MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Here in the country, businesses are gearing up to navigate a rapidly changing landscape shaped by a variety of social trends. From the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) to shifting consumer behaviors, the business community must stay ahead of the curve to remain competitive.
In this article, Meta’s John Rubio identifies seven social trends for 2023 and offers insights into how businesses can adapt to these changes to thrive in the years ahead.
I usually start the year by sharing what I know with businesses about the social media trends intersecting with business across our platforms. In today’s connected world, social networks, creators/influencers, friends, and family are crucial in helping people discover and evaluate products and services.
Being aware of social trends is also helpful because running a business today is vastly different from how we ran businesses even just three years ago. Digitization continues on a relentless path and competitors can come from anywhere in the world. According to the latest eMarketer report, nearly 60% of worldwide social network users will be based in Asia-Pacific in 2023. Even with just 2.7% growth, the region will add more users this year (over 59 million) than the rest of the world combined. So the potential to shape a brand online to connect with customers where they are is huge.
Especially now, with an impending global economic slowdown, this connection needs to be durable, efficient, and help companies grow. Recessions may be notoriously hard to predict but what we know for certain is that they don’t last forever. We also know that businesses most likely to gain an edge during a downturn are the ones who effectively leverage technology, adapt to change, and focus on performance.
So let’s dive into the most promising social trends that businesses should be aware of and could leverage in 2023.
- Artificial Intelligence: Generative AI had a breakthrough moment at the end of last year. AI is becoming more mainstream as the technology continues to advance and its capabilities expand. As a result, a wider range of products and services are now incorporating AI, such as smart home devices, self-driving cars, and virtual assistants. The use of AI to analyze, organize, access, and provide advisory services based on a range of unstructured information is only going to grow. IDC (International Data Corporation) spending on AI systems in the Asia Pacific region will rise from $17.6 billion in 2022 to around $32 billion in 2025. Businesses are looking to automation to improve customer experience and save time; think augmented customer service agents to resolve support issues and smart automation to streamline complex and repetitive business tasks to support faster decision-making.
- Business Messaging: We’re living in a messaging-first world. Globally, one billion people message a business each week on WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram Direct – DMing brands, browsing product catalogs, asking for support, or interacting with stories. In the Philippines, business messaging continues to grow. A study we did with BCG showed that 3 in 5 Filipino consumers surveyed said they chat with businesses at least once every two to three weeks. The trend was similar across all age groups, especially among Millennials and Gen Zs who are messaging businesses up to eight times every month. While smaller businesses have been using business messaging for years, large businesses now recognize business messaging as a critical component of their business model with 97% of large businesses surveyed in the Philippines rated business messaging as very/extremely important to their overall business.
- Cross Border Shopping: The world is getting smaller as technology makes it easier to shop from anywhere. People are so comfortable purchasing from other countries that cross-border e-commerce growth is now outpacing domestic e-commerce growth by 5 points. In fact, in 2022, more than 270 million monthly active people from around the world on FB are connected to a business in the Philippines. By 2026, it’s estimated that the global cross-border e-commerce market will be worth USD 2.2 trillion – a compound annual growth rate of 17% since 2019. Meta worked with YouGov to survey over 16,000 shoppers across eight countries. Over half of those surveyed said they had already bought a product sold by a business in a foreign country, and 82% said they’re open to doing so – which highlights the future potential of cross-border opportunities. Social media plays a disproportionately important role in discovery, with 58% of cross-border shoppers surveyed saying that they found products from foreign businesses this way.
- Virtual and Augmented Reality: Over the last year, businesses have embraced AR/VR to enhance the customer experience. Businesses are building creative and immersive ways for people to experience their brand. According to the IDC, spending on AR/VR in APAC will grow with a compounded annual growth rate of 42.4% (2021-26) and reach $16.6 billion by 2026. AR ads enable businesses to deepen their connection with their customers and improve the overall ad experience for people on our platforms. In fact, in the Philippines, we have worked with companies such as the Nestle Farm and the Pepsi Can Light Stick, who leveraged Meta Spark to change 2D interactions into 3D experiences through Augmented Reality, driving discoverability in new and engaging ways.
- Creators: Creators are the future. Interestingly, 51% of cross-border shoppers surveyed cited creators as a top source of information to discover and evaluate products. This provides an opportunity for brands to work with creators to co-create a brand narrative. At the end of last year, we launched ‘Creators of Tomorrow’ – a global campaign to spotlight creators who are innovating and building community across our apps – you can take a look at the diverse voices here. For brands, there’s never been a better time to explore collabs and co-creations with diverse creators or even complementary brands. As they say, if you want to go fast, go alone but if you want to go far, go together.
- Online Shopping: Consumers are returning to physical stores but the digital shopping habits formed during the pandemic continue to be relevant. The Filipino digital consumer population is the second largest in Southeast Asia at 69 million and continues to grow, with 75% of Filipinos saying that their pre- and post- purchase journeys are on online channels. For Gen X and Baby Boomers, mobile as a discovery channel continues to grow. A Nielsen study showed that 85% of APAC shoppers will continue to make purchases online with Southeast Asian shoppers showing the highest online shopping intent at over 60%. Social commerce is the fastest growing sales channel with 62% of online shoppers in APAC citing it as their preferred channel.
- Short-form video: Video continues its blistering growth across the internet and on our platforms. This includes Reels, which continues to grow quickly across our apps — both in production and consumption. Reels plays across Facebook and Instagram have more than doubled over the last year and over 40% of our advertisers use Reels Ads across our apps. Especially in APAC, short-form video is becoming the primary way that people use our products and express themselves.
So how should businesses respond? Figure out objectives, whether it is to build a brand or drive more immersive shopping experiences and go from there. It’s going to be important to tell your brand story through video of all formats and lengths to achieve outcomes from brand building to discovery. The upside is that businesses now have lots of ways to connect with people and build their brand through a variety of social, online, immersive, and conversational experiences . It’s an exciting space to explore and as we like to say at Meta, Begin Anywhere. These new ways of doing business and connecting with consumers are only going to grow.
About the Author
John Rubio, Country Director, Meta Philippines
John Rubio is the Country Director of Meta Philippines, where he leads the Philippine business team by partnering closely with businesses and agencies to help them grow. He is focused on driving greater value and support for businesses across several industries, such as consumer goods, retail, financial services, technology and telecommunications.
Prior to assuming the role in October 2017, John was the CEO of Mynt, the company who managed G-Cash for Globe Telecom. He was previously President and CEO of BPI Globe BanKO, the first mobile-based, microfinance-focused savings bank in the Philippines. He was also a consultant with global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Meta has always been about connecting people to what they love. Over the years, those connections have organically led to commerce—with people promoting products and services they love and businesses looking to form lasting connections with customers. In fact:
- More than 270 million monthly active people from around the world on Facebook are connected to a business in the Philippines.
- Over 75% of monthly active people in the Philippines on Facebook are connected to at least one business
- 63% of businesses with a presence on Facebook generated some proportion of their sales in the past 30 days through digital channels