There’s much uncertainty around the present and future states of major social platforms, and brands have to craft their 2023 social media strategy to allow for this uncertainty.
Brands are reviewing how they can use old and new social platforms to reach their 2023 objectives.
The challenges for social media platforms
The popularity of direct-to-consumer (D2C) commerce drove much of the recent change for brands on social media. It was the big trend on social between February 2020 and July 2022 but quickly became an albatross.
As governments lifted restrictions and the threat of covid diminished, people returned to in-person shopping – click-throughs declined, and basket sizes shrunk. Consumers spent less time online, which meant the CPM and sales opportunities shrank.
It impacted the bottom lines of D2C brands, but it also affected some social platforms, which saw revenue and share prices tumble.
Social media platforms are taking a hit to their revenues, and it’s making some of them shift gears. Social platforms are always tweaking their feeds and features to encourage users to stay on the site or app. But now, as some platforms struggle to increase profits, they seem set on deprioritising user experience.
Why is this?
Social platforms tend to go through three phases.
Phase 1: User experience is the priority
Phase 2: Advertisers and return on investment are prioritised
Phase 3: Shareholders and the bottom line are the top priority.
We’re seeing some platforms experience the third stage now, and users and advertisers alike are longing for the time when their experience took precedence.
Social platforms: what to be aware of for your 2023 social media strategy
Instagram: reprioritising users
Meta has finally steadied the ship with Instagram by publicly saying it will be nudged back towards photo content this year. This has come hand in hand with the death of the shop tab and the de-prioritisation of in-app selling.
It’s unusual as Instagram was firmly rooted in the third phase of the social platform lifecycle, but they’re moving back to the first, where users are prioritised over brands and the platform’s revenue.
It may prove to be a sound investment in the longer term, though, as TikTok is prioritising advertisers right now, and some users are already starting to experiment with alternate platforms.
Facebook: the struggle for relevance
Facebook has started 2023 in a strange state.
While community groups have fantastic reach, the organic reach of fan pages is at an all-time low – this comes after two years where organic reach was pretty healthy, leaving many feeling short-changed.
The change back towards a pay-to-play advertising platform is best represented by boosted posts no longer having increasing awareness or followership as available goals, which is sad because it’s shading the value of community, right as it’s become the hot topic in marketing circles.
The terrible organic reach for fan pages impacts secondary markets, too, though, and the creator economy. Have you ever heard of an influencer campaign with Facebook as a channel?
Due to the comparative lack of opportunity to monetise, Facebook is now more of a secondary channel for content creators. They use it to reshare work from other channels, much like someone with the final thirty flyers for a death metal gig trying to stuff them in the hands of random people going into a tube station, having already got everyone leaving the Morbid Angel gig earlier that night.
Twitter: can it keep the lights on?
Twitter has been the big owlbear in the room, as many no longer want to advertise with the platform, and some users have migrated to alternative platforms. There have been questions about the platform’s ability to meet loan payments (and issues about not paying office rent in multiple cities). It’s understandable that some are questioning its outlook.
Why invest time and money building an audience on a platform that may collapse?
That said, in the short term, the CPM is currently ~£1.30 on Twitter, and the CTR is pretty good to go with it, making it an attractive spot to run advertising right now.
TikTok: can it maintain its popularity?
TikTok entered 2023 as the ad industry’s darling but also as the riskiest platform.
The banning of the app from campuses across the US – and the potential for a nationwide ban – has soured what is truly a purple patch for advertisers, who can reach audiences affordably and drive love and sales of products.
Where Facebook and Instagram have had issues driving brand but successfully driven sales, TikTok has traditionally driven brand but stalled with selling things until the past year or so.
However, Australia, Singapore and other Asian countries are apparently considering following in the footsteps of India and banning the platform. Meanwhile, the UK Government pulled its account shortly after revelations about the data usage and the potential influence of the Chinese Government.
Things to consider when reviewing your 2023 social media strategy
- In the short term, review your OGSMs. Do the strengths of the platforms you’re on currently align with delivering the measurements needed to achieve your goals?
- Pivot if needed. If there is a misalignment, it’s a good idea to pivot ASAP, but also consider the longer-term plan.
- Invest in different regions. Global and multinational brands could find it beneficial to spread their investment to countries in their portfolio that they tend to overlook. It will allow you to trail more creative-driven campaigns in areas with a cheaper CPM. You can then scale these campaigns across the larger and more expensive markets with less risk. Over the past five years, Burger King mastered this with its out-of-home and experiential campaigns in Mexico. Similarly, the much-loved McDonald’s late-night talk out-of-home commercials you’re seeing all over social media in Europe and the US come from New Zealand.
- Focus on bringing out of home to life on social media. Ping-pong between offline and digital. Over the past six months, there’s been great out-of-home from McDonald’s, BrewDog, Quorn, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and CALM, which have drawn significant shares and interest online. While it’s great that it’s driven shares and increased chatter, it would have been better if those campaigns drove not only chat online but encouraged people to take part in an offline activity which then became further content. The McDonald’s (I promise they’re not paying me for these placements) commercials with raised eyebrows have the potential to drive content from fans online, and it would be great to see this baked into more activities.
- Invest in image-based content. It’s fascinating that while the full-screen video has been the format platforms have shoved users and brands towards for years, it’s single-image posts that have had the most impact in the past six months (and likely will in the upcoming year). We’re even seeing this on TikTok, where sharing an image with some copy and a trending song over it, which changes to another image with a twist ending in the final seconds, has fast become a killer trend.
- Keep up with the switch to meaningful consumption. With less time spent on social media and more meaningful consumption, people will spend less time ‘sludge scrolling’ – the mindless activity of flicking video to video on TikTok and Instagram Reels is likely to become less attractive and less common.
My advice would be to expect the unexpected this year. Keep your strategy flexible so that you can adapt to the likely rapid changes as they happen. But keep in mind that while cheap media may shift from week to week, the value of a community won’t.
If you want to chat more about your 2023 social media strategy, drop us a line.