It’s been a momentous year in the world of social media and to celebrate the end of 2023, the OCOCO team are dishing out the awards. Here’s this year’s winners and runners-up…
Social Media Moment of the Year
The X-ecution of Twitter
Just nine months after his acquisition of Twitter, Elon Musk made the decision to change the name of the platform to X in July of 2023. It was a monumental move by Musk after 17 years of success under the Twitter brand. The name change was the result of Musk merging Twitter with X Holdings and becoming a part of X Corp. The decision appeared to be yet another attempt by Musk to stamp his authority on the network, after multiple job cuts and significant usability changes.
Many were critical of the new name and logo, noting that it disregards Twitter’s history and identity. The new logo is almost unidentifiable in comparison to its predecessor, Larry the Bird, lacking colour and originality. The letter X lacks any meaningful symbolism for users to grasp onto and is often has negative connotations. The change also lead to some hilarious memes with Twitter users using their creativity to ridicule Musk and his new logo.
It’s hard to determine the long term impact that the name change will have on the success of the platform. Arguably changes to advertising and layout on the platform, could ultimately be the thing that causes the fall of X. Twitter had such a substantial impact on the history of social media, that regardless of Musk’s attempts to rebrand, it will probably always be referred to and remembered as Twitter.
Threads Goes Live
Threads launched on the 5th July 2023. I was in Brixton, and I am not exaggerating when I say everywhere I went, it was all anyone seemed to be talking about. All day. From the buzz of the coffee shop queue for my 8am caffeine fix to leaving a gig at 11pm that evening, all I overheard was Threads chatter.
Truly, this was a moment. No longer dismayed by Twitter’s demise into Elon’s X, all talk seemed positive, hopeful, and anecdotal evidence aside, if the stats were anything to go by, Threads had achieved the impossible – nearly 100 million active users within the first three days.
The people had spoken, and they wanted change, positivity, better safeguarding, less hate, and more conversation. Admittedly, parent company Meta went early with this one, launching with limited functionality, and while Threads wasn’t quite the network we deserved, it might still have been the app we needed in that moment.
Okay, so what happened next wasn’t quite as revolutionary, and the app has struggled to keep users engaged, but in a world where pre-Elon-Twitter fans have limited hope of the platform becoming what it once was, a little candle burns deep in my soul for Threads.
I still remember that buzz. And I’m taking that hope into 2024, where I’ll be dedicating time to using the platform a lot more.
Because to paraphrase Gandhi, maybe we all need to be the change we want to see in the social media marketing world.
A Coronation in the digital age
With over a decade’s worth of digital marketing experience under our belts at OCOCO, there isn't much we haven't dealt with before... but a Coronation was a new one, and a key social media moment of 2023.
While something so pro-royal was a step to far for some brands, for most, joining the nation in a weekend of celebration, pomp, ceremony, and an extra Bank Holiday, was a great opportunity to build rapport and connections with audiences.
Alongside an official release of social media and marketing assets available to download at royal.uk, The Royal Family gave permission for the Coronation Emblem to be used freely, giving businesses a brilliant opportunity to create their own celebratory marketing materials. And so many did…
Overall, the Coronation of King Charles III generated over 88 million actions and 405 million video views across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. For royal event context, coronation-related content generated 49% more actions and 42% more video views than the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. A right royal social media moment by any standards.
"This Barbie is…" Meme
Warner Bros. sent social media into a frenzy on April 4th 2023 when they shared 24 posters online to promote the film of the year, Greta Gerwig's Barbie. Released a few hours before the instantly iconic teaser trailer, the posters revealed the film’s star-studded cast and their characters, each with a personalised ‘This Barbie is…” tagline.
In a stroke of genius, the Barbie team created a ‘Selfie Generator’ website and TikTok filter that allowed everyone to join in on the fun and enter Gerwig’s fictional pink universe. The AI-powered tool enabled users to create a cast-style graphic with their own photos and taglines. You could become a Barbie (or just Ken) on social media in seconds.
The selfie generator became a mighty meme machine, with personalised Barbie graphics flooding timelines and newsfeeds across Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) within hours of the initial post. From individuals sharing funny self-assessments with friends to brands using it to connect with their target audience, it pervaded all platforms.
Not only were the memes lots of fun to create and share, but they proved to be an incredibly smart marketing move by Warner Bros. It incited a surge of user-generated content on a global scale, which went on to successfully promote the film and its highly anticipated first trailer.
As the social media moment of the year, it was silly, unexpected and incredibly smart. This Barbie is very impressed!
Social Media Platform of the Year
Forever the favourite of visual social media lovers, Instagram went largely under the radar in 2023. With other platforms making a lot of noise (often not for good reasons), Insta continued to do what it does best.
