Meet the New Social Media Darlings, Part One

2023 Marketing Trends + Insights

The evolution of social media and the rise of entertainment apps:
Platforms are adapting to foster creativity and maximize entertainment.

Eva Fellner
By Eva Fellner
2023 Marketing Trends Meet the New Social Media Darlings Part 1

Over the years, social media has evolved in response to how their users interact with individual platforms. While traditional social apps sought to facilitate communication amongst social circles, social channels are now focusing on the entertainment value their media provides with communication coming in second.

However, social media’s communicative abilities haven’t been completely abandoned – instead, platforms have put a greater focus on the genuine connections between users. In a rapidly evolving landscape, it’s critical to keep up with current trends, stay relevant and join the conversation. So, without further ado, here is an overview of the rise of entertainment-based apps and the search for genuine connections, and how you can leverage these insights for your brand.

The Rise of Entertainment-Based Apps

With a slight shift away from interpersonal connection and a significant jump towards entertainment-based content, apps are beginning to evolve to fit the desires of their audience with new features, curated content, and new ways to interact with other users. Furthermore, with a shift towards short-form video, interactivity, and highly curated content for each specific user, new platforms and established platforms are changing to fit the increasing desire for entertainment-based apps.


Exploding onto the scene in 2016, TikTok has revolutionized how we use social media and prompt other platforms to evolve. Users can find nearly anything on this entertainment-based app, from ‘fit checks’ to niche humor and more based on short-form videos lasting around 30 seconds. With waning attention spans and a never-ending stream of content curated specifically for you, it’s hard to imagine TikTok losing popularity anytime soon.


A platform that has long since established itself, YouTube is one of the most popular platforms for Gen Z and millions of people worldwide. While YouTube is already a video-based platform, the channel has recently introduced YouTube shorts. Like TikTok and Reels, YouTube shorts offer people short-form video content in 60 seconds or less with catchy music overlays.


Longtime social media favorite Instagram launched Reels in 2019 (with most unable to help but notice Reel’s similarity to TikTok!). Since then, Reels have been used by Instagram users everywhere, reaching wider audiences than most image-based posts. Although a video component is necessary for platforms to adapt and keep up with current trends, many have disliked Reels and the desire to return to Instagram’s original purpose – image-based content. Although Reels won’t be going anywhere soon, Instagram’s shift was a lesson to us all: grow with the times, but don’t lose sight of your original purpose.


To stay competitive against other entertainment-based apps, the ever-evolving platform Facebook has recently added a new video feature. Like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube (we’re starting to see a pattern here!) Facebook videos allow users to upload short and long-form video content. Covering news, trends, comedy and more, Facebook videos gives Facebook users the ability to create and enjoy video content.


Popular photo and video sharing app Lemon8, originally launched in Asia, is nothing new – but in the past few months, Lemon8 has exploded in both the U.S. and U.K.

Both Lemon8 and TikTok are owned by 10-year-old startup ByteDance. While the two may be owned by the same company, the platforms couldn’t be more different. With many describing Lemon8 as a combination of both Pinterest and Instagram, users are free to explore specific topics and content. Lemon8 is the solution for those who have lost interest in Instagram and are looking for aesthetic content free of the shrink-wrapped way Instagram promotes the use of their platform.

The Social Shift Towards Genuine Connection

As traditional social media continues to shift, we’ve seen apps gravitate towards personal connections outside the conventional sense. Now, it’s not enough to connect with others – it’s all about the quality of the relationship.

Working to make personal connections less manufactured and more akin to how we see each other in person, platforms are beginning to focus less on our highlight reel and more on our reality.


One of the latest personal connection apps focused on the moment, BeReal, has changed the game for social platforms everywhere. BeReal invites people to live in the moment, prompting users to take a single photo randomly during the day that they can share with their followers. Incentivizing users to visit the app less rather than more, BeReal offers a fresh perspective compared to the constant social use other platforms push. Many are experiencing social media fatigue, leading to a rediscovery of what social media can be: something that allows you to feel connected to others without the need to manufacture the ‘perfect moment’ for all to see. Brands everywhere can take note of the shift to content rooted in reality that isn’t misleading or pushy. While BeReal doesn’t offer advertising space, brands must learn how to leverage the platform, sharing trustworthy content with their target audience.


As the aforementioned platform, Lemon8 continues to grow as a platform, it’s hard to put labels on it just yet. While Lemon8 dabbles in the entertainment side of social media, it also promotes connection and fosters relationships between groups of people. Users are encouraged to share their interests and follow these topics which in turn feeds them content relating to that community. They can then interact with others who have similar interests, helping promote a greater connection between like-minded people.


So far, TikTok has met BeReal’s efforts with TikTok Now, a feature that prompts users to post a photo of themselves at a random time during the day (much like BeReal). Time will tell how other apps respond to this shift.


Not only has Instagram prioritized video content, but they’ve also noticed the transition to genuine connection in media. Recently, Instagram has introduced direct message (DM) personalization along with DM notes and video calls. Greater personalization, more conversation starters and the ability to connect with users face-to-face proves Instagram’s dedication to creating memorable experiences for their users.

Now focusing on genuine connection beyond the filters and highlight reels, new apps have altered how we connect with others.

ß TikTok
ß Instagram

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