Social media conglomerates have endured a turbulent twelve months, as the macroeconomic climate started to dwindle amid severe economic challenges from soaring consumer inflation, skyrocketing interest rates, geopolitical tension, and pandemic-era supply chain constraints.
The social media landscape today looks a lot different than what it did a year ago, and for businesses under the helm of these social giants, navigating the road forward can seem like an arduous challenge.
Looking back at just the last few weeks, we see social media companies such as Facebook parent company Meta and now Elon Musk-owned Twitter conducting widespread employee layoffs as it braces for a broader economic downturn.
Last month, Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Meta will lay off more than 11,000 employees, cutting 13% of its workforce. With Elon Musk at the command of now-privately owned Twitter, its more than 7,500 employee count has been gutted to a mere 2,700 over three weeks since Musk took hold of the company.
Economic challenges are not only threatening social media giants, but other big tech companies such as Amazon have also recently announced that it will lay off more than 10,000 people in the coming days.
A sudden shift in consumer demand and spending has led to thousands of companies cutting back on ad spending, a major source of revenue for social media companies and big tech giants.
A Standard Media Index September 2022 Core Data Report estimates that ad spending continued to decline by 5% in September year-over-year. This marked the fourth month of decreasing ad expenditure this year alone.
Looking out over the broader market, it seems that more and more companies are bracing for a potential recession, a major headwind for small and newly established businesses amid an already volatile market.
Although conditions might not seem as pleasant as they used to be, especially during the height of the tech and social boom experienced amidst the height of the pandemic, business owners will still need to leverage the potential of social media to reach their followers and future customers.
There have been a lot of changes in the social media marketing landscape, and while it’s never possible to accurately predict what next year will hold in store in terms of online and social media marketing, it’s wise to follow up with some of the best practices that might catch on in the coming year.
Short-Form Video Content
There has been a growing trend in short-form video content ever since the explosion of TikTok back in 2020. The Chinese-based app has seen its revenue grow by more than 142% year-on-year, and it's estimated that by the end of this year, TikTok will have more than 1.8 billion monthly active users.
Short-form video content will reign king or queen once again in 2023, mostly because more and more users are becoming enticed by the short snippets of informational, yet entertaining content companies are generating and sharing online.
Other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube have in due time also added video editing features that now allow users and businesses to create snippets from existing video footage or shoot new clips.
There has been a steady growth in the number of users sharing ads with their close contacts on both Messenger and WhatsApp. This is more suited for businesses that use Facebook or Meta as a platform for social media marketing.
In the coming year, we will expect more change in this arena, as Meta focuses on developing tools and resources that can help companies effectively create shareable links that can easily be shared to a list of contacts or private groups via that app's onboard Messenger platform.
The idea would be to see more users and consumers engaging with their favorite brands and companies through Direct Messages (DMs) rather than having to reach out through a phone call, email, or in-store visit.
Growing Popularity For Reels
Instagram jumped the reel bandwagon just in time as TikTok started taking off, and it’s helped them improve their monthly active users and help businesses engage more effectively with their customers and other users.
Reels, which are also short-format video content, will continue to be a stronghold for social media marketers, as more and more consumers look to enjoy both informative and entertaining video content on the once-beloved photo-sharing app.
What this means for marketers is that they will need to stay up to date with the latest trends, and see what works with their business. Luckily with Instagram reels, it’s possible to create and post highly engaging, effective, and quality content all under one realm. Reels are here to stay and for good reason, so it's best to get comfortable with the concept as we head into 2023.
Growing AI Recommendations
For much of 2022, social media companies have been trying to get their Artificial Intelligence recommendations working in a way that would help enhance the online user experience. Though some platforms managed to get it right, others weren’t as lucky, as with the case with Instagram.
Social media marketers and business owners will need to get comfortable with the idea of AI and how it sorts and curates online content for users. Algorithms are constantly changing, and developers are working on smarter and more ingenious ways to give users the right set of content based on their experiences and interactions.
In the coming months, it would be best advised that marketers and business owners research what developments are taking place in this space and how they will need to adapt their content to ensure it gets picked up by AI.
