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Social platform predictors for 2023

2022 has been an odd year for social media to say the very least. Even within our own newsletter, headlines questioning whether “Instagram is dying” or featuring “LinkedIn influencers” and not to mention a million updates on the “TikTok algorithm” have swarmed in. 

With all the updates, it’s difficult to predict what might be coming next, but we’ll give it a shot, with some of our 2023 predictions for each of the major social apps.


TikTok 

Let’s start with the hot app of the moment. The element of controversy surrounding this app is its linkage to the Chinese Government, which, perceived or not, continues to keep the political scrutiny high on the app.

We have already spoken about this a lot here but a huge issue for the app is its inability to make live-stream shopping as popular in the west as it is in China. Thus far, western users haven’t exactly warmed to live-stream shopping, at least not in the way that some Asian regions have, but TikTok is determined to make it work, as a means to both maximise revenue and provide another monetization opportunity for creators.
Expect this to become a much bigger, much more promoted element in the app in 2023, as it looks to make live-stream shopping a thing.

The Creator Fund is also an issue seeing that as TikTok gets bigger, the payout amounts get smaller, so as TikTok benefits from creator content, those creators get paid less.

TikTok is trying out new models to get its top stars, in particular, paid. But with YouTube launching a new take on short-form video monetization, it’ll need to try out other methods to keep the money flowing – or it risks losing its talent, and their content, completely.

The main ‘to-do’ for TikTok as we approach 2023 is to push its ability to prove that it’s not connected to the CCP, and that it operates in total separation from the Chinese Government.

TikTok has already established an agreement with US-based Oracle to store US user information. That seems like a good step – and it seems like TikTok’s hoping that will be enough – but I suspect that it’ll need to go even further in 2023 to prove that China cannot access US, or other region user info.


Instagram

It is safe to say that Instagram has embarrassed itself a little this year in copying everything that TikTok does and even receiving backlash for it from social media icons like Kylie Jenner. 

Following such complaints, the app announced that it was scaling back the amount of AI-recommended posts in user feeds ‘till it could get it right’, and ensure users were having a good experience as a result of this process.

Desperate to fend off competition, it has actually, seemingly, worked thus far, with the app recently reporting that it’s now up to 2 billion monthly active users.

But will that keep working – will copying every trending functionality from every trending app ensure that Instagram maintains its position as an essential social app, or are users already tiring of the replication, and the cluttering of the once simple, photography-focused platform?

If Instagram can better ingratiate itself with creators, that will see more of them posting more often – while the longer term view is that by engaging creators in its apps now, Meta can then use that as a lever to get more of these users interested in creating in the metaverse as well.

As such, Instagram really wants its AI-recommendations to work, while Reels is also its fastest-growing content format, so you can expect to see more random updates, and more Reels, in more places in the app.

A strong point that Instagram maintains is that with its more creative ethos, and connection to talent, is also a key bridge between the current state and the metaverse – which is why IG is so keen to establish stronger systems for creators.

By providing more ways for creators to create and showcase these next-level types of art, that can help Meta guide them into creation in the metaverse – because Meta knows that if it wants users to get more interested in the VR realm, it needs to create engaging, enticing experiences.

Expect to see new creation tools, like GIFs generated from Live Photos on IG, and also, the integration of 3D creation tools from its Spark AR platform directly into Instagram itself.

Similarly to TikTok, Instagram is still experimenting with live-stream shopping, which has been huge in some other markets. Expect to see a bigger announcement on live shopping on IG sometime early in 2023.


Twitter 

Now under the rule of the controversial Elon Musk, Twitter is set to reportedly replace entire management and engineering teams at the app. Which means that anything might be possible, and nothing from Twitter’s past really sets any precedent. Yikes.

Musk has repeatedly noted that he wants to use subscriptions as a means to boost Twitter’s revenue, while also providing another layer to rid the app of bots, a key focus in his approach. He tweeted that while the ‘casual user’ won’t have to pay, commercial versions and government accounts should.
There are various ideas on this, but it seems most likely that Musk will look to charge business users a monthly fee to use the app, by enticing them with improved analytics features and insights.

Increased revenue truly is the name of the game and so Musk has also floated the idea of charging users a small fee to tweet, which he then backed away from at a later stage, while he’s also, reportedly, considering charging users with verified ticks a monthly fee to keep them.

The most interesting part of Musk’s plan so far is arguably his desire to implement a way for users to get a better understanding of how algorithms dictate their Twitter experience, by giving them the option to choose which algorithmic elements influence their tweet feed, and enabling them to control their own experience, to some degree.

There could be a way to simplify and enhance this in the app, but trying to get users to engage in increasingly technical elements, in order to define their experience, doesn’t seem like a path to UI improvement.

As for Musk’s ultimate goal, he has stated that buying Twitter is a step to creating X, the ultimate app. 


Pinterest 

Pinterest has had another up-and-down year – though it seems to be on a more steady upward trajectory again now.

After seeing a big boost in usage as a result of the COVID lockdowns, Pinterest then saw its audience revert largely to the mean, as physical stores reopened, but it’s now re-igniting its product discovery/eCommerce push under new CEO, and former Google commerce chief, Bill Ready.

Pinterest’s income from North American users literally towers over what it makes in other regions. Pin ads are still not available in all markets, and while Pinterest is still growing, it needs to work on building its ad opportunities to maximise its potential in this respect.

As such, you can expect to see Pinterest put a bigger focus on international markets in 2023, and build its ad tools to better align with local opportunities.

Discovery is the backbone of Pinterest’s operation, and with a former Google chief at the helm, you can expect this to remain a key focus, as it looks to tap into new opportunities in highlighting the most relevant products via improved search tools and processes.

Pinterest is also building out its AR tools, and in 2023, we expect Pinterest will provide new tools to help businesses more easily capture their products in 3D, to fuel AR product Pins.

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