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We Are Social Launches Latest Edition of Annual Trend Report Think Forward 2023



Report highlights the shifts in how people are connecting and using social media in 2023 edition of Think Forward

We Are Social Launches Latest Edition of Annual Trend Report Think Forward 2023

Global socially-led creative agency We Are Social has released its latest trends report, Think Forward 2023. 

Titled ‘Fragmented Futures’ the report unpicks the complex and ever-shifting web of digital culture and behaviour, and explores the role brands can play in reflecting and shaping it. 

In Think Forward 2023, We Are Social’s global cultural insights team have highlighted several key shifts in how people are using social media and digital spaces, all of which indicate a kaleidoscopic vision for the future. 

The report discusses how individuality is no longer the main pull of social, instead platforms like TikTok and Reddit are encouraging collaborative creation, creating space for effective community building. It also places emphasis on the impact of VR and AR on identity in digital spaces, discussing how creators are flexing their own products and IP to support more open self-expression in online worlds. 

The report references several brand examples, giving advice to brands who want to lean into these trends in the coming year. 

The Think Forward 2023 trends are:

Textured Discovery: We are experiencing a shift in how people explore the internet and discover new content. Users are questioning the old ways and capitalising on the rich data social offers, supplementing traditional modes of search with ones that are visual, collaborative, serendipitous, and brimming with personal experience. Discovery journeys are beginning within the depths of Reddit, the sensory minefield of TikTok, or the far corners of Roblox – and these new launchpads are influencing what kind of information people are seeking out. 

Collapsing Narratives: Storytelling is no longer linear or contained. Instead, to survive the modern attention economy, storytelling on social is mutating. Once a formulaic art – beginning, middle, end – stories are no longer progressing through a full narrative arc, nor do they play out start-to-finish in one place. Instead, story arcs are collapsing and starting mid-narrative, or expanding and becoming scattered across platforms. 

Margin-chasers: On social, extreme behaviour is seen as more authentic, gaining traction and cutting through. As rising cynicism makes it increasingly difficult to come off as genuine, authenticity has become a game of chicken, pushing people to behave more and more unusually in order to be seen as true believers – rather than mere posers. This explains why self-expression is moving to extremes: in the post-genuineness internet, extreme now equates to believability. 

New Cooperatives: Once so closely related, two core tenets of online behaviour – connecting with friends and consuming content – have begun to drift apart. The vacuum they've created is being filled by forms of connection that are open, dynamic, and far less focused on the individual. As the social web reorganises itself, individuality is out – at least in its earlier form. Identity curation, self-presentation, hierarchy and status-seeking are being gently set aside to make more space for effective community-building.

Expanding Identities: As we enter an even more VR- and AR-inflected realm of social, it’s opening up new avenues for identity expression. It’s part of why the ability to self-represent in virtual worlds – whether with accuracy, playfulness, or nuance – is a major cultural touchpoint. Against this backdrop, legacy brands and creators alike are furiously flexing their IP to support more open self-expression in online worlds.

Mobbie Nazir, global chief strategy officer at We Are Social, said “Last year Think Forward was all about how we emerged from the pandemic into a new online landscape. Now we’re faced with a social landscape that has been shattered into many segmented realities. Whether it’s niche creator content capturing our attention on TikTok, or the dawn of new discovery allowing us to stumble upon the unexpected, brands will now face the challenge of appealing to people across multiple overlapping interests and realities.”

Mira Kopolovic, cultural research and insight director at We Are Social, commented “These five trends are a distilled representation on how much social flux we’ve witnessed over the past twelve months. Now, we’re looking at a social landscape made up of many worlds, which will inevitably present a challenge to brands looking to connect with communities. Identity, community and chaos are core themes we’re analysing for their effect on social – and from what we’ve found, this fragmented future offers a really exciting moment for culture to flourish beyond its former boundaries.”

Read Think Forward 2023: Fragmented Futures here

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We Are Social UK, Wed, 30 Nov 2022 14:34:11 GMT