Social media is always evolving to satisfy the needs and interests of its users. New social media platforms emerge to serve specific audiences or to offer something different. In 2016, a little app called TikTok transformed the social media landscape through its short videos and casual, spontaneous aesthetic; it’s now the most-downloaded app in the world.
Of course, not all new social media apps will blow up like TikTok. But they do reveal how social trends and user expectations are evolving over time. If you’re not already keeping an eye on the platforms below, it’s worth checking them out to see how social media is changing in 2023.
Download our Social Trends report to get data from over 10,000 marketers that you can use to plan a viral-worthy social strategy in 2023.
New social media platforms to watch in 2023
If you’re tired of the “Instagram Reality” of filters, photoshop, and faked photo ops that dominate social media, then BeReal could be for you.
But what is BeReal exactly? Created in France in 2019, the mission of this app is to create “a new and unique way to discover who your friends really are”. Here’s the premise:
Every day at a random time BeReal sends you a notification that it’s time to be real. You then have 2 minutes to snap a photo of whatever it is you happen to be doing. (It’s actually two photos at once, using your phone’s front and back cameras.)
No filters. No editing. And you can only do a re-shot within that 2-minute window.
Instagram has taken note, launching its own two-camera filter to replicate the BeReal look within its own app.
In 2022, BeReal’s usage was up 312%, and downloads were up 1,000% from the previous year. (It’s been downloaded just shy of 30 million times since its launch.) In other words: this app is hot, hot, hot.
Clubhouse is an audio app, featuring chat rooms where users can drop in to listen to live conversations.
Clubhouse made a huge splash when it was released in March 2020 for iOS. An Android version followed in May 2021. In between those two dates, the app exploded in popularity, acquiring two million active weekly users by December 2021.
This is especially impressive considering the app was technically still in beta-mode, and restricted to invitation-only. (Or maybe that exclusivity was why interest was so high? In the early months that invite codes were reportedly selling for $400.) In July 2021, when Clubhouse opened up to everyone, there was a 10 million person waitlist.
But, alas, it looks like Clubhouse’s shine has faded, peaking in popularity in February 2021, when big names like Oprah Winfrey were hosting chats, and declined from there. Since then, active users have declined more than 60%.
Clubhouse is staying sharp by offering new features and partnering with TED, and still hosts more than 3.5 million active users, primarily in the STEM space. You also have to give credit where credit is due: Clubhouse did inspire bigger players to their own audio-only apps (LinkedIn, Spotify, and Twitter, for a time), so whether it carries on past 2023 or not, its legacy will be felt for years to come.
Like Twitter Spaces, Instagram Reels is not a new social media platform so much as a new feature. But it’s still worth paying attention to.
Reels launched in 2020 as Instagram’s answer to TikTok. While short-form video was already a part of Instagram posts and Stories, Reels added some new capabilities.
Instagram Reels are short videos (up to 90 seconds) that can be edited right in the app. Unlike Stories, they don’t disappear after 24 hours. They live in your feed under a dedicated tab.
Reels offer more sophisticated editing options than Stories: you can edit clips together, adjust the layout, or add AR effects. The results are fun and creative, which is why Reels are so popular on the Explore page.
And interest in Reels is definitely growing over time:
Should your brand be making Reels? We ran an experiment to see if Reels would boost our engagement, and overall we saw a small improvement. But Reels can be a powerful way to connect with audiences, and Instagram has configured the app to showcase quality Reels content.
And if you’re already creating video content for Stories, it’s definitely worth exploring Reels to extend the reach and lifespan of your content!
In June 2021, Spotify released their new app for live audio conversations (sound familiar?) called Spotify Greenroom–in April 2022, the branding was changed to Spotify Live.
The twist is that Spotify focuses on musical artists and athletes, leveraging its existing user base of podcast and music fans.
While a Spotify account isn’t required for Greenroom, you can log in to the app with your Spotify credentials. You can tune in to Spotify Live chats via your favorite artist or creator’s page (look for the “Live on Spotify” feature), and if you want to join in the conversation, you can use the dedicated Spotify Live app to chime in on a discussion or start your own Live room.
