital innovation programme for staff and clients.

Taking a look back at what happened in digital tech and social media in 2022, we’ve identified some key trends for the year ahead. Our conclusion: 2023 will actually be ‘twenty-twenty-we’, marking an overdue shift away from the individual.

We could see the beginning of this shift in the move from social influencers to groups and communities; in the promotion of algorithmic feeds on social platforms, highlighting interests over follows; and in the abundance of co-creation within the worlds of ‘web3’ and gaming partnerships.

These trends, and the others we’ve identified below, offer engagement opportunities for brands to quickly create static and interactive content that reaches its audience, in social media, messaging groups, or emerging and immersive spaces.

Likes over Follows, Shared Interests, and Findability

Social feeds are following the lead of TikTok by recommending content based more on what you like than who you follow; the interest graph is supplanting the social graph. Meta moved Instagram Follows and Facebook Friends & Family to secondary tabs, and Twitter offered feed choices in For You and Following.

Where the feed was once a space for discovery and interaction, it’s becoming much more about the former. Conversations and interactions are happening less publicly and more in group chats and shared interest communities, from the new WhatsApp Communities and Messenger Community Chats to the continued growth of Discord and Reddit.

“The way that Feed is primarily creating value is showing people content that you then send to your friends in messaging and have real interactions [there].” - Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Meta

Social SEO is increasing in importance in part to this shift to community. The algorithms of social platforms change faster than the UK’s weather, and automated content indicators are becoming more sophisticated. TikTok increased its character limit to 2,000 to make content more indexable—and thus findable. Twitter is planning to follow. 

“Almost 40 percent of young people, when they're looking for a place for lunch, they don't go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.” - Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP, Google

Tools to Empower, and More Ways to Earn

The creator economy is only set to become more sophisticated as platforms improve creator interfaces, and payment processing.

Editing and creation tools such as TikTok’s new editor and Effect House AR studio, and SnapChat’s Director Mode, are rapidly gaining new powers as social platforms compete in an ‘arms race’ to attract top creators.  In-platform monetisation opportunities are also expanding; YouTube will include Shorts creators in its Partner Program, giving them a share of ad revenue for the first time. 

Direct-on-platform commerce, such as TikTok Shop and YouTube Shorts Shopping, is becoming a more prevalent and trusted form of e-commerce. Brands seek affiliates through marketplaces as varied as TikTok, Klarna, and Walmart. 65% of TikTok users say they always rely on online reviews and creator recommendations to decide what to buy online (source: An Era of Confidence, TikTok).

As marketers are leaning into creator-lead assets, AI is playing an increasing role in content creation. AI generation services such as GPT-3, DALL-E, and Midjourney are being built into creator tools to empower creativity; Canva’s Text-to-Image and Magic Write, and the Lensa app, are prime examples.

Emphasising Value over Technology, and Merging Worlds

Whilst AI is fuelling mass creation, ‘Web3’ is refocusing on value over technology. Brands and platforms are phasing out the technical jargon of blockchain and NFT and talking about the services they provide. Reddit Vault, Instagram digital collectibles, and Nike .SWOOSH all use NFTs but barely mention it. .SWOOSH just launched its first competition, to co-create a pair of virtual sneakers, involving fans in the conception through the accessible format of ‘mood boards’ on Instagram.

The ‘metaverse’ PR hype is waning, as smart brands are choosing to build longer-term relationships with customers through gaming partnerships (such as Depop + The Sims) and constantly updated social experiences (like Nike, Spotify, and Gucci on Roblox).

Functional over fantastical is a theme that continues in emerging tech. In the realm of AR we see the home turn into a 3D canvas through room scanning and mixed reality headsets like Quest Pro, while maps and landmark scans from Google, Niantic, and Snapchat add a digital layer to the physical world.

A Word of Caution

While all of this sounds pretty exciting, it’s probably best to take a minute before plotting ways to incorporate every trend into your 2023 plan. While you may be tempted to generate all of your copy with GPT-3 or run your own communities on a Discord server, first you should make sure it solidly ladders back to your strategy, KPIs, and the behaviours of your audience. 

Unsure where to start? Test & learn with a focussed community of super-fans (budget and resource permitting) to gauge interest and interaction to ultimately determine your long-term strategy. Then, if it looks promising: GO FOR IT!


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VCCP, Wed, 01 Feb 2023 12:09:43 GMT