Social media advertising is not new, but how brands market to their audience via paid channels is always changing. From the types of influencers that businesses choose to the framing and overall message of an ad, anticipating and following trends can make all the difference in whether an ad succeeds.
As one of the fastest-growing social platforms, TikTok is a prime market for advertising. Reports suggest that by 2026, ad revenue on the app will be nearly $14 billion. Let’s look at some of the trends predicted in social media advertising in 2023.
Shifts in UGC
While user-generated content (UGC) has always been an important part of social advertising, the way that brands approach this is changing. Where well-known influencers with an audience of millions were once the goal, audiences are becoming wary of ad after ad on their social feeds.
The growing concern around what is an ad and what isn’t when it comes to UGC raises a number of ethical questions and concerns. Are influencers really “obsessed” with every product they promote on their accounts? Unlikely. Even with #ad or #sponsored disclosures — which are required by the Federal Trade Commission — it’s easy for audiences to suspect that influencers are excited only about items they’re paid to talk about.
As a result, brands will start to look for smaller UGC creators who aren’t influencers or current customers. Focus will shift toward paid advertising using “actors”, (ie: UGC creators posing as customers), making content effectively a commercial. In many cases, this will be posted directly by the brand as paid advertising or using co-branded tools integrated into the platforms to collaborate with creators to give it an air of increased authenticity.
Growth of ads that don’t look like advertising
Along the same lines, 2023 is already seeing increases of “de-influencing” and the rise of “anti ads.” In other words, advertising that doesn’t look like advertising.
The TikTok mechanical voice, which strips away some of the previously popular personal connection that advertising focused on, is used millions of times each day in both paid and organic content. As a result, it’s very easy for advertising videos to blend in with other content on a user’s for-you page (FYP), making it less obvious that the content is actually an ad.
A good example of this new trend is “reasons not to buy”. This content opens with a slightly sarcastic voiceover, like “reasons I regret buying this popular skincare product”, but is then followed by a string of positive points about the product.
Spark ads on TikTok
Although not a new trend, making native ads through Spark on TikTok will continue to be important throughout 2023 for most businesses. This tool makes creating ads much simpler, helping brands tie their content back to creators who already post about their products or services.
With Spark ads, any views, comments, shares, likes or follows are all attributed to the video posted by the brand. Ad performance data shows significantly higher engagement, completion, and conversion rates compared to non-Spark ads, improving return on investment (ROI) for brands looking to boost their TikTok content in 2023.
Branded content on social media
UGC will always be an important part of social advertising, but the return of branded content shouldn’t be overlooked.
It’s easy to think that the branded point of view feels too commercial. Instead, brands should focus on taking the best parts of UGC and applying it to their brand voice.
Making content human and relatable is crucial for brands that want to use more of their own content, and many have already seen success with behind-the-scenes or day-in-the-life videos from the people behind the business.
The Duolingo owl is one of the best examples of how a brand has made this trend work. Auntie Anne’s also uses humor to humanize their social presence, incorporating organic UGC to create a 360-view of life when you love soft pretzels.
This isn’t exclusive to TikTok. Instagram and Facebook will also continue to make use of branded content partnership tools to help businesses create co-branded opportunities on their platforms, merging UGC and brand-created materials into a single ad.
Narrower focus on entertainment
The rapid rise of the “de-influencing” trend may be a concern for many product-selling brands. Although discussions around consumerism and social media’s role in amplifying it are continually changing, this doesn’t mean social advertising is going anywhere. Simply put, brands must adapt their content to align with what consumers are currently turning to social media for — entertainment.
Other trends we’ve outlined here point toward this shift, but that doesn’t mean advertising needs to grind to a standstill. Instead, the content should feel more fun and lighthearted rather than directly selling to potential customers.
E.l.f. Cosmetics has done this effectively, creating engaging and fun advertising that feels more organic than ad. As a result, they’ve dropped their acquisition costs for add-to-cart by over 50%. Particularly on TikTok, using native-to-platform features like stitching and dueting helps keep content fresh and attention-grabbing for an audience.
Investment in connected TV
As digital ad costs continue to rise, brands are always searching for new, more cost-efficient channels to tip their customer acquisition costs in their favor. Lasso Digital CEO Taylor Rosty says, “Connected TV will only become a more important part of a brand's marketing mix moving forward. With a lower cost than broadcast advertising, this is ideal for brands hoping to get in front of potential customers where they're spending an increasing amount of time–in front of streaming services in their homes”.
With programs for businesses of all sizes rolling out from providers such as Hulu and Discovery+, we are likely to see a bigger investment in connected TV in 2023.
Consumers are being more savvy about digital advertising every day, and the predicted trends for 2023 reflect a growing sense of unease around consumption and being heavily marketed to by brands.
To build and maintain an effective social advertising strategy, businesses must reflect on their current methods and move toward more informative and entertaining content that ties together brand values, product features and, most importantly, the humans behind the business.