As consumer behavior shifts and adapts, social trends change with it. Major social media platforms recently published their 2023 reports with predictions, trends to look out for, user behavior, and more that paint a robust and wide-ranging picture of their online landscapes.
As these platforms shift and adapt—partially around TikTok’s growth and tightening grip on the public consciousness—keeping up with what people are looking for and how they want to interact online is changing. Creativity and authenticity are core to what users are attracted to nearly across the board, and people are increasingly looking to creators they trust to inform their purchasing decisions away from these platforms.
Here’s a quick look at some of the data and information that stuck out in the 2023 reports from some of the major social players, including Pinterest, TikTok, and Meta to inform your strategy for the year ahead.
Pinterest is a fairly unique social media app, especially when it comes to understanding consumer behavior. Its primary form of engagement is bookmarking, where users can add images and posts to curated boards, or follow other people’s boards for inspiration. In Pinterest’s 2023 report, the platform digs into what people are pinning to their boards to get an idea of what types of trends and themes are likely to crop up in the near future.
“We consider bookmarking to be to not only have a really strong correlation to eventual purchase intent but to also be a few steps ahead of the curve when it comes to predicting a purchase,” said Jein Funk, Creative Director of Branded Content at Amsive. “People come to the platform to be guided toward their next source of inspiration, rather than to find something they already know they want. That means observing the behavior here grants marketers a unique ability to see trends before they begin being enacted.”
The numbers support this correlation. Over the past three years, Pinterest’s report predictions have an 80% hit rate, according to the platform. The predictions in this year’s report range from what kinds of dates people will go on—from ”experiential outings like bookstore dates, museum meet cutes and aquarium adventures”—to how people will celebrate their pets—”Gen X and Boomers will host pet pool parties, complete with invitations, party favors, and party decor”—to what kinds of activities will be popular—”Boomers and Gen Z will turn to quilting, origami and paper art to satisfy their crafty cravings.”
Understanding how people want to interact with the world around them and how they want to present themselves to other people is vital for businesses that want to know how to speak with audiences and potential customers. While these predictions should in no way be taken as gospel, understanding the reasoning behind Pinterest’s choosing to highlight them and how to integrate that information into upcoming campaigns could prove valuable.
TikTok is an entertainment-first platform: “4 in 5 users say TikTok is very or extremely entertaining,” wrote TikTok in its 2023 trend report. “For brands, the most effective messages on TikTok are uplifting, funny and personalized, or entertaining their audiences.”
Marketers looking to tap into the growing audience of TikTok users need to keep this positioning in mind. A core way messages spread on the platform is by resharing and adapting the audio or clips from the ad and turning them into memes and jokes. Simply treating it like any other advertising market will likely dilute and limit a business’ message—it’s important to understand how ad campaigns catch on and spread past the initial post to really capture audience attention on TikTok.
TikTok breaks what it considers trends into three categories:
- Moments: Popular audio clips, hashtags, and formats that gain widespread attention and last a few days to a week or so.
- Signals: Changing behaviors in a segment of the audience, like an increased focus on personal wellness or what types of purchases are celebrated, that last for a few months to a year or more.
- Forces: Large-scale shifts in behavior, like where people discover new products, how communities form, how influencers speak to their fans, etc., that last for years.
Along with this breakdown of how trends can show how people are interacting with the platform, TikTok highlighted trust and attention as keys to what users find entertaining and interesting. Attention is gained by posting quality content—humor, timing, and helpful advice were three criteria mentioned in the report—and trust is bred both over time and by having advice shared by creators with experience in the field they’re talking about.
Experience is quickly becoming core to the tech industry, with Google revamping its quality guidelines around it specifically. TikTok’s data backs this up, showing that 72% of users who took an “off-platform action” said that they took advice and guidance from creators they trust from the platform.
Off-platform actions, whether that be purchasing decisions, trip planning, daily activities, lifestyle choices, and more, were a core focus of the report. Users are turning to TikTok, as well as other social media platforms, to learn more about products they’re interested in, or to find products that they don’t know about yet but have strong and entertaining voices supporting them.
