Vertical video. Content is king. Personalisation. 2021 rolled around, and so did the ‘trends’ pieces – each with their own shiny take on the future of social and digital that sounded eerily familiar from every trend piece prior.

Daunted by the prospect of trying to add a new flavour to these stories after a year which showed just how little you could predict, two of TMW’s strategy team began to explore the more dystopian landscape of our digital futures.

Looking toward the next quarter, year, decade and century, Esme Noble and Olivia Wedderburn explored abstract concepts and scarily adjacent realities that, should sci-fi imitate life, would definitely impact how consumers operate across online spaces.


A famous social channel decides to press the reset button. Users are asked to reactivate their account, update information and save the people and groups they still genuinely want to follow. After the reset all inactive accounts will be removed and follower lists updated resulting in accounts followers plummeting overnight. 

In this world

Influencers are panicking that after the big reset they’ll have no followers left. Brands do the same and desperately try to create content in the final weeks that has genuine utility or is interesting for their audience. Others are looking forward to the cleanse and see it as a fresh start, being able to redefine themselves knowing that only their true fans and followers remain. For users it's been great they now see quality content. They have finally stopped following that kitchenware brand that they followed 5 years ago to win a free mixer and the girl they met in a bar on holiday whose wedding photos were constantly coming up on their feed. 

Will it happen

It's unlikely that platforms would enforce this across the board but data protection laws getting more strict, it could be that this happens on a smaller scale. Users are already doing this on an individual level, culling “friends” they no longer want to see the content from. Instagram has helped aid the decision of who to unfollow by introducing a “least interacted with” section within your settings, making it quick and easy to no longer view their content. As the platforms continue to age people will be looking to see content from people who are relevant to them now and not when their account was first set up. 

We’ve seen brands have to re-engage their eCRM databases due to GDPR. This was met with mixed reviews. Some consumers were happy to free their inboxes of emails that were going straight in the bin anyway whilst others found it a hassle to sign up again to everything they wanted. 

It would pose an interesting opportunity for brands giving them a chance to re-evaluate their output on social and rebuild a following of genuine fans.