At TBI, we engage with social media on behalf of our clients daily, creating content, setting up advertising and monitoring, training, or supporting clients with social strategies and audits. Here, Kelly Henwood shares reflections from the team as we look ahead to 2024.
From the removal of ad formats to the launch of new platforms, the constant evolution of the social media landscape is creating uncertainty and challenges for our industry, which for more than a decade has relied on social media as a dependable channel for two-way communication with our communities.
Achieving organic reach and increasing engagement is becoming more challenging, requiring more time, data, and up-to-date knowledge. This is often a luxury many of our clients don’t have. Yet despite the changes and uncertainty, social media continues to be a cornerstone of an organisation’s marketing mix.
In addition to the more familiar Facebook, X, LinkedIn, and Instagram, many clients are asking about how to engage with three emerging platforms: Mastodon, Threads, and Bluesky. While many companies have increased their social footing and secured their presence on these emerging platforms, resource limitations and doubt have kept their presence relatively conservative. As a result, we often get asked, “Where should we focus our efforts?”, “Where is our community now?”, and “How do we compare to our competitors?” The answer to these questions takes time and data analysis, as each organisation and community is unique. However, we’ve gathered some general insights and reflections.
Social media channel insights
- X stays consistent: Despite company and individual reluctance to change at X, it remains the top social priority for most organisations, backed by consistently good results across key metrics – for both organic and paid. This, however, presents the greatest risk should we see a sudden shift (see predictions!).
- Instagram is gaining popularity among organisations, with its growth rate reflecting this trend.
- Mastodon and Bluesky have not attracted significant user numbers and are not yet replacing established channels (again, see predictions!).
- Threads has experienced decline: despite an initial wave of sign-ups, Threads witnessed a sharp decline in user engagement and usage: data shows a drop from 2.3 million active users in July to a mere 576,000 in August – a staggering 79% decrease. One contributing factor to this decline is user frustration with the platform’s functionality, indicating that the site may have been launched prematurely. Although efforts are being made to enhance the user experience, the question remains: has the brand’s reputation suffered irreparable damage?
Considerations for marketing strategies on social media
Considering the diverse opportunities presented by these numerous channels, content strategies need to be tailored to each platform and its unique audience; it is vital to understand who your audience is on each platform and which content type and format they engage with.
Social media can support every stage of the marketing funnel but plays a crucial role in the top of the marketing funnel, creating awareness. Paid social will often generate the greatest awareness compared with other channels – and X typically leads the pack here. However, it must be complemented by other tactics as relationships move down the funnel, to secure engagement and conversions. Consider how you can monitor the effectiveness for each channel, to optimise at each stage of the funnel.
It’s important to bear in mind that the number of followers does not always correlate with high engagement, emphasising the importance of content quality over reach. A good rule of thumb is to consider the social media rule of thirds: promote, share, engage.
Predictions for social media in 2024
Looking ahead to 2024, here are our predictions for social media:
- A potential shift to a subscription model by X could drive significant change in the social media landscape, prompting organisations to prepare for community rebuilding on alternative platforms.
- Should the above happen, we believe that Bluesky may emerge as the alternative platform of choice, especially if it transitions out of BETA mode in conjunction with X’s subscription model introduction. Some subject communities are already showing signs that this is where they may head.
- TikTok‘s rapid growth, particularly amongst younger users, makes it a platform to watch. Whilst many organisations in our industry are not yet active on the platform (the BookTok community is the exception to this), many of their user base is. TikTok has now surpassed the 1 billion user mark – therefore, the question is, which scholarly organisation will take the leap into this untapped resource first?
- Short-form videos will continue to rise in popularity due to their accessibility and authenticity.
- Employee advocacy on platforms like LinkedIn will gain importance, with employees’ content sharing contributing significantly to engagement. On LinkedIn, on average, 3% of employees share content about their company – those shares are responsible for generating a 30% contribution to total engagement. It’s time for organisations to test the ‘notify employees’ function if it’s not currently used.
- Micro and nano influencers, with their highly engaged followings, will become prominent in 2024, offering better audience trust and higher conversion rates for more effective marketing campaigns. Collaborating with micro and nano influencers allows brands to tap into specific niche markets and target highly relevant audiences.
Taking the next steps with your social media strategy in 2024
As 2024 draws closer, the evolving landscape offers both potential disruptions and exciting avenues for exploration. Adaptability and foresight are the keys to success for organisations aiming to lead in digital engagement. To thrive, your social media strategy in 2024 will need an approach that is agile, responsive, and mindful of your audience’s preferences.
Undoubtedly, X stands as the bedrock for many organisations, boasting thriving communities and robust results from both organic and paid activity. Thus, it remains a vital platform that organisations cannot afford to withdraw from, regardless of their sentiments towards it. However, it is equally crucial not to place an overbearing emphasis on X, given the unpredictable nature of the evolving social media landscape, where change can occur overnight.
Monitoring the activity of your communities will help to promptly identify any movement and be ready on the right platform with a content strategy in place should your community decide to relocate quickly.
The advent of subscription models, the rise of TikTok, the growing significance of short-form content, and the emergence of micro and nano influencers all signal toward a dynamic future. Now is the perfect time to test out some of these new opportunities; experiment and have fun with this evolving technology! Embracing these changes empowers organisations to not only navigate the challenges but also capitalise on the opportunities that await in this ever-shifting landscape.
If you’d like to discuss your social media presence, please reach out to TBI for a conversation.