Let’s take a journey.

A journey that, taken alone, can seem like a trip through a chaotic wilderness. But with the right guides at your side, traversing that chaos can be an adventure, one both enriching and rewarding.

Social media is certainly growing into an untamed frontier — full of twists and turns.

Brands experience this at an acute level, and with constant change, social marketers find it hard to know how to stay relevant and what strategies to put their energy toward.

Khoros’ team of social strategists (i.e. wilderness guides) who live and breathe social media have collected top insights on where social media is currently headed.

Come with us to explore the biggest insights we’ve discovered in the wilds of social media — where with the right knowledge you can do more than survive. You can thrive.

Authenticity reigns supreme

One common thread that surfaces in almost any social media analysis is: authenticity.

With content consumption at an all-time high, consumers are well-versed in deciphering what is authentic on social media vs. what isn’t.

Social media has previously been a place where people showcase a highly edited version of life, leaving users with an oversaturation of “perfect” content and a hunger for authenticity.

Trends like #ExpectationsVsReality and #FactOrCap have garnered billions of views across social platforms as people seek to know if a product lives up to its branding hype or whether that instagrammable travel spot is worth the long line to see.

At the end of the day, social media serves as a space to discover new things — allowing users to explore and be delighted. Which is why the more traditional "me me me" of brand advertising and overused narratives can alienate users.

Authentic content is clearly what consumers want more of, but this doesn’t mean brands have to watch the fun from a distance.


Brands have an opportunity to present a more authentic side of the company to build trust, credibility, and confidence with audiences. This can look like employee takeovers, highlighting engaged customers who eagerly want to advocate for the brand, or even a “fact or fiction” content series.

Bottom line: Just as social media users have broken through the fakery, brands can explore ways to bust through the walls of artificiality too. For instance, look for ways to bring more faces in and offer content that surprises and entertains people.

Khoros authenticity


The TikTok user base alone makes it a great space for brands to explore with a younger audience. With new advertising features rolling out, TikTok is becoming a more inviting place for brands. 

That said, TikTok marketing is a whole different beast compared to marketing on other social media channels; businesses have to buy into existing trends and make their content relevant, casual, and entertaining. Before launching into a strategy here, make sure your team has the resources to ideate TikTok-specific content and post as frequently as the platform demands to see real results.

Regardless of what your brand sells, there’s an audience on TikTok ready to learn more about your product or service. Remember, though, success hinges on how authentically you can reach them in a way they will gladly receive.

TikTok remains the hottest platform in town

It seems like TikTok took charge of the social media landscape overnight. Not only has the platform amassed a user base of one billion, but it continues to capitalize on its momentum with frequent updates in the form of shop features, ad-revenue sharing, and expanded insights — making it THE place to be for users, creators, and brands alike.

No surprise then, TikTok is where the lion’s share of social media content trends are born. Young people (nearly 50% of TikTok users are under 30) flock to the platform to consume highly relevant content adapted to their personal tastes and to be in-the-know on the latest topics and trends. In fact, the average TikTok user opens the app eight times a day.

These days, it is hard to talk about what’s going on in social media without mentioning TikTok. So does that mean every brand needs to be on this platform? The answer can depend on your company goals, resources, and even industry. One thing’s for sure, this platform doesn’t seem to be moving away from the spotlight anytime soon.

Forget mainstream. Niche is the new norm.

Broadly relatable content may reach more people, but it isn’t what’s gaining the most engagement on social media. Instead, interests and engagement are becoming more concentrated into niche and hyper-niche topics — giving way to more niche-focused platforms. Widely-adopted platforms like Facebook are seeing a decrease in usage as users move toward more niche networks.

Niche content enables users to connect with like-minded people who share a passion for similar interests. Even better? Delving into niche platforms and content trends helps users eliminate some of the ‘content noise’ now inherent in mainstream social media platforms.

The data supports this hypothesis. A report by influencer marketing agency Obviously found engagement rates on social media are higher for niche content than for general content, with influencers specializing in niche topics seeing an average engagement rate of 5.3%, compared to 3.2% for those covering broader topics.