Renowned for its strong visuals and less need for text, Instagram remains a popular way for individuals and businesses to share updates. As part of its continuing development, Instagram has heavily increased video features on the app.
In February, Instagram introduced Broadcast Channels, as a public, one-to-many messaging tool for creators to directly engage with their followers at scale. Creators can now use text, photo, video and voice notes to share updates and behind-the-scenes moments.
With over 2 billion active monthly users, Instagram is constantly reinventing itself to increase its user base and support content creators. Possibly inspired by its competitors, in 2023 Instagram placed a lot of focus on video content, and even began testing Reels up to 10 minutes long. The updates to Reels were aimed to help creators connect with audiences and make it easier to create engaging content.
Meta also introduced its Twitter competitor, text-based app Threads, to capitalise on the uproar caused by Musk’s Twitter/X. Meta chose to closely link Threads to Instagram with users required to both have an Instagram account and use Threads under the same Instagram handle.
Given its age, you may think Facebook is old news in 2023. Yes, there may be newer and louder social media platforms that are making the news (X, I’m looking at you), but Facebook is still leading the way when it comes to high-quality user experiences and marketing opportunities.
With approximately three billion monthly active users worldwide, it’s still the most used online social network and thus creates huge opportunities for marketers thanks to its enormous reach. Facebook also stores a great amount of user data, from online purchases to meaningful interactions, making it highly efficient at target marketing. You want to customise your ad to reach an OAP with an interest in motorcycles and trance music? Facebook is your guy.
Facebook also inspires and keeps up to date with the latest trends and technologies. From introducing an advanced Meta AI assistant to developing virtual reality technologies, it’s always ahead of the game. Whilst all new features aren’t always met with instant success, the ideas behind them are consistently original and influence future developments.
Finally, from a user-perspective, Facebook’s interface is very friendly. With an intuitive layout, its newsfeed, Marketplace and Messenger are all easy to navigate. It’s no wonder that billions of people continue to log in every month. Plus, we all know Zuckerberg will triumph over Musk in their looming cage fight.
Twitter / X
The category “Platform of the Year” stands open, in my opinion, to interpretation as to whether the network is being noted for good or bad reasons, and 2023 notoriety couldn’t go to anything other than X (formerly known as Twitter).
It’s hard to believe it was October 2022 when the world first heard “let that sink in”, but this month marks 14 months of Elon Musk at the helm. And what a journey it has been….
Rarely out of the headlines, it would appear to any social media fan that Musk is systematically removing and adjusting staple features from one longest established social networks to push-pull the platform into a new era.
Change causes disruption, and opportunity - so the hottest topic right now is whether X is building towards a brighter future or if its days more limited than 280 characters.
X currently boasts 528.3 million monetizable monthly active users in 2023, so while the network may appear to be down, it’s certainly not out for the count. And there’s always Elon’s upcoming boxing match with fellow social media boss Mark Zuckerburg, set to be live streamed on the platform, that may pull in another million users or two.
Whatever the next 12 months hold for X, one thing is for sure – we’ll all be watching closely. So let’s get ready to rumble.
Educational, entertaining, controversial and so much more. TikTok is garnering attention for so many reasons, but above all, it’s fun! And in 2023, it’s possible that TikTok was more fun than ever before. From hilarious girl dinners to finding out that men think about the roman empire a surprising amount, it’s always exciting to see the ways that content creators on TikTok develop new and exciting ideas.
TikTok changed the game a few years ago with the introduction of short form video heavily influencing other long-standing social media platforms. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter all followed suit by introducing their own short form video versions.
What makes this platform so great is that regular people are getting millions of views every day. TikTok is also a great way to help users with all sorts of different things. From tutorials to life hacks, creators are finding ways to engage viewers with helpful and meaningful content.
Less meaningful content also continues to do well on TikTok. Staple Creations by user @Tool_Tips was the most watched video this year with an incredible 545 million views. Users are heading to TikTok to escape everyday life with satisfying and relaxing content.
TikTok also continues to massively impact the music industry, having a big effect on charts and upcoming artists. As of December 2023, 13 of 18 Billboard Hot 100 Number Ones were driven by significant trends on TikTok.
Heavily supported by its under 35 audience, TikTok is capitalising on the need of younger audiences to have instant access to entertainment and information. We can’t wait to see what fun things TikTok has in store for us in 2024!
Christmas Advert of the Year
A Magical Christmas - Lidl
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a puppy-eyed animal lovingly spreading festive cheer is the recipe for a winning Christmas ad. Lidl’s 2023 advert does just that, telling the story of a raccoon who goes the extra mile, quite literally, to make a little boy’s Christmas extra special.
