Social media in 2024, what to expect? Well, there are plenty of trends this year that reveal wider preoccupations within the marketing industry – from creators helping with product development, to the integration of retail media, and then of course the ‘this is great, but how great really is it?’ nature of generative AI.

We’ve compiled the predictions of a band of experts in the social and influencer industry, with 14 in total, across social commerce, generative AI, creators and platforms.

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Social commerce
1. Influencers walk the line of honest selling
2. TikTok Shop fatigue?
3. Retail media and creator economy integration
4. Owned channels and social landing pages
5. User-generated content no longer overlooked
Generative AI
6. AI speeding up brand creative development
7. AI escapism to prove popular with audiences
8. ‘Quick wins’ with AI may be a fallacy
Creators
9. Creators as consultants
10. Creator-led enterprises in new sectors
11. B2B influencers set to have their moment
Platforms
12. Threads quietly growing as a positive space
13. TikTok welcomes long(er) form video
14. Platform agnosticism

Social commerce

1. Influencers walk the line of honest selling

Tamara Littleton, Global CEO and Founder, The Social Element:

“While people want to buy a product, they absolutely do not want to feel like they are being sold one. It’s a tricky landscape for influencers with this in mind, as while followers don’t want to feel sucked into something so obviously branded, they also do want to know when something is an ad or a paid partnership.

“It’s the classic juxtaposition of creative: you need to hook someone in whilst remaining honest and authentic. In the last few weeks in the UK in particular, ASA rules have been having a huge moment. In 2024, I expect that labelling content when a paid partnership exists will be more.”

2. TikTok Shop fatigue?

Tamara Littleton, The Social Element:

“TikTok shop fatigue is also emerging amongst users, as a result of TikTok over-saturating streaming spaces with its shop videos and ads. TikTokers are even starting to create content calling this out – TikTok needs to strike a better balance and adjust their algorithm.

3. Retail media and creator economy integration

Simon Harwood, Global Effectiveness Director, Billion Dollar Boy: 

“Amazon and retail media giants like Walmart, Target and Walgreens Boots Alliance will fuse their targeting and measurement capabilities with creators, leading to new features including omnichannel purchase tracking and owned site/app integration.”

4. Owned channels and social landing pages

Sue Azari, Ecommerce Industry Consultant, AppsFlyer:

“Brands with a strong, loyal community can capture granular user data in a privacy-centric way by developing owned channels that streamline the process of awareness, consideration, and purchase in one digital space.

“Brands need to think strategically about building social landing pages and tailored in-app experiences that drive conversions to avoid the risk of drop off from their social media sites. By providing a stellar user experience, brands can invest in returning customers and increase the likelihood of word-of-mouth referrals and recommendations.”

5. User-generated content no longer overlooked

Sue Azari, AppsFlyer:

“User-generated content (UGC) is an opportunity for platforms to connect with real shoppers, as well as keep a finger on the pulse of consumer opinion, develop a deeper audience understanding and engage in social listening. UGC has been shown to boost purchase intent by 77% and increase loyalty by 65% and even negative experiences can be a catalyst for improvement.

Generative AI

6. AI speeding up brand creative development

Xavier Klein, Marketing Services Director UK, Making Science:

“Generative AI will play a significant role in speeding up the development of brand creatives, but quality over quantity is key, and while using AI, brands still have to adapt to each social platform’s different tones and formats to sound human. We’ll also see more regulations around transparency for AI use, such as YouTube’s labels on AI-generated content.

7. AI escapism to prove popular with audiences

Tamara Littleton, The Social Element:

“I think we’ll see more and more content being generated with AI, which is proving really popular with audiences. We saw how Maybelline went viral and other mainstream brands like North Face and L’Oreal are jumping in. It brings a level of creativity that’s not been tapped into yet and opens up so many possibilities to be more playful for brands…

“…platforms like TikTok have already generated AI labels so it’s clear to users what’s real and what’s not. This will also be supercharged by TikTok’s recent addition of AI labels for creators to use when posting AI-generated content, marking a significant shift in this space.

“Trends this year have so far focused on fun content such as turning your dog into a Disney Pixar character, but I expect there to be even more exciting things to come in this space in 2024. Maybelline was just one of the brands we saw this year using AI for its marketing, launching a  campaign for a new mascara, and it exploded. Perhaps with everything going on in the world at the moment, people want to be pulled into a fantasy world for some respite, and AI can help achieve just that.”

8. ‘Quick wins’ with AI may be a fallacy

Robert Wollner, VP Agency Partnerships at VidMob:

“With ongoing economic struggles and falling advertising spending, many marketers are looking at viable short-term gains to maximise ROI, which will inevitably continue into 2024. This has been exacerbated by a recent explosion of AI tools and solutions, which has created a series of point solutions that brands have leveraged to deliver ‘quick wins’. Unfortunately, this isn’t a sustainable strategy in the long run.

“Instead of focusing on the point solutions, where each department – Creative, Marketing, Production – works in silo to optimise their role in the business, brands must unify their teams to promote company-wide collaboration. To do so, brands should look at solutions that allow creative insights to be elevated to the entire organisation, allowing every part of the business to join forces and drive creative performance as a unit.”

