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  • Writer's pictureDylan Pemberton

Social, Digital, Content & Marketing Automation Trends 2023

With marketing activity now finally in full swing for most businesses and many of us making plans for our communications, growth and diversification over the remainder of 2023, we wanted to brief you on 6 of the social, digital, content and marketing automation trends that we see at Irigait as being either a really big thing this year or just a big red herring.


1. Exchanging Credentials For Content

We know buyers are less likely than ever to hand over their hard earned cash right now - at least not without increased due diligence thanks to the current economic climate. However, we believe they will continue to exchange their credentials in return for high-quality content that adds value to them (be it a top tips guide, how-to, infographic, vid, voucher code etc.). It's a fact that consumers and businesses are proactively seeking out solutions to their challenges now more than ever. Audiences are increasingly judicious though about the data that they do reveal. The pay-off for them has to be absolutely clear, genuine and not gated behind wall after wall of subterfuge. Nobody wants to click through 50 pages of spurious ad-laden pages they’ve been "clickbaited" to view from the likes of Taboola and Outbrain. If you don’t know who these ‘providers’ are, you probably do - just think of all the horrifically dubious and so-called 'native ads' that you frequently see peppered across outlets like The Mirror with hooks like “you wouldn’t believe what this celebrity looks like now”. Yep, that's them. Those publishing outlets are selling their souls for the lowest common-denominator and are merely making slightly more revenue from their clickbait "native ads" than they lose from the users they alienate. It works for some but we find it horrific and it's actually what we exclusively pioneered watering hole marketing to combat. But that's for another blog... The bottom line is that b2b and b2c audiences will still volunteer their data in return for a great content experience. The challenge is to ensure that the actual content remains king. Nevertheless, don’t just hang your hat on the quality of the content because while it is indeed king; we at Irigait have always said that content distribution is actually the Queen and that she wears the pants. Data is a big factor too because good content plus good distribution plus user data is, for us, the holy trinity of modern marketing. The takeaway is to never underestimate the power of data. You should recognise the value of acquiring good data through a well-devised content and distribution strategy. Content marketing works.


2. “Purposeful Content”

Sorry but this agency pseudo-speak is just hilarious to us. We laughed reading another industry blog recently which talked effusively about ‘purposeful content’. The problem (and the source of our mirth) was that the blog itself was just so fluffy, banal and ironically un-purposeful that it failed to remotely allude to what purposeful content even is. Duh! Purposeful content was ultimately a really non-specific industry buzzword to them. Purposeful content is, to most agencies, something that’s aesthetically pretty, generally self-indulgent and entirely geared to their own benefit and not to the clients pocket. To us it’s all about the primary adjective - purposeful. To us you don't just trip, fall and create some content that makes you revenue - it's something that needs strategic thought and tactical implementation. Let’s just say it how it is - most traditional agency-created content is very pretty (and often very clever and insightful - although often by default). Sadly though, it's usually intentionally bland because, outside of boutique agencies with some semblance of commercial perspicacity, that’s just all they can or will do. Many agencies create content on the basis of a mentality that no apple carts should ever be upset so, naturally, it often ends up all fur coats and no knickers. If the idea of content is to centre and telegraph purpose into it then surely there has to be a commercially driven call-to-action? Or are we missing something? What's the purpose of most commercial enterprises? If it's not to generate profit (or at least genuine opportunities) then what is it? Forget all the misleading metrics of "likes" and "views" and please ignore all the usual agency backslapping that comes after a visually pleasing post. Instead ask them where and what was the actual action from the content? Was it sales? Revenue? Profit? True engagement? Or did it just get a lot of views? Hey we got 1,000 views! Really? Fascinating, tell us less... For Irigait, “purposeful content” is always going to be intrinsically linked to delivery. Content has to have a mission, a goal. It’s not about bringing some woke ideal to life for a millennial account executive with a hipster beard, it’s about giving you ROI. The purpose of content, to us at least, has to be tethered to commercial reality. Surely? Or have we just gotten old, mad and lost the plot? Answers on a postcard please (made from recycled paper). If we understand the true premise of the term then yes, we're enthusiastically all for purposeful content. Just do make sure that the key operating word always gets flexed and not diluted...


3. Quality, Quality, Quality…

This seems obvious no? Understandably, clients can often fixate on the volume of content and not necessarily on the quality of it. And most agencies are afraid to argue. We really can’t blame the clients as they may not appreciate the metrics involved. Look at something like a basic social media post for example. Yes, it’s true - we can create gleaming social media posts in a matter of minutes. That's as long as we are happy to cut some corners. And trust us - with Irigait it will definitely tick all the boxes because we’re very, very good even when we’re being basic bitches. But we don't like content for contents sake. Saying that, it's not always a bad thing to create and deploy what we call ‘cannon fodder’ content as the need for visibility, frequency, perceived activity etc. is often important. So there is a dichotomy. But all the same, you will always need to back-up that generic content with uber-quality, decisive content that has real bite. That takes much longer to contemplate, create and cascade than a bog-standard vanilla post cobbled together in an App like Lift. It can genuinely take hours to create just one great post as there are a lot of moving parts involved. Ask yourself whether you’d rather have, for example, 7 very vanilla posts and 4 fluffy stories a week on Instagram (for example) or whether you actually really need 2 or 3 really high-impact posts over the same period - all of which have been properly graphic-designed, incredibly well thought-through and packaged-up with well-conceived copy, targeted hashtags and absolutely on-point calls-to-action. Practically, you likely need a mix of both. Long story short - please don’t focus on content volume or even follower acquisition because all that is about quality too. You should really be engaging with your audience. 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated for content every day so the numbers game is ultimately never going to work - it's impossible to compete on volume. Far easier to compete on quality... Many in our space are now using the term “conversion storytelling”. This at least partially describes content marketing which prioritises quality over quantity by using insightful, high-impact storytelling. Good content - and content deployed at the right stage of the buying journey - connects much more naturally with buyers and it drives conversions to a desired call-to-action (which is not always a sale by the way, often one has to break down the customer journey into bite-sized chunks). Whether we’re talking about content marketing, conversion storytelling or any other buzzword in this area, what we’re really zooming in on is that customer journey. Nothing has changed in what we've been saying for years therefore outside of the agency buzzwords. The need for omni-directional, omni-channel, evergreen and flexible content and intelligent and interactive communication and engagement that flexes technology remains just as important and relevant in 2023 as we’ve been saying it has been for over fifteen years. So yes, quality, quality, quality...


