In 2023, the social media landscape saw the rise of ChatGPT and other AI apps such as Bing AI. Twitter rebranded to X, the launch of Threads, the diminishing hype about the metaverse, and TikTok's increasing influence. What will be the changes that will influence social media in 2024?
Two factors heavily influence trends in the social media landscape. Rapid developments in new technologies and how consumers adapt these technologies to their use of social media. Consumers not only use and adapt to new technologies, but they also force technologies to adapt and develop to how they want to use platforms.
These two factors make it challenging to predict the trends and changes with 100 per cent accuracy. However, some indications point to what will be important in the social media landscape in 2024.
The Rise of Authenticity
Merriam-Webster announced that its 2023 Word of the Year was Authentic. It defines authentic as not being false or imitating and being “true to one’s personality, spirit, or character. Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s Editor at Large, stated that the rise of AI had helped drive interest in the word.
People searched for what was authentic versus what was AI produced. The overly filtered content that previously got attention was now being ignored as people sought ‘authentic’ content. Authenticity being the standard for building trust in social media and marketing. This drive for what is authentic will continue in 2024.
Social media apps are responding to this desire by customers and creators for more authenticity by providing products and spaces that enable creators and influencers to be vulnerable and authentic to each other in ways not currently possible on the major platforms. For example, Instagram has recently opened a new Broadcast subscription-based service that offers a space for creators to:
- Gather feedback and responses from followers; and
- Invite other creators or fans to participate in their broadcast channel and follow conversations.
The irony, of course, is that the desire for authenticity comes with a cost. These subscription-based spaces are monetised and provide profits back to the parent companies.
TikTok has assumed market dominance in acquiring social media users, consequently setting the trends for other social media platforms to catch up. This applies to how it promotes marketing in its Storefront while seeking to reward authenticity.
Storefront is TikTok’s in-app shopping space, which it has set up to handle shipping and every aspect of fulfilling orders. Consequently, there is less incentive for sellers to take their sales outside the app. This has boosted its success. However, despite these early successes, it is still facing challenges. TikTok users are reporting scams and knock-offs and questioning creators’ sincerity, and there has been a rise in ‘deinfluencing’ content.
Given these challenges, TikTok’s algorithms try to reward creators and influencers who promote authentic products. One way they do this is through various new tools available to creators and influencers, such as Keyword Insights.
Social platforms – the new search engines
With the increasing importance of authenticity and the desire for advice and insights from other people, social platforms will likely become increasingly important as search engines.
This desire for information from others will change how people search for information and may result in social media channels challenging the dominance of traditional search engines.
Again, TikTok is leading the way. It is testing a new feature integrating Google Search into its in-app search results. It has also launched a Keyword Insights tool to assist advertisers in uncovering top-performing keywords and phrases in TikTok ads.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA SEARCH OPTIMISATION
Marketers have long optimised their websites and content to rank higher on search platforms like Google and Bing – but increasingly, the most cutting-edge marketers are optimising social media content with equal detail .
Putting the social back into social media
Social media was initially used to connect and strengthen links with family and friends. It has now morphed into a content universe that has become less social and more geared towards rewarding short-form videos and paid advertising.
With the rise of video content, many platforms have become entertainment platforms where marketers use the video format to achieve marketing goals. This shift towards entertainment and marketing has pushed people to switch to private messaging or group chats to share information and interesting links in a safe space. People are more likely to send personal messages than post on their grid.
The change at Twitter and this ongoing desire for human connection are two reasons for the successful launch of Meta’s Threads. There has also been the rise of smaller niche platforms like Nextdoor or Discord to facilitate the connection between people.
These networked and community groups provide a unique opportunity for brands and companies to build authentic connections and community with customers and clients in ways that are not possible on the more prominent social media platforms. Brands and businesses need to consider how they will capitalise on this trend in 2024 to build stronger connections to their communities.
Preparing for the Fediverse
The Fediverse (federation and universe) is an association of independent social networks that allows users to interact with each other similarly as they would if they were on a single platform,
Moves towards a Fediverse are increasing because of ongoing problems with current social networks. One problem is that existing social media platforms have become too closed. In other words, unless a person is registered with each platform, they cannot access content or posts from one platform to another. A Fediverse gets around this problem by giving people access to multiple sites. A person’s data is not confined to a single server, and no one entity controls it, allowing communication across connected networks.
Other issues with current platforms are
- the question of who controls the content users create.
- the amount of personal information that is collected by the companies behind social media; and
- the increasing concerns about the privacy and safety of data that has been collected.
The Fediverse solves the problems of excessive centralisation, lack of accountability, content isolation, user data collection and user privacy violation because of its emphasis on privacy, independence, community, and connection.
While the Fediverse is in its infancy, it is essential to be aware of and follow its development. It is also crucial for brands and businesses to start building a community-orientated social strategy. A community-orientated social strategy is critical in 2024, with the increasing importance of authenticity and developing communities. The other advantage of having a community-orientated social strategy is that it prepares brands and companies for a decentralised future with social media.