Creators

9. Creators as consultants

Sarah Penny, Content and Research Director, Influencer Intelligence (writing in the report, Influencer Marketing Trends for 2024):

“…brands are increasingly using influencers for creative input into product development, creation of content for a brand to use on owned channels and paid advertising, as well as creating a community of customers, with influencers providing an effective interface between brands and their audience.

“Alongside this multi-purpose movement is an increase in multi-channel campaigns. Creators are being engaged not only to produce social posts, but to create content across email marketing, newsletters, podcasts, OOH advertising, photo-shoots, long-form content and a host of other mediums both on- and offline.

“The true value of an influencer comes from their ability to influence their audience’s behaviour, which often derives from a talent or skill that connects the two. This specialism delivers results and brands are increasingly recognising the opportunity there is to harness this across a number of different creative outputs.”

10. Creator-led enterprises in new sectors

Simon Harwood, Billion Dollar Boy: 

“The success of ‘Creator Packaged Goods’ will encourage more creator led enterprises and lead to collaborations with legacy brands and in new verticals ripe for disruption including the service sector.”

11. B2B influencers set to have their moment

Tamara Littleton, The Social Element:

“LinkedIn’s popularity continues with users growing year on year and predicted to continue growing between 2024 and 2027 by a further 82.6 million users. After the fifth consecutive year of growth, the LinkedIn user base is estimated to reach 828.43 million users by 2027. The platform is heavily investing in AI integrations as well as creator programs and it’s worth brands spending time refining their approach to LinkedIn.

Dale Barnett, Insights Editor, Influencer Intelligence (in the report, Influencer Marketing Trends for 2024):

“Previously, Instagram has been a B2B focus for solutions for small businesses, but targeting larger businesses has yet to really take off. Now momentum for B2B is growing, marketers are naturally navigating towards LinkedIn due to the nature of its content. Recognising recent growth in the sector, LinkedIn introduced a Brand Partnership labelling tool in September 2023 for use on paid posts.

“Influencer Intelligence has seen a significant uptick in identification requests for influencers on LinkedIn this year and anticipates that this is likely to continue to increase, but brands need to remember that their targets may also populate other platforms.

“The emergence of more influencers within the B2B space – such as Rob Mayhew, who whilst amplifying his content on other channels, has gained over 5.4M likes on TikTok with his parody videos of agency life – will lead to more opportunities across all platforms for B2B.”

Platforms

12. Threads quietly growing as a positive space

Tamara Littleton, The Social Element:

Threads is on the rise –  its popularity is growing and communities seem to be forming, though its audience is still niche, mostly semi-professional and creatives, e.g. writers groups. It doesn’t have widespread attention just yet, but the platform isn’t going away and it’s starting to find an engaged audience.

With the X alternative still yet to come forward, fragmented with things like Tribe Social, BlueSky and Spill, we are also seeing recycled trends and meme content seeping onto other platforms, including Threads.

Ben Cicchetti, VP, Corporate Marketing, InfoSum:

“In 2024, we should expect Meta’s microblogging app, Threads, continue to gain ground. For marketers, Threads still feels like a ‘fun’ space in contrast to X (formerly Twitter), which has been losing ad spend after a series of controversies. As Threads continues to introduce new features and functionality, 2024 will see brands deciding where it fits into their social media strategy.”

“While privacy laws prompted Meta to launch ad-free, subscription-based tiers for Instagram and FaceBook users in the EU in November, Threads is likely to remain a free-to-use and ad-free zone until the app hits one billion users (currently at 137 million), according to its CEO Mark Zuckerberg. For now, the tech giant will be intent on curating Threads as a positive space, encouraging content creators to make it core to their plans, and attracting a strong user base through quality content. In light of this, brands will want to focus on native content that drives organic engagement as the route to customer acquisition, saving their ad spend until Meta changes tack.”

13. TikTok welcomes longer-form video

Tamara Littleton, The Social Element:

“Video length will be a key topic of discussion in 2024. With TikTok replacing its creator fund for the new creativity program, which is in beta, in December this year, creators will only be eligible to make money from videos longer than 1 minute in length. TikTok has evolved immensely from the short snappy videos that first made it so popular. Users now want to see the person behind the account and real, everyday content such as ‘eat with me’ or ‘come shopping with me’. So I expect to see longer-form videos on TikTok in 2024 with user time spent on these increasing, which will no doubt spill onto other platforms.

“We are expecting to see brands embracing social more and more for long form content. TV viewership is slowly declining, especially amongst Gen Z who are slowly transitioning to TikTok. There is a growing preference amongst this group for raw, authentic User Generated Content for TikTok specifically, that then shows up on Reels.”

14. Platform agnosticism

Sophie Crowther, Talent Partnerships Director, Billion Dollar Boy:

“Gone are the days when creators proudly identify as an ‘Instagrammer’ or ‘YouTuber’. As platforms race to provide the best content monetisation opportunities, creators are realising that diversifying platform presence can diversify income streams.”