Hawthorn Creative’s Digital Marketing Trend Predictions for 2023

As a marketing agency specializing in content marketing, brand strategy, website design, digital marketing, and more, we saw some pretty significant changes in 2022. As the pandemic waned, we found ourselves not quite getting back to normal, but instead trying to figure out what “normal” looks like now.

Being able to innovate and pivot at a moment’s notice is one of our superpowers, because we all know that even a good marketing plan is subject to change. (If we’re truly in touch with consumer behaviors and the latest trends, that change should be minimal)

With this in mind, we’ve put together our thoughts on what 2023 is likely to bring for the marketing world – which trends are new, which we’ll bid farewell to, and which ones are sticking around for a bit.

1. Virtual events work, but they need to be enticing.

Virtual events are still popular, but because they have growing competition from in-person events, they need to step up the way they entice participants. One trend that’s growing in the virtual arena is the pre-conference event, which serves as a way to hype what’s on tap – especially if there’s big news.

Another must for virtual events is to make sure you have the latest and greatest tech at your disposal for your speakers. For example, AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are eventually going to become event program staples. In fact, one full-service production company, Simple Multimedia (they’ve worked with global brands like Google, Nat Geo, Nike, and more), creates VR Lounge Experiences and VR Interactive Booths for their clients, where they can virtually interact with others. They also produce AR content that digitally brings once-dull meeting packets or instructional documents to life through the lens of your phone.

2. Authenticity must be…authentic.

More and more brands are turning to influencers to help spread the word about their products, and the brands that are leading the way in this space are partnering with people who are both 100% relatable to the target audience and truly authentic in the way they interact with the products. TikTok influencers have perfected this to a level where it sometimes takes a minute before you realize you’re watching a sponsored post – it’s even inspired its own genre of content called “TikTok made me buy it.”

One recent example that has enthralled us is the Perbelle Cosmetics social campaign. Mostly on Facebook and TikTok, Perbelle is using real women of all ages to promote their product in one of the most authentic ways we’ve ever seen. The concept is simple – they have women sit fresh-faced in front of a camera, talk about their skin issues, then apply their CC Cream in real time. Their reactions to the cream and how it changes their skin is irresistible.

3. TikTok is a place to reach more than just Gen Z.

Older audiences are doing what they do best – flocking to a social media channel that was once reserved for the teen set. According to Hootsuite, TikTok has now surpassed Instagram in popularity among the Gen Z crowd. For wedding venues and medspas, this means that a much wider segment of your target audience is going to TikTok first for content and inspiration.

As for the best way to use the platform, there are a number of ways to crack the algorithm, including a strong hashtag strategy, creating shareable content, and – probably most important right now – hopping in on trends that mesh with your brand. (Did you have someone in a bridal gown doing the Wednesday dance?)

4. Social justice, diversity and inclusion matter.

Over the last few years, we’ve seen social justice efforts evolve from an effort to a movement. And since 82% of customers prefer to interact with companies whose values align with theirs, putting social justice higher on your list of importance is no longer optional. It all started during the pandemic, when brands that were silent or tone-deaf during life-altering, world-changing events were naturally judged by their audiences. They lost customers, investors, and revenue as a result.

To succeed in this space, it’s important for companies to bake more of these values into their overall brand presence, social media marketing messaging, and influencer marketing campaigns. The key, however, will be how they do so, so that it is viewed as genuine and not as “woke-washing.” It’s a delicate tightrope that brands will have to walk and one that will require thoughtful strategy and implementation.

5. Not all channels are created equal (and not all of them are right for your brand).

We’ve been talking about personalization for a long time, but it remains a big question: How do you personalize when you have a massive audience? One way is to treat every marketing channel like its own unique property, and don’t replicate exact content. Instead, understand what your audience has come to expect from each platform, and engage them in a way that’s familiar.

Here’s an example: A wedding venue could use Facebook to promote the business, announce giveaways, and share real wedding stories; Instagram to showcase the beauty of the location through eye-popping photography; email to build relationships with potential customers; and TikTok to hop on the latest trends. (A caveat: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. While it may be tempting to jump on the latest viral dances, it must align with your brand and your audience, or it could have a negative effect.)



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