A month after launch, they had 141,000 downloads on iOS and 100,000 on Android, though Spotify has been cagey with more recent numbers. While this new social media app hasn’t taken off in a big way (yet?), Spotify has the advantage of building on a platform that’s already audio-focused.
Just as TikTok was once merely “the dance challenge app,” Discord was launched in 2015 as a niche app for the gaming community. Since then, it’s grown into a major player among chat-focused social media platforms. In March 2022, Discord secured $995 million USD in funding, and in July 2022, it welcomed 522 million visitors. With money and popularity on its side, it’ll be interesting to see where the chat hub goes from here.
Discord is still popular among gamers, who can stream games on the app. But other communities use the video, audio, and text features to chat about all kinds of topics, from dating shows to sports. The NFT and crypto community tend to congregate on Discord servers, too.
While Discord doesn’t sell ads, brands can still have a presence on the app by creating their own channels or servers (collections of related channels on a topic). The emphasis on genuine connection and conversation offers a chance to build deep relationships and gain valuable customer insights.
Founded in 2011, Twitch is one of the oldest platforms on this list. And although it has 26.5 million active users daily, unless you’re in the game space, you’re probably not familiar with it.
Here’s the deal: Twitch is a video streaming platform where creators stream live content to their audiences. As of October 2022, there were 7.1 million active streamers.
While games still dominate the platform, streamers create all kinds of content: cooking shows, makeup tutorials, and musical performances. In a single quarter, Twitch users watched 6.1 billion hours of streaming content.
As Twitch continues to expand its reach beyond the gaming community, brands have more opportunities to reach audiences through the app. Companies can create their own branded channels, partner with Twitch influencers, or buy ads on the platform.
Want to learn more about Twitch? We’ve created a guide to Twitch marketing for you.
Founded in 2013, Patreon allows content creators to earn money from subscriptions. In exchange for their financial support, subscribers receive access to exclusive, regular content and can interact with content creators. Since its inception, Patreon has grown to more than 250,000 creators and over eight million paid subscribers.
For creators who have developed a following on other platforms like YouTube or Instagram, Patreon can provide more ownership and control over revenue. Patreon offers two models: a monthly subscription or a plan that allows you to pay per post.
The simplest way to describe Substack is as an email newsletter platform. Founded in 2017, Substack is a publishing platform that leverages the power of individual creators over media outlets. Each creator has their own publication, which allows them to connect directly with audiences without the oversight of a publisher.
There’s also Substack for Podcasts, a relatively new tool that allows audio creators to publish and grow their podcasts. In early 2022, Substack also started beta-testing a video player for creators, meaning the potential for content creation is only growing.
Creators can offer paid tiers (starting at $5 USD/month) as well as free content. Like other social media platforms, Substack relies on influencers to build its audience and has offered six-figure advances to entice well-known writers to publish on the platform.
Relatively speaking, Substack is still pretty small: as of November 2022, it had more than 1.5 million subscribers. However, that’s a dramatic increase over the 250,000 subscribers it had in September 2020. And interest in Substack is continuing to grow:
Substack represents a departure from many other social media platforms, which reward novelty and immediate gratification. Creators on Substack typically produce long-form, in-depth written content, which requires deep engagement with subjects and topics. Substack prides itself on deviating from the “attention economy.” Each Substack functions as a community for its audience, who can post comments and interact with posts.
Substack also represents a shift away from traditional publishing, as users turn away from larger outlets in favor of curating a personalized selection of writers and creators. Its growing popularity suggests that, despite rumors of declining attention spans, users are very willing to engage with in-depth, quality content.
Messaging app Telegram was founded in 2013 as a privacy-focused alternative to bigger platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Users can exchange files, photos, videos, and more through chats through group chats that can include up to 200,000 people. There are also public Telegram channels, which can attract millions of followers.
Telegram has grown rapidly in recent years: it now boasts 550 million monthly active users, and in December 2022, reached 1 million premium subscribers. Recently, it has attracted even more attention for its role in the Russia-Ukraine War.
