To be able to look ahead to 2024, we need to think about how brands, and their audiences, behaved on social media in 2023.
There were some major excitements, and other moments of disappointment. But brands and creators aren't the only things that show up on our feeds – news and real life does too, and that’s the trickiest area for brands to navigate on social media. That complexity only looks set to continue this year.
The ability to engage, ask and communicate directly with your followers and turn them into fans is the biggest gift a brand could wish for.
When taking into consideration our understanding of these platforms, human behaviour, the unpredictable evolution of social media, and the way brands operate, the question is, how dramatically different will brands behave in 2024?
Without an abrupt or important change of CMO or social lead, brands can’t - and won’t - change the way they think about social media overnight. AI will take a while to bed in, in a meaningful way, and brands and agencies will continue to experiment and evolve, hopefully.
So, let’s take a look at the key things brands should be thinking about doing as we head into 2024.
Above: The value of community has changed for brands: it is now a tool for growth. So, trust yours to give their honest opinion.
It’s all about your community, so play to your niche
When Jungle first started ten years’ ago, community was where we began. This was the very first purpose of social media, and we’ll come full circle next year as brands are realising, and loving, the power of their social following.
The value of community has changed for brands: it is now a tool for growth. So, trust yours to give their honest opinion. Trust them to be your editor-in-chief.
Brands shouldn’t be thinking about borrowing influence but instead creating it themselves.
The ability to engage, ask and communicate directly with your followers and turn them into fans is the biggest gift a brand could wish for. And brands that aren’t doing that well are going to suffer.
Your niche is where your fanbase hangs out so reach out to them, build your following there and then bring it back to the mass audience. This strategy will see your brand turn followers into fans.
Above: When it comes to influencer partnerships, brands should be focussing on creating meaningful connections rather than sales.
Creator partnerships aren’t about the numbers, or the sale
Influencer strategies used to be about ‘borrowing’ communities that an influencer had already built; borrowing time from an influencer's timeline. Strategies like this felt akin to screaming into a crowd of people but they’re all wearing headphones. The focus was on views and sales made, rather than meaningful connection and conversation.
Wherever you show up with your brand, go big and have fun, whether that’s through collaborations, formats, audio or enhancing production.
That’s all changed with the advancement of the creator economy. Brands are quickly realising that authentic partnerships are the only way to both engage, and retain, their social communities. It’s not all about the numbers anymore; it’s about finding the right fit.
Brands shouldn’t be thinking about borrowing influence but instead creating it themselves. This is the most powerful way to both unlock a new audience and inspire the one you already have.
Above: Brand trust has plummeted on X, which has been losing one million daily users in the UK alone over the last six months.
Platforms shift, brands react
There can be no doubt that brands continued to go big on TikTok in 2023. They built communities, appropriated trends - some with more success than others - and all tried to sell products and ride the wave of #TikTokmademebuyit by dabbling in TikTok Shop. New formats and time lengths are becoming part and parcel of figuring out how to get the most out of each platform. Short to long, long to short.
We also see YouTube playing more and more of a role for brands alongside TikTok, as well as maintaining a base on Instagram and Facebook. And what of Snapchat? This is where your youngest consumers are playing and engaging so get to know Gen A, the next generation. They will be your future consumer. And they grow up fast. Is there still hope for Threads? We need a text based platform, so, we can but hope.
We saw in 2023 that platforms are not invincible nor unshakeable. Be mindful of that.
Which is perhaps more than can be said for X right now. A difficult place for brands to be, whatever your view of Elon Musk’s talents. It was recently revealed that X has been losing one million daily users in the UK alone over the last six months. So, it’s safe to say consumer or brand trust is not high on the platform right now.
However, the basic rule of experimentation and community applies. Wherever you show up with your brand, go big and have fun, whether that’s through collaborations, formats, audio or enhancing production. Your consumers will respond in kind.
Above: Your audience lives through their phones and social media platforms, so take advantage of this.
Commit, but set yourself up for the unknown
Social media is fundamental. It's where your audience is; they live their lives through their phones and social media platforms. We shouldn’t have to make a business case for investment in social vs. other channels.
Social media in itself, at least Facebook, will soon be older than most of the people we have running our channels…view it as an essential part of your media budget that needs proper investment.
Those who embrace it, invest in it and commit to it will reap rewards, and be able to look back on 2024 as a year when social really worked for their business.
Equally, get ready to face the unknown. 2024 is a year of elections in the US and the UK. We saw in 2023 that platforms are neither invincible nor unshakeable. Be mindful of that.
The beautiful thing about social media is that it is never static, and we never know what’s coming next. 2024 is going to throw more at brands to keep them on their toes. Those who embrace it, invest in it and commit to it will reap rewards, and be able to look back on 2024 as a year when social really worked for them.