This month we explore predictions and trends from social media experts, look into avatar building and Instagram features and wonder what Adobe will do next.

Take note: Instagram releases even more features that no one asked for, meanwhile we dive into reports on social media trends from Hootsuite and Bazaarvoice, and witness the aftermath to the Pantone debacle. Let’s go!

1. No points for faking it

In news from Bazaarvoice’s 2022 Fake Reviews Report it appears that faking it may negatively impact a brand or business. The survey on more than 10,000 global shoppers explored the effect fake reviews and authenticity have on customer trust, and the actions shoppers take based on that trust. It found that more than half (55%) of Australians say they wouldn’t buy a product if they suspected a fake review. In contrast, 41% of Australian consumers trust user generated content (UGC) in ads as opposed to brands advertising without UGC (29%). 52% of consumers said fake reviews make them lose trust in the brand, and the responses to a suspected fake review ranged from abandoning their support for the brand to posting about it negatively on social media and wanting businesses fined for fake reviews. It suggests that a consumer’s continued support rests on a brand’s ability to be real with them and build a trusted relationship, and user generated content continues to play a huge role in this.

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 2. Public notice: Instagram releases notes

This month Instagram released a new feature onto unsuspecting users: Instagram Notes. Similar to their other feature, Stories, Instagram Notes disappear in 24 hours and can be posted to followers who follow you, or your “Close Friends” list. Users can also reply to your Notes and you’ll receive these in the form of a DM. Notes are what they sound like, little messages for everyone to see. They can only be 60 characters long and sit above your inbox. Though they seem to have picked up quickly among private circles as a fun little gimmick, what role they play for brand and consumer communication remains to be seen.

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3. Time to pay for Pantone

Last year, Adobe announced that it would be dropping the Pantone colour system from all of its software. Though the two companies said that the change would be minimally invasive, now that it has come into effect, users are noticing problems. Pantone has been a major resource for graphic designers using Photoshop. Its colours are extremely specific and, as Kotaku explains, it has become an industry standard for colour matching. On top of this, its intellectual property prevents others from creating “Pantone-compatible” colour systems without licensing it. Now that Pantone has been removed from Adobe, their solution seems to be a plugin that will “minimise workflow disruption” and “provide the updated libraries to the Adobe Creative Cloud users” for a monthly subscription of $15, of course. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be solving all of the issues that users are reporting. Only time will tell if a better solution arises.

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4. Takeaways from Hootsuite’s 2023 Social Trends Report

It’s that time of the year again: Hootsuite has released its 2023 Social Trends Report which showed that social marketers are experiencing a defining moment in the industry. As chief marketing officer, Maggie Lower said: “Social media has never played a more central role in businesses,” and it looks like that role is growing. From over 10,600 surveys Hootsuite found some significant  insights for 2023, noting that big brands are investing less in influencer marketing, even in this era of consumers demanding authenticity. This potentially opens the door for small businesses to engage top creators and influencers (at lower price points). They also see a trend to more creativity as marketers stop chasing new features and start getting more strategic, creating more unique content for fewer platforms. Plus social search optimization emerges as a defining skill for marketers especially as many brands feel ill-equipped for digital customer service. Having a helping hand with your digital campaign is looking to be more important than ever as we step into the new year.

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5. In design: Meet Idoru, the realistic and inclusive avatar app

Most, if not all, of us have created a digital version of ourselves whether it was on the Sims or a Bitmoji. However, with the Metaverse expanding and so far being disappointing in terms of graphics, a new player is enabling users to create diverse, detailed avatars as an extension of their identity. Meet Idoru. Founded by humanist technologist Mica Le John and former fashion art director Michael TaylorIdoru, Idoru enables users to create realistic-looking avatars as self expression. From race to gender the co-founders ensured there was a diverse group of people building and testing it, resulting in a more inclusive platform. Instead of choosing a gender, users are asked to pick undergarments and can build their avatar’s body shape and type. They can adjust the skin tone and hue but also add features like eczema, birthmarks and freckles. And the response is similar to how players felt when they were able to add birthmarks on their Animal Crossing characters, feeling representation for the first time. Another thing the app is trying to explore is financial or body autonomy, allowing all users regardless of age or income to experiment with everything from piercings and tattoos to high end fashion. The result is a highly detailed and personalised avatar that is a full expression of you, something we don’t often see in the online world.

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