New social media platforms emerged left and right in 2022 to varying degrees of success, as the duopoly lost its stronghold over consumer attention and advertiser budgetsBeReal captured Gen Z’s zeitgeist over the summer, and some brands were quick to test the waters.

But no platform rose to prominence quite as astonishingly as TikTok, which is suspected to surpass Meta and YouTube’s ad revenues combined by 2027. According to experts, TikTok’s momentum shows no signs of slowing in 2023.

“TikTok will continue to thrive and grow, right up until the regulatory plug is (maybe?!) pulled,” said Jordan Fox, head of Laundry Service.

TikTok’s ascension means that Meta’s growth will continue to slow to a moderate pace, barring any major stumble from a competitor, Fox added. “For example, if TikTok is really subject to meaningful regulatory restriction in 2023, Reels utilization will enter hypergrowth,” he said.  

An opportunity for white space could be Twitter, which has seen both users and advertisers flee the platform since Elon Musk took over the company last fall. Some social media experts see an opening for the revival of Tumblr, as well as real-time forum and messaging platforms like Discord or Reddit.

Creators are key

Creators are often a brand’s admission ticket onto a platform or into a community. In the past year, just about every major social media platform established a formalized revenue share program that makes it easier for creators to monetize. 

Creator monetization will remain “a crucially important issue” in 2023, according to Jamie Gutfreund, CMO at influencer platform Whalar. Today, many brands treat creators like vendors in pay negotiations, but they often lack the professional representation to ink a fair deal. 

“Brands will no longer be able to claim ‘we didn’t know’ as an excuse. Brands will need to pay attention to the resources and talent they work with and through as a brand safety issue,” she added.

As brands continue to lean on creators for legitimacy, they’ll need to adapt to a continued push for authenticity while tapping into niche creators who are seen as thought leaders in their spaces. 

“Instead of the all-encompassing ‘lifestyle influencer,’ of the late 2010s, we’ll see hyper-focused creators, like those who make Dollar Tree dinners or the bodega sandwich maker, garner huge results for brands by introducing them to niche communities,” said Tyler Wentworth, strategy director at Movers+Shakers. “Fandoms and meme-makers are finding niche and subculture references to drive content.”

Fox agreed that the industry “will see a surge in platforms that encourage users to showcase their raw selves without filters or forethought.”

Short-form domination

Short-form video became the breakout social media format of the year, as Instagram and YouTube aimed to replicate TikTok’s success. Social media experts expect short-form video to continue to play a massive role in advertiser strategies in 2023.

“The format has consistently driven the highest engagement, efficacy and brand sentiment improvement during the past year for our clients,” Laundry Service’s Fox said.

But the shift to short-form video won’t negate the need for great storytelling. According to Wentworth, brands will continue to focus on “maximalist storytelling” to cut through the noise on social.

“No longer is it cool to just be ‘lazy’—instead you’re now partaking in “goblin mode” TikTok culture,” Wentworth said.

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