5 Trends to Sharpen Your Brand's Social Media Strategy in 2024 | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

5 Trends to Sharpen Your Brand's Social Media Strategy in 2024


The only guarantee in social media is that everything will change. In 2023, the social media landscape experienced wide-spread change. Twitter became X. Meta launched its own text-focused app, Threads, which gained 100 million users in less than a week. Platforms experimented with monetization strategies for API access, account verification, ad-free experiences and even security features like two-factor authentication. TikTok faced scrutiny, plus local and national attempts to ban the app in the United States.

The way consumers used social media channels also shifted. Last year's next-big-platform BeReal waned in popularity, even among its early adopters in gen Z. Instead, gen Z bolstered growth for Pinterest. TikTok proved it wasn't just for "kids" — gen X joined TikTok in droves, with the AARP close behind them, successfully targeting older users on the platform.

Though we cannot predict exactly what 2024 will have in store, we can certainly make a few educated guesses. Consider these macro trends when planning your brand's 2024 social media strategy.

1. Stop Counting "Likes":
Algorithms reward content that generates "deep" engagement (e.g., comments, saves, shares), since these interactions are seen as more meaningful indicators of engagement versus passive metrics (e.g., likes, views). Content optimized for deep engagement develops stronger relationships with consumers, and connected and loyal fans are more likely to purchase.

When defining KPIs, consider placing a priority on deeper engagements instead of vanity metrics such as likes. Build social strategy and content around a set of criteria that optimizes for deeper engagement with core audiences. Anticipate an evolving feature set to drive more of this type of interaction, because social media platforms are using these indicators to further develop features that they know their users will love.

2. Embrace Dark Social:
Sometimes called "dark social," a closed community is an invite-only, semiprivate, or fully private, online space. Often, they are highly conversational venues, either among real friends, internet friends or in an anonymous space. The rise in closed social communities harkens back to the early days of the internet. The roots of traditional social, like old fan message boards, are coming back in the form of closed communities. We are seeing more and more people opting in to social platforms and apps that allow them to have private and personalized ways to share and receive updates about the information that matters most to them.

When brands take the time to build or participate in these closed communities, they can gain a comprehensive understanding of their customers' needs and use these insights across the business. This means experimenting with platforms like Reddit, Discord or WhatsApp, based on your consumers' online behavior.

3. Ditch the Script:
By scripting and prescribing influencer content, brands are failing to capture what made influencer marketing successful in the first place — their voice. Audiences are savvier than ever and see right through overly branded, inauthentic messages. An influencer's content-creation skills and deep knowledge and trust of their audience can be the key to successful content. Ditching the script fosters an environment where creators can do what they do best — be creative.

Brands should focus on choosing partners for their creative approach, not just their audience demographics. When loosening control, it's still important to use strategy to lead the process — ensuring you're finding the right partners who share the brand's values. Plus, consider having influencers pitch ideas to the brand, not the other way around.

4. Centralizing Ownership:
Social media managers have long been the utility knife of the marketing department, juggling around eight different social media tasks in addition to often handling cross-functional roles like events, PR and marketing generalist tasks. In 2024, managing every aspect of a brand's social media has become a job too large for one person to be the sole "doer" as the social media universe has scaled significantly across platforms, features and skills required.

While it's crucial for brands to organize and diversify the skillsets at their fingertips, it's equally important to centralize decision-making. Most brands should have a single accountable decision-maker. This decision-maker allows the brand to be more agile to mirror the speed of culture.

5. Actions Speak Louder Than Posts:
For years, brands treated social media as a solution to prove that they're inclusive — a box to check by picking a diverse set of influencers and making posts about specific days to fill a social media calendar. When brands engage in this type of box checking, it tends to tokenize and stereotype. Putting an inclusive coat of paint over a brand's image has never really been enough. Consumers increasingly demand that brands reflect their identity, and that brands are transparent about who they are. They're also willing to make purchase decisions based on those values.

Any inclusive initiatives expressed on social media must be substantiated by the actions of the organization to give credibility to external communication. These initiatives also require follow-up. What is your long-term plan to support the message you're distributing? For example, if you put out a statement for Pride month, does your benefits package allow LGTBQ+ spouses or partners to access the same medical benefits? Start by identifying or building a history of action based on the brand's values. Brands must enter these conversations with research, top-down buy-in and long-term vision.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Carly Docter is associate connections director at VMLY&R.