Avant-Garde App Integrations
Instagram has been toiling with the concept of bringing more avant-garde integrations to the app, helping not only creators but businesses to create more compelling, yet progressive content through the platform.
What Instagram is looking to do is bring to life add-in forms of content creation such as Augmented Reality (AR) and 3-D posting. There have also been talks of possible Non-Fungible Tokens or NFT art integration that can now be created and shared on the app.
The idea is to establish a more creative playroom for creators and businesses who are willing to take their organization into the Metaverse. There has been ongoing development in the VR space, especially in terms of the Metaverse, which gives creators more freedom to share engaging, yet targeted consumer experiences.
Live And On-Demand Video
Live and on-demand videos have become an entertaining, yet more personalized way through which brands and businesses can communicate with their followers or customers. The use of live video has steadily been taking shape in recent years, and today several popular social media platforms allow users to shoot and share live video sessions via their applications.
The raw video footage gives a different edge to the marketing strategy, making the experience feel more immediate, exciting, and in touch with users.
Live video streams have become the modern-day equivalent of live television, which can now be enjoyed by billions of consumers every day and every second. Businesses that look to leverage live video should include a more detailed plan to consider what they want to share, and how they will be using these features to help entice their followers and turn them into paying customers.
Verification Fees On Twitter
Twitter has perhaps seen the biggest changes in recent months, and it’s hard to predict what next year will hold in store for the now Musk-owned social media company.
An idea that has been floating around in recent weeks is that Musk is looking to introduce a verification fee or subscription fee for business and government accounts. The idea is to minimize any bot accounts that impersonate brands or high-profile names.
There has been little said online about what the fee will entail, or how much people will be paying for the infamous blue tick verification. Despite its vagueness, businesses and marketing teams should keep their finger on the pulse as the company goes through a massive shift right at the tail end of the year.
Perhaps one of the few strongholds when it comes to social media marketing these days, influencer marketing will once again feature as a growing trend on social media platforms.
Influencer marketing or influencer advertising is effective, and it delivers the best return on investment (ROI). On average influencer marketing has an ROI 11 times higher than other types of digital marketing strategies.
With companies cutting back on ad spending, perhaps influencers will continue to prove as a viable advertising solution for businesses who are looking to tap into a more diverse and wider audience.
We’ve slightly touched on how algorithms have changed this year, but going into 2023 we can expect even more personalized algorithms on social media, giving users more curated content.
This would mean that businesses will need to keep track of how algorithms change and update throughout the year, as this will not only influence post engagement but also when and how posts feature on followers’ feeds and users’ “for you page.”
Already we see how personalized our social media feeds can be, and it’s possible that in the coming months' social media companies will introduce a slew of updates that would only enhance the experience even further. The best is to ensure that the content that is curated for your followers and customers is designed to work alongside these new personalized algorithms.
Yes, live-stream shopping looks to become an even bigger thing in 2023, and social media platforms such as TikTok and Pinterest have been testing these features in recent months, which has delivered some promising results.
Live-stream shopping will be similar to live video, only this time businesses will be able to direct followers and those watching the live stream to a website link or eCommerce site.
Many are yet speculating how this would work, and what the finer details will entail, but it looks to be more fitting for apps such as Pinterest where businesses and creators can easily interact with their followers through live shopping experiences.
The idea would have users see a live display of available items on an eCommerce site, and include more live-screen shopping experiences such as inventory availability, product descriptions, and display features through virtual reality features.
Social media is ever-changing, and it looks to be another exciting year of algorithms, trends, and advanced software integrations. All these changes have made it a bit more challenging for small business owners to compete alongside big-league brands, but new tools and resources will help marketers, entrepreneurs and the small business owner have more control and creative expression.
While these changes are something to look forward to, marketing teams, and social media experts should keep an open tab on the social media sites they use to ensure they know exactly what is going on, when changes occur, and how they can adjust their strategy to fit in with these new updates.
As always, social media will remain a stronghold for businesses marketing their goods and services, especially amid a time of high economic volatility. During a tight consumer spending market, and changing buying behavior, social media will continue to play an important role in consumers’ habits and business exposure.