Socials In 2024: Striking The Balance Between ‘on Trend’, ‘anti-Trend’ And Human Connection

Social media trends are famously fleeting– moving faster than you can say “#TikTokmademebuyit.” While chasing every fad seems futile, staying completely off-trend can leave brands behind.

The key for businesses in 2024 lies in understanding the cultural shifts fueling these trends, such as, why are people moving away from this type of content? And what are they craving instead?

With this in mind, 2024’s social media landscape is gearing up to be somewhat of a “cirque du soleil” style balancing act for marketers. Having the ability to stay relevant while at the same time avoiding content that feels forced or inauthentic is defining which brands are hot or not in this year’s social media conquest.

Today’s audience demands more than just a sales pitch. Sustainability, authenticity, and genuine connection are paramount. Ready to dive into socials in 2024?

What’s trending this year… While the appeal of high-performing content continues to hold sway over marketing strategies, there is a feeling of “trend fatigue” sweeping the internet.

And on that note, we’re introducing the first trend on our list – the ‘anti-trend’.

When less is more: The rise of the ‘anti-trend’ and how to navigate it What is ‘anti-trend’? This year, social media is experiencing a shift. While phone usage statistics remain high (and growing), there seems alongside this, a growing resistance to the pressure of “being on” and influenced all the time.

It reflects a deeper cultural shift of the younger generation, desensitised by social media, seeking a more mindful and individualistic lifestyle. Sustainability, mental health, and the desire for genuine connection are becoming priorities for this group who have grown up with social media as an integral part of their lives.

This is evident in the rise of “de-influencing,” anti-haul culture (calling out excessive shopping hauls), and even anti-consumption protests. Parts of Gen Z are becoming more conscious of their choices and are actively seeking a “disconnect” from the pressure of constant online engagement.

Take this recent gig I attended, for example. Surrounded by a younger generation (let’s just say the crowd skewed a good decade younger than yours truly.), I was surprised to see barely a single phone out in the crowd. No filming, no endless scrolling – just a genuine focus on the experience unfolding in front of them. Now I’m not saying this is the case for every Gen Z’er or frequent concert goer. But it captured the essence of the anti-trend psyche: a purposeful desire for authentic connection and a break from the pressure to curate a picture-perfect online persona.

How can brands resonate with this growing niche? Don’t panic, this isn’t the death of social media and influencers! Gen Z are still open to influence (#TikTokmadembebuyit doesn’t have 12.4 billion video views for nothing). Rather they’re craving brands that enrich their lives, not ones bombarding them with fake marketing messages. The real winning brands in this new era will focus on these key strategies:

1. Partnering with authentic creators: Gone are the days of perfectly staged influencer marketing. Instead, partner with creators who embody your brand values and share content that resonates with your target audience. Look for creators who are passionate about what they do – Don’t shy away from the ‘nano- influencers’ of 1,000-10,000 followers. Partner with creators who connect with their followers on a real level.

2. Emphasising your purpose: Modern consumers want to know why they should care about your brand. What sets you apart? Are you sustainable? Do you support ethical labour practices? Clearly communicate your brand purpose and how it aligns with the values of a generation whose preferences are different to generations gone by.

3. Ditching the deceptive tactics: Exaggerated claims, fake reviews, and staged photos will turn off this group. Focus on transparency and honesty. Showcase real customers using your products, be upfront about pricing, and prioritise building trust through genuine and relatable communication.

Follow the ROI This may seem obvious, but too many businesses are employing the “spray and pray” approach across social channels.

As platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and LinkedIn continue to diversify, each demanding custom content for optimal performance, many marketers face the challenge (headache) of keeping up with the relentless content demand, feature updates and new platform launches. Which is near impossible.

To avoid getting lost in the social maze, we’re seeing marketers prioritising ROI, finally(!) Instead of being present everywhere at all times, they’re preferring to choose platforms where content is proven to perform for them. Think fashion and beauty on TikTok, B2B on LinkedIn. The new trend: be present where your ideal audience translates to results.

AI: friend or foe? The rise of AI has been nothing short of a revolution. Initially met with fascination and excitement, AI’s allure is starting to fade among the general public, particularly concerning trust in brands that are using AI-generated content.

A recent Hootsuite report acknowledged that although interest in AI has shown an astronomical increase with a surge of 550% of topics learning about AI, a significant 62% of consumers say they are less likely to engage with and trust AI generated content. Brands are taking note. Dove’s recent campaign ‘Keep beauty real’ is the first brand to take an aggressive stance on AI, making the commitment to ‘never use AI to create or distort images of women’.

Although there does seem to be a tricky relationship with AI brewing, AI’s power in strategic planning and brainstorming is undeniable, and it’s definitely here for the long haul. So in 2024, authenticity remains top. However, a strong brand voice (regardless of who created it) – infused with humour and emotion – is what resonates with audiences and is winning.

Live shopping craze Let’s be honest, who hasn’t gotten sucked into a late-night TikTok live showcasing products from a (questionably lit) warehouse? Well, if you haven’t, get ready to, because live shopping has exploded on social media, and it’s not going anywhere.

Just look at TikTok – in 2020, a measly 3.5 million people participated in live shopping events. Fast forward to 2021, and that number skyrocketed to a staggering 13.7 million shoppers!

Why the sudden surge? Live shopping offers a captivating blend of entertainment and instant purchasing. Brands are leveraging live streams to build genuine connections with their audience, such as behind-the-scenes glimpses, exclusive product reveals, and even Q&A sessions with founders or influencers.

It’s not just TikTok, platforms like Instagram and Facebook are also jumping on the bandwagon, offering features specifically designed for live commerce.

Social search is here We’ve been talking about social media as the next big search engine for some time now. Roughly 40% of Gen-Z is using TikTok and Instagram for search instead of Google.

But, what does this mean for your brand? Well, it’s time to embrace social SEO. Just like optimising your website for search engines, you now need to optimise your social presence for discoverability. Make sure you’re putting relevant keywords in captions, bios, and hashtags, along with strategic use of alt text descriptions. Remember, the key is a balance. Prioritise creating engaging content that resonates with your audience, while still incorporating those search-friendly terms.

By embracing social SEO, you ensure your brand surfaces when your target audience is actively searching, meaning increased visibility, organic reach, and ultimately, a stronger social presence.

Long-Form is Back The rumours are true. Long-form video is making a comeback. You may have found yourself recently experiencing a sense of dissatisfaction with the endless ‘death scroll’, getting sucked into a piece of content all for it to vanish to the next video before you’ve even had a chance to blink. It seems others are feeling the same way.

People are craving more than just bite-sized snippets. They want to delve deeper, get lost in a story, and truly engage with the content they consume. Think documentaries, in-depth tutorials, or captivating interviews – all perfectly suited for the long-form format.

This shift isn’t just a hunch. Platforms like TikTok, known for its short-form focus, are jumping on the long-form train. They’re testing out video uploads as long as 15 minutes and even encouraging horizontal filming for a more polished feel. Instagram isn’t far behind, experimenting with 10-minute Reels.

Stats show that people are actively seeking out longer content. According to TikTok, users are watching videos for longer than 60 seconds, and YouTube still reigns supreme for video consumption, with a whopping 95% of teens using it – compared to 66% on TikTok and 62% using Instagram.

Summary & final remarks 2024 is showing no signs of slowing down on socials.

Whether it’s the resurgence of long-form video content, our relationship with AI, a nudge away from pushy influencers, or a generation growing up increasingly desensitised to social engagement, we are living and breathing trends. So understanding what resonates and what’s on the decline is vital for business success online.