Meaning: Niche content and niche-focused platforms can be a huge opportunity for brands when leveraged the right way.


Capitalizing on pop culture and overblown trends might come off to audiences as inauthentic and disingenuous, and might not get the desired level of engagement. As consumers continue to crave unique and unfiltered moments on social media, prepare for your brand accounts’ 'realness' to be judged on how niche the content is. 

Use tools that can help you investigate niche interests within your specific industry and experiment with content that simultaneously aligns with your brand’s core values. There’s an opportunity to access highly engaged communities where brands can gently expose their products to people who are most active in their search, and thus, more ready to buy.


Community is critical to brand strategy. There are two approaches to take with community-centered social media: 

1. A brand can seek to curate its own community presence online, understanding its target audience and how best to reach them. 

2. Brands can tap into self-created communities online by leveraging pre-existing conversations through outbound engagement or locating and publishing user-generated content.

Less individual, more community

The shift to more niche and personalized platforms and content seems like it would go hand-in-hand with an uptick in individualistic “selfie culture.” Yet, counterintuitively, the opposite appears to be happening. GlobalWebIndex found that 53% of social media users worldwide use social media platforms to connect with like-minded individuals and find community.

This means the rules of the ‘social’ aspect of social media are changing. The pandemic contributed to this shift as people became more reliant on the internet during this period to connect. With 76% of internet users participating in an online community, spaces that foster community (think Discord, Twitch, and Reddit) encourage connection in more natural ways, and veer away from self-branding.

In a study conducted by Facebook and NYU, 77% of respondents indicated that the most important group they’re a part of now operates online.

The changing tide of influencer culture

In response to an oversaturation of content and inauthenticity, “deinfluencing” is rising in popularity (mainly Instagram and TikTok). The trend persuades viewers against buying something, or criticizing a popular brand and its products to show a lack of authenticity from influencers and brand partnerships. At the time of this writing, #deinfluencing has garnered over 50 Million views.

An extreme example of consumers reacting negatively to influencer advertising was in response to an influencer trip to Dubai sponsored by Tarte Cosmetics. Influencers who were part of the campaign showcased their villas at The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, along with a wealth of beauty products, clothes, and items the brand gifted them.

This led users to question Tarte Cosmetics on how much it spent on the campaign, which consumers found distasteful given the economic climate.
Tarte responded to the backlash with a TikTok poking fun at themselves. It garnered 4.8M views and over 800K comments, with users praising Tarte for their “self-awareness.”


While brand-sponsored influencer trips were once a marker of successful content on YouTube in the 2010s, the tide has shifted and the lavish side of influencer advertising is now a turn-off for consumers. 

Brands must research and consider whether the influencers they partner with are truly brand advocates. To create trust with audiences, don’t overload them with sponsored content, as transparency is paramount these days.


The days of search-optimized content being limited to Google are gone. Creating search-inspired content for social media the way you would any other search engine can help inform social media content strategy and facilitate a more authentic connection with target audiences.

Generate a keyword strategy for each platform your brand actively uses by querying platform search functions to uncover top keywords for your brand’s topic areas. Then, strategize how to use visual-first content, or even get brand advocates to create content made for user search intent.

Exploring new terrain through platform expansion

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are continuously working to find ways to provide their users with expanded services and features so they don’t have to go “off-platform,” from search to shopping functionality.

Users appreciate the search experience social media provides them as opposed to linear queries input through traditional search engines. Consumers like to be surprised by a new product, discover something new through a social media peer, and witness what a product or service looks like “in the wild.”

According to eMarketer, more than 5% of all Gen Z users in the U.S. say their recent fashion purchases were inspired by social media content.

People, especially younger groups, prefer the highly interactive and visual experience social media platforms can provide when making new personal discoveries. Additionally, a higher level of trust is involved when users can see more genuine portrayals of products from people they regard as peers — whether influencers or family and friends.

Interested in more insights?
Download the ebook