It’s an understatement to declare 2023 as the wildest year in the history of social media. Twitter rebranded to X, Meta launched Threads, Snapchat embraced AI, and TikTok was definitely going to be banned, but then also probably isn’t. And that was all just this year. Marketers and brands, understandably, are overwhelmed by the pace of change and the uncertainty it brings to spending decisions, so we spent a lot of time understanding the landscape and helping them..
As 2023 races to a close, it’s the perfect time to look back, take stock of how the industry has changed, and look ahead at where and how we can succeed in 2024. To make that a little easier, your friends at Codeword have put together some guidance on what brands and marketers should consider for social in 2024.
The politics of social media
With the U.S. elections scheduled for November 2024, social media will be ground zero for misinformation and divisive rhetoric. Expect AI-generated campaign content and misuse by political players, which will continue to fuel concerns about the integrity of social media communication and leadership.
As AI regulations evolve and tech leaders like Elon Musk continue to devolve, brands will be held accountable for the social platforms, and information, they choose to support with ad dollars. Make those decisions thoughtfully, and be aware of where your audiences are shifting to and from.
Marketing on autopilot
The rise of AI-generated content will add not only volume to the social space but also unoriginality. AI pulls from what already exists, meaning brands and content teams that rely too heavily on it will end up recycling the same content, ideas, and insights. As marketers become lazier, audiences will crave the unique and authentic. Vulnerability, artistry, imperfection, and genuine human connection will become increasingly valuable in the face of homogenized, AI-generated content.
Brands, even those using AI to create content, must embrace pushing boundaries and taking chances to stand out. Encourage creativity, testing, and instinct-based decisions to break through to your audiences.
Social platform consolidation
Brands have continued to spend more money, time, and resources on social media as they keep up with where audiences are heading. This puts a huge strain on budgets and creativity. As marketing teams become more concerned with the time and investment needed to be present on the ever-expanding list of social platforms, 2024 will see brands focus their efforts and invest in fewer platforms that deliver concrete ROI.
When selecting the platforms to continue to invest in, marketers should prioritize those that best reach and resonate with their target audiences. While a basic presence can still exist across multiple channels, delivering the best ROI should be where your teams and agencies spend their time.
With brands consolidating their social media presence, platforms will ramp up advertising efforts to maintain revenue streams. Along with the restriction of cookies in browsers, increased use of AI, and the trend for every company to somehow sell ads, the advertising landscape will be more cluttered and intrusive, prompting users to search for alternative platforms offering ad-free experiences.
As a brand, standing out is going to be harder than ever. To really be heard, brands must find ways to cut through the noise and deliver truly relevant and engaging messages with both organic and paid. Strong communication design and a clear plan of where to focus efforts will be essential.
Curating the content experience
Audiences are increasingly seeking control over their online and entertainment experiences. They want to be able to choose what they see and when, curating their feeds, inboxes, and content consumption. With the rise of the subscription economy, marketers have a great opportunity to provide entertaining content that caters to existing and evolving preferences without the additional cost burden.
Brands should shift their focus towards personalized, opt-in content experiences that reward communities and create fans. Regarding social platforms, marketers would be wise to select user-centric platforms that empower audience choice and respect user preferences.
Creators are the new influencers
In a digital landscape saturated with AI-generated content and indistinguishable ads, audiences will turn to creators over influencers. Audiences crave authentic voices and personalities, and are pulling away from influencers and publishers as advertising increases and trust declines. Creators with a trusted voice and unique perspectives will gather more audience attention, ending the influencer era.
As creators take over, brands should reassess influencer strategies to ensure they’re making smart partnerships and providing real value to the audiences they’re paying to reach. Brands won’t just be judged by who they choose to collaborate with, but how they collaborate. Adopting a creator mindset will help brands show up authentically for their audiences.
To stand out and capture attention in the 2024 social space, brands need to be prepared for the shifts that are about to occur. Instead of relying on traditional advertising, AI content generation, and influencer marketing, brands should focus on creating genuine connections with audiences, building communities, and entertaining them. Brands that embrace vulnerability, creativity, and a willingness to experiment with new formats and platforms on social will be the ones that succeed.