Our 26 Social Media Predictions for 2024
Written by Alyson Shane, President.
It’s that time of year again! Somehow 2023 flew right by and we’re starting to look ahead at what the social media landscape looks like for 2024.
For me, staying on top of the latest trends is about more than just being proactive for our clients — staying tuned-into what’s happening also helps me think strategically and anticipate shifts in the industry before they happen.
One of the ways I share the latest news is in Starling’s weekly newsletter (which you can sign up for here) but this post digs deeper into the trends and opportunities I’m keeping my eye on in the coming year.
More Reels + AI-Generated Content
(Just a heads up that you’re going to see this as a theme a lot in this article!)
Facebook is leading the way in integrating AI into its suite of apps, including Facebook where it’s using AI-based recommendations to show Reels to more people.
This tactic has actually led to an increase in engagement on the platform, with time in the app increasing and time spent watching Reels went up by 20% compared to last year.
Messaging for Business
People have been switching over to using private chats over posting publicly this year, and Meta has been taking notice, rolling out “Click to Message Ads” earlier this year.
If you run an eCommerce store then you’ve probably noticed this shift, too: 71% of consumers have reported using text messaging to communicate with a business.
While I wouldn’t anticipate WeChat taking over in North America anytime soon (our messaging apps come built into our phones, unlike in other parts of the world) I’d still expect to see Meta introducing more chatbot-centric features, probably using the AI we talked about earlier.
A Bigger Push for VR
Meta (Facebook’s parent company) owns Oculus, which is the leading company creating virtual reality (VR) hardware, and I’m expecting to see a bigger push to integrate Facebook’s users into Meta’s “metaverse” called Meta Horizon Worlds.
Users with Oculus headsets can create their own avatars in VR and use them in different, non-VR contexts like games, which is a pretty smart play on Meta’s part if you ask me.
AR + Passthrough Tech
Okay, I fully cop to this being a bit niche, but one of Starling’s clients is a VR company so I spend more time than the average person thinking about the future of content, and Meta is leading the way in both augmented reality (AR) and in passthrough technology.
(Passthrough uses the sensors on your headset to approximate what you would see if you were able to look directly through the front of your headset and into the real world around you.)
I recently tried out Meta’s Ray Ban Stories glasses (which have been seeing positive reviews) and Oculus’ latest Quest 3 headset with passthrough is pretty impressive, too.
Meta’s fully integrated AR glasses likely won’t be available until 2027, but as a leader in the space you can pretty much guarantee that the company is going to be pushing this hard in the coming year.
Even though Instagram stated that they’re going to be pulling back on the amount of video users see in their feeds, I doubt we’re going to see video take a backseat any time soon.
Instagram + AR Shopping
83% of shoppers state that they go to Instagram to find new products, so I expect the platform to keep working on honing users’ shopping experience within the mobile app.
I’m also keeping my eye on Meta's AR play and expecting that we’re eventually going to see a feature similar to Pinterest’s “Pinterest Lens” (see below) being introduced as a way of keeping users shopping within Instagram.
All AI, All The Time
Like Facebook, Instagram has seen big jumps in engagement this year by incorporating AI-fuelled recommendations into what users see on their Timelines.
As we reported in our newsletter a few weeks ago, Instagram’s already testing AI stickers and editing tools, AI-fuelled suggestions for DM replies, and more.
You can also see Meta pushing the trend of Meta avatar stickers in the app, too, which links back to the “Metaverse push” I was talking about earlier.
TikTok has been leading the way with AI integration, rolling out text-to-video translation tools, AI profile images, shockingly high-quality AI filters, and more.
The platform is also testing a new AI-chatbot on its Chinese user base, so I'd expect that to roll out to a broader market sometime next year.
While chatbots haven’t really taken off on social media, they do keep users in-stream and if TikTok can link a chatbot to trending content and product discovery it could be a big boon for the platform.
In-Stream Shopping Push
Despite the fact that 40% of Gen Z have stated that TikTok is their go-to search engine, actual shopping on the platform has failed to take off so far, at least in North America.
