What would January be without a healthy dose of predictions about the year to come?

Our team spends a lot of time up to our eyeballs in metrics and data-backed marketing decisions. But for this email, we are throwing all that away. Instead, we’re going to do what our Moms used to tell us to — trust our gut.

So, we asked our team to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. These are based on what we are seeing and hearing out in the market and what our instincts as marketers are telling us.

Some of these are hot takes, some you might agree with, some might cause you to scratch your head and say “huh?”. But at the very least we hope they’re entertaining.

You’ve met us, so you probably know we can be a tad overly competitive (looking at you Lindsay). We’ve got a little bet going. So do us a favor and vote for the prediction you liked best at the bottom of this email.

After you read our team’s predictions, we’d love to hear yours. You can submit your own predictions of what you think will happen in marketing or the tech industry this year. We’ll feature the best ones in an upcoming blog and on social (a great backlink opportunity for all you marketers out there 😉)

Without further ado, here are our predictions (in alphabetical order):

Owned communities will explode

Brittany: B2B influencers will become a thing

Bryce: A new disruptive social platform will emerge

Carla: Social search engine beats Google

Chris: The LinkedIn Renaissance

Darren: Self-guided sales takes over

Kenzie: B2B embraces short form video

Lindsay: AI will create jobs, not take them

Nick: Low production value kills high-gloss media

Nicole: Personalization will be more important than ever

Ximena: ChatGPT causes a massive SEO landscape shift

Let’s get rolling…

Ann — Owned communities will explode

It’s no secret that brands have been struggling in the last few years to find lead generation channels that work. Google Ads keep getting more expensive, Facebook is getting harder to crack, Google keeps changing the algorithm and wreaking havoc on SEO plans, etc. etc.

I think owned community will be the solution for a lot of companies. Brands that start and cultivate their own user communities will win.

Source: Community Led

Why? Being part of a community fosters loyalty and word of mouth marketing.

Think about the biggest sports fan you know. Have they ever bought a different laundry detergent because it was on sale? Most likely.

Now, would they ever buy another team’s jersey because it was on sale? Of course not!

That’s the power of a strong community.

Being able to build an authentic community around your brand is one of the strongest competitive advantages you can have. When people belong to a community they love, they stick with it. Even when they have other options that cost them less or are more popular in the mainstream.

Brittany — B2B influencers will become a thing

Take out your phone and open your favorite social media app. Scroll for about 3 seconds and you’ll probably already see a sponsored post or user-generated content (UGC) ad.

Now, look at what brand is being promoted. I can guarantee it’s a B2C product, not a B2B one.

This is about to change.

B2B marketing always lags a few years behind B2C marketing. For the last several years now, B2C brands have been upping their influencer and UGC budgets. They’re seeing a ton of success from it.

B2B marketers who are paying attention have taken note and they want a piece of the action.

I predict that you’ll see B2B influencer content hit your screen this year. It works for B2C brands. There’s no reason it can’t work for B2B brands too.

Influencers reach new target audiences and help brands create a connection with their followers. They build trust for the company and generate leads for them too.

Bryce — A new disruptive social platform will emerge

We’re running out of regurgitations of social media platforms (Myspace, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc.). Platform popularity ebbs and flows and the post mediums change — photo replaced text and then video replaced photo.

But, the one thing every popular social platform has in common is that they run on an Ad Revenue model.

They’ve all gone through a similar lifecycle because of this. A platform gets popular and stays that was for 5-6 years. Then it becomes so saturated with ads. Becomes annoying and people leave it for the new up-and-coming social media site.

I think there’s room for a new disruptive social platform to emerge this year. One that finds a way to survive without ad revenue and can change the social media space.

Carla — Social search engine beats Google

It’s well known that TikTok is the go-to social app for Gen Z. However, a lesser known fact is that the majority of Gen Z users actually prefer to use TikTok for search over Google.

I think Gen Z is just the tip of the iceberg. While the majority of TikTok’s audience is still under 30, the platform is aging up rapidly as popularity grows. 31.3% of users are 40+ years old.

Source: Exploding Topics

If you look at their feature releases, TikTok is clearly gearing up to become a serious player in the search engine game. Every app update reveals features that offer more SEO opportunities and functionality.

If the older user base adopts the same user behavior as Gen Z (which is highly likely), then 2023 will be the year that Google gets passed up as the go-to search engine for all internet users.

Chris — The LinkedIn Renaissance

LinkedIn has a major supply and demand problem. I bet everyone you work with uses it, but how many of your connections actively make and distribute content on the platform? Not many, right?

LinkedIn has about 260M monthly users on the platform. But only 1% of them actually create posts. This means that there are a lot of users on the platform, but not much content for them to look at.

So if you do make content, there’s significantly less competition and it’s much more likely to get noticed on LinkedIn compared to other social platforms.

This is a huge arbitrage opportunity for individuals looking to grow their following or expand their network.

We are already seeing influencers take advantage. As the controversy around Twitter and Elon Musk grew last year, may content creators started looking to other platforms as an insurance policy. LinkedIn was their go-to.

These people just recycled their existing content and posted to LinkedIn and gained tens of thousands of followers in just a few months.

I think this year we will see a shift in LinkedIn feeling spammy and see an increase in the quality of posts as more thought leaders take the platform seriously as a growth engine.

Darren — Self-guided sales takes over

The days of a demo or sales call being the first significant touch with a prospect are long over. Research in buyer behavior shows that stakeholders do 60-80%+ of their research independently. And that it takes a minimum of 5 pieces of relevant content (and usually significantly more) to open the chance for a discussion with sales.

