It’s a new year and the question on every social media marketer’s mind is, “What social media trends should I expect?”
To learn more about what brands can expect in 2023 and beyond, the HubSpot Blog surveyed 1,283 marketers to discover trends B2B and B2C businesses will leverage in 2023 and which ones they’ve left in 2022.
Below, I’ve compiled ten expert or research-backed trends social media marketers should watch and leverage in 2023.
1. Brands with an engaged social media community will win in 2023.
Many brands think social media is all about sharing content but that’s only half the battle. The second half is building community – in other words, connecting and engaging with your audience.
How do you know if you have an engaged community? Here are some signs to look out for:
- Unprompted promotion of your brand
- Sharing of your content
- Communal celebration of brand milestones and successes
- Relationship building rooted in an interest in your brand and/or products
According to our survey, 90% of social media marketers say building an active online community is crucial to a successful social media strategy in 2023. It’s so important that it’s their second-biggest goal for 2023.
Looking at consumer data, we see why. Our survey found that 20% of social media users joined an online community in the past three months, while 22% actively participated in one.
Of those who take part in online communities, roughly a quarter (21%) say the biggest benefit is product discovery.
So, with that said, where should you build your online community? Social media marketers we split are split between Facebook and Instagram. Our advice is to start wherever your audience lives and use those learnings to inform your strategy on other platforms.
2. Social media is the future of e-commerce.
In 2022, shopping on social media really took off. Platforms like Instagram made it easy to make in-app purchases through shopping tabs, “save later” buttons, and more.
It starts with product discovery. For consumers ages 18 through 54, social media is the preferred channel for finding new products.
As for the purchases. over one in five Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X social media users bought a product directly in a social media app in the past three months.
Social media marketers have also noticed an uptick in social shopping, with 47% of social media marketers surveyed also reporting in-app sales.
In addition, around 80% of social media marketers say consumers will buy products more often on social apps than on brands’ websites or third-party websites like Amazon.
Despite these numbers, many consumers are still wary of purchases through social media. According to our survey, only 41% of social media users feel comfortable making purchases on social media platforms, and only 37% trust social media platforms with their card information.
The three biggest concerns social media users reported having are:
- The legitimacy of the brand (54%)
- The ability to get a refund (48%)
- The quality of the product (44%)
Among all the apps offering in-app purchases, Instagram is the one consumers say offers the best shopping experience. Social media marketers also believe it offers the best ROI and marketing tools.
So, if there’s one place to start, the survey suggests that Instagram is the best call.
3. DMs will be consumers’ preferred customer service channel.
If your brand’s DMs aren’t already flooded with customer service requests, they might be this year.
Around one in five Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen X social media users have contacted a brand through DMs for customer service in the past three months. And 84% of social media marketers predict that this will become consumers’ preferred customer service channel in 2023.
It seems like most brands have prepared for this, with 76% of social media marketers saying their company currently offers customer service via social and 42% saying providing customer service through DMs is a primary responsibility of their job.
To dive a bit deeper, 43% of companies providing customer service through DMs have a customer service representative responding to customers, while 41% leave it to the marketer in charge of managing that platform.
So, this is your sign to develop a plan for funneling customer service requests via social through the proper channels.
4. Search engines lose steam as consumers turn to social search.
According to our survey, 87% of social media marketers think consumers will search for brands on social media more often than through search engines in 2023.
Our survey found that 24% of consumers between 18 and 54 years old already search for brands on social media platforms more often than through a search engine. This shoots up to 36% among Gen Z.
How are social media users using search? To find:
- People (58%)
- Interesting content (57%)
- Brands (32%)
- Ideas/inspiration (32%)
- Products/services to buy (31%)
This trend was even confirmed in 2022 by Google’s senior vice president of Knowledge & Information, Prabhakar Raghavan. He said that social platforms were eating up Google’s core products: Search and Maps.
“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” said the Google exec. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
Raghavan explained that nowadays, young consumers are looking for more visual-rich results and steering away from search engines, which favor text.
So, the question is, how should you optimize your profiles for social search? Here are the top recommendations from social media marketers:
- Including relevant keywords and hashtags in your posts and bio.