Last year TikTok rolled out the “Nearby” content feed, and I expect this push for hyper-local discovery to continue in 2024, with TikTok looking to integrate food delivery and local business listings like it’s already done in China.
I could also see TikTok leaning into its AI-generated filters to replicate Pinterest’s AR “Try On” feature (see below) to encourage more users to shop directly from within the app, too.
A Ban in The U.S.?
The idea that the U.S. will ban TikTok pops up in my newsfeed every so often, but I don’t know if I think it’ll actually happen unless political relations between America and China really start to deteriorate.
(For a great summary of current U.S./China relations, check out this episode of NYT’s The Daily podcast.)
A lot of North American users have fallen away from Snapchat, but the company’s recent Snapchat+ subscription service now has over 5 million paying subscribers, making it the most successful social media offering to date.
Since any new features coming to Snapchat will be offered to Snapchat+ users first, we can expect to see this number continue to increase in the coming year.
Pushing AR “Spectacles”
Snap was the first social app to release camera-equipped sunglasses, but Spectacles just hasn’t taken off and now that Meta is pushing their Ray Ban Stories glasses there’s more competition in the marketplace.
That being said, Snap has been testing their AR glasses for over a year and it seems like they’re planning to roll out a fully AR-enabled version of Spectacles sometime soon.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write a separate section for Threads, but X/Twitter seems to be tanking (see below) so I figured it was worth digging into separately.
Like Twitter, Threads seems to be gaining momentum as a result of the Israel-Hamas conflict — though this boost seems to be related more to X’s new approach to moderation.
A lot of this comes down to Elon Musk and his airing of personal grievances on X/Twitter which is playing a big role in the company’s potential future (see below) and is encouraging a lot of users to re-consider Threads as a nicer, less offensive alternative.
Be warned though: as a brand on the platform it’s important not to get overly sales-y and to stick to topics like company culture, values, and (of course) spicy memes, since that’s what users are coming there to enjoy.
I won’t pretend to know what Threads has coming, but considering that they’ve been listening to user feedback (something Twitter wasn’t known for) which seems to be earning them some goodwill online.
Recently Threads rolled out a desktop version, easier account switching, “drag and drop” attachments to posts, and are apparently working on a way for users to opt out of having their Threads content shown on Instagram and Facebook, since some users have shared that they don’t want their connections on those platforms to know about their Threads activity.
As someone who comes from the Twitter ecosystem, it’s been refreshing watching Meta be so receptive to user feedback and I imagine more user-led features will roll out on Threads in 2024.
A Kinder, Gentler Space
To put it bluntly: the vibes on Threads are very different from Twitter.
When the app launched there was a lot of chatter about the kind of space users wanted Threads to be, and we’ve seen this push for a welcoming, positive social network continue even as more people have started making a permanent jump over from X/Twitter.
The intentionality that users are bringing to Threads is something that I think will stick around for a while, especially considering how the platform is being contrasted against X/Twitter’s promotion of hate speech and misinformation.
X “or, The App Formerly Known as Twitter”
Elon Musk’s Big Push
I’ll admit: I’m not happy with the direction Twitter is taking, but it doesn’t seem like most people are happy about it, either, so I feel justified.
Anyway, it looks like Musk’s play with Twitter was essentially to gobble up everyone’s data by purchasing the platform so he can turn it into a WeChat-style One App to Rule Them All.
I don’t think this is going to work for a few reasons:
- North Americans don’t use WeChat-style apps as much. See my explanation above. We just don’t need an “everything app” the way other parts of the world do, and they’re already embedded into the WeChat ecosystems.
- The platform is changing too fast. Specifically in the area of charging a subscription — there isn’t enough perceived value for people to start paying at this stage.
- X now has 80% fewer staff than Twitter did, and a lot of the changes Elon wants to make (introducing payments, banking, shopping, etc.) require serious levels of privacy and data protection, and the infrastructure just isn’t there to build that out, even if there was a demand for it.
