Social Media Trends for Back to School 2023

María Vidal

28 September 2023

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September is that month when it’s time to buckle down and become one of the top brands. So, let’s go over the main social media trends of 2023 that will help you achieve your strategy for this final sprint of the year. Take notes and make a difference!

Subject 1: The stories.

1. The combination of digital audio and short video format.

A format that showed a lot of promise at the beginning of 2023 and continues to strengthen, with an average of 9.5 listening hours weekly, according to the iVoox Observatory. Furthermore, the boom in video podcasts and the use of video micro-clips extracted from them became the most effective bait for showcasing longer videos. For this academic year, brands must consider the opportunities this video-audio tandem can offer in their marketing and content strategies where stories “told aloud” take centre stage. At Good Rebels, we’ve chosen to integrate this on accounts like Toyota Spain

2. Carousels and Reels, the kings of storytelling. 

When it comes to enhancing our storytelling capabilities on social media and maximising engagement and impact, there are two formats that stand out: Carousels and Reels. Instagram’s algorithm has evolved over the years. So, what conclusions can we draw for the back-to-school period, according to  Metricool’s study? 

  • Reels’ reach has decreased by 32.77%, but it remains the format with the highest average reach and is the most efficient for reaching new audiences.
  • The reach of carousels has increased by 13.58% and interactions by 15.82%, as a single post can be shown to a user multiple times.
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Source: Instagram Study 2023. (11th September 2023). Metricool.


3. Content in series format (Meta) or playlists (TikTok). 

One trend to certainly embrace is creating posts in series and/or playlist formats, engaging our audience with interconnected new episodes that build medium to long-term expectations. The storytelling for this content line should stem from a topic that interests your audience, ensuring continuity over time through graphic and structural coherence and keyword/tagging. Two illustrative examples would be the #EmbajadoresVECI lines by Viajes el Corte Inglés or #DominosHacks by Domino’s Pizza.

Subject 2: Entertainment. 

1. More branded entertainment and info-entertainment. 

In today’s world, both online and offline, where we’re inundated, it’s crucial to seek new ways to stand out and impact the audience. At this juncture, brands must dare to innovate more than ever, stepping out of their comfort zone and astonishing through experiences where entertainment is a must, without necessarily putting the product/service at the heart. Consider unique launches like Krash Cosmetics’ pizza-proof lipstick, a docuseries to get to know the country’s top gamers, or a campaign like Diversity Hunger, creating a real families museum to celebrate 100% diversity during Pride 2023.

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Source: Dominos Pizza’s Spain Instagram Profile.

Entertainment isn’t just about creating branded content; it’s also about adding value for users. If we discover our audience’s needs, interests, and curiosities, we can create informative content that grabs their attention. But it’s not enough to simply offer informational content like those list formats highlighting 3-5 items to consider (e.g., 3 vegetarian dishes you must try from @restaurant). It’s time to go a step further and focus on topics our audience is interested in, and where our brand can be present (e.g., The story of my first time at a vegetarian restaurant). The “gift” is information, but it needs the “bow” of entertainment. 

2. Influencer Marketing as an entertainment lever.

Influencers are now seen as a must in digital marketing plans, with their expenditure growing 3.5 times faster than social ad spend, according to eMarketer. Currently, these profiles go beyond being merely a media plan lever, as users see them as genuine references and stars of their own entertainment

For this reason, they shouldn’t just be integrated as amplifiers, but as activators

  • Macro profiles allow us to reach/entertain generic communities. It’s an approach that boosts awareness, best structured as a long-term ambassador collaboration rather than a one-off. 
  • Micro/nano profiles help us reach/entertain specific communities. This is a means to strengthen engagement by impacting an audience more effectively. 

At General Optica, for instance, we collaborate with profiles like Mariona Casas or Esperansa Grasia, bearing this mantra in mind.

influencer marketing spending growth is outpacing ad revenue growth on every major social platform 2023
Source: Social Media Today.

Subject 3: The DNA of each channel. 

1. More or less open conversations: Threads Vs. X (formerly Twitter). 

On July 10th, Meta surprised everyone by launching Threads, a text-based microblogging app, seemingly very similar to Twitter. Thanks to perfect launch conditions, especially with the uncertainty following numerous changes introduced by Elon Musk, Threads amassed 100 million users in just 5 days, making it the fastest-growing app of all time. However, a week later, the number of daily users on Threads plummeted by 79%, while Twitter, now rebranded as X, continued to maintain its 350+ million users. After the collective frenzy, many companies realised that the platform might not be ideal for their communication strategies due to its lack of features like “hashtags”, “explore” or “trending topic” present in X, which primarily promotes more open conversations.

