Social platforms are always changing, as they look to align their algorithms and UI with the latest engagement behavior, in order to maximize usage, improve audience retention, and maintain relevance amid shifting social media marketing trends.
Which can also be frustrating for those trying to use these platforms for any business purpose.
Facebook is the most obvious example, with its continued seismic shifts, from the introduction of the News Feed algorithm, to its pivot(s) to video, to the re-focus on friends and family content, Stories, Reels, etc.
It’s enough to make a social media marketer lose their mind trying to keep up, but at the same time, Facebook is also trying to keep up, as users get bored with one thing, then shift attention to another. Because if Facebook isn’t able to keep pace, it’ll go the way of MySpace.
In other words, change is inevitable, and your strategy will need to keep up.
So what are the key elements of focus to watch for on the major platforms in 2024?
Below is an overview of some key considerations.
Despite seemingly losing some relevance of late, Facebook remains the biggest social media platform by usage, and thus, a key focus for social media marketing.
So what’s Facebook looking to focus on in 2024, and how does that relate to your marketing efforts?
Luckily, Facebook actually outlined exactly this at a recent “Performance Talks” event:
- Messaging — Over time, more and more people are sharing their latest updates within private groups in messaging apps, as opposed to posting updates to their social feeds. The reasons behind this are varied, but given the trend, it makes sense for businesses to also look to connect with consumers via messaging platforms where they can. Facebook is developing several options on this front, with its Click to Message ads, in particular, seeing significant growth. Considering how you can tap into this shift could be key
- Reels — Yes, Meta’s still very keen on Reels, and with over 200 billion Reels plays in its apps every day, that also makes a lot of sense. Focusing on short-form video creation will help you tap into this shift, with Facebook likely to continue prioritizing Reels display and new Reels ad products
- AI — Reports suggest that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is enamored with AI, and as such, you can expect to also see Meta put more focus on AI tools across its apps. Facebook already has a range of AI ad tools available, and it may well be worth exploring these functions to better understand how they can support your marketing activity. Learning the foundations of AI will put you in good stead to maximize your marketing outputs.
Meta’s other social app also remains a key marketing platform, with Meta taking Instagram from a basic image sharing app to an all-media powerhouse since it purchased the platform in 2012.
And within that, Meta’s also now working to use IG to maintain connection with young users, both as an immediate usage focus, and a future link to its next-level projects.
Here’s what Instagram will be focused on this year:
- Reels — Yes, like Facebook, IG Reels will remain a key focus, as Instagram continues to glean engagement benefits from pushing more Reels content. As such, you need to consider what types of short-form video your business can make if you want to maximize your IG presence.
- Notes — It doesn’t resonate with all users, but Instagram’s inbox Notes feature has been a big winner, especially with younger users in the app. From an immediate standpoint, it’s worth considering how you might be able to use Notes to connect with younger audiences, while from a broader perspective, this also points to the increasing value of more intimate groups and discussion, both of which are key trends to consider for social media marketing.
- Threads — I’m including Threads within Instagram for now, but it’s getting close to being its own thing. Meta has tapped into a new vein of opportunity, given the migration of users away from X, and as such, you can expect to see Zuck and Co. put a bigger focus on Threads throughout this year. That could present new outreach and connection opportunities, and it’s worth exploring the app before the ads come (Meta says it will introduce Threads ads once it reaches a billion users).
Likely the most unpredictable of the major social apps, Elon Musk’s “everything app” experiment remains a hot mess of conversation.
Will X establish its own footing, in separation from the former Twitter app in 2024? Here’s how it might prevail:
- Premium boost — It’s no secret that Elon and Co. want you to take up a Premium subscription, and start paying them directly to use the app. In fact, you can’t advertise on X without a Premium account, so it pretty much goes without saying that if you are looking to make the most of X for marketing, you’ll need to take up an X Premium subscription. There’s also now a lower cost version of its gold check mark for brands, and if you are looking to reach people on X, it could be worth considering.
- Reduced competition — With many major advertisers pulling out of X, that could present new opportunity for increased reach, due to reduced competition in the app. X still has some 150 million or so daily active users (we don’t know the actual number because X has stopped reporting this), and with fewer big brands filling out all the ad space, maybe that means more exposure potential for your campaigns.