Building sales funnels that allow users to guide themselves will be key in 2023. Many B2B buyers, especially software buyers, now prefer to purchase without speaking with a salesperson at all.

Companies must be aware of this and offer alternative discovery and buying options. Self-serve demos, recorded videos replacing sales calls, and free content will all become the norm for selling in 2023.

Kenzie — B2B embraces short form video

Since the pandemic in 2020, short form video has exploded onto the scene. TikTok has been the main driver, but Instagram Reels and YouTube Short have contributed too. B2C brands have fully embraced short form content and gained millions of followers and customers because of it.

I predict 2023 will be the year B2B brands jump onto the short form video wave too.

B2C brands have spent the last 2 years figuring out what works and what doesn’t on the video platforms. This year, B2B marketers will steal their playbook and adapt it to their business use cases. This will let them rapidly gain attention and grow their brands.

B2B companies that start now and can beat the masses to adoption will have a significant advantage over their competitors.

Lindsay — AI will create jobs, not take them

There is a lot of doom and gloom online about how AI is going to steal our jobs. According to this chatter, us marketers should be especially worried. Along with copywriters, designers, software engineers and many others.

I think the media has it totally backwards. AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E aren’t going to steal jobs, they’re going to create more job opportunities than ever.

“Medieval-Writing-Books-By-Hand-Guy” probably didn’t lose his job the minute the printing press came out:

Source: fromoldbooks.org

However, over time, he probably shifted certain books to mass printing with a press. This way, he didn’t have to slave away writing all day and giving himself carpal tunnel. Instead, the printing press could do it faster and cheaper and he could focus on more important things:

Source: History.com

Then with all his new free time, he could go look for other writers who wanted their work mass printed. And he could print their books too:

Source: Royal Museums Greenwich

Before he knows it, “Medieval-Writing-Books-By-Hand-Guy” would be able to hire his own team and start a company managing printing for multiple other writers… creating many jobs and raising his potential income level a lot!

History repeats itself. We’ve already seen this pattern a million times. The printing press, electricity, cars, computers, the internet etc. AI will just be the next iteration.

While certain jobs surely won’t look exactly the same as the do today, new opportunities will emerge as new AI tools do.

For example: By the end of 2023 I think we’ll see the job title “prompt engineer” start to pop up. This will be a person who specializes in writing prompts and training AI tools to create high-quality and unique content for companies.

Nick — Low production value kills high-gloss media

If you study the branded content that performed best on social media over the last 2-3 years, an interesting pattern emerges… the vast majority is low production value.

Because people were stuck at home during the pandemic, social media managers and marketers had to scramble to make things work. As a result, low production value content started to become the norm. There were no mics, no seamless backgrounds, or $100K cameras. No actors performing scripted content or models in a studio for photoshoots.

It was usually people dressed in normal clothes, sitting in their houses, talking to their cell phone cameras.

Then something interesting happened, this content started to perform better than any of their content ever had before. These types of videos started raking in millions and millions of views, and follower counts grew rapidly.

Audiences actually preferred the authenticity of this content compared to the high-gloss photoshopped version they’d seen from brands up until this point. At the end of the day, people prefer to work with people, not brands. Users want content that feels “real,” complete with personality and imperfections.

Brands that have embraced this “realness” are winning. Their content gets more views and more engagement. Plus it costs them significantly less than creating high production value content did.

Check out this 12 second post from Duolingo:

This probably took minutes to shoot and was virtually free to create. It’s been seen almost 30M times, has 5.8M likes, and over 199K comments.

Compare that to this professionally shot Duolingo ad:

This ad only has 81K views, 1.8K likes, and 337 comments. Plus it probably cost 100x more to make.

The winner is obvious.

I predict low production value content will see even bigger wins in 2023, essentially killing high-gloss content once and for all.

Nicole — Personalization will be more important than ever

For the last 10-15 years, content marketing has mostly been a game of quantity over quality. As long as you had a lot of output and your content was above average, you’d be rewarded. Especially in terms of SEO.

But, as AI makes content creation easier than ever, quantity isn’t going to be enough anymore. Having extremely high-quality content and editorial taste will be the new way to beat your competition.

One way to elevate the quality of your content is through personalization. As new AI tools emerge this year, marketers and salespeople will have more options than ever to hyper-personalize content for their audience.

Soon marketers will be able to create custom videos at scale, customize web content to each visitor’s unique tastes, and serve up hyper-personalized ads to their target audience.

Ximena — ChatGPT causes a massive SEO landscape shift

If you haven’t heard about ChatGPT by now then you’re probably living under a rock. Its parent company, OpenAI, has become one of the world’s fastest-growing startups seemingly overnight.

New interesting use cases for the product are emerging every day. One of the most common ones is people using it as a search engine replacement. Instead of having to sift through multiple pages on a search engine to find an answer to a question, ChatGPT can spit out the exact answer you’re looking for in seconds.

Pair this with the recent news that ChatGPT and Microsoft are partnering to work on an AI-powered version of Bing and it’s obvious that Google is under threat.

Source: The Information

As AI tools continue to grow in popularity as 2023 progresses, marketers will need to keep their finger on the pulse of how SEO is being impacted. There are no clear answers yet, but what is clear is that the search landscape as a whole is on the cusp of a massive shift.

Who won?

Vote for whose prediction you liked best. Or share your own predictions for where you see marketing and tech going this year. We’ll feature the best answers and give you credit in some upcoming content!