Well, this is interesting! Usually, when I’m putting this article together there are some core themes that I need to discuss. This year there are a bunch of things that I want to share with you. It’s been tough going trying to pin down just a few things that I see as being key to what 2024 has in store for us marketing-wise. I’ve tried to pick the things that I think are most important to you, the things you can act on with immediate effect – rather than what’s most exciting or interesting to me.
The great thing about the trends I’m predicting for next year is that for some of them, I’m already seeing moves in that direction from some of the social media giants.
Social Media Platforms will go back to basics
It’s been a tough year in the wider tech world. Lay-offs have happened across the board and your favourite social media brands have made up part of that story too. The last few years have seen the need to invest in projects that have now found their way onto the backburner (remember when you were seeing the word metaverse every five minutes? Not so much now though!) Human behaviour called for a need for social media platforms to become all things to all people. (LinkedIn really did become Facebook circa 2015 for a minute.) As many of us know in business, when you try to serve everyone – you end up serving no one.
My expectation is that in 2024 many of the social media platforms will be going back to basics and focusing on their original purpose and mission. TikTok was originally all about entertainment and education in video format. Facebook was about community, LinkedIn was about business, X (Twitter) was a text-based platform and a place for real-time news… everything from preferred content to algorithms will shift in 2024 to ensure the platforms are delivering in alignment with their purpose. It will allow them to ensure they’re attracting the right users who log in regularly, and that in turn will help them please their advertisers.
What does that mean for us? We (should) know who we’re targeting, so we should know where they’re hanging out online and most importantly why. What is it they’re using their social media platforms of choice for and how can we serve the right content for the right platform for the right audience. Getting this right at a strategic level will make all the difference in 2024.
As a side note, if you’re using paid ads on social media, keep an eye on this and ensure your add copy and creative aligns too – it’s important to ensure you’re always standing out in the feed for the right reasons. Not the wrong ones!
Text-only posts are making a comeback
I mentioned X (Twitter) as being a text-based platform in my previous point. Whatever we believe about the future of X – it’s still getting audience. This year, partly because of the opportunity Elon’s take over poised, partly because of there being a need for text-based platforms we saw Mastodon, Bluesky and Threads all take their place in the social media landscape. Look out for growth from these platforms – they may not creep into the top 10 most used in the UK, however if they’re right for your audience then this is where you need to be active – keep an eye out for the opportunities!
The interesting thing here is that it isn’t just text-based platforms on the rise – it’s also text-based content. Have you noticed the increase in text lead visual posts in your Instagram and Facebook feeds over the last few months? From an Instagram perspective, I’m seeing these more and more as carousel posts that break down the key points of longer form content in an easy to digest way.
There are several global accounts in the social media world that are using a workflow that essentially uses X (Twitter) as a testing ground to see what’s working in Text only posts, then repurposing these on more visual platforms with great effect. The text is being used on static image backgrounds, and on video/animated backgrounds as solo posts. Whether a solo post or carousel, the call to action takes the reader back to the long-form content, often either a blog, a YouTube video or Podcast episode.
Repurposing is a solid tactic that you should be using. If we’re super smart, we’ll go full circle with this. Test short-form text-based content. Take what works and develop longer form content on the same theme in a variety of media, use text what we already know to repurpose again into text-based visuals. Rinse and repeat!
Search beyond SERPS – Social Media Optimisation
This is a chunky topic – there’s a few things to consider here! Firstly, we’re seeing use of social media as a search engine over just a standard Google search. That means that although SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages) is still important and therefore you should still be thinking about a traditional SEO strategy. You also need to think about SEO from a social media perspective too. (Which also relates to Human SEO, something I’ve talked about for years and years!)
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen reports stating that over the last two years TikTok has become a leading news source for adults in the US in their 20s. Trends like this often ‘age up’ as those users not only get older, but also share the insights they find with their older peers creating new online behaviours.
There are also arguments (and warnings) that search behaviour has shifted given the rise of AI tools such as ChatGPT. Some users in the know realise that the information shared from these sources can be somewhat out of date, so social media can understandably become the next port of call for more up to date or real time information.
I’m always watching eCommerce trends too as they often seem to move over into the world of B2B marketing – PWC has released data showing that on a global level, 48% said the lead source of research for purchases were via Google, and 44% of the same audience were also using social media for the same purpose.
It’s time to really get clear on your tactical plan when it comes to keywords and wider SEO activity – and apply that to social media. Something we all should already be doing; however few take this seriously! The other element here to double down on is making sure you’re using your social media content to answer the questions that help your prospects to buy in 2024.
Social Media Search Tactics – The personal brand approach
I wonder at times how much of these changes are related to what specifically we’re searching for these days. I feel it’s often the case we want to know what sentiment is around a topic, what I mean is who’s talking about it and what are they saying. Rather than what the brand is saying directly about their offering.