- Video focus — X is now calling itself a “video first platform,” and is looking to focus on new, exclusive video content to drive more engagement. As such, it could be worth exploring the opportunities of X video ads, and posting video content to the app. X also claims that 100 million people tap through to its full-screen vertical video feed every day, which could be another consideration for your X content push.
The trending app of the moment for the past two years, TikTok’s momentum does now look to be slowing, which means that it’ll need to re-focus its efforts on the audience that it has in order to maximize its revenue potential.
Here’s where TikTok’s looking to grow this year:
- In-stream sales — Given rising value of transactions in the app, and the success that it’s seen with in-app commerce in China, TikTok is going to keep pushing its in-app sales projects in 2024. TikToks that include items for sale get more exposure, and with TikTok looking to shift user behaviors towards shopping, it’s worth considering how you can tap into this within your approach.
- Live-streaming — Along the same lines, TikTok also loves live-streaming, and as such, it’s worth considering if there are any creative, interesting ways that you can utilize live streams in your promotional efforts.
- Creator partnerships — Finally, TikTok wants more brands to work with creators, in order to improve the quality of branded content, while also giving creators more monetization opportunities, further aligning them to the app. It could be worth considering, though you can also learn from what creators are doing in your niche to help guide your creative direction.
The professional social network has been a quiet winner of the chaos at X, with many business conversations switching to LinkedIn instead.
And while the platform is not going to drive massive engagement for all brands, for B2B social media marketing, it remains a key consideration:
- Newsletters — LinkedIn’s in-app newsletter option continues to grow, with newsletter readership tripling over the past year. That could present a key opportunity for brands’ LinkedIn content strategy, enabling you to provide important business and product updates via this option.
- Collaborative Articles — LinkedIn’s AI-powered Collaborative Articles are now the fastest-growing traffic driver for the app, and as such, you can expect to see LinkedIn continue to emphasize them in 2024. Getting your top staff to contribute to these, and gain in-app expert badges for such, could be a good way to help build brand awareness.
- Video and Events – LinkedIn continues to host more video content and more events. At some stage, I would expect the app will make both of these easier to find. Which could present new opportunities for brands, and by tapping into LinkedIn video marketing now that could help boost your exposure.
Despite its struggles in maximizing its ad revenue, Snapchat remains the leader in youth engagement, and as such, it should be a key consideration for all brands trying to reach young audiences through social media marketing.
Here are some of the key Snap opportunities for the year ahead:
- AR development — Snapchat remains a leader in augmented reality, including Snapchat AR ads. If you’re looking to get ahead of the next digital shift, learning about AR via Snap could be a key opportunity. Snap also continues to add new virtual experience tools, and the more you know and understand about these, the better you’ll be placed for the AR and metaverse future.
- Creator collaborations — Like TikTok, Snap also wants more brands to partner with creators, and it’s adding new tools to facilitate such. That could provide a valuable, engaging opportunity for your Snap content.
Pinterest is the quiet achiever of the social media space, as it closes in on 500 million active shopping focused users.
And if you’re a retailer, that should definitely pique your interest. Here’s what to keep an eye on in the months ahead:
- Catalog ingestion — Pinterest continues to improve its catalog ingestion process, making it easier than ever to link your products into the Pin discovery steam. And with Pinterest also looking to facilitate broader discovery, via tools like body type matching, that could provide new opportunity to showcase your products to more targeted, specific audiences.
- New ad types — While video is also big on Pinterest, it’s also rolling out some new ad types that are worthy of consideration. Showcase ads and Quiz ads provide new opportunity to drive engagement, which could help to grab attention in Pin feeds.
- Creative collages — Pinterest’s separate Shuffles app gained significant traction over the past couple of years, providing users with a way to create collages of products in a creative display. This could also be a good way to showcase your products in line with this trend, with its in-app Collage option also now in the process of being rolled out.
As noted, social media is always changing, and the better you’re able to keep up with the latest usage behavior and shifts, the better placed you’ll be to capitalize on relevant opportunities in social media marketing trends.
These notes will help to provide some direction towards key elements of engagement for the 12 months ahead.