What’s up in the social and digital media landscape this year?

2023 is shaping up to be the year of authentic connections, sustainable solutions and predictive technologies. Here's a primer.

Another year, another chapter, another chance for us to explore opportunities in digital marketing. There is no way for us to tell what the future holds, but doesn’t it make life more thrilling when we make brave forecasts about tomorrow? 

Here’s what we think we’ll be preoccupied with in 2023. Hop on and let’s explore.


If there’s one thing we’ve learned from 2022, it’s that users favour transparency and honesty online or IRL. We can expect the same demands this year in the virtual world — especially now when it’s becoming harder to distinguish between what is real or not online.

The unified customer experience (CX) platform Emplifi predicts that authentic — meaning unaugmented — content will be more prevalent throughout 2023. The BeReal app was able to tap on this demand during the latter part of 2022 as more users uploaded real-life images, real time —  though these only became viral once they were made available on TikTok, which is also significant in itself. One of the reasons for TikTok’s skyrocketing popularity is that it’s able to tap on a vein of authenticity and genuine connection with users and their audiences. It’s too early to tell if BeReal and apps like it can replicate this connection. Be that as it may, unaugmented “real, genuine” content was eventually offered in other apps — like TikTok Now and Instagram Glimpse — solidifying its place in the social media landscape. These developments prompted brands to revamp their marketing strategies to make their image more human and connections with their audiences more genuine. 

Sustainability 2.0

“Energy Saving”, “Sustainability”, and “Eco-Friendly” — these buzzwords have been cropping up more often in recent years as brands hop on the green bandwagon to keep or gain relevance. 

However, time now to put money where their mouth is. Expect brands to really double down on their sustainability efforts this year as consumers clamour for more accountability. 

Mina Sunico-Chin, Managing Partner, Hashtag Interactive believes that such clamour is expected given the effects of global warming and climate change being felt more across the globe. Where does Hashtag Interactive place itself in the sustainability issue? “As a digital marketing company, we are inherently sustainable,” says Mina, “In fact, we work with a lot of clients with real and accountable sustainable goals.” In 2023, expect environmental, social, and governance measures to be at the forefront for brands. 

For instance, appliance manufacturer Electrolux hammered out a viable sustainability framework targetting 2030 for achieving their sustainability objectives as a company, complete with annual goals to track their progress. Back in 2021, their goal was to reduce carbon emission in product use by 20% and 78% in operations. Currently, they are already four years ahead of their target.  

Also on the list is Mandai Wildlife Reserve (MWR)’s Ranger Buddies programme which focuses on the young, by encouraging children to go on online “missions” to save wildlife. The aim is to teach valuable lessons about animals and wildlife conservation that they will hopefully take with them in the real world. Educating the young helps build a strong foundation of environmental awareness and accountability that could lead Singapore one step closer to its sustainability goals. MWR is doubling down on the sustainability messaging with a social media campaign this year. 

As the nature of online communities makes chatter about issues much louder, Rocky Sunico, Chief Operations Officer, Hashtag Interactive advises companies to “do more due diligence to validate what causes are truly important to their customer base and act accordingly.” 

Social media as a means to solidify relationship with audience 

Beyond being more in tune with social issues, expect brands in 2023 to be more responsive, engaged, and have a sense of urgency. Brands need to think about being more proactive in relating to their audience — not just in case of crises but as a way to build a more solid relationship with their online community. 

“Social media platforms serve as the ‘bridge’ between brands and their customers through community management and customer service,” says Nicole David, Social Media Manager, Hashtag Interactive. “Socials can help deliver customers’ pain-points and in turn highlight how both the brand and the messaging being delivered are viewed.” 

Recognising the vital role community management plays in both brand-side and consumer-side, Hashtag Interactive established its own Social Media department to provide a more seamless support for clients in their socials. “This is where Hashtag’s social media team comes in as we raise these marketing opportunities through social listening and actively build a stronger and authentic community online.” 

This is an excellent way to nurture relationships between brands and consumers.

Decentralised networks putting pressure on social media giants

With growing concern over data security, privacy, censorship, and user control on the Internet and social media, decentralised networks were born. What exactly are decentralised networks? A Tulane University article defines them as social networks which “operate on independently run servers, rather than on a centralised server owned by a business.” They can be based on open-source software or be run on blockchain technology which “allows data entries to be stored in servers anywhere in the world,” giving room for transparency. Networks such as LOL, Solcial, or Steem give users more control and freedom over what they can do online. 

Analysts predict that these networks will become even more popular in 2023, pushing social media giants to give their users what they want — control…although not entirely. 

Tina Relampagos, Account Director, Hashtag Interactive sees this happening, too, as “more and more people will continue to seek new ways to be part of communities that are innovative and unconventional”. Will they be able to replace platforms like Facebook any time soon? Not likely, Tina says. “They will still be considered a niche market though as opportunity groups for highly targeted campaigns, but social media giants will continue to dominate influence and communication. The latter still have the mass and increased use of decentralised networks will not replace social media human behaviour that we have acquired thanks to these giants.”

Just like any other established platforms, it will take years of trial and error before these social networks can create a crippling dent on the current frontrunners. However, we could look forward to their performance this year. 

Social media & marketing professionals to delve into predictive analytics – AI 

Ever since the development of data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) processes, we have seen new technologies sweeping the world. The future is now, they say. Businesses across industries have started to use predictive analytics in a move towards a more data-driven business model and to simplify processes. Not only have these tools made things easier for companies, but they also help in providing more accurate and timely solutions. 

It’s still in the nascent stages though. “I feel the industry is still figuring out the value of such tools and the jury’s still out on how truly accurate their predictions are,” says Rocky. 

U.S.-based Pecan AI’s Predictive Analytics in Marketing Survey showed that although 95% of companies surveyed are already integrating predictive analytics into their marketing strategy, 90% of them are still unable to make data-driven decisions. Meanwhile, in APAC, only 25% of marketers and customer experience professionals are confident in their company’s ability to adapt to these AI opportunities. For the industry in general though, the use of predictive analytics to improve on marketing and social media professionals’ social listening systems is gaining even more traction and is likely to be a mainstay in their arsenal of tools. 

Predictive analytics is helpful for brands to get to know and understand their audiences better, and thus get ahead in terms of providing service and maybe get a jump on the trends, instead of just following them. 

Ready for 2023? 

2023 has just begun. Our forecasts have been laid down. Which of these trends do you think will make their way up the leaderboard? Our best bet is on authentic content and platforms dominating. But who knows? Something unexpected and different could jolt the digital and social media sphere in the coming months. Just make sure you don’t get caught off guard when it comes! 

What are your thoughts about the digital and social media landscape for 2023? What trends do you see and issues we’re likely to experience? Hit us up so we can hash it out!

on March 15, 2023