7 social media trends to watch in 2023

With over 82% of Australians using social media, it’s crucial for your small business to have a strong social media presence. It allows you to connect better with your customers, provides a platform to develop your brand and lets you keep an eye on competitors.

But social media is in a state of constant change which can make it challenging to keep up with new trends. That’s especially true if you’re a small business owner wearing multiple hats and taking a DIY approach.

So where should your focus be in 2023?

To help cut through the noise we’ve picked seven social media trends for you to watch for this year.

A young dark-haired women wearing a purple top is shown out of focus. In-focus in the foreground is a stand on which sit a smart phone and a ring light. The woman is reaching forward to start video recording on the phone.

1. AI will take on a bigger role in content creation

It won’t come as much of a surprise, but 2023 will be a huge year for Artificial Intelligence (AI). Marketers are already using AI tools such as ChatGPT, Jasper and Plann to help with copywriting tasks. These work by inputting prompts related to a topic and having the app create copy suggestions. AI copywriting tools might not be able to replace authentic content that captures your company’s tone of voice, personality, and values, but the generated content is editable, and can be a time saver for your small business.

With the help of AI, improving your website content so you’ll be ranked higher by search engines (that’s SEO for those in the know) has also become easier. AI can help you create top-ranking content by discovering related keywords and rewriting copy to incorporate specific keywords and topics you’re trying to target.

Tips for your small business

  • Start thinking about how AI can benefit your small business
  • Try using an AI. Some come with free accounts or trial periods.

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2. Video will continue to dominate social media

Video is now the preferred content format for most social media users. Video works because it gets your message across quickly and effectively.

Since 2018, the number of videos watched online has nearly doubled. TikTok and the continued growth of Instagram are a big part of this, with almost 3 billion people logging into the two platforms each month.

A 2022 study by Cisco stated that video was on track to make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic. Social video has also been shown to generate 1,200% more shares than text and image content combined so it makes sense to make video a central part of your digital marketing strategy.

Some of the benefits of video are:

  • Increased user engagement – videos evoke strong emotions from people, which leads to more comments, likes and shares
  • Building trust – videos are a great way to make your brand seem more relatable and authentic
  • Video captures short attention spans – the average person can get distracted within a few seconds, so it’s important to capture their attention right away
  • An increase in brand awareness – being able to visually show your brand and reinforce messages through repeat watching helps your brand stick in customers’ minds.
  • Increased traffic to your website – Google is known to prioritise search results of websites that contain video so good video content can improve your website’s SEO ranking.

Tips for your small business

  • Sign up to Instagram and TikTok and practice creating Instagram Reels. These are short-form videos of up to 90 seconds with audio and effects that you can share with your followers
  • Learn to download videos from TikTok and Instagram without watermarks (a logo superimposed onto an image). This allows you to share them across all your social media channels
  • Focus on creating 'evergreen' content relevant to your small business. This is content that is relevant for a long time and provides value to your audience long after you publish it. Examples include FAQs, ‘how-to’ guides, and tutorials.

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3. Users are looking for more authentic content

In a world where the majority of online content is carefully curated and filtered, users are turning to social media platforms such as BeReal and Instagram Stories for a more genuine experience. While BeReal prohibits advertising and commercial use of the app, companies are finding creative ways to engage with users, such as sharing photos of their team in the workplace or at an event.

Creating authentic content can help your small business form stronger relationships with customers and build brand loyalty. Customers’ values are often reflected in the brands that they support. Knowing your business is genuine can make them feel good about their choice.

Tips for your small business

  • Find a unique quality about your brand that customers can relate to and focus on maintaining it
  • Create a BeReal profile and get familiar with the platform

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4. LinkedIn is shifting away from being all about jobs

If you’re using LinkedIn, you may have noticed the people in your network posting more personal content. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that trust in Facebook, where you would normally post personal content, is at an all-time low. Or maybe it’s because hybrid working has blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives.

Whatever the reason, personalising your social content has many benefits. It can help build your personal brand, make you more approachable, and help increase engagement on your posts.

LinkedIn is still a business platform, so start slowly and don’t overshare. The occasional post about taking your dog to the office might be just the trick but 20 posts about your new puppy is probably overkill.

Tips for LinkedIn

  • Try mixing it up and post personal content in moderation around your usual business posts
  • Be careful not to overshare as LinkedIn is still a professional app. Think about where it is appropriate for your personal life to become a part of your personal brand.
  • Follow popular creators in your industry for insights and ideas on what to post

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5. Social listening is on the rise

Social media listening allows you to gain a better understanding of what current and potential customers think about you by analysing what they say on social platforms. It also provides you with the opportunity to:

  • track customer sentiment and mentions of your brand
  • benchmark competitors
  • identify trends and customer pain points
  • make smarter, data-driven decisions
  • discover brand advocates

As social media use is only going to trend upward in 2023, it’s more important than ever to use social listening to reach the right audience and provide a personalised customer experience.

