It is doubtful that a year ago anyone could have anticipated that Elon Musk would own Twitter, only to subsequently seek someone else to run the show. In fact, 2022 was quite the year for social media as Donald Trump finally launched Truth Social, there were renewed calls to ban TikTok, while a Twitter alternative had yet to emerge.
2023 could see even more upheavals for social media. Yet, what is almost certain is that the platforms will continue to be used by younger people.
“Gen Z will continue to heavily influence the social media landscape and their desire for authenticity will lead to major transformational changes in the industry,” suggested Wendy Mei, head of product and strategy at social media app Playsee.
New Services Could Emerge
Gen Z social media users will likely continue to have a desire for accurate representations of themselves and others around them, and therefore, will gravitate towards authentic, and less curated content.
“Old platforms that are so entrenched with unrealistically perfect ideologies will be unable to satisfy this generation; the measurable shift in preferences has and will continue to lead to a significant discontent among some of the major players in the space – creating room for new platforms that promote authenticity,” added Mei. “As with any industry, there are bound to be some platforms that don’t make it through the year so it’s up to us to create that staying power and desire for long-term use.”
Users could also find new ways to integrate social media into their everyday lives to satisfy their need to connect and have a sense of belonging in their communities, Mei suggested.
Twitter’s Downward Spiral Will Continue
Elon Musk already seems to have a bit of “buyer’s remorse” over his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. His policies with the social media platform aren’t likely to help it, at least not in the short term.
“The downward spiral of Twitter will continue so long as Elon Musk insists on staying in the public eye and engaging with critics like a third-grade playground bully,” said technology analyst Charles King of Pund-IT. “It also seems likely that Twitter will try engaging a well-known partner or partners to revamp troubled parts of its business, including its advertising organization.”
The days of Twitter’s dominance could come to an end.
“The growing number of increasingly viable competitors, Musk’s mismanagement, and employee litigation should have it solidly in the MySpace category by year-end,” added Rob Enderle, technology analyst at the Enderle Group.
Twitter won’t be the only social media company that is seeking to move past the problems it faced in 2022. It is likely many at Facebook parent Meta would like to move beyond last year. How exactly that will happen isn’t clear, however.
“The Metaverse social network experiment will continue to fail until the technology meets expectations, likely towards the end of the decade,” Enderle noted.
“Rumors that Meta will split into two organizations, one focused on Facebook and the other on the metaverse are likely to come true,” King opinioned. “That should appease large shareholders and institutional investors but it won’t do much to help Mark Z’s vision of the commercial metaverse gain traction or succeed.”
Will TikTok Actually Be Banned?
At this point, it is more likely a matter of when – not if – the Chinese-owned TikTok will see a widespread ban in the United States. Already, several states have banned the video-sharing app on government devices, and just last week, the House of Representatives followed suit by banning it from all staffer’s phones and other devices as well.
Yet, at least in the short term the company could continue to do well.
“TikTok is the one platform that will continue to experience growth in membership,” said tech entrepreneur Lon Safko, author of the Social Media Bible. “It amazes me Vine failed, but TikTok caught on like wildfire. The ‘short-form video’ has always been an effective way of communicating, considering the human attention span has essentially dropped below that of a goldfish. This form of communication has proven itself to the point where YouTube offers their version of TikTok type short-form-videos.”
As a result, the clock may keep ticking for TikTok.
“The banning of TikTok on U.S. and some state government-owned phones and other devices is unlikely to stem its popularity among young people and the advertisers focusing on those audiences,” added King. “After all, the known dangers of other social media platforms, including spreading false information and offering conduits for extremist rhetoric, hasn’t measurably impacted their users.”
Influence Could Wane
2022 may have been the last big year for influencers – even as nearly a quarter of Gen-Z said in a survey last year that their ideal job would be an influencer. The market just can’t support it, and it is likely that those who fail are less likely to pay attention to the few who are able to succeed.
“Influencer marketing has become more difficult throughout 2022 with the glut of people trying to become that next influencer,” Safko explained. “Their interest in promoting other products by successful influencers has waned to near zero.”
Moreover, moving into 2023, nearly all of the social platforms have reached their membership saturation and will likely need help to maintain shareholder value.
“They are all under the constant threat by their Board of Directors to continuously increase revenue while membership activity is plummeting,” said Safko. “We will still use social media, but it will take an inordinate amount of work and money to see marginal results. There will still be the bluebirds, where someone will become an influencer more by accident than by design.”
Old Problems Will Remain
The general consensus is that we should expect a lot of change to come in 2023, especially as the nation remains so divided.
“Platforms will remain an easy and somewhat safe political target as we enter the next election cycle. AI will emerge more actively in the segment; sadly, most will be focused on scamming users, but some will improve moderation and increase engagement,” said Enderle.
That isn’t to say everything will change this year. Some of what has worked in the past will likely continue on.
“Hookup apps continue to grow in popularity and activity,” Safko noted. “Apps like OkCupid, Hinge, Tinder, and Grindr, are more popular than ever.”