Telegram added advertising to the platform in October 2021. Ads are limited to public channels, and Telegram has promised not to give advertisers access to personal data or track whether users click on ads. Instead of targeting specific user demographics or interests, advertisers can choose the topics, channels, and languages for their ads. Brands can also reach audiences organically by starting public channels or creating chatbots to support customers.
Does LinkedIn finally have a challenger? Polywork, launched in April 2021, is a new social media platform focused on professional networking, where users can create profiles, curate a personal feed, and reach out to other users to collaborate and work together. It raised another $28 million in September 2022, so it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.
Unlike LinkedIn, where users have a single headline describing their current role or specialty, Polywork designed for the hustle-culture generation, allowing users to highlight multiple roles, side gigs, passion projects, and specialties.
In addition to profiles, Polywork aims to connect individuals for collaboration with beta features like a digital space for group work called Clubs.
It’s exciting to see someone finally shaking up the professional networking space with a more Gen Z-friendly platform. It’ll take a lot to unseat LinkedIn, which has 875 million members. But Polywork is worth keeping an eye on, as it represents an exciting evolution in professional social networking.
Launched in 2015, Yubo is a live-streaming app with a focus on friendships and connection, with 40 million users (up from 25 million in December 2021). Though it was founded in France (bonjour!), 60% of its users are based in Canada and the US. And during the early months of COVID, when everyone was stuck at home, Yubo tripled its daily user base.
Yubo users can create video chats, where the streamers can interact with viewers. Users can add each other as friends, which allows them to start individual chats.
Among new social media apps, Yubo is particularly teen-friendly, with a dedicated community for users 13- to 17-years-old. And Yubo has invested significant resources in making the platform a safe space for users.
Advanced age-verification technology is intended to mitigate abuse, and there is a Safety Hub that users can access 24/7 to report concerns or ask questions. There is also human and algorithmic monitoring of content to swiftly address any breaches of the community guidelines. And users who share personal information in a chat, such as their phone number, will receive a pop-up safety alert to educate them about risk.
This focus is refreshing, given how many platforms have become unsafe spaces where users (particularly women and people of color) face harassment and threats. While Yubo doesn’t offer advertising or opportunities for brand partnerships, it’s an example of how user expectations around safety and privacy are changing.
Downloads of Mastadon jumped 6,000% in the wake of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter Whether users stay there remains to be seen, but it’s definitely a Twitter alternative that should be on marketers’ radar. As of November 2022, Mastodon had one million monthly users. (For comparison, Twitter is predicting it’ll reach 335 million global users in 2023.)
Mastodon is a free, open-source platform and social networking app, launched in March 2016, where users can share text, image, and video updates with followers. Unlike Twitter, however, Mastodon is a decentralized social network: users can start their own in-app networks with regulations of their choosing. People can then join servers that are relevant to their interest
Like Twitter, Mastodon users can follow each other and engage in conversation with replies and likes. But unlike Twitter, Mastodon’s newsfeed is purely chronological (no algorithm to appease here) and currently has no advertising options. This could provide a challenge to marketers looking for paid-placement opportunities, but if you’re looking to reach a niche audience with some organic engagement tactics, the right server could be waiting there for you. Plus, Mastodon may also be a good place to do some social listening.
Learn more about the up-and-coming Twitter alternative, Mastadon, here.
Launched in early 2022, the Locket widget is designed to display photos from your BFFs right on your phone’s home screen (whether you’ve got an iPhone or an Android). Your pals add pictures using the Locket app, and they’ll appear on your end throughout the day.
Developer Matt Moss created the widget to share photos with his girlfriend, but the concept intrigued so many of his friends that he made the tool into a public app.
Link in bio #locket #widget #2021 #2022
original sound – Locket
Within a few weeks of its launch, Locket skyrocketed to the top of the U.S. App Store charts, with more than two million users signing up in just two weeks. Though it was developed as a bit of a micro-social network intended for engaging with your five or 10 closest friends, it recently raised $12.5 million in funding… so obviously, someone out there in the business world thinks there’s potential here for branding.