The ad begins with a lonely raccoon braving the snow to watch a family decorate their Christmas tree through a window. When the family dog accidentally smashes the boy’s beloved monkey decoration, his mother decides to pick up a cuddly toy whilst doing their weekly shop at Lidl. However, disaster strikes when she drops it on her way home. Cue our charming raccoon to the rescue!
After witnessing the mother drop the toy, the raccoon embarks on an epic journey to return it in time for Christmas. After scaling traffic lights, riding the tube and sailing across a river on a log, he finally reaches the family’s home and puts the toy under the tree.
Underneath its adorable protagonist and snowy landscape, the advert celebrates the power of small gestures, reminding viewers the huge impact that kindness can have during the festive season. By concluding with the slogan ‘Gift a toy to Lidl’s food bank and share the magic’, it’s the perfect ad to champion Lidl’s ‘Toy Bank’ initiative, which helped over 80,000 children in need receive a gift last year. With a heartwarming story and message, what’s not to love?
Shaun the Sheep x Barbour
When two British institutions collaborate, you know you’re in for a Christmas treat and the Shaun the Sheep x Barbour 2023 commercial did not disappoint.
For me, Aardman Amination Studios IS Christmas, having grown up in the 90s on mandatory Wallace and Gromit viewings every December. While this stop motion short might not take us to the moon, it certainly takes us on a heartfelt journey as Bitzer the Dog, Shaun the Sheep and the Flock try to repair the Farmer’s jacket as a special gift. Their repairs, while well-intentioned and innovative, are sadly somewhat lacking in function and durability, but with the right tools and materials, Barbour is here to save the day, and kit out the entire squad with winter essentials set to last.
The focus on sustainable giving, buying well, and maintaining your clothes flies in the face of fast fashion, and with Barbour’s comprehensive repair and rewaxing services, these values aren’t just for Christmas. It’s a great example of a brand storytelling that hits all the right notes and positions perfectly.
Overall, it’s a winning ad for me! Capturing the magic of gifting well, sharing joy, and shifting very slightly away from the mass-consumption narrative, without any baa-humbug.
And wider audiences agree, with a brilliant reception and critical acclaim, Shaun the Sheep x Barbour has been a hit. It’s set to be a gift that keeps giving with brand recognition and sentiment.
Joy Ride - Amazon
In a world filled with over-produced, high budget adverts, Amazon proved this year that simplicity is key. In just sixty seconds, “Joy Ride” focuses on life-long friendships, making memories and highlighting moments of joy.
With the dulcet tones of an instrumental rendition of The Beatles “In My Life” playing gracefully in the background, three old friends watch on as children play joyfully in the snow. Seemingly reminiscing on old times, one of the friends orders three padded seat cushions on Amazon. Next thing we see is the three friends joining in on the fun gleefully.
The advert delivers a simple message of joy and hope, whilst also highlighting the convenience and speed of Amazon orders. As such a big company, Amazon wouldn’t benefit from spending time and money highlighting a product range. Instead they focus on producing an emotive advert that their audience will connect with and therefore remember.
Audience members of all ages won’t be able to help but smile when they view this, whether their envisaging themselves, their parents or grandparents. It’s a beautiful advert that truly delivers the message of Christmas.
The World Needs More Santas - Coca-Cola
Want to get on the Nice List this year? According to Coca-Cola’s 2023 Christmas campaign, The World Needs More Santas, acts of kindness are guaranteed to fly you straight to top spot.
Opening with the line ‘Anyone can be Santa’, the festive ad portrays a bustling city in which hundreds of Santas merrily roam the streets. Alongside quotidian behaviour like skateboarding and hailing taxis, the Santas are seen helping and supporting each other throughout. Whether they are opening doors, sharing a Coke or returning a lost sock, the figure of Santa is depicted as a universal symbol of generosity and compassion. In other words, a world full of Santas is a world full of love.
The ad takes an unexpected turn when the sea of velvety red suits and snowy white beards are abandoned for jeans and coats, revealing the characters to be real people who are embracing their inner-Santa to perform acts of goodwill.
Since its initial use in adverts in the 1930s, Coca-Cola has had a long-running affiliation with Santa that spans nearly a century. With every iconic festive campaign created, they have helped define the look and personality of the Father Christmas we know today.
By closing with the line ‘The World Needs More Santas’ in their most recent ad, Coca-Cola not only attempt to influence the character of Father Christmas, but the viewer itself. Ultimately, by celebrating the spirit of the infamous Mr Claus in all of us, they imply the most magical thing you can gift this year is kindness. Visually beautiful and utterly heartwarming, it’s the ad of the festive season!