Tips for your small business

  • Sign up to a social media listening tool that will allow you to monitor online conversations. There are many out there, but popular options include Sprout Social and Hootsuite
  • Take time to analyse conversations, sentiment, and trends. This will give you an idea of how your brand is perceived and help align your marketing strategy to allow you to run more effective campaigns
  • Always look to see what’s working for your competitors

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6. As X continues to experience challenges, new competitors are emerging

X (formerly known as Twitter) has helped small businesses build their brand and community for years. However, since Elon Musk’s takeover, it’s been estimated the platform may lose as many as 32 million users in the next 2 years. Changes to the way user verification works, the ability for any user to pay to be verified, and monetisation of content have also made cut-through for smaller brands more difficult. All of that means that many users are users are looking for alternatives.

So far, the platform that’s been getting the most attention is Threads, Mark Zuckerberg/Meta's answer to X. While it was launched quickly and without a lot of features, it has been steadily building new features into the platform such as the ability to edit posts and 'Voice Threads' which rolled out in October 2023.

Despite this, the platform is growing, with over 130 million users including individuals and businesses. While Meta sources have stated that Threads won't roll our ads until the platform reaches a critical mass, it's an interesting space for businesses to experiment in. You need an Instagram account to access Threads so it's easy to start your account and if you're not interested in starting your Threads account then no one will be able to take your username if you want to hold off.

Other emerging social platforms to put on your radar include:

  • Blue Sky. While Blue Sky was touted as a strong alternative to X after Musk's takeover, the platform has been quiet in recent months. One thing that sets Blue Sky apart from other platforms is that it was started by ex-Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey while he was still in the role. Blue Sky is a decentralised platform operating on an open-source protocol and is invitation only so you'll either have to sign up and wait or know an existing user that can invite you. With the slow growth of the platform and uncertainty as to how the platform will handle monetisation, the business case for engaging on the platform is unclear. However, as will all marketing activities, if your audience is there and you have a strong engagement strategy, Blue Sky might provide value for you.
  • Hive Social is a social media app with similar features to Twitter. The main difference is that content is presented to users chronologically rather than using algorithms that heavily promote ads and promotions
  • Koo is a global blogging social media app with over 50 million users. It allows users to share views and connect with others in their native language, embracing free speech, mutual respect and inclusivity
  • Mastodon, a non-profit social platform with no algorithms or ads. Mastodon is a server-based platform where most users sign up to a general room, before gravitating towards a particular interest. Examples of the servers include Mastodon.green (climate change activism) and Mastodon.lol (LGBTIQA+). The number of companies currently on Mastodon is limited. As each server has its own rules, the moderators can block businesses that promote their brand. Companies can create their own server though and are free to talk about their products. Keep in mind that as the content is mostly conversational, posts promoting your company may not receive a lot of engagement from users.

Tips for your small business

  • You don’t need to be on every platform, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on what’s emerging
  • Choose the platforms that best fit your audience. To find out where your customers are, do your own market research
  • It can be a good idea to register for new social platforms and ‘park’ your username. This means registering an account with your business name and handle so competitors can’t use it. Even if you never actively engage on new platforms, you can at least include your contact details such as your website so that customers can find you

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7. Social audio will boom… or bust?

Not all trends are upward, and social audio hasn’t seen the boom that was anticipated after the initially strong rise of Clubhouse which peaked at 10 million monthly downloads in February 2021. That said, other major companies such as X (Spaces), Facebook (Live), Threads (Voice Threads) and Discord have invested in their own audio-based social media tools.

The number of new and returning users of social audio platforms hasn’t been earth-shattering, but sometimes it takes time for new trends to find their footing. A decade ago, Vine, which offered 7-second videos folded in the face of overwhelming competition from the likes of Twitter and Facebook. Now TikTok , which also offers short-form video, is one of the most used apps on the planet.

So should you invest your time and money in social audio? The crystal ball is a little hazy, but social audio does have some benefits including the ability to interact with users in real-time through audio messaging and conversation rooms.

This provides your small business with the opportunity to:

  • engage a new customer base
  • humanise your brand and make it seem more approachable
  • answer questions about your products and services
  • build brand loyalty by providing fresh new ways for users to engage with you

Tips for your small business

  • Pick the platform that best allows you to reach your target audience
  • Follow others on the platform to get an idea of what works and what doesn’t
  • Do some cost/benefit analysis. Is investing in a new platform and potentially expensive new audio equipment going to result in an increase in sales, brand awareness or whatever else might be your goal for engaging on social?

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