Social butterflies: Social media trends to watch out for in 2023 | #YearInReview

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2022 has been quite a year for social media platforms with the likes of TikTok booming and Twitter facing uncertainty following Elon Musk’s takeover. Hayley Jones,  the Head of Social at The PHA Group has shared her thoughts on this year in social media, what to watch out for going in to 2023, and how brands should act going into next year.


This year’s social media landscape saw continued success of short-form video content and social commerce. TikTok’s rapid growth has no intention of slowing down, the app is close to surpassing 1.8 billion users by the end of this year. With many rival apps imitating popular features, it sure must be flattering for the heads at TikTok. Popular brands like, Ryanair and Duolingo have taken the Gen-Z app by storm, jumping on hilarious, current, and brave trends to make their mark and reach a new demographic of social users.

UK consumers continue to transact via social media, with an estimated 15.1 million UK social buyers this year alone. However, this is just the start, the dominance of TikTok shop combined with the creator economy have laid a strong foundation for the future of social commerce in the UK and globally.

Many brands have been eager to see what the development of the Metaverse would mean for their social media presence. However, much of the insights from Social Media Week divulged that a lot still needs to be worked out and put in place. Due to its complex nature and technological requirements, we’re still a long way off before brands can exist in, and benefit from, a Metaverse-first world.

As we enter a new year, here are a few social media trends we see prominent in 2023:

The value of user-generated content


Smaller challenger brands have been seeing huge success from adopting a UGC-only approach to content and we only see this evolving in 2023. An example we loved from Social Media Week was popular tanning brand, Skinny Tan.

They introduced the ‘Social Squad’ initiative, a way to build a strong community of advocates, whilst reaching new audiences and generating a bank of real and authentic content. Consumers are encouraged and incentivised to purchase the product, tag the brand on their socials to receive further discounts depending on the frequency of purchases.

Recent consumer statistics revealed that 81% of people are influenced by their friend’s social media posts, Skinny Tan capitalised on this statistic by flipping their content strategy from a refined and clean feed to one which features real-life people using and loving their products!

There’s an increased demand towards realism when it comes to beauty standards and its representation on social media. People want to see real experiences when showcasing products, something consumer brands should strongly consider going into 2023.

The need for authenticity and the DIY approach to TikTok


As mentioned earlier, the TikTok hype won’t be calming down in 2023. Naturally, many brands are considering whether they should have a presence on the app. A key learning from Social Media Week shared by several TikTok experts was the need for authenticity.

With the key demographic being Gen-Z, the so-called ‘woke’ generation, brands need to step away from the brand-first approach on TikTok. The focus should be less on the products and ‘sell’ messaging, and more about forming an emotional connection with your core customer demographic.

Reacting to current affairs, the ability to laugh at yourself and moving away from the high budget, overly polished product ads, to a more DIY, ‘rough and ready’ content format is a proven way to succeed on the TikTok algorithm. Brands from all industries deserve a spot on TikTok, the key to succeeding is finding your niche and providing genuine value with your content. With over 1.8 billion people on the app, there’s always a niche waiting for your content.

LinkedIn’s shift to a consumer-centric algorithm


For years, LinkedIn has been seen as the professional network for corporates and brands. Nevertheless, this year we’ve seen several updates that seem like the app is heading towards a consumer-centric focus. With the introduction of the ‘laugh’ reaction and features that mimic Instagram stories, heads at LinkedIn not only want to increase in-app engagement but also change the tone of the content.

Audiences resonate with emotion-based content. Historically, this has meant that career milestones, new jobs and promotions have been some of the most engaged with content on the platform but recently we have seen a shift towards LinkedIn feeds being filled with personal stories, just like you see on Meta. From parenting advice to heart-warming pup-dates, hybrid working may have blurred the lines between personal and professional.

The PHA Group charity client, Smile Train UK, has amassed great growth on LinkedIn. Surprisingly the content that receives the most engagement is our event-based and campaign content – with impressions and engagements increasing two-fold compared to other content strands. In a post-pandemic world, LinkedIn audiences are interested in seeing brands return to a sense of normality.

How Twitter will continue post a Musk invasion


It’s all chaos at Twitter HQ presently, many brands and advertisers fear their presence over the decline in moderation of hate speech, misinformation and rise in fake accounts. Amongst all this, large brands are continuing to deploy their organic and paid strategies – it seems all is not lost, just yet.

Going into 2023, Twitter remains a top site for news agenda. Bite-size news hits will continue to be a trend on the app. Prior to Musk’s takeover, Twitter feeds were being updated to allow for vertical video content, another strong indication that video content is currently ruling all social media channels.

Finally, it seems longer tweets may be on their way. This has divided opinions as ultimately Twitter will lose their USP, but the real impact is yet to be seen.

Food for thought

The social media landscape is always evolving and can be an unpredictable landscape for brands. As TikTok continues to rise with bigger and better updates, it will be interesting to see how the likes of Meta, Twitter and LinkedIn react to maintain their share.

Overall, we predict that the creator economy will continue to boom in 2023, with a renewed focus around authenticity and realism, helping brands to navigate their way when it comes to content strategies and execution. If brands want to succeed and build brand loyalty and customer retention, they must be socially aware and see the benefit of working with smaller creators with either a social cause or authentic content type.


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