When you work within the digital space either as a marketer, business owner or content creator, you’re pretty familiar with how quickly things change!
Every week there’s a new trend, update or algorithm to figure out.
It’s true that the only constant in digital marketing is that everything changes. This means staying on top of what’s going on, which is why I publish my monthly ICYMI round-up to keep us all updated!
So what are the big changes coming over the next year? Here are my predictions for what’s in store for us as creators and marketers in 2024.
1. The rise of social search
No surprise here, as we saw the beginning of this in 2023.
With TikTok becoming increasingly popular and search engines fighting against AI content, we’ve seen a shift towards social media platforms over-taking Google when it comes to users searching for specific content.
Interestingly, Prabhakar Raghavan (Google’s SVP of search) stated that 40% of young people go to TikTok or Instagram when looking for a place to eat, instead of Google Search or Maps.
Need further evidence? Google and TikTok collaborated on in-app search results last year, and TikTok are running TV ads promoting the platform as a search engine.
User behaviour has changed and we need to adapt our strategies to align with this – that means optimising social media posts for search and approaching SEO on our sites a little differently.
Linked very closely to this, I think we’ll see the decline or maybe even the death of hashtags this year.
We used to use hashtags to search for certain topics on social media but with the rise of social SEO, hashtags are now redundant.
The Threads platform hasn’t included support for hashtags, stating the issues with spam and engagement hacking. Instead they’ve chosen to integrate topic tags that allow users to categorise posts.
I think other platforms will soon phase them out, too.
Even more reason to ensure you’re thinking about social SEO going forward!
2. Increase in private, gated + owned channels
Though it’s been on the cards for years now, I think 2024 will be the year that people really invest in owned, subscription and private channels.
Creators are becoming increasingly annoyed at the ever-changing algorithms and limited reach associated with apps like Instagram.
In fact, I’ve already seen creators and business owners saying that they’ll be stepping away from Instagram in 2024 to focus on other areas (like email and personal websites).
People want more control – over the platform they are building, the content they share, the audience they have built and how they make money.
Social media platforms are building out paywall features, Instagram has seen a rise in activity within DMs and there’s been a surge in one-to-many messaging platforms like Telegram and Discord.
Instagram even released Broadcast Channels, updated Close Friends and have continued working on enclosed group sharing options.
This all leads me to believe that owned, subscription and private channels are going to get attention this year.
I see the focus shifting to private messaging over public sharing, and dare I say, long-form content on platforms we actually own.
3. Retention is the new ‘it’ metric
Continuing on from the above point, social media users are searching for connection and authenticity.
But with SO MUCH CONTENT out there, we’re all battling for attention.
For so long we’ve been discussing engagement, but what about retention? How do we keep users on our content and more importantly, how do we get them to come back?
With short-form content becoming the norm, the revival of longer-form content and the focus on user experience, I think retention rate may overtake engagement rate as the metric of choice.
I think we’ll see a lot more series-content and casual lives that makes it feel like you’re on the phone to a friend. Finally, I think creators will hone their skills when it comes to video editing tactics that keep people watching.
4. Niche creators for UGC
Influencer marketing is only continuing to grow year-on-year and by this point, we all know the importance of creators with an engaged audience and the value they provide to brands.
But in 2024, I think we’re going to see a slight shift in how brands and creators work together.
The advances in social media platforms means that regular users can become “influencers” almost overnight. One viral video or series can catapult you into the creator industry – giving you an audience and the opportunity to become an entrepreneur, no matter what your interest is in.
For this reason, I see brands leaning into both user-generated content (UGC) and employee-generated content (EGC) in 2024. I expect companies to build out teams of in-house creators, and creators to utilise UGC or faceless accounts in order to diversify and increase their income streams.
If you have the ability to create GREAT quality content, you need to be offering UGC as a service to brands – even if you don’t have a large audience yourself!
5. The evolution of social commerce
Social commerce has been a buzzword since 2020. While it has proven popular in the likes of China and Brazil, it hasn’t taken off as expected in Western Europe and North America where users are still quite hesitant.
Despite this, it’s expected to grow rapidly over the next couple of years. According to Statista, global sales through social media platforms were estimated at 992 billion U.S. dollars in 2022 and expected to reach around 8.5 trillion U.S. dollars by 2030.
In late 2023, we saw a Meta and Amazon partnership, YouTube adding shopping features and TikTok pushing TikTok Shop for the holiday season. And if the most recent Black Friday weekend is any indicator, we’ll see platforms giving it another push in 2024 with both Meta and TikTok leading the charge.
6. SEO in shifting
2023 was a big year for SEO!
There were a lot of changes due to user behaviour and AI advancements.
It’s likely we’ll see more algorithm updates trying to tackle mass AI-generated content, which will create a real challenge when it comes to organic search, especially for content creators and small business owners.
We’re also seeing a change when it comes to how people use search engines. It’s no surprise that mobile search is increasing year-on-year, but now we also have social media becoming the go-to “search engine”.
And finally, we’re expecting the launch of Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) in 2024, which will give us a more curated results page. One of the biggest concerns with this is the impact on click-through rates (CTR).
We’re going to have to wait and see what happens…
7. Personalisation with AI integration
I can’t write about predictions for 2024 without AI getting its own section, especially as it was one of the most talked about topics in 2023.
By the end of 2023, social media platforms had started working on integrating AI tools into their platforms to help with ideation, creation and analytics. We’re going to see this on a larger scale in 2024.
As creators and/or marketers, we should be learning how adapt our workflows to include AI in order to increase productivity. My advice is to allow AI to do the heavy lifting – whether it’s helping you with writing, image creation, video editing, presentations, chatbots, transcriptions, admin automation or more. But keep that human element!
Personalisation is crucial. Storytelling, human connection and lived experience are all important factors, making our content unique. It will be the winning strategy that allows you to create a community, not just an audience.
There you have it, my seven predictions for digital marketing and content creation in 2024.