For marketers, the big lesson here is that there’s a growing interest in more personal digital experiences, and building quality connections, not just racking up huge likes.
Tribel bills itself as a “bigotry-free social network where kindness and intelligence flourish” and is owned by the activists Rafael and Omar Rivero, who run the news website Occupy Democrats.
Tribel claimed to have 400,000 users as of October 2022. The layout and functionality look quite similar to Twitter, but as you might imagine, Tribel’s small but active audience leans left. You’ll find a lot of political memes here. Customize your profile and feed, or join a public or private group.
There doesn’t currently appear to be a way to advertise on Tribel, but if a vocal, left-leaning audience is your jam, joining this network to start some dialogue could be worthwhile.
Learn more about identifying your target audience here.
Hive Social was first developed by a mysterious founder named “Raluca” back in 2019; In November 2022, the network hit 1.5 million users.
The mobile-only social media app is similar to Twitter. Follow other users, like, and repost content. One key way that Hive Social is distinct from Twitter, though, is that its feed is chronological; Raluca, so says the About Us lore, was inspired to create Hive because she was tired of her posts not being seen by friends.
Another differentiator: there are no character limits for posts on Hive Social. There’s also no way to verify users at this point or to boost posts.
But what there is is a range of ways to customize your profile, too — connect your account to your Spotify to play a song when people visit your profile, and add your astrological sign and pronouns if you’d like.
Gas is currently only available in 12 states but is dominating high schools wherever it goes. Between August 2022 and November 2022, it was downloaded 5.1 million times. The social media app allows users to post poll questions about their friends and collect anonymous answers. (Think “Who should DJ every party?”)
The questions all skew positive, which makes sense, given that the name “Gas” refers to the goal of “gassing up” friends with compliments. Users earn coins for participating in polls, which they can then trade in to reveal who answered questions about them. Juicy!
If your ideal audience is Gen Z (or younger), this is a key one to keep an eye on. And these sharing apps tend to trickle up to older demographics — think about how teenagers were the first adopters of Snap and TikTok before Millennials got in the mix.
Dig into our latest Digital Trends report for youth trends and up-and-coming social platforms to make sure you’re always in the loop.
CoHost takes its design cues from Web 1.0 — you get the retro feeling of being back on a Geocities page — but the blogging site offers some intriguing modern features. There are no character limits, and the option to make pages with themes for different projects or random whims; these pages can be collaborative if you want to team up for something. The Verge describes CoHost as “the awkward offspring of Tumblr, Twitter, and a hint of Reddit.”
Users can incorporate CSS into their posts, which makes for some interesting, clickable content with interactivity — an unusual feature for a social media site.
CoHost is still in invite-only mode and is experimenting with monetization via subscription-only CoHost plus accounts.
Opportunities for social media marketers here are currently unclear, but keep your eyes on this space. A social network for creativity seems like a refreshing change of pace.
The ad-free, chronological news feed launched in November 2017 but finds itself as part of the Twitter Alternates conversation in 2023.
CounterSocial claims to have more than 63 million monthly users, though these people aren’t necessarily signing in from all over the globe — the app bans access to common bot-and-troll hotspots like Russia, Iran, North Korea, Syria, China, and Pakistan. (A move some critics have called xenophobic.)
Funded purely by app users and founded by a hacker named The Jester, CounterSocial is built on the principle of no attacks, no ads, no harassment, and no disinformation. Fans praise the lack of toxicity in the community and can even apply a filter to see “lighter” content if they crave more dog pics and less political discourse. Consideration for cybersecurity is built in throughout: uploaded images and videos are stripped of metadata.
An app to manage all your social networks in one place
It can be intimidating to keep up with every new social media platform that arrives on the scene, but having a basic understanding of the landscape is critical if you want to make smart choices for your brand’s social media strategy.
Luckily, social media dashboards like IXLCenter.io can help keep your workflow running smoothly with your tried-tested-and-true social media accounts, so you have more time to study up on the new kids in town.
Our current social network integrations include: Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Business Profile, and Whatsapp.
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