In 2023, an estimated 4.9 billion people use social media across the world. Trends on social media spread like wildfire, so whether you’re scrolling your own personal feeds or creating content on behalf of a brand, chances are you’ve seen and used the popular platforms, types of content, and features we’ve outlined below.
As this year comes to a close, we looked back on the 2023 social media landscape as a whole and what was trending. Keep reading to see our deep dive into seven current social media trends and what we think will continue on into 2024.
Social Media Trend #1: Short-form video has been and still is key
Though short-form content dates back to 2013 when Vine was the latest platform, it’s continued to dominate the social media scene throughout the last decade… and it’s not going anywhere yet. From TikTok to Instagram Reels to YouTube Shorts, short-form content continues to evolve amongst social media platforms. There are many reasons why creators like to make it and consumers prefer to engage with it.
- It takes less time to create and can, therefore, be more relevant to current trends, memes, sounds, or news. It also allows creators to be more consistent and post at a higher frequency.
- It’s more accessible and rarely requires a subscription unlike some long-form content options
- It’s a more engaging option for those who have a shorter attention span, especially when it comes to advertisements or product placement.
- There’s increased shareability with short-term content. It’s a simple click of a button in-app to send a reel via DM or tag someone in a TikTok that you want them to see versus having to track down the link of a long-form video and determine the best way to send it off.
While long-form content won’t disappear completely, it’s clear that it will face decline in the social media space in years to come as platforms continue to cater to short-form content through the development of new features.
Social Media Trend #2: The rise of user-generated content (UGC)
Do you remember back in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was nothing to do but stay inside and learn the newest TikTok dance? At this time, many turned to social media as an escape whether it was by consuming or creating content, thus producing a rise in User-Generated Content (UGC), or original, brand-specific content created by consumers and not by the brand itself.
Three years later, this has become much more than a trend. It is a way for brands to build community with their followers and push out authentic and original content, whether it’s through social media, video, or blogs. Social media users are more likely to trust a fellow customer or peer rather than the brand itself, leading more brands than ever to lean into UGC.
About 60% of consumers agree that UGC is the most authentic way brands can market themselves and social media campaigns that include UGC see 50% higher engagement. It is also a cost-effective way for brands to receive visibility and positive testimonials.
Beyond its growth in 2023, UGC will continue to rise in 2024. According to the Semrush Social Media 2024 Trends report, consumers will engage more with User-Generated Content (UGC) than polished, professional content.
One of the most popular user-generated content campaigns of all time | Photo Credit
Social Media Trend #3: You want me to download ANOTHER social media app?
This would not be a social media trends blog if we didn’t discuss the social media apps that were born in 2023, and which ones lost their mojo a bit.
- Though it was technically released in 2020, the social media photo app BeReal didn’t gain mega popularity until 2022. BeReal, as the name suggests, encourages its users to forget the filters or calculated post times and to just live in the moment with the task of posting a photo each day in a random 2-minute window. The app is designed to take the pressure off growing your following and instead create an intimate community to see a glimpse into your life.
As of August 2022, BeReal was at 73.5 million monthly active users, an all-time high, where in November 2023, it dropped to 25 million. Are people over the app? Do they prefer highly edited content posted at peak times? Only time will tell as we watch where BeReal’s users stand in 2024.
- Twitter (X) or Threads? That is the question. In early July, Meta launched its Twitter (X) competitor, following months of Elon Musk making several changes to the app, including its name. Receiving 100 million sign-ups in the first week, many wondered if Threads was how Twitter (X) was going to meet its demise. However, when you launch an app without a following tab, direct messaging feature, or chronological feed (and the list could go on), it’s safe to say that would not happen.
So what does the future look like for Threads? Well, their daily active user count is down 82% from launch as of July 31, according to Sensor Tower, with just eight million users accessing the app each day and Twitter (X) is dominating with 237.8 million daily users.
Curious to learn more about where Twitter (X) and its rival platforms stand and where they’re headed next? Check out Castle’s blog here.
Social Media Trend #4: Social Media + AI = 🤝
It seems as though no matter where you turn these days, AI is working its way into every platform, app, or software. According to Forbes, AI tools help enhance features of social media platforms and lead social media activities at scale across a number of use cases, including text and visual content creation, social media monitoring, ad management, influencer research, brand awareness campaigns and more.
For starters, Open AI’s ChatGPT has changed the way social media content creators develop clever conversational captions or ideas for new, innovative content. Even platforms like HubSpot and LinkedIn (premium users only) offer an option to ask AI for help before plugging in content of your own.