- Making sure your username is easy to search for.
- Having a consistent username across accounts.
5. Influencer marketers are ditching celebrities for micro-influencers.
Here’s an interesting finding from our study: 80% of influencer marketers work with small creators (1K to 99,999 followers/subscribers), while just 16% work with accounts over 1 million followers.
What are the benefits of this strategy? It’s more affordable, establishes long-term partnerships, and offers access to engaged, tight-knight audiences.
In the earlier days of influencer marketing, follower count was the main allure. Today, quality of content and brand alignment weigh much more heavily.
A third of social media users prefer product discovery on social media through an influencer. With Gen-Z, that figure is even higher.
So, it’s clear that influencer marketing’s not going anywhere. What has shifted is which influencers hold the most value.
6. Short-form video is the highest ROI format and will see the most growth of any trend in 2023.
In 2021, we predicted TikTok would have a ripple effect on the social media landscape and we would see the continued rise of short-form video. In 2023, that trend will continue.
Short-form video is Gen Z and Millennials’ preferred format to learn about new products, with 57% of Gen Z and 42% of Millennials preferring to learn about products and their features through short-form video.
As for social media marketers, it’s the most popular format used by 54% of marketers surveyed. In addition, 33% of social media marketers plan to invest more in it than any other format, the highest of any format.
But not only is it popular, but it’s also effective – 83% of those who use it say it’s the most effective format they leverage.
This is likely why 42% of social media marketers who don’t use short-form yet plan on trying it for the first time in 2023 – the highest of any format.
7. Funny, trendy, and relatable content will stand out all 2023.
Remember when social media was all about aesthetics? You had to have the highest production value to stand out among the competition. Well, not anymore.
68% of consumers say social media content being authentic and relatable is more important than polished, high-quality content.
When it comes to social media, 50% of consumers rank funny content the highest for being the most memorable, followed by relatable content (36%).
However, funny content isn’t offering the highest ROI – relatable and trendy content are tied for #1. Despite this, 66% of social media marketers say funny content is the most effective format they use.
So much so that funny content will be the second-highest investment of any content type in 2023. In addition, of those already leveraging funny content on social media, half plan to increase their investment in it.
8. Instagram is the highest ROI platform and will see the most growth of any social app in 2023.
Our survey found that Instagram will see the most growth in 2023, compared to other social platforms.
Wondering why? Well, if you ask social media marketers their favorite social platform, they’ll likely say Instagram.
They rank it #1 for ROI, engagement, and quality leads. Social media marketers also say Instagram has the most accurate algorithm, which is essential for brand awareness and reach.
As a result, 52% of social media marketers using Instagram plan to increase their investment in 2023. On top of that, 36% of those not yet using it plan to leverage Instagram for the first time this year.
9. Social budgets will be put under the microscope.
In 2022, many marketers faced budget cuts with the threat of a recession looming. In 2023, most marketers don’t expect reductions but they are facing more oversight.
57% of social media marketers say the way they spend their budgets and the ROI it produces is being scrutinized more than in the past. Despite that, 91% of them are confident about the ROI their social media marketing activities will offer.
With half of marketers expecting budget increases and 41% expecting it to stay the same, extra eyes aren’t the worst news as the economy is still top of mind for many brands.
10. Re-sharing the same content across platforms won’t fly in 2023.
Our survey found that social media marketers manage an average of four platforms. Although the benefits of cross-posting are clear, many are starting to steer away from it.
Our survey found that only 17% of marketers are cross-posting the exact same content. Most are shifting away from a copy-paste approach and instead to a tailored one.
According to our survey, 48% are making tweaks to their content when sharing on various platforms. Meanwhile over a third (34%) are starting from scratch each every time.
The social landscape around us is constantly changing. And, although we think we know what to expect with social media, this list of trends is likely not exhaustive of what we’ll see in 2023.
As a social media marketer, the best thing you can do is to continue to research trends, online consumer behaviors, and your team’s social media data to determine which trends or strategies to lean into or how to navigate unprecedented online scenarios.