What does the social media landscape look like in 2023?

What Does the Social Media Landscape Look Like in 2023?

Why social media? More and more businesses ask this question as they decide whether to invest time, money, and energy into social media platforms. As the online world of social media grows, marketing and communication strategies grow with it. 

Amy Hertsenberg, a seasoned professional in social media advertising, describes social media as a “power player” in the marketing world. She says:

  • There are 4.76 billion social media users.
  • 92.3% of total internet users are social media users.
  • A user’s average daily time on social media is 2 hours and 31 minutes. 

Amy shared her industry insights during the Stukent® Digital Summit: Social & PR session, “The 2023 Social Media Landscape: Tips, Tricks, and Tools.” If you couldn’t make the event, read on for an overview of her insights!

The Landscape of Social Media

Social media’s scale and usage make it an invaluable tool for users and brands. With most internet users spending time on social media, a report from eMarketer predicts that by 2025 there will be more social network users than TV viewers.

“There are dozens of platforms being developed on a daily basis,” Amy said. “There are younger generations who are aging into using these platforms or other generations who are now finally adopting these platforms, so the number of users on social is growing tremendously. The opportunity here is exponential, showing no signs of slowing down.”

With many platforms at our fingertips, Amy suggests that educators play an essential role in helping students understand their options with social media. She says that staying current with the latest trends and technology will help you help your students better understand the social media landscape.

The Evolution of Social Media

Amy discussed the difference between “connected” and “unconnected” content. She explained that social media has evolved from focusing on connection to focusing on discovery.

“When we first signed up for a Facebook account, it was largely made up of individual connections,” Amy said. “So you’re going out there finding someone you know and requesting to be their friend … and then brands got involved in the platform, and you would go and like a brand. That’s just not the way social media is used anymore. We have moved away from delivering strong connected content to what they call ‘unconnected content.’”

Chart from Amy shows how social media platforms have transformed since 2004, when Facebook first launched.

Unconnected content appears on a social media user’s feed or main page based on their interactions and the platform’s network of users, or what Facebook calls its “Audience Network.”

Instead of connecting with brands to see their content, social media users can see content in their feeds from users they don’t follow based on their interactions and network profiles. Algorithms now curate personalized content for users, even without direct connections to other users or brands. 

TikTok is a front-runner in this unconnected strategy with its “For You feed” feature. Amy shared insights stating, “U.S. Gen Z adults are significantly more likely than adults overall to start online product searches on TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram, per a February 2023 Jungle Scout survey.”

“There are several platforms that are more focused on the unconnected content,” Amy said. “Their algorithms are set up to collect data on you and create a feed of content that you have never engaged with — but based on the data that they have collected, the algorithm really believes that you would like to engage with the content.”

This personalized content delivery enhances users’ experiences and keeps them engaged. With newer generations using TikTok as a search bar, Amy explained that TikTok’s popularity will continue to grow, and the platform will continue to evolve. Time spent on the platform will grow over the next few years. TikTok is launching new options, ad placements, and other innovations as more users flock to the platform daily.

Essential Strategies for Success

Amy discussed the rise of video content and how brands should focus on creating captivating video content as users increasingly prefer visual experiences. Storytelling also plays a vital role in establishing meaningful connections with the audience and fostering brand loyalty. With approximately half of users’ digital platform interactions occurring on mobile devices, brands and educators need to optimize their content and campaigns for mobile users.

She also emphasized the power of authentic influencer marketing, particularly with micro or nano influencers. These influencers have niche followings, which helps build trust and credibility with a brand.

“People are much more likely to trust an influencer with a smaller audience if they have similar interests or if they have a powerful story that they’re telling that they’re engaged with,” Amy said. “Specifically, these smaller follower accounts tend to be more authentic than the giant influencers with millions of followers. So, I encourage you to invest time in looking at how brands use these smaller communities to have a much bigger impact on their audience.”

Critical Skills for Social Media Professionals

Amy highlighted essential skills for social media professionals to thrive in this competitive landscape. These skills include graphic design and video editing to create visually appealing content, data analysis to gain insights into campaign performance and user behavior, and the ability to craft effective campaign strategies that resonate with the target audience.

“There are a ton of skills needed to run and manage social accounts,” Amy said. “Great social media professionals don’t need to know it all but know enough to understand and communicate with other professionals. Knowing enough to speak the language can be hugely beneficial to a social media manager.”

She encourages students to grow in digital marketing and social media by exploring various tools and resources throughout their careers. Platforms like Meta Blueprint, eMarketer, and other academies offer valuable courses and certifications to enhance knowledge and expertise.

Here are some tools that Amy recommends:

Other Resources

If you want to refresh your curriculum with the latest social media trends and techniques, Stukent’s Essentials of Social Media Marketing Bundle challenges your students to develop a marketing strategy through a simulation, the Social Media Simternship™. The simulation blends perfectly with the “Essentials of Social Media Marketing” courseware, packed with hundreds of ready-to-use resources, such as case studies, lesson plans, and more. To learn more about our first-in-the-world Simternships and courseware, schedule a walkthrough with one of our course consultants today! 

For more engaging content from Michelle Charello, the author of “Essentials of Social Media Marketing,” check out her 2023 Marketing ProfCon session, “Innovative Approaches to Social Media Marketing: Harnessing the Power of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality.” She dives into how leading social media platforms and brands are leveraging AI and AR to create immersive and personalized marketing experiences. Watch the session if you want to discover how students can harness the power of AI as social media marketers to drive engagement and deliver exceptional results for brands!

Stukent Digital Summit: Social & PR was held online on July 14, 2023. If you want to see Stukent’s upcoming events, visit the Events page on our website.

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