Sharing stories in an entertaining and creative manner is key to finding success on the platform, along with targeting the right communities. Targeting specific hashtags to get in front of people already likely to be interested in your products and offerings, as well as working with creators that can speak to those people, are keys to taking full advantage of the potential this platform offers.
While TikTok is the clear rising star in the social media world, Facebook is still the king, at least for now. Its growth has significantly stagnated over the past four years, but it boasts nearly 3 billion, active monthly users. It’s not unreasonable to expect other platforms to eventually eclipse Meta’s original endeavor, either through growth or internal decisions that cripple the social media giant.
There’s a world in which the metaverse finally finds its footing and takes off for businesses, but that is likely a far-reaching eventuality rather than a short-term one. Given the growth of short-form video as an advertising platform, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Facebook continue to invest and promote its own video features to capitalize on the trend.
While pushing Facebook to more closely resemble Instagram could lead to some friction among users looking for different types of platforms, users across the board are watching more video content than ever before, and marketers are matching their spending with that trend. Given the differences in average age ranges between Instagram, which skews more towards millennials and younger, and Facebook, which skews millennials and older, and its struggles to gain ground in its metaverse endeavors make it clear that video will remain a priority.
Instagram is in an interesting position. After pivoting to being a video-first platform in 2021, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, has since come out to say that the platform has become too heavily video-focused and is already working on a better balance of photos and videos. That’s not to say videos aren’t going to continue as a focus. Per The Verge, in a recent Q&A with users, Mosseri stated that since rolling back the platform’s overfocus on videos, it’s seeing a much healthier balance.
“We’ve since balanced, so things like how often someone likes photos versus videos and how often someone comments on photos versus videos are roughly equal, which is a good sign that things are balanced,” he said. “And so, to the degree that there is more video on Instagram over time, it’s going to be because that’s what’s driving overall engagement more.”
Audience feedback and interactions were core to Instagram’s 2023 trend report, with considerable focus on how Gen Z is interacting with the platform. One of the standout areas in the report is the world of dating. Instagram, with its more than 2 billion users, has keyed into the dating world as an avenue to pursue in 2023. According to the report, the data gathered shows that users are engaging with crushes and potential partners through DMs—whether that’s because most dating apps allow users to link their profiles or because people feel emboldened after scrolling through profiles is unclear. Whatever the cause may be, expect Instagram to pursue this angle with new features and initiatives.
Another trend highlighted in the report is the growing importance of climate change, especially in the beauty industry. We’ve previously written about Gen Z’s focus on this issue across industries, and issues from increased UV exposure to rising air pollution are garnering attention. According to Instagram, two-thirds of Gen Z shoppers plan to buy beauty and skincare products that can help protect them from extreme weather and sun, as well as products focused on personal climate protection in general.
People’s expectations and interests continue to evolve, and businesses need to understand these shifts to remain relevant to audiences on these platforms. Users are actively seeing out credibility and experience when making purchasing decisions, and creators are working to package that information in entertaining and engaging ways.
Understanding how people interact with different social media platforms, and how those platforms inform their choices needs to be a focus of marketing plans going into 2023. As social media platforms reposition themselves in the market, staying up to date with these changes and understanding what each platform is looking to promote will help your business reach the right audience at the right time.
This data provides valuable insight into consumer behavior, and can be used for creative concepting inspiration for both owned and paid media—this includes the format of the message, the subject of the ad, and the execution/presentation of it. There’s also clear value in helping to shift internal thinking about the value of social media. It’s not just a place to talk at your customers, it’s a venue for getting to know and understand them better.
Staying on top of changes and shifts in social media is only one part of a data-centric, performance-driven strategy, giving you the power to know more and do more. Dig deeper into how you can keep your website safe and secure online, or let’s talk about how to achieve more for your marketing—and your business.