As of 2023, there are approximately 4.89 billion social media users worldwide. That's an almost 95.6% increase since 2017. Social media platforms have revolutionized communication by enabling global connectivity, as we can now stay in touch with friends, family, and colleagues regardless of geographical distance. Social media is also an instant and accessible information, entertainment, and educational source.
But social media is so much more than a communication channel and information source. It has also transformed the way businesses and brands market themselves. It offers targeted advertising, marketing, and customer engagement opportunities. According to a recent survey by Hootsuite and We Are Social, most businesses spend around 24% of their marketing budget on social media.
Social media has become integral to modern marketing strategies, with evolving challenges and opportunities for businesses seeking to connect with consumers in the digital age. Staying ahead of the trends is crucial for success. This post will discuss some trends affecting specific social media platforms in 2024. Let's get started.
Instagram excels at visuals, making it ideal for showcasing products, services, and brand aesthetics through photos and videos. The platform will likely focus on features that engage users in 2024 to maintain relevance for brands looking to foster deeper connections with consumers.
Short-form Video Dominance: Instagram videos receive twice as much engagement as photo posts. Instagram will continue focusing on short-form video content, with Reels (up to 90 seconds) and Stories (up to 60 seconds) gaining more prominence. Reels and Stories are a great way to focus a brand message with storytelling, music, and visually stimulating images.
Live Streaming: While IGTV, Instagram's long-form video feature, was discontinued in 2022, long-form video is still effective through live streaming. Instagram Live has become a popular way for brands to connect with followers in real time, fostering a sense of authenticity and relatability. Smart brands use live streaming to host product launches, influencer collaborations, Q&A sessions, behind-the-scenes content, or interactive workshops.
User-Generated Content (UGC): UGC remains a powerful tool on Instagram. The "Add Yours" sticker, a feature within Instagram Stories, offers a dynamic way for brands to actively encourage followers to take part in content creation and storytelling. This feature transforms passive viewers into active participants, fostering community and belonging among a brand's followers.
Shoppable Posts: Instagram is already one of the leading social media platforms for shopping. 70% of consumers go to Instagram to discover a product and Instagram Checkout allows users to shop from the platform without going to a third-party site. Instagram shopping features will evolve, making it easier for users to buy on the platform. In 2024, shops without checkout will no longer be supported on Instagram or Facebook. This means that brands that direct consumers to an e-commerce site from their Instagram page will no longer be able to use features like organic product tagging in posts and new custom and lookalike audiences gathered through visitor information.
Augmented Reality (AR): Instagram's AR Ads, available in both posts and Stories, bring immersive AR experiences with interactive and entertaining ways for users to engage with brands. Users can apply AR filters or effects to photos or videos, making the brand experience more personal and enjoyable. Also, users can virtually try out products or experiences a brand offers through an AR ad. Creative and shareable AR effects have the potential to go viral, increasing brand visibility as users share their experiences with followers.
Facebook is still the great white whale of social media. As of Q1 2023, there are 3.03 billion global Facebook users. This is a 3.41% year-over-year growth. And it is still a lucrative marketing channel, mainly due to the extensive user data it collects. In 2024, marketers will see more opportunities than ever before to target their audiences.
Facebook’s Conversions API: When cookies go away at the end of 2023, targeting paid social ads will be more challenging. With this new API, advertising customers can send data about website visitors' actions directly to Facebook's servers. This bypasses the need for browser pixels and will make it easier to track and analyze how users behave on websites connected to Facebook. Brands will have access to a broader range of data, be less vulnerable to issues like connectivity problems, and offer more security.
Metaverse Integration: With Meta's vision for the metaverse (a virtual world where people can socialize, work, and play), expect Facebook to continue exploring immersive technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, and integrating them into the platform. For example, Spark AR (or Meta Spark) is an augmented reality function where users can see or interact with virtual objects in the real world. Meta developed it explicitly for marketing campaigns. Meta has also introduced virtual reality through the Oculus brand, which offers headsets for users to immerse themselves in virtual environments and experiences.