A couple of years ago Ofcom released a report that showed that we believe and trust what we hear from people (even if we don’t know them), more than what we hear directly from brands online. This has translated into the social media world as users look for insights from real people – it’s partly why the importance of personal brand and visibility has soared over recent years. For transparency, I’m hearing talk of personal brand being a thing of the past. I don’t agree, however, I do think there needs to be a focus on how the use of personal brand is used as a marketing tactic. (Notice I said tactic rather than strategy there!)
I’ve just said that online users are looking for insights from real people – What’s the best way to do this? Find them on social media and hear from the horse’s (digital) mouth! UGC (user-generated content) from trustworthy sources (known names in your niche aka personal brands) will be the answer here.
Video is going to get longer
Since 2020, we’ve seen trends of shorter and shorter videos. At that time, content consumption was at an all-time high so it makes sense. Now things have levelled out again we’re starting to see trends of a requirement for longer video that offers more detail on a topic. If you want evidence of this, TikTok (the king of short-form video) have already extended the length of video several times over the last year and have now extended it again. Instagram Reels are now up to 15 minutes (at the time of writing this!).
We’re not talking hour-long videos here – if you were doing 30 seconds before, try and stretch it to 3 minutes. If you were doing 3 minutes, try and stretch it to 5 minutes.
These videos still need to have the right pace, they still need to have an element of entertainment. And, you’ll still need to stick with the concept of them being the rawer the better! Overly edited and perfected video does not build trust on social media platforms outside of YouTube. Keep going with your un-scripted one-take wonders, and keep promoting UGC (User-generated content).
To echo the point I made earlier about trustworthy sources and personal brand, the other thing here is that video is going to be consumed when there is an element of connection and familiarity. Remember I talked about text-only content – well, when we look at communication models, only 7% of communication is the words used. Everything else comes in the form of body language, tonality etc. Video allows us to communicate with 100% efficacy. Use video to build trust and position you in a way no other content type can. Look for the opportunities to create meaningful video content for partners that raise your profile – and get others to do the same for you!
Edutainment – The Ultimate Marketing Tactic For 2024?
I hate that word – it’s kind of made up by marketers. We often have a word that gets abused, sometimes we make our own words up! I have to say that I’m not hearing the word used massively, however I do feel Edutainment will be the buzz in 2024.
With some of the trends I’ve mentioned already in this article, it’s clear to me that we need to up our game when it comes to content that educates and entertains simultaneously. Doing this will require you to be hot on your keywords, it’s the perfect way to deal with objections before the sales process even begins and video is the best format to deliver this type of content.
What I’ve just said there re keywords is especially important when you consider what I’ve already said about how social media is being used as a search engine. Take time to create this content, it’s likely to be surfaced in search for months after posting so it’s worth doing the research, having a plan, and making sure that it’s something evergreen. Your edutainment-based content won’t be another throw away post. It’s going to be what has most value to you in your content library in 2024.
Another thing to note here, is the value of AI in terms of how your edutainment content is served to those beyond your following. TikTok’s algorithm has been strongly based around discovery. It’s one of the reasons the platform did so well so early on. The likes of Meta noticed this and shifted things across their apps to do the same. When it comes to Reels on Instagram and Facebook, using the right keywords, trending sounds etc will likely help your content be picked up by the AI and served to new audiences.
Personal content is happening behind closed doors
Remember when there was an abundance of personal stuff in our feeds? Have you noticed the shift? This, more personal, content is still being shared – just not publicly. We’ve seen the rise of WhatsApp, the appearance of more DM style apps like Telegram, we’ve seen Instagram create options for you to share stories to people on a Close friends list and more recently broadcast channels for creators using the platforms.
In 2024 you will be creating content for the masses – hold some back for your inner-circle. And if you can, promote ways your audience can become inner circle on a free to access basis. Significance and connection are human needs, look for ways to meet these needs for you audience. Make them feel important, show them you’re connected to them.
Of course, AI in Marketing will be big
Used the right way, Generative AI will make it easier for you to produce content that gets results. As long as you use it with the intention of getting results and you’re clear on what those results should look like!
I’ve written a couple of blogs on the topic of AI this year, so I won’t repeat myself. All I’ll say for now is expect more developments in AI tools being brought into the platforms and software you’re using already. Social media scheduling tools, social media platforms, marketing automation software… they’ll all be releasing AI features or levelling up what they’ve already released in the last 6 months or so. We’ll also see more use of AI in how algorithms are implemented so watch out for more big changes on that front in 2024!
There’s so much more to talk about when it comes to marketing in 2024!
Within each of the points above, there are a bunch of sub-topics. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a year where there has been so much to talk about. With everything I know, my own marketing strategy will this year be starting from scratch. This is the year where every tactic has to be reviewed and implemented in 90 day sprints as the trends shift and new tools come to market. The impact of AI; The changing shape of the social media landscape; user behaviour… there will be no standing still in 2024 when it comes to marketing and to navigate this, everything will come back to strategy!