Remember when social media was a marketing goldmine? Nowadays, it seems more like a minefield. Between the rollercoaster ride that is the AI revolution, the continued fallout from the Elon Muskification of Twitter, sorry, X, and the rise of augmented reality experiences, it's high time we developed a new playbook for social media management. 

Of course, this industry has always been an elusive beast. The tech moguls of Silicon Valley are nothing if not innovative, which means that social media platforms have never stayed the same for very long. However, change, inevitable or otherwise, is a double-sided coin, which is to say that you can use it to your advantage! All it takes is a bit of re-strategizing, so let's go through 6 of the biggest social media trends of 2024 and how your marketing tactics should change accordingly.

   

1. AI Content

How to Use AI on Social Media

It’s hard to think of a more hyped-up (and poorly understood) tech than AI these days. And why wouldn’t people be talking about it? It completely reshaped the content creation landscape, offering high-quality output at the push of a button, and 77% of consumers can’t even tell the difference! 

Eschewing AI content generators might not be an option anymore since 5 out of 6 marketers say they use AI in the workplace. You can’t afford not to use them, but proceed with caution. Google’s March 2024 core algorithm update prioritizes human authors in the SERP, making AI content a risky choice indeed. Remember, social media content is essential for a well-rounded SEO strategy, so you can’t afford to compromise it with obviously AI-generated content.

Need some help figuring out how to use AI effectively? Read our post about improving your SEO with AI!

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2. Short-Form Video

With over a billion users worldwide, TikTok is one of the greatest disruptors the industry has seen in years. It sparked a massive surge in short-form video, with everyone from YouTube to Instagram hopping on the bandwagon. Consumers have also developed a taste for bite-sized content; studies show 66% prefer videos that are under a minute long.

But get this: Long-form isn’t dead yet, and it might be making a comeback. TikTok has made major strides in that direction, allowing users to post ten and even 30-minute videos on the platform. So keep your short-form video campaign going strong, but don’t skimp out on long-form video. The fact that TikTok is doubling down on it shows that it still has some legs.

3. Niches and Communities

Long gone are the days of mass appeal. Now, it’s all about the personal, the targeted, the meaningful. Users are retreating into internet enclaves where they find people with shared interests, creating an increasingly fractured social networking ecosystem.

Platforms, acutely aware of this, are responding by providing highly personalized feeds to each user, which changes how brands should approach their social media marketing. It’s now essential to create a community around your brand, something that acts as an open channel for customer queries, feedback and complaints.

This has some serious advantages for brand awareness. According to the Sprout Social Index, 51% of customers find brands more memorable if they respond to them on socials, and 37% said that audience engagement mattered more to them than content.

That’s not to say that you should stop focusing on content entirely; it just means that customers now expect to feel like they’re part of a community, and brands that fail to provide that might get left behind.

Want to learn more about leveling up your marketing with online communities? Check out our post on BookTok and Bookstagram!

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4. Social Commerce

In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg and co started competing with the likes of Amazon and eBay with the launch of Facebook Marketplace. They’ve since expanded their social commerce offerings to include Instagram Shopping, and with Pinterest also getting in on the action and TikTok launching its ecommerce platform TikTok Shop in late 2023, this sector’s really starting to heat up.

Data shows that around 118 million buyers will spend over $144 billion combined on social commerce by 2027, with the average spend per buyer reaching $1,223. That’s nearly double what social commerce consumers spent in 2023 ($657). Considering that 27% of Millennials and 22% of Gen Z said they bought products through social commerce in 2023, and significant growth is projected for the future, brands should work overtime to set up storefronts on as many platforms as possible. Get yourself a slice of that multi-billion-dollar pie!

5. Augmented Reality

The Rise of Augmented Reality

Picture a world where you can try on a pair of clothes before you buy them... all without leaving your home! That’s already possible, thanks to AR, so you can see how many potential advantages it brings for brands.

As it currently stands, 90% of American adults say they’re either already using AR while making purchases or plan to use it in the future. If a customer expects something from a business, not providing it is a surefire way to lose the sale, so it’s essential to start offering AR customer experiences ASAP.

These experiences will be provided to customers through social media, with filters and lenses helping them try before they buy. And the buck doesn’t stop there; AR provides a whole new avenue for content creation; think fully immersive storytelling experiences that put the audience right in the middle of the action!

The tech isn’t quite there yet, but it still has a lot of value in social media today. Projections show AR users crossing the 95 million mark in the US alone; that’s tens of millions of customers who won’t have to imagine themselves owning your products; they’ll get to experience it firsthand.

6. The Instagram Boom

Why Instagram Matters in 2024

Twitter hasn’t exactly been an industry heavyweight for a few years, at least when you compare it to the likes of Facebook and Instagram. Even so, things have really gone downhill since Elon Musk took over, and that’s not a subjective statement. From a purely financial standpoint, the now-rebranded X has seen far better days, with revenue plummeting from $4.7 billion in 2022 to 3.3 billion in 2023.

Towards the end of the year, the struggling platform was dealt another blow when major US companies like Disney paused advertising on X after Elon Musk made some... let’s say controversial statements. What does this have to do with Instagram, you ask? Well, it turns out that many of these companies are taking their X ad spends and putting them towards Meta’s subsidiary instead!

So, if you work at a marketing agency or run a small business, you should consider focusing more on Instagram. Brands aren’t making this decision lightly; they put considerable thought into where they spend their ad dollars, and if Instagram is where the money’s going, that’s only because it’s a better place to advertise right now.

As for X, it’s still hanging on, but 23% of its users have departed after the Elon Musk acquisition, and a steadily rising Threads isn’t helping matters much either. Don’t make any hasty decisions, X may very well be the right fit for your brand, but you might want to weigh the pros and cons before advertising there.

If you need help choosing between Threads and X, check out this post now.

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So, what can we learn from all of this?

The current social media landscape requires an agile, adaptive approach from brands and marketers alike. Strategies for 2023 might already be outdated, whether that’s an overreliance on AI, going all-in with short form content, or ignoring the influx of advertisers on Instagram.

Whatever strategy you implement, tailor it to the niche-driven and community-oriented social media culture of today, and keep a close eye on AR; its game-changing impact on marketing and consumer engagement is showing no signs of slowing down.

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