Focusing on News
Despite these issues, X is still the go-to news source for journalists and people who want to stay in-the-know.
As a result, I could see X putting a focus on timely news content… but I don’t know how that would work long-term.because X limits the total number of posts a user can see in a day.
This could change, of course, but right now X seems to be cutting off its nose to spite its face if you ask me.
This could change, but right now it’s looking like Twitter has a 100% probability of bankruptcy.
This makes sense: ad revenue is still down, advertisers are leaving the platform over Elon Musk’s promotion of antisemitic tweets, subscriptions and projects are failing… it’s just a mess over there.
With this in mind, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Twitter announcing bankruptcy or issuing a warning about it sometime next year.
I believe this is what the kids refer to as the “find out stage” of “Fuck Around and Find Out”.
AR Try On Push
Pinterest has been leading the way in AR-fuelled shopping, with “Try On” released back in 2022 but not really picking up steam.
To date you can try on makeup and see how furniture might look in your home (a feature the IKEA app has had for a while), but with Meta getting into the AR game and bringing passthrough technology to the North American mainstream I could see Pinterest starting to move to AR-powered clothing Try Ons sometime in the near future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pinterest-branded AR displays coming to malls across North America sometime over the next year or two.
One of Pinterest’s features that doesn’t get at much love as it should is Pinterest Lens, a feature similar to a virtual wardrobe that allows you to scan items of clothing (or recipes) and upload them to Pinterest to help the algorithm make better recommendations.
This might be a bit of a stretch, but I could see this feature combined with an AR Try On feature becoming an area the app leans into more heavily in the future.
More Focus on AI
Are you sick of me saying this yet? Well, buckle up because LinkedIn has dedicated more time and resources to integrating AI than any other platform.
You can see it in their generative AI profile summaries, feed post prompts, collaborative articles, job descriptions, but I expect that the biggest use of AI in 2024 will be improving discovery and helping users see more content they like.
Livestreams + Virtual Events
Despite a bigger push for users to create video content within the app this year, video content and “Lives” on LinkedIn can be hard to find if you aren’t already following the right people.
This is one area where I could see AI solving this problem, and could see LinkedIn introducing dedicated event and video tabs that can be accessed through the Timeline.
General Predictions for 2024
Here are a few things I’m keeping my eye on that aren’t platform-specific:
User-Generated Content Will Increase
I believe that user-generated content (UGC) is the future of content marketing.
Today’s consumers are savvy and don’t want their relationships with the brands they follow to be a one-way street, and creating UGC puts them in the driver’s seat and allows them to actively engage with the brands and products they care about.
This is a boon for brands, too — UGC builds community, empowers users to get creative with a brand’s content, and (best of all) it’s free.
A Focus on Authenticity
Users don’t want to hear canned marketing messages and want to support brands that are candid and authentic in how they communicate online. In fact, 88% of consumers report prioritizing authenticity when deciding which brands to support.
Owning up to mistakes, speaking loudly about your values, and putting a focus on transparency with your audience is how brands will succeed in 2024.
More Hybrid Content
“Hybrid” content refers to content created using AI, and though I touched on this individually in each section, I wanted to mention it here because I think we’re going to see this increase dramatically across all social platforms in the coming year.
Using AI to create text, images (like Canva’s Magic Design tool), video, and more is going to become a lot more commonplace.
I’m already seeing this in my circles: brands and consumers alike are starting to sour on the idea of using ChatGPT to create marketing material like social media and blog posts.
This ties into the idea of authenticity I talked about above: using ChatGPT to churn out low-quality content (that looks and feels low-quality) leaves a sour taste in people’s mouths.
It feels like dialled-in content because it is dialled-in content, and in a world where authenticity and relationships matter above all else, I expect that we’ll see savvy brands leaning away from posting ChatGPT-generated content.
The State of Social Media in 2024
Things change quickly in this industry so it’s hard to predict what’s actually going to happen, but these are my best guesses based on the trends I’m seeing, the news I’m reading, and what I’m seeing when we do our monthly social media reports for our clients.
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