While AI and social media go hand in hand to improve algorithms and provide better user experiences, like any new development, there can be limitations or concerns. For example, will AI ever get to a point where it completely takes over social media jobs in the future by automating human tasks?
It will take a long time to reach that point (if ever), but for now, the use of AI through social media will continue to grow. 97% of leaders agree artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will enable companies to analyze social media data and insights more efficiently.
When users draft a caption in HubSpot, if they click on the lightning bolt in the bottom left corner, they can utilize the AI Assistant provided (see above).
Social Media Trend #5: Shop ‘til you Drop… on Social Media
While many turn to online shopping to avoid leaving the house and going to a store in person, it just became even easier with the rise of social media commerce, especially this year, where 20.8% of retail purchases [were] expected to take place online. Forget even getting out your computer, storefronts like Facebook Marketplace, IG stores, and TikTok shop make purchases more accessible from your phone with apps you’re already likely browsing each day.
With a plethora of benefits, it’s safe to say that social media shopping is here to stay and by 2026, 24% of retail purchases are expected to take place online. From a wide range of products to competitive pricing, and the sheer convenience, it’s an efficient way to shop and interact with the businesses and brands you love. What social media platform do you think will introduce shopping next?
Social Media Trend #6: LinkedIn is more popular than ever
Did you know that LinkedIn launched 20 years ago? The employment-focused social media platform built for networking, business connections, and job searching, LinkedIn is often overlooked when it comes to thinking about traditional social media platforms, despite starting the year with 900 million users worldwide (the platforms all-time high), adding 60 million new users since 2022.
So where did this increase come from? The app launched a significant number of new features in 2023 including:
- Improved video accessibility
- Standardized accessibility job titles
- Alt text functionality in campaign manager
- Updates to job search
- Updates to B2B product search
- Post scheduling
- Content analytics
In addition to new features, the platform has become increasingly popular for users to not only find jobs but to land them. Eight people are hired through LinkedIn every minute! This could be a result of how much time users are spending on LinkedIn this year. In September 2023, Social Media Today, LLC launched a poll, asking followers how much time they’ve spent on LinkedIn this year, with 43% voting “way more.”
As LinkedIn continues to implement new features and develop ways to keep their users active, soon we’ll see if this growth will rise even more in 2024.
Social Media Trend #7: 2023 Memes
Last, but certainly not least, we have to pay tribute to some of the most popular memes from this year. 2023 had a big focus on pop culture moments that many social media users talked about over and over again. Let’s take a look at some of the iconic moments from the past year that dominated the social media scene.
- Who knew two movies that couldn’t be less related to one another would become the dynamic duo of 2023. July 21, 2023, was the day both Greta Gerwig’s ‘Barbie’ and Christopher Nolan’s ’Oppenheimer‘ came out in theatres on the same day. Whether you saw one or the other or braved a “Barbenheimer” double feature, these two films were all anyone could talk about on social media for weeks and the memes did not disappoint.
Me on Barbenheimer day pic.twitter.com/C1PjXrj8wU— Pete Potato Pie 🍁🏳️🌈 (@PeteAscolese) July 10, 2023
Rihanna at the Superbowl
- The Superbowl halftime show is always widely talked about on social media, but Rihanna’s 2023 performance was jaw-dropping in more ways than one. Not only was this her first major live performance in SEVEN years, she stunned stadium attendees and those watching at home with the now-iconic red jumpsuit, complete with a pregnancy reveal! If that wasn’t enough to talk about, many got a kick out of her dancers’ white puffer outfits practically zipped up to their eyeballs.
Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour
- Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that Taylor Swift embarked on her Era’s Tour on March 17, 2023, and is still touring to this day! From fighting for our lives on Ticketmaster to even be able to see the show, to the showstopping outfits and the surprise song selections, the internet certainly had enough to discuss — and make memes out of.
- I don’t know about you, but I think I completely repressed the idea of Grimace all together. This year McDonald’s made sure we remembered his name…and his birthday on June 12, 2023. No one knows why the chain specifically wanted to commemorate his 52nd birthday, but a special meal was launched to celebrate, complete with a limited-edition purple, berry-flavored shake that went viral on the internet.
meee pretending i don't see the grimace shake trendd pic.twitter.com/ZTcnLTESC8— McDonald's (@McDonalds) June 27, 2023
Social media platforms and features are constantly evolving, new apps are continuously hitting the market, and the internet will always serve as a space for people to talk about or join in on the latest trend. The number of internet users who visit social media networks is expected to keep increasing, and will hit 82.3% for 2024. What will trend next year? What will flop? Only time will tell and we’ll be back to take another look.