We can’t accurately predict the future, but what insights can we offer brands? At Good Rebels, our advice is to approach the trend of jumping onto every available channel with caution. The emergence of a new social network can tempt us to quickly join in hopes of “being pioneers”, but we should first analyse how its use/functions will evolve, how other businesses use it, and whether it provides the tools we need to achieve our goals. In this case, Threads is especially recommended for brands seeking to strengthen conversations with their Instagram audience, a much more closed forum compared to Twitter.

2. Long-form video format: Instagram Vs. TikTok. 

As we previewed in Digital Trends that will leave a mark in 2023, social media is shifting towards uniformity with the goal of offering a full experience in one place. Still, a significant difference remains: TikTok’s content style continues to be far less polished than Instagram’s. Updates introduced by Meta and TikTok continue to set the rules for social apps, and this latter part of the year is marked by experimenting with longer videos in Reels, mimicking TikTok, ranging from 3 to 10 minutes. While short videos remain the standout format for grabbing and holding audience attention, medium-to-long-form videos are increasingly emerging as an alternative to television. As we approach year’s end, it remains to be seen whether users prefer consuming longer videos or sticking with the fast content of short format, which will shape audiovisual strategies in 2024.

instagram presents threads
Source: Instagram.

Subject 4: Proximity and authenticity.

1. Instagram Notes and broadcast channels. 

Instagram noticed that users spent more time on direct messages (DMs) than other sections (Stories, Reels, and Feed). Thus, through its various updates (notes and channels), it has hinted at its aim to encourage the shift towards more private group conversations.

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Source: Statista. (August 29, 2023).


  • Instagram Notes was announced at the start of the year, but its use has only now seen a surge. Given its low saturation and its presence in a tab users visit daily (since it’s within the DM inbox), it could become a powerful ally for brands. Currently, it allows users to share text statuses and songs for 24 hours, and it seems likely that short videos, availability statuses, and locations will be added. This provides a means to share updates with your contacts/friends list, encouraging private conversations. 
  • Broadcast channels have been gaining momentum, with influencers leading the charge. It’s undeniably a space where brands can strategically be present: community manager engagement, exclusive product launches, tips, latest news, etc.

2. Low-production yet quality content is the new “norm”.

The essence of native content lies in ensuring brand posts aren’t too distinct from those of an ordinary user. In a brand like Westfield La Maquinista, we’ve taken this trend to the extreme in each piece of content about life in the downtown or in the office, event announcements, new openings, furry guests, or trivia for customers.

In this context, templates have become the go-to allies to assist users/brands in creating quality content while saving time. Indeed, Instagram has integrated a template browser, accessible from the Reels creation tab, to explore recommendations and trends. 

3. A more personal approach on LinkedIn. 

The quintessential professional network, boasting over 15 million users in Spain, is displaying a content typology twist: blending personal posts with professional insights. These two realms, which seemed at odds on the platform, have eventually blurred their boundaries on this social network, a change even the algorithm rewards.

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Source:  MarketingCharts. (February 3, 2023). Statista.

Subject 5: Innovation (Artificial Intelligence). 

1. Creativity behind AI.

 It’s becoming more common to see advertisers rolling out campaigns incorporating AI in the production process – a rising trend that brings the innovation these tools offer as a creative resource. Domino’s Spain, Btravel, and Orange are just some examples of how it’s being implemented, be it through content, special digital actions, or global brand campaigns.

Learn more about how AI is seeping into advertising campaigns in Rebel Intel by Fernando Polo.

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Source: Images made with AI (Dominos Pizza’s Instagram profile).

2. New features riding the wave. 

Meta is ramping up AI integration in its updates, especially on Instagram. Here are the main creative tools coming soon, which brands should keep tabs on to optimise and/or streamline content production and customer/user service workflows:

  1. Creation of personalised stickers (posts/Stories) based on text messages.
  2. Editing tool to replace parts (“AI brush”) or recreate image sections using text prompts (“Restyle”).
  3. Chatbot (@ai) as an integrated conversational space within DMs.
  4. Direct message summarisation tool to save reading time.
  5. “Created by AI” content labels to differentiate those generated using Meta’s generative AI tools.
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Source:  Clarin Tecnología

Which social media trends of 2023 should we focus on for back to school? 

In conclusion, it’s clear: adapt and succeed. This September, with all you’ve discovered, you’re primed to give your strategy a twist and find more effective ways to connect with your target audience. In summary, these are the tips you need to take your social media strategy to the next level:

  • Work to ensure our brands tell stories that resonate with the audience. They will ultimately be the ones talking about the brand on their own.
  • Provide content that entertains and surprises our community. Social networks are becoming more “media” and less “social”.
  • Bet on strategic platforms for the brand, those that help achieve our objectives. And adapt (to algorithm changes) or perish.
  • Be genuine, stay close to our users/customers, and foster one-to-one conversations to strengthen the community. The shift towards more private social exchange shows promise.
  • Innovate and optimise digital content production flows. There’s no stopping AI serving creativity. 

Don’t miss the chance to jump on the 2023 social media trends and ace the year!