The art of perfecting successful social media marketing is in a constant state of evolution. Once a marketing industry mockery, it is now an undeniable staple of modern brand building. If you blink, you just might miss the latest trend.
What social media platforms and trends are on the horizon? The experts agree: funny, trendy, and relatable content will stand out in 2023, and bold brands experimenting with NFTs and AI integration might just take the reins.
“We’re doing some more thinking around, is there the potential for consumers to have perhaps more control over not only the content that they’re exposed to, but also how much they choose to share with marketers,” says David Schweidel, Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.
Schweidel describes the social media landscape as ripe for disruption, particularly as emerging legislation is prompting changes in the way companies access data and users interact with media.
“We’re starting to see early indicators of that coming out of Europe with GDPR, we’ve seen some legislation passed in the United States around consumer privacy, but there’s a lot of conversation around what’s being referred to as surveillance capitalism, this idea of hyper targeting users based on their data with advertising,” says Schweidel. “Depending on how that regulatory discussion ultimately plays out, marketers may have to think a little bit about how [to] form these deeper relationships with consumers.”
Vice President of Social Media for Who What Wear/Clique Brands, MacKenzie Green, says she’s excited about emerging platforms and feels like some social media marketers are sleeping on the transformative power of YouTube Shorts.
“I think we’re going to find a new kind of genre of YouTube creators coming strictly from shorts and having no long form video, I am really loving this, I have this huge prediction that everybody now is going to be in the creator economy,” says Green.
Green also says LinkedIn is starting to emerge as a social platform that people are valuing to convert business and speaks enthusiastically about the latest innovations from Outdoor Voices founder Ty Haney who made a name for herself by making sportswear the go-to look for non-athletes to rock. Haney’s latest venture Try Your Best (TYB) is a Web3 community platform where brands have a direct line to engage and reward their fans for meaningful participation, in exchange for covetable collectibles, brand coins, and access to exclusive experiences.
“I’m just really big on what Ty Haney and that whole team at Try Your Best are doing with NFTs and blockchain technology and connecting CPG products in this more exclusive way,” she tells MBAchic. “I think we’ve seen this kind of decentralized way of bringing an audience together outside of Facebook groups, [and] I think we’re going to start to see a lot more of that for brands as well.”
Skipping the line at the store and buying products directly from social media sites has become increasingly commonplace in recent years. A HubSpot consumer survey found that 24% of shoppers 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. Along the same lines of streamlining the shopper experience, a recent study by Juniper Research predicts AI-powered chatbots will play a significant role in customer interactions over the next few years, handling 70% of customer conversations in 2023.
“In Asian markets we see a lot of live streaming influencers who are essentially hosts of these live streaming shows and people buying content during those shows, [it] hasn’t taken off so much in the United States. We’ll see smaller companies do that, independent retail stores might run a Facebook live doing sales during that programming, that’s something that I think we may start to see emerge,” Schweidel says.
eMarketer reports that live streaming commerce in China sold over $514 billion in 2022 and is growing at 19%. This is more than 17% of all e-commerce sales in China. This includes live streaming on social platforms such as Douyin (owned by TikTok parent ByteDance) as well as retail sites such as Taobao Live, operated by Alibaba. Although slow to the race, some US businesses that have begun to jump on the trend are having success.
Green once again points to Haney as a measure of innovative social brand building. According to the New York Times, her new platform “will enable brands to collect input from customers in exchange for rewards such as digital collectibles (NFTs) and brand coins that can be used for bragging rights or toward purchases.” Her latest project Joggy is taking on CBD in a new way, it launched with $250 tokens — and sold out in less than three days. Along with an NFT, the buy-in also granted buyers “found member” status.
“They’re allowing the audience to focus group without the formality of having a research team that’s there, then launching new products through creating these digital collectibles that also connect to the physical item you’ve bought,” says Green. “That’s what I see happening in this e-commerce social world, connecting the digital and the physical in a way that puts you in charge of the product.”
AI, AR, and social
“We’re seeing some virtual influencers gain traction with brands,” says Schweidel. “The technology’s there already, right? We’re not just talking about static images. We can be talking about full length video content featuring a virtual influencer with AI created audio content. So I think that has the potential to really give brands something to work with because they are then in full control of that digitally human asset.”
With AI technology already using data to touch every aspect of the consumer journey from accurate predictions about targeted products, to ad campaigns, to relevant content coverage, experts anticipate AI and AR integration to analyze social data at scale in new innovative ways.
“When people talk about the Metaverse, I’m like, it’s gonna become this thing of, ‘Hey, could you not attend the Christopher John Rogers show in person? Well, here is a proof of attendance NFT that takes you to a runway show where now you’re watching it in real time with everybody who’s in New York and it’s just as exclusive and just as fancy, but we have a better way of getting your data after the show so that we can stay in touch with you,” Green says.
A self-described AR nut, Green says consumers often fail to recognize how much they already engage with AR on a daily basis, and urges others to embrace and experiment with new tech as much as possible regardless of their industry.
“I love AR and I really feel like games are a conduit to how we adopt new technology,” Green tells MBAchic. “ I love when I see new AR filters, new AR games. Every time I talk to a peer and they’re like, ‘I will never get into AR,’ I’m like, ‘aren’t you using the Marianna Hewitt filter on Instagram? Didn’t you use the dog filter on Snapchat?’ You’ve engaged with AR technology, don’t freak out!”
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Social media stand out
To stand out among competitors within the social media landscape, experts encourage marketers to adopt a long-term strategy mindset rather than focusing on short-term gains.
“What’s the profile of the person that’s going to have five or six transactions with me? A lot of this comes down to simple economics,” says Schweidel. “If I spend money to acquire a customer and all I get out of them is one transaction, I’ve got to keep on putting money into customer acquisition whereas if I get them, I make that initial investment and they tend to stick around for a while, not only do I recoup my initial investment, I continue to profit after that.”
If Green was to encapsulate how social media marketers can stand out in 2023, she would suggest the advice one of her teammates recently shared in a marketing meeting: social is not literal.
“I think we have the tendency to overanalyze, take it too seriously, we’re AB testing everything and not just saying to ourselves, what is a story that I as a consumer would want to hear?” Green says.
Other critical advice? Study and understand what’s working in other industries, and implement accordingly.
“I think that’s why I’m just so obsessed with what Ty Haney’s doing because I think we oftentimes as social marketers go, ‘oh, well that’s something that is happening with a web3 company that does CPG,’ but there’s so much to learn from what they’re doing to translate it to what you’re doing on social, what you’re doing in brick and mortar. I think we undervalue as social marketers the beauty and value in telling an engaging story.”
Photo from Alexander Shatov