Top 5 strategic trends for social media marketing in 2024

The digital marketing ecosystem is full of trends that flicker and fizzle faster than your Instagram stories. Mention Vine to a Gen Z colleague and see what happens.

It takes a discerning marketer to know where their brand should invest time and resources. Here is a roundup of the top social media opportunities where brands will confidently see momentum in 2024.

1. Artificial intelligence as a collaborator

2023 claimed to be the year of AI, but few marketers did more than play with early edition tools. 2024 is poised to be the year of properly putting AI to work, particularly in social media.

Behind the scenes

More brands will leverage AI to streamline operations and bolster analytics. Machine learning algorithms analyze massive sets of first-party data and can surface actionable insights to enhance segmentation and personalization. This is especially important given that 2024 ushers the final death of third-party cookies.

Predictive behavioral analysis, sentiment analysis and influencer discovery are ways a marketer might leverage AI to develop a social media strategy that prioritizes a highly tailored and relevant audience experience. 

Creative collaboration

With these insights, creative teams benefit from time and cost savings employing generative AI to:

  • Suggest compelling captions.
  • Generate custom, branded visuals.
  • Repurpose top-performing posts.
  • Ideate new collateral based on trending topics or competitor activity. 

The keyword here is “suggest.” Content teams aren’t going anywhere. Your audience can still sniff out the difference between genuine, human communication and bot-drafted prose.

From digital greeting cards to a massive takeover at the Las Vegas Sphere, Coca-Cola led the early adoption of generative AI for public marketing in 2023. As the first brand to partner directly with OpenAI, the beverage behemoth collaborated with Bain and WPP, demonstrating how brilliant work embeds AI technology into an integrated team approach.

Your new customer service agent

Finally, expect chatbots to proliferate the messaging side of social platforms as brands seek to offer personalized, real-time interactions for customers wanting support. 

While AI can certainly deliver efficiencies in social marketing, there are considerations to maintain trust with your audience. Authenticity and privacy are top-of-mind concerns across demographics — not to mention complications with plagiarism, misinformation and bias. Understand how your audience perceives AI. Engage general counsel and possibly a diversity panel before taking AI solutions public.

Dig deeper: 6 ways to use generative AI for your marketing

2. Social commerce to dominate retail 

With features like in-app purchases, shopping tags and integrated payment options, social media platforms are taking over as primary shopping destinations.

It makes sense because social shopping encapsulates the entire consumer decision journey within a closed circuit. 

Full-funnel solution

Social commerce eliminates stages of browsing and the number of clicks to checkout, ultimately reducing friction points. Augmented and virtual reality advancements allow users to evaluate products in situ, reducing purchase uncertainty.

Brands can receive real-time feedback on the products and purchase experience directly from highly targeted audiences without the cost of surveys or focus groups. They can also build stickiness by inviting loyal customers to chime in on product development. Within this loop, purchases can be more than a transaction; they can propel relationships. 

Meta platforms drive the highest ROI, per HubSpot’s Marketing Trends report. However, choose the right platform based on your target cohort. Zara, for example, knows TikTok is where its Gen Z clientele is searching for the latest fashion trends and launched the TikTop Shop late last year.

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3. Keep it reel

Short-form video and ephemeral content endure

Interestingly, short-form videos and ephemeral content are the primary focus for branded content creators, not because they grab attention but because they maintain the user’s interaction with their device. 

In 2024, the goal is to blend your brand seamlessly into your audience’s digital life in an informal and human way. Use behind-the-scenes, testimonials, Ask Me Anything (AMA) and polls from your customers and within the company to deliver bite-sized, real and relatable content.

Micro-brand ambassadors reign 

If you haven’t caught on by now, authenticity, connection and human engagement are emerging as primary audience requirements for brand interactions in 2024. Who better to provide a product recommendation than a trusted friend or neighbor? Celebrity endorsements have lost traction, which means working with “nano influencers” and harnessing user-generated content to evangelize your brand.

Kraft Heinz is winning by leveraging user-generated content (UGC) and nano influencers to promote existing staples and new product launches. The CPG brand successfully places their products in the context of real households across the continent, building trust and relevance for their primary buyers. 

Dig deeper: Navigating the creator economy: Strategies for brands and marketing teams

4. Social search optimization

TikTok and Instagram have dethroned Google as the preferred search engine for Gen Z. So, if you want to reach new eyes in the 18-34 demographic, you need to optimize your brand for discoverability on social platforms.

Less used to be more, but in 2024, pay attention to including high-traffic keywords and descriptive metadata in your social posts to improve your brand’s visibility. 

Swipe left for engagement

Engagement also impacts social search results. Plan your posts around when your audience is most likely to engage.

Ask them questions: stickers and polls allow your audience to interact effortlessly with your posts to boost engagement. But the easiest ask of all is a simple swipe. Use carousel posts to show off your compelling new AI- or user-generated content to raise engagement stats.

Humor or heartstrings

This isn’t new information: reposts are worth their weight in gold. The more pages that link to your content, the higher your brand will be ranked within search results. Timely lists, infographics, how-tos, videos and memes are all shareable formats you can weave into your plan, but more important in 2024 is the tone. 

Appeal to your audience’s humanity with humor or a gentle tug at the heartstrings (nostalgia is in, again). And always use persuasive calls to action that inspire your audience to share.

Dig deeper: 5 reasons why marketers should consider TikTok for B2B

5. Loud and proud corporate values

In the age of AI and VR, where misinformation and privacy concerns exist, authenticity is the word of the day. Audiences expect their preferred brands to be public about their values and demonstrate adherence to those values consistently.

If you haven’t already, get laser-focused on your brand’s core concerns and make sure they permeate your internal culture and your social media strategy. Inside-out authenticity fosters credibility, trust and positive regard among consumers and prospective talent alike.

Buffer, a social media marketing platform, has built its reputation on transparency, openly sharing salaries, company milestones and advocating for transparency in social media marketing. They don’t need to be all things to all marketers,  but they know they want to lead the way for transparency in tech.

Technology evolves but does not supersede the human desire for authentic connection. Simplify your social media approach: prioritize meaningful, personal interactions using AI and tap into your target audience’s intelligence and influence for success in 2024.

Dig deeper: B2B social media ‘sweet spots’: What’s working and what’s not

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

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