4. Influencers May Influence (But Real Talent Lives Forever)

We’re probably the only agencies honest enough to say that some influencers irk us (in terms of the fact that we do have some latent antipathy towards those who have, generally, never created anything of note in their outside of an element of temporal ‘fame’ yet who wield enormous and often unwarranted clout over consumers). Give us John Lennon over Kim Kardashian. We do concede however that well considered and carefully screened influencers do indeed have a very genuine and often enormous part to play in modern media whether it be on TikTok, Instagram or elsewhere. Many of these guys have more expertise on these platforms than the biggest, shiniest agencies. There are indeed many influencers who we do rate (and we’re actually well networked with many of them from the nano to the micro to the super-macro). The problem is that it’s a real minefield in just identifying the right brand partner/ambassador, reaching out to them and then onboarding them in a way where you and your brand are protected. For us, creating the right legal contracts are very important as are well laid out service level agreements, remuneration packages etc. These are all proven frameworks that we actually have to hand for our clients and which are designed to de-risk the process and maximise the level of effort (and results) that your brand partner delivers. Trend-wise, the rise of influencer marketing will surely increase during 2023 but we do forecast more checks and balances to become standard including greater pay transparency and greater client direction. We also expect the micro and nano creators to play a much greater role in the marketing mix for brands and there to be a lot more UGC, especially in terms of video which remains such an important medium. We predict (or at least hope) to see a shift towards content creators (over the more classic influencers) since, for many reasons, the former can often provide greater benefits and better economy to end-clients/brands. They often bring more to the table and do so in a really innovative way...


5. All Roads Lead To Elon Musk

Well, of course they don’t but let’s not put Twitter in the dustbin. Not just yet anyway. In fact, now may be a better time than ever to re-embrace it or to finally take the plunge. Yes, it’s often a toxic and divisive place but if you ignore the temptation to only view the microcosm of Twitter uber-narcissists like Nadine Dorries and instead see the bigger (and nicer) engagements that happens every day between brands and their consumers then there are actually many good ticks in the box for Twitter. It has its upsides. There are many new features in the pipeline too and we do expect to see many more that offer improved ways for brands to flex themselves with their audience on Twitter, especially in regard to video and imagery. TikTok also remains a powerful force and we see absolutely no retreat on the horizon for that channel either. Carrying over from the last year or two, many of our clients are actually enjoying far-greater revenue from TikTok than they are/were from their historical mainstays like Instagram. While many may think that TikTok is mostly consumer orientated; as a platform they have definitely supercharged their business usability with dramatically improved targeting which is now being rolled-out to advertisers.


6. Fluffiness & Agency Fads Will Continue To Fill Your Inbox. Sorry.

Whether it’s the metaverse, gamification, web3 or any number of other more ethereal and existential concepts; we personally don’t want our clients to suddenly go and chase all the shiny new things in 2023 just because the millennials at their agency want to force-feed them with a trendy fad (well, trendy to them). That doesn’t mean all of these new mediums and concepts are not important to some clients and that it won’t become more important to other clients over time. However, for our clients, if they dedicated all their time and resources to chasing Generation Z in these areas then they’d find themselves ignoring the majority of their audience and simply going broke. As always, the 80/20 rule applies. Yes, Nike for example are apparently creating a way for users to design their own trainers which they can wear in the metaverse and that’s fantastic to those who think that’s in anyway remotely interesting. But unless you’re a Nike level brand or at least one that’s entirely entrenched in a Gen-Z audience, ask yourself whether any of this is really likely to be worthy of your budget in 2023? If not, don’t believe the hype - at least not yet. Until humanity does morph, Matrix-style, into the so-called metaverse then take a step back and literally separate the reality from the lucid dream.


We know we're contentious at times and if you don't already know us or you haven't read our other equally irreverent blogs then you'll either find us baffling or refreshing. Our clients find it refreshing. Our competitors probably find it irritating when we peel back the curtain on what's often a house of cards. We hope you appreciate our abject irreverence but a simple litmus test for you in terms of client fit is whether you were enthusiastic about the recent Virgin Atlantic advert - an advertising affront that we consider to be the world's most woke and banal advert to date. If you loved it then then hey, power to you but we’re probably not for you. If however you do like the direct, honest and filter-free approach with some semblance of basic economics then do please get in touch as we're just as direct in person...

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