Groups and Communities: Meta has been actively investing in tools and resources to support the growth and engagement of Facebook groups and communities. These efforts aim to make it easier for group administrators to manage their communities and for members to engage more meaningfully. New features will include community chats, feed channels, audio chats, and enhanced tagging options.
Live Streaming: Like on Instagram, live streaming on Facebook will continue to grow as a marketing strategy for brands to engage with their audience in real time. It's an easy way for marketers to use the power of video to highlight brand stories and build authentic fan relationships.
LinkedIn is a must for brands targeting businesses or business professionals. LinkedIn's unique selling point is the ability to search for users based on professional characteristics, including job titles, industry, skills, and company affiliations. Here are some innovations we expect to see in 2024.
Content Diversity: LinkedIn will continue to expand beyond professional networking with a broader range of content, including short-form videos and stories. This expansion will allow the platform compete with Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok. The introduction of short-form videos, in particular, represents a significant departure from the platform's text-based content.
Skill Development: More users will turn to LinkedIn for training, learning, and job-related development, driving the need for more educational content. LinkedIn's Learning platform offers a wide range of short courses and tutorials on business, creativity and technology, targeting professionals who want to upskill, reskill, and stay updated with the latest industry trends. It also offer certifications, giving users a way to promote their accomplishments and enhance their profile.
Newsletters: LinkedIn newsletters have become a powerful resource for professionals who want to stay up-to-date on industry trends and network with other professionals. They can also be lucrative email list builders for new and emerging brands. There were 150 million newsletter subscriptions in the first quarter of 2023, which indicates that more LinkedIn users rely on this function to keep in touch with their favorite thought leaders and brands.
Virtual and In-Person Events: LinkedIn Events are a powerful yet underused feature. Users can create, promote, and manage virtual and in-person professional events and gatherings right on the platform. LinkedIn Events helps professionals connect, share knowledge, and engage with their community. It supports conferences, webinars, workshops, seminars, networking events, product launches, job fairs, and more. It also integrates with third-party live-streaming platforms, allowing brands to broadcast events to a broader online audience.
It's difficult to overstate how powerful TikTok has become as a digital marketing channel. Market predictions show that TikTok's ad revenue will be more than $11 billion in US ad revenue alone and could surpass YouTube’s US ad sales. It’s clear that TikTok will continue to influence cultural trends and tech innovations in 2024.
Short-Form Video Evolution: TikTok will drive how short-form video content is created and consumed with innovative editing techniques like jump cuts, transitions, special effects, and creative use of music and sound. TikTok is also known for its viral challenges or creative trends, using music, dance, images, and other engaging content. As TikTok continues to introduce new trends, it influences content creators to adapt them into short-form videos.
E-commerce Integration: In 2023, TikTok announced the Shopping Center tab, where users visit a one-stop shop to browse products from creators across many categories. This feature is being rolled out over the year and should be available to all US users by October. Brands can create shoppable posts or videos showcasing products, highlighting features, and including direct purchase links. Users tap on items within the video to access product details and make a purchase with just a few clicks.
Niche Content Creators: Smaller, niche content creators will rise in popularity as TikTok diversifies its user base. As more people from various backgrounds join the platform, the demand for content that caters to specific interests will grow. Niche content creators can build tight-knit communities around shared interests. These communities often become hubs for discussions, knowledge sharing, and support. Brands that actively engage with their audience and foster a sense of belonging will thrive in these niches.
Education and Learning: Educational content on TikTok will grow, covering a vast expanse of topics. TikTok has helped to increase the use of microlearning–an approach to training that delivers educational content in short, digestible chunks (usually between 5 and 10 minutes). Brands can use microlearning to educate and inform customers about their products and other important subjects like diversity, inclusion, and social justice.
Pinterest is a powerful visual search engine that allows users to discover, save, and share content in images and videos, with about 544 million monthly active users. Recently, Pinterest has integrated new shopping features that allow users to shop for products directly from pins. Users can click on pins to learn more about products and buy from within the platform.
