2024 marketing predictions

Well, it’s 2024, and I’m sure you’ve seen loads of “prediction” posts and videos already but, well, what is one more?

First published on Stuff.co.nz: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/350144738/brianne-west-2024-marketing-predictions

Well, it’s 2024, and I’m sure you’ve seen loads of “prediction” posts and videos already but, well, what is one more?

Humans are notoriously rubbish at predicting anything, but here are mine anyway for the coming year – with a focus on what social media is going to do.

Social media is critical for most businesses and the minute you think you have it mastered, it changes. It’s a full-time role just to keep on top of what you should be doing, on which platforms, and how.

Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools we have and, done right, can change your business’ trajectory and your life. The problem is that very few brands are doing it right.

And that isn’t helped by the constant changes the platforms all go through in their obsession with revenue and what I imagine is a dick-swinging competition over who has the most members.

Of course, changing consumer behaviour drives these too, because it turns out now that TikTok has successfully dwindled our attention span down to under three seconds...it wants creators and brands to make long-form content.

Goodie. Let’s begin.

The Shift to Long-Form Content (on some platforms anyway)

One of the most notable trends this year is the resurgence of long-form content on social media platforms – predominantly TikTok as YouTube is, of course, the platform that started it all with long-form.

There is no video that is too long...but there are videos that are too boring. Also, this is a TikTok centric point.

Brands need to start moving beyond short, snappy posts and embrace more detailed and comprehensive storytelling. This is not to be confused with those beautifully curated brand videos though (see point two).

Why? Because well, the platform wants you to. I am a big believer in the notion that if you understand what the other party truly wants, you can figure out what you need to do to win pretty easily.

So, what does the other party (the platform) want? They want people to stay on their app longer as longer time browsing = more ad revenue.

I haven't seen many creators and even fewer brands I'd watch talk on here for 15 minutes personally, but it is true that there is a far greater capacity for your community to get to know you in longer videos. So, test longer videos!

There is no video that is too long...but there are videos that are too boring. Also, this is a TikTok centric point, but we all know Meta just copies what they're doing so...give it a whirl.

Be real (Don’t panic, not the platform, that’s godawful)

Do you know what last year’s “word of the year” was according to Merriam-Webster? “Authentic”.

However, if you feel about social media’s “authenticity”, it is very much becoming the way for brands to win.

Consumers are increasingly sceptical of advertising and corporate messaging (including influencer posts), so genuine and transparent communication that also LOOKS genuine is vital.

Brands that do this well win loyalty, because your customers trust you and trust builds communities. And community is key. (That’s point number three.)

But what does “being authentic” mean for a brand? It means showing the real you, or rather the real side of your brand. Picture filming yourself straight out of the shower, hair unbrushed, robe on – that’s what you want to reflect on.

Of course, it’s not just the visuals, it’s what you say, your values, your messaging-reflecting those values throughout (tricky if you don’t really mean those values...).

Show us behind the scenes, your team members, the realities of your decision-making, why you chose this instead of this, what you are tackling next and so on.

It's all about community

The follower count doesn’t (really) matter. Views, eh, a vanity metric. I remember my US PR company once telling me we’d had 3 billion in reach for the prior year – they were so excited. I wasn’t – it’s kinda meaningless.

So what matters most? Engagement. Your number one measure of success should be engagement – you know this already.

But how do you stimulate engagement (without rage-baiting)? You work on building a community. You want to create a space on your social media channels (and off them if you’re clever), where your audience can interact with your brand and each other.

Investing in the community means you engender greater trust, greater loyalty, and yes...that leads to greater sales. How to create community is a column in itself and, yes, it’s on the to-do list.

But the three key principles for building community are; be consistent (so they can rely on you), have values(so they can see that you reflect what they care about) and be transparent (so they trust you).

You can also find out more about how to build community on businessbutbetter.com...(It’s free, just saying).

Move over Google...search is changing

TikTok is the number one search engine for most of Gen Z – they actively prefer using platforms like TikTok, YouTube and Instagram rather than a Google search (yes, that definitely has ramifications for paid search too, but I’m not going into it today).

This has been changing for a while, and it’s not going anywhere. I do wonder what Google intends to do about it... Anyway, you need to be taking advantage and ensuring every post is optimised for search.

Briefly, this means ensuring your bios are optimised (don’t be too clever or too vague, see what you do and if important where you are based), use relevant keywords in your narration, videos and captions.

Understand what your potential audience is looking for–use tools like ask the public to not only help you create content, but also to add in the right keywords.

There is a lot to SEO, so yeah, it’s probably another thing to add to your‘tolearn about’list.I find implementing SEO mind-numbing, but seeing it done badly is always a little funny.

Use keywords that actually fit. Don’t put the word “soap” in where something ain’t soap.

And of course...there is AI

No, please don’t get ChatGPT to write posts for you. It once wrote me the sentence “...the tapestry of life that sustains us”, when talking about a vegetable garden. It’s good, but its copywriting has a way to go yet (though it’ll get there).

But you can use it for lots of other things. Content planning, structure, briefs, I mean you can find apps that will generate images and videos for you – so it really can fulfil a variety of niches. I got Dall.E to generate me a render of the vending machine I’ve always wanted for Incrediballs – whether I’ll ever see one in real life remains to be seen, but it’s pretty fun to see what the possibilities are.

AI shines in particular in analysis. You can find out which of your posts is performing, understand sentiment and personalise some deliveries. It’s clever, it’s getting cleverer, and it’s not going anywhere.

Rather than wringing your hands, you’re better off learning how to embrace it. Remember what they said about the tractor after all? Well, that’s the crystal ball gazing for me. Whether we like it or not, long-form content is making a comeback, like flared jeans (which I will say are so much better than skinny jeans, though I am not excited about the low rise thing making a reappearance).

Authenticity is not new, but it’s even more important. Think less polished, more “just rolled out of bed and haven’t had my coffee yet.”

Show us the real, unfiltered you – or at least the version that doesn’t scare the children. Community is king. Stop obsessing over followers or views-what really matters is engagement. And you get engagement by really leaning into point two.

Build a space where your audience can engage with one another, and you'll see loyalty that would make a golden retriever jealous. And then there’s the whole search engine saga. It can be tedious, but it’s so important. And there are experts out there who can help if it’s really not your thing.

Finally, AI is here to stay. No, it’s not ready to write you a book yet (unless you want a chapter called “The Grandiose Mosaic of Existence Woven Within the Verdant Realms of My Horticultural Eden”), but it’s getting there.

2024 will be interesting. At least the social media side is at least a little predictable.

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