We swiped, scrolled, and shared our way through 2022 as social media’s grip on the masses showed no signs of slowing down.
And with a reported 59% of the world’s population using social media for an average of two hours and 31 minutes each day — brands who want to make it big online in 2023 have their work cut out for them.
HubSpot surveyed 1.28k+ social media marketers around the world to gather data and insights on the social media strategies that will drive revenue and build brand recognition in 2023. Plus, we’ve brought in social experts to make sense of the stats and share their predictions for the coming year.
Here are six strategies to drive revenue and build a loyal following:
1. Treat Social Media Platforms as Ecommerce Channels
The line between social media platforms and traditional ecommerce channels gets blurrier each year, and the trend will continue into 2023, likely accelerating.
More than one in five Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X social media users bought a product directly in a social media app in the past three months, and 80% of social media marketers say consumers will buy products directly within social apps more often than on brands’ websites or third-party websites like Amazon.
This means brands will need to have robust, functional social media presences in order to attract customers and drive sales through social channels.
Driving this trend, says Kami Watson Huyse, CEO of digital marketing agency Zoetica, is the rising popularity of virtual shopping and immersive online experiences.
“Virtual shopping is going to be a huge trend this year,” she says, pointing to Snapchat, Google Lens, and the metaverse as platforms that are allowing shoppers to interact with products virtually before buying directly inside apps. “Younger generations have come to expect there to be an experience around your brand.”
2. Don’t Sleep on Instagram
HubSpot’s data showed that Instagram is #1 for ROI and engagement — and that it offers the highest-quality leads. Social media marketers say Instagram has the most accurate algorithm, and rate it as the top platform for brands to grow their audience in 2023.
With the introduction of Reels, Instagram now offers brands with nearly every option for reaching their customers. The app can house still photos, videos, stories, and has a shopping feature that allows users to purchase products in app.
Brands looking to take advantage of Instagram’s reach should use all of its offered features, publishing posts, Reels, and stories, and they should use the app as an ecommerce platform to allow for in-app purchases, providing top-tier customer service in addition to product listings.
“Instagram is awesome and always will be,” says Watson Huyse. “If you’re a brand trying to teach things, it’s a great place to do that.”
3. Be Relatable
As far as what you should be posting on social media to attract an audience, 50% of consumers say funny content is the most memorable, followed by relatable content at 36%. And 68% of consumers say social media content being authentic and relatable is more important than it being overly polished.
“The more relatable people and the ones you can tell are genuine will be popular,” says Anna Sullivan, founder and CEO of the Creative Exchange social media agency. “That’s all we're focusing on for our brands in 2023 — finding the right people to consistently be a person that their audience can fall in love with and relate to.”
Sullivan points to creators that have amassed huge followings on TikTok recently — such as Elyse Myers (6.2m followers), Keith Lee (10.3m followers), and Alix Earle (4.4m). All three make videos speaking directly into the camera, like they are talking with a friend in a casual conversation, and cover broad topics like food or lifestyle.
For 2023, brands should focus on mirroring the success of those creators, introducing authentic, casual content that offers a level of relatability for viewers, whether this is through humor or conversation.
4. Ditch the Celebrities
To achieve that relatability and genuineness, it might be time to rethink the A-list celebrity campaigns.
Viewers want to feel like they’re talking to a friend rather than being sold a product, and micro-influencers can be more effective in eliciting the trust that a close relationship would.
Only 16% of influencer marketers work with accounts over 1m followers, while 80% work with small creators (who have 1k to 99.9k followers/subscribers). Working with smaller influencers is also more cost-effective, makes it easier to build long-term partnerships, and gives brands access to communities of loyal, engaged followers.
And social media users respond well to influencers they know and trust: 31% prefer to discover new products on social media through an influencer they follow, and this number only goes up for Gen Z users specifically, 43% of whom say influencer marketing is their preferred product discovery channel.
Watson Huyse says that trust on social media is more important now than ever before in the wake of rising online misinformation: “Authenticity is huge — people have to know you and trust you. The only way to do that is to do the right thing over and over.”
5. Slide Into the DMs
As social media and ecommerce blend into one, the need to offer customer service support on social media platforms will become increasingly important to customers.
One in five Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X social media users have contracted a brand through DMs for customer service in the past three months, and 84% of social media marketers say social media will become consumer’s preferred channel for customer service in 2023 (76% say their company already offers customer service via social).
“You can’t really get around [offering customer service] because most brands are posting to social every single day and you can see that they’re active,” says Sullivan. “It’s a community manager’s job to respond to everything and show interest in customers.”
To build a loyal, engaged customer base, businesses should keep their DMs open, and be timely and thoughtful in their responses, offering the same customer service they would on their website or traditional ecommerce platform.
6. Fuel the New Search Engine
The way people search for information and products online is starting to look different. Rather than typing an inquiry into Google, a user might instead enter it into the TikTok search bar. The shift away from traditional search is likely, with 87% of social media marketers saying consumers will search for brands more on social than through search engines in 2023.
With 55% of social media users employing the search function on social platforms, brands should optimize their social profiles for search by using relevant keywords and hashtags in posts where possible, making an easy-to-find username, and keeping a consistent username across platforms.
As for content that will perform well with shifting search behavior, Watson Huyse says you need to understand the needs of your audience and seek to answer their questions as you would with traditional SEO content creation.
“You want to make sure you’re creating content that answers questions people have, but to do it in an entertaining way,” she says. “It has to capture people’s imaginations.”