Enhanced Visual Search: Pinterest is an excellent platform for emerging businesses to get discovered. 4 out of 5 users have found a new product or brand on Pinterest. Pinterest's visual search relies on advanced image recognition technology. As this technology improves, the platform will get even better at recognizing objects, patterns, and details in images. This will make it better at identifying and categorizing visual content.
More Shopping Experiences: Pinterest has a dedicated "Shop" tab that allows users to browse curated collections of products from various brands and retailers. Users can explore different categories, trends, and featured products. Expect more interactive and shoppable catalogs and pins that engage users in a unique way. Pinterest recently partnered with Amazon to bring third-party ad demand to the platform. This will enable an even more favorable shopping experience by increasing the number of brands and relevant products on Pinterest and leveraging Amazon's easy-to-use shopping cart functionality.
More Advertising Tools and Features: The partnership with Amazon will be a boon for brands advertising on Pinterest. This will be the first time Pinterest will allow third-party ads. Also, Pinterest recently offered the ability to turn a posted "pin" into a link to a product sales page and tools allowing advertisers to identify search trends based on demographic data.
X (formally known as Twitter)
It's been a roller coaster for marketers on X in the last couple of years. (Starting with “what do we call it?) Here’s what we see coming up for users of X.
More Video Content: X has been focusing on video content. You can watch live videos from Moments, the Explore tab, trends, or Tweets from an account that has gone live. You can also watch live programming from X on Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV. Premium subscribers can download specific videos. In 2024, the platform will likely focus on video even more, offering marketers opportunities for video ads, live streaming, and interactive video content.
Spaces: X's version of Clubhouse will continue to grow, with more users and brands hosting discussions, interviews, and events. These live audio chat rooms allow brands to host or join conversations with the audience or other speakers. Brands can share product insights, stories, or tips, answer questions, get feedback, or build relationships with followers.
Niche Communities: The Communities function will become more prominent, allowing users to join and engage in specific interest-based conversations. The communities bring together like-minded consumers looking for a dedicated place to connect, share, and get closer to the topics/products/themes they care about most. Marketers can tap into these communities for targeted engagement campaigns.
Ephemeral Content: Elon Musk has hinted that he might bring back Fleets, X's version of ephemeral content. Ephemeral content is digital media that is only accessible for a short period of time, usually 24 hours or less. While Fleets were available back in 2020-2021, they were short-lived. Yet, ephemeral content (like Instagram's Stories) has gained popularity because it creates a sense of urgency and encourages real-time interactions. No specific timeline has been announced yet, but experts are keeping their eyes open for this significant opportunity on X.
Circles: This feature allows a brand to engage in targeted marketing within a specific user group. Brands can create exclusive groups of followers or loyal customers and give them access to premium content, like special deals, discounts, or insider information. Circles differ from Communities in that organizers can only send content, not interact with an audience. It's important to note that Elon Musk has hinted that he will “deprecate” Circles in favor of building the Communities function, but no specific plans were announced.
AI-Powered Content Curation: We would be remiss if we didn't mention the power artificial intelligence will have over content curation and moderation on all social media platforms. Algorithms will become more sophisticated, providing users with highly personalized content based on their interests and interactions and improving user experience. The algorithms will also collect and analyze a broader array of data points. These complex and nuanced factors could include the content users engage with, the accounts they follow, the topics they express interest in, and the timing of interactions. This data will be an incredible benefit to brands marketing through social media. Social media platforms are using AI to become more intuitive and indispensable. This will lead to deeper engagement, connection, and user satisfaction.
Social media in 2024 will be characterized by innovation, personalization, and a commitment to user experience. These trends reflect the dynamic nature of the digital landscape, as platforms strive to meet the evolving expectations of diverse and discerning user bases. They will also shape how brands connect, communicate, and share with target audiences.
Phase 3’s social media team has its finger on the pulse of digital media today and in the future. You can trust that we will create and post content that build your brand and nurture customer relationships. We help brands to connect, engage, and be seen.