Trend Four: New Cooperatives

At the end of last year, we launched our annual trends report- Think Forward 2023: Fragmented Futures. It features the five key trends that we expect to shape social media over the next 12 months. This post looks at the fourth trend covered in the report: New Cooperatives. For more, check out the full Think Forward report here. 

The cult of the individual has given way to less ego-driven communities.

Once so closely related, two core tenets of online behaviour – connecting with friends and consuming content – have begun to drift apart. The vacuum they’ve created is being filled by forms of connection that are open, dynamic, and far less focused on the individual.

As the social web reorganises itself, individuality is out – at least in its earlier form. Identity curation, self-presentation, hierarchy and status-seeking are being gently set aside to make more space for effective community-building.

With less self-branding and more open community, the ‘social’ part of ‘social media’ is changing. In its heyday, the acts of connecting with friends and consuming media were braided together.  But now that TikTok’s For You Page has separated entertainment from the social graph, letting us follow interests and not friends, that social energy is disseminating into more other quarters.

The Behavioural Change

1. The profile page is falling out of favour
Platforms that de-centre creators’ profile pages (like TikTok) or rely on pseudonyms (like Reddit and Discord) have pushed into the mainstream and grown dramatically.

2. Users are co-authoring content
People are moving towards platforms that enable collective authorship. We see it in the rise of Substack – where top journalists are rejecting a top-down newsletter model in favour of collaborative, anonymous subscriber threads that act as ongoing brainstorm rooms.

3. People are performing trends communally, not individually
Trends are increasingly being performed communally rather than individually, meaning the end goal is to be part of the crowd, rather than the loudest voice in a trending conversation.   

Brand examples

Learn from Universal

When its latest Minions release prompted a chaotic fan-led “activation”, Universal chose to revel in the delights of a viral campaign with no recognised instigator. Rather than platforming individual voices, #Gentleminions relied on collective, anonymous mass mobilisation, in a more light-hearted example of how less ego-driven means of connection can affect real-world action.

@federicobarengo Raga sto tiktok deve anda virale 😂🇮🇹 #gentleminions #minions #gentleminion #fyp #yeat ♬ Rich Minion – Yeat

Learn from Twitter
Twitter’s CoTweets feature lets users in the US, Canada, and Korea co-author posts. This means that individual users, or even brands and influencers, can share the creative and edit responsibilities for a given post, making it a truly collaborative effort.

Read more about New Cooperatives, and the four other trends featured in Think Forward 2023: Fragmented Futures.