The digital marketing playbook constantly demands refreshed pages. As emerging generations shape fresh norms around social technology use plus new features disrupt tried-and-true tactics, strategists predict more facelifts ahead for social media marketing in 2024. What overhauls appear imminent on the horizon? We explore.
Companionship over entertainment?
TikToker, podcaster and business graduate Nicky Reardon has put out a theory for the future of social media marketing in 2024 that might not surprise you: people are looking for companionship in their creators. Perhaps a step onward from “relatable” creators and “authentic” creators of yesteryear, the companion creator is one who talks to you like they’re sharing their day with you. It’s already got a strong start amongst solo podcasters and let’s say “commentary” TikTokers: creators talking about something.
So, while last year marketers were told “entertainment first”, you can push that even further, especially in creator marketing content. Aim to make a friend or talk to the audience like they already are your friends in your marketing. They are not a customer, but someone you went to school with or will see at the weekend.
The Death of Short-Form Video Content?
Did you know that TikTok has announced 30-minute videos on its app? A lot of creators and commentators are now saying that that is the writing on the wall. This is the end of short-form video content. And when you think about it, it makes sense.
Another creator, Christopher Claflin, broke it down, explaining that TikTok has a revenue problem. It needs advertisers, but advertisers need time to not be so blatant in their advertising. This is because users are good at spotting them in a 30-second clip and will simply swipe right away. So, in order to appease advertisers, TikTok is giving creators more time to create. Its tester was 10-minute videos that TikTok was glad to see were embraced by creators, allowing for more time to market in a broader-context piece of content.
But doesn’t this sound familiar? Vine couldn’t survive because there was no space for marketing in 6-second videos. YouTube once said that videos more than three minutes long would gain no traction on the internet, then it was 10 minutes, and the next thing you know YouTubers are sending 4-hour-long commentary videos going viral. Could TikTok be going the same way?
The Death of the Attention Economy?
The attention economy refers to the view of human attention as a scarce, valuable commodity that can be ‘spent’ and traded. In an information-driven economy, getting people to pay attention to advertising often requires novel approaches amidst the clutter of competing information. And when our attention is now at a rate of less than a goldfish (although apparently, that’s a myth), that means attention is about as valuable and scarce as gold or oil.
That may be true, but Nicky Reardon makes no argument for why that will lead to the end of the attention economy and we don’t think it will mean the end. Instead, attention will be more categorized. As Christopher Claflin points out, he watches YouTube for long-form content and TikTok for short-form content, and we would posit that’s how a majority of audience members split their attention. They sit down to a good meal and an in-depth analysis or Let’s Play video but open TikTok while waiting for a friend to arrive at the train station.
And what does “death” mean? Is Nicky Reardon suggesting that our attention span will shrink down to nothing, and therefore we won’t watch? Definitely not since it’s caused by our need and ability to be entertained at any given second.
We posit that social media marketing in 2024 should split its marketing the way audiences split their attention. Unlike oil or gold, attention isn’t a finite resource, it’s just split.
The Rise of Facetime Content?
Have you noticed that when you are Facetiming someone, rarely are they staring at the screen waiting for you to finish your point – or at least no one under a certain age is. Typically, they’re doing housework, eating, cooking, or otherwise engaged while they speak to you. That is what Nicky Reardon predicts will be the case for content going forward. He posits that social media marketing in 2024 will see creators more likely to react to this rise in Facetime culture and create similar content. So where at the moment you would imagine your favourite podcasters are gabbing on a sofa or across a table, those same podcasters might take up a hobby or gimmick next year, as if they were simply on Facetime with you while chopping veggies for dinner or finishing up a yoga workout.
Arguably, there are already tastes of this in social media marketing in 2024. A recent scandal showed a girl going viral for telling her story of assault from a creator while prepping salmon for dinner, this storytime TikToker, @summernengland weaves quite the narrative about her love life while she knits, and previously “thirst trap” TikTokers like Thoren Bradley, or “Axe Guy”, are no longer simply doing their gimmick but talking about something that’s bothering them while they do their gimmick.
As marketers, what’s the lesson there? We would say to join the trend and don’t simply have someone talking to the camera. Go the extra step to have them doing something, perhaps sampling the product you’re looking to market.
In the end, with people craving meaningful connections and engaged communities more than ever, social media marketing in 2024 must shift from models maximizing just attention and advertising to a more inclusive web fostering companionship. Rather than incessantly interrupting user journeys, marketing imperatives in 2024 could entail co-creating, contributing to, and even anchoring immersive social ecosystems binding people together through impactful experiences.