It’s a new year, and that means one thing: trends and predictions for the months ahead in various industries. Natalie Koutsikas, founder of Digitale and The Social Club, shares her predictions for marketing in 2024, covering everything from rethinking the way we consider social media in the customer journey, and how we should actually be using AI and much more.
Social Media is social, again
Brands that recognise that social media’s superpower is its ability to help us build and nurture more sustainable relationships over a period of time will continue to be ahead of the game. After all, it’s a marathon – not a sprint, and trust is something that is earned over time through consistent, meaningful communication and action.
Moving towards this approach will require a shift in not only strategy, but also an evolution of marketers’ mindsets and where they see social media sitting in the customer journey. Social media can no longer be looked at as a traffic accelerator but, instead, as the relationship-building tool that it truly is.
Prioritising community engagement, driving two-way conversation, and genuinely listening to your customer will see brands succeed on social media in line with the change in the way the consumer is using platforms in 2024.
Thought leadership campaigns for lead generation
It’s human nature; we want to work with and align ourselves and our businesses with those who are the best at what they do and who we trust. Again, this notion of trust, which is earned, makes social media the perfect platform to drive these thought leadership campaigns.
Both paid and organic, thought leadership campaigns help to increase market consideration and build trust with prospects in an authentic and engaging way. Historically, thought leadership was reserved for the C-Suite, but we are seeing this approach adopted by individuals at all levels within an organisation, as well as at the brand level, contributing to the objective of lead generation and managing ROI, all while attracting quality talent (win, win!).
We have witnessed the rise of the B2B influencer on LinkedIn, more specifically. This trend shows no signs of slowing down into 2024, where the most successful brands will stop treating B2B and B2C marketing strategies so differently and instead think about operating as a brand for humans.
Utilising AI for data analysis (And not for replacing the creative process)
All the talk of ChatGPT and AI replacing creative development is the least important way that social media marketers can utilise AI. Social media is a data rich environment – with each platform producing a plethora of analytics that when analysed effectively can seriously take a marketing strategy to another level.
This is where AI comes in, not to write our captions or replace us, but to collate and present the data at hand to allow marketers to iterate within our social strategies. To take personalisation through audience segmentation, email marketing and content distribution to a new level that will allow us to continue to surprised delight the consumer.
Advantageous for audience demographic, content performance by type, analysis of correlation between website traffic and social profile views – the possibilities are endless.
Consumers can tell when a brand has used AI or when a bot has clearly written something. AI doesn’t replace us as creatives, it helps us to use our time more effectively and share the right messages with the right people.
Short form video (surprise, surprise)
Short-form video is not going anywhere. The consumer’s attention span is only getting shorter, and our three-second opportunity to get our point across needs to be utilised as effectively as possible.
Working hand in hand with a channel-specific strategy, the priority will be ensuring that short-form videos effectively convey your message to the right audience at the right moment in 2024. With an emphasis on accessibility, ensuring closed captions, and filming in the appropriate dimensions and size based on the output – video needs to be more intentional than ever.
User-generated content (UGC)
UGC is no longer an option for an effective social strategy; it’s now a fundamental pillar. UGC drives connection, builds trust and targets your ideal customer better than any interest-based audience set in Meta.
Originating from influencer content and brands re-sharing, UGC is now a core content pillar, whether produced by influencers, creators or shot by brands themselves in a lo-fi/UGC style. This content has a simple purpose, to allow potential customers to feel connected to a brand by seeing someone like them using a product/service that allows them to picture themselves doing the same, simply showing how a product or service fits into the daily life of someone like them and genuine, authentic testimony. As they say, features tell, benefits sell.
Channel specific marketing strategies
In 2024, we need to stop re-posting the same piece of content across every platform just to tick the box. Instead, be where your audience are and utilise your resources effectively to execute a channel specific strategy.
Brands see more success by being active on fewer platforms with a clear strategy then spreading themselves too thin across every platform and driving no real business outcomes.
Not to mention, think about the social media manager behind all of these accounts. For a marketer, the biggest challenge is staying on top of new features, trends, and platforms – keeping the channels purposeful and meaningful makes all the difference.
Creators over influencers
In a world where content is the commodity – creators as opposed to influencers are a marketers best friend. This approach, in line with the necessity of UGC, allows marketers to execute these channel specific strategies without necessarily having to create the content themselves. By working smarter, not harder, they can partner with creators who specialise in each platform and align with their brand to truly stay one step ahead of the game.
The consumer is not interested in how many followers an individual has but in the quality of the content they create, the authenticity of their personal brand and the reliability of their recommendations.
Fifty-four per cent of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand that is committed to their environmental responsibility or has sustainable and ethical business practices. Social media has moved towards a culture of transparency, making it easier for consumers to scrutinise and hold brands accountable for their actions. Consumers search for brands that align with their values – making value-based marketing more important than ever.
Expect to see more brands creating content that shares their commitment to ethical practices and engage in conversations surrounding important social causes, openly sharing their efforts, goals, and progress.
Capturing first-party data
As of January 2023, 83% of marketers still rely on third-party cookies – social media is the building block of a meaningful relationship that allows brands to offer up their first-party information willingly. Unlike third-party data collected via online tracking cookies, first-party data is obtained directly from the user’s browser with their consent, making it more reliable. eCommerce businesses can leverage it for a deeper understanding of customer preferences and create highly targeted marketing campaigns, ultimately boosting sales, conversions, and customer retention.
The ROI of social media will remain a hot topic in 2024. However, there’s a disconnect because, while engagement is a primary measure, content often lacks an engagement focus. Brands continue to post promotional content, and management instructs marketers on what to post, yet ROI remains the primary daily query for social marketers.
Measuring the direct ROI of social media on business outcomes will forever be a challenge when the attribution and the reality of the customer journey don’t support how social platforms even work. Our KPIs and goals need to align with business outcomes as a whole, not just those at a last-click conversion level.
Instead, we should be looking to maximise social media as a space to create deeper connections, meaningful interactions, and customer relationships. Yes, it’s more of a slow burn, but it can end up driving more ROI in the long term.
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