Social Media Futures Forecast: 2023
To read the full OAS Social Media Futures Forecast, please download the PDF here.
Welcome to the 2023 Social Media Futures Forecast by the Office of Applied Strategy. Here, we present some of the key social media trends we’re paying particular attention to—along with our predictions for how it’ll all play out—as we work with our clients on charting the future of culture at large.
Our report covers eight social media trends, with each trend being broken into the following sections:
- The Big Picture
- Why This Trend Matters
- Where This Trend Will Take Us
- Our Top Three Predictions For The Coming Year
Here's a synopsis of our eight social media trends:
TREND 01: THE TRANSFORMATION ECONOMY
As Gen-Z youth prioritize wellness, users are turning to TikTok to discuss mental health and selfcare. There has been a considerable shift on social towards self-improvement over self-indulgence. Away from the attention economy and towards the transformation economy .
Instead of looking for immediate ways to pamper themselves, consumers are increasingly focused on transformation : focusing on longer term personal growth, engaging with brands that offer the promise of unlocking the aspirational self.
TREND 02: INTROVERTED SOCIAL MEDIA
As digital fatigue continues to rise  and micro-platforms like BeReal grow in popularity, users are prioritizing apps that let them introspect, curate and discuss within a smaller community context.
Instead of social as a tool of flex culture, ‘introverted social media’ acts an antidote to the algorithmic anxiety of mindlessly chasing after the next trend cycle. It’s using social in a way that rejects the urgency of the trend cycle and optimizing performance metrics in favor of more candid, personal connections.
TREND 03: AI-ENHANCED CREATIVITY
Within the past few months, progress in AI has made advanced tools more accessible; now non-coders can use programs like ChatGPT & Midjourney to create pro-level creative content indistinguishable from what a human could create (sometimes even better).
This has lead to ethical concerns around stylistic theft and the obsolescence of the traditional creative process. AI will become an increasingly commonplace tool in the near future.
Welcome to the age of AI-Enhanced Creativity.
TREND 04: POSITIVE FRICTION – ALGORITHMIC ANXIETY'S ANTIDOTE
Algorithmic Anxiety  is the concern that algorithms are increasingly controlling our lives: determining what content we see and what our media diet consists of.
As such, we’re seeing new platforms that incorporate positive friction into the user experience gain traction. These apps, like BeReal and Bilibili, purposely add constraints into the experience that limit app usage or make it harder to post content. This break in the passive consumption model gives users more room to be intentional in their choices.
TREND 05: PIVOT TO SOCIAL SHOPPING
Social commerce is lagging behind in the US. At an estimated size of $400 billion, China’s social commerce market is larger than the next 10 countries combined. A large part of this is the expanded set of shoppable social features, including the video shopping format, which accounts of 14% of China’s online sales .
Social shopping is catching up in the US: Pinterest introduced shoppable pins, Meta has Instagram Marketplace, and Snapchat launched its moonshot AR Market.
The race is heating up.
TREND 06: VIRTUAL AVATAR REVOLUTION
Virtual influencers have been part of the social media scene since 2016 , rivaling celebrities in followers  (and tricking followers into thinking they’re real humans).
As computer graphics advance and mocap technology becomes more readily available, everyday users can become virtual avatars more easily without requiring a professional setup.
The Virtual Avatar Revolution is here: your entrypoint to the metaverse.
TREND 07: MEMEIFIED PSYOPS
Social media has always been a vector for online radicalization & recruitment into extremist beliefs. Part of why social media works so well is its use of irony  allows groups to spread ideology while deflecting criticism via memes.
With the deregulation of Twitter and the rise of decentralized platforms like Telegram and Mastodon, there is growing concern around the use of social  to radicalize youth through psyops grassroots and state-backed.
TREND 08: FANDOM ECONOMIES POWER UP
The drive towards online community has unlocked a new economy based around the monetization of personality , from the mega influencer through to the everyday side hustler.
People are monetizing their passions and the economic significance of fandoms will grow in scale. Fandoms have become political and social movements in their own right , and brands are increasingly learning how to lean into their communities to harness them.