If there’s one thing that’s certain about social media, it’s that it’s always changing. With each passing year, new trends emerge, and small businesses must adapt to stay ahead of the curve. As we step into 2024, we predict a greater emphasis on authenticity and originality in social media content. In this article, we’ll explore four of the top social media trends that are set to dominate in the coming year and provide strategies for small businesses to effectively leverage them.

Trend #1: Long-Form Video Content

In the world of social media, video content has always been king. Since the pandemic, TikTok has rapidly become the go-to platform for short-form video content and endless scrolling. Creators leveraged this content format to capture and retain audiences’ attention with our ever-dwindling attention spans (in fact, a new study by Microsoft claims that due to our increasingly digitalized lifestyle, the average human attention span has reduced to approximately 8 seconds—less than that of a goldfish). Brands followed suit, leaving the days of long-form, YouTube-style videos behind. So, when TikTok rolled out its 10-minute video feature in 2022, it was met with mixed reviews.

Why would bite-sized video giant TikTok initiate the switch back to longer videos? Simply put, this style of long-form content builds stronger connections with viewers. It creates an online culture that has a lasting impact on consumers. From in-depth product reviews to discussion-style videos, this platform is overflowing with content that fosters a more personal connection between brands and their customers.

TikTok’s pivot to longer videos has seen mixed success in its first two years. Still, it’s anticipated that in 2024, longer videos will become more prevalent and effective. By leveraging this trend, small businesses can build deeper connections with their audience, ultimately enhancing their social media presence.

Trend #2: User-Generated Content (UGC)

User-Generated Content (UGC) continues to rise as a cornerstone in social media marketing, particularly for small businesses. UGC refers to content created and shared by customers rather than by the brand itself and offers a genuine glimpse into the experiences and opinions of consumers. By showcasing these real-life stories and unfiltered feedback, UGC creates a sense of community and authenticity around a brand. This authenticity is key—it resonates with audiences, fostering stronger emotional connections. Ultimately, it’s this genuine connection that builds a solid foundation of trust in a brand. It opens a dialogue between customers and the wider audience, where honest experiences and reviews help potential customers recognize the value of what a business offers.

Building on this foundation of trust and authenticity, UGC becomes even more significant in an era where the effectiveness of traditional advertising is waning. Highlighting this shift, a recent review by Hootsuite reveals that consumers are now 2.4 times more likely to perceive UGC as authentic when compared to brand-created content. This authenticity stems from UGC’s unfiltered nature, offering a transparent look into the actual customer experience. These candid insights act as powerful social proof, confirming the value and appeal of a brand’s products. In a landscape where consumers are increasingly seeking reliability and genuine connections, UGC not only validates a brand’s claims but also enhances its appeal to potential customers.

To stay on top of this trend, savvy brands are actively developing strategies to encourage the creation of UGC. These strategies are not just about promoting products but about creating an environment where customers feel compelled to share their experiences. For instance, some brands focus on designing unique packaging that compels customers to capture and share it online. Others might transform parts of their physical spaces, like stores or cafes, into Instagrammable spots, perfect for customers to capture and share their experiences on their personal feeds.

Beyond aesthetics, brands are engaging customers through interactive campaigns. This can include hosting contests where participants are asked to create content around a branded hashtag, effectively turning their customer base into a vibrant community of brand advocates. These initiatives do more than boost brand visibility; they foster a sense of loyalty and encourage participation among the customer base.

As UGC becomes an increasingly vital tool for enhancing brand trust and awareness, it’s essential for small business owners to actively integrate strategies that encourage this type of content creation. By doing so, brands will not only capitalize on the authenticity and relatability of UGC but also open doors to deeper customer engagement and a broader audience reach.

Trend #3: Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing continues to grow in 2024, solidifying its place as a powerful advertising strategy for many small businesses. Like UGC, it relies on authentic content to attract audiences, but its approach is distinct. While UGC is spontaneously generated by real customers, influencer marketing involves strategic partnerships with influencers to create tailored, brand-specific content.

Influencer marketing involves collaborating with social media creators who have built a significant following and a high level of trust with their audience. The effectiveness of this strategy lies in the influencers’ ability to sway their followers’ buying decisions through genuine content and personal endorsements. Recommendations from these creators serve as a form of personal recommendations to a brand’s potential customer base, making this style of partnership a valuable asset in digital advertising strategies.

Over the past several years, the influencer marketing arena has shifted from celebrity endorsements to the emergence of micro-influencers. Despite having smaller followings than their celebrity counterparts, these creators often have higher engagement rates and a more loyal audience base. According to the Influence Marketing Hub, this sector is expected to grow to an estimated value of $69.92 billion by 2029 from approximately 21.1 billion in 2023. This growth reflects influencer marketing’s increasing popularity as a practical and influential element in digital advertising.

For small businesses, influencer marketing offers a unique opportunity to expand their audience and foster more meaningful engagement. The key lies in partnering with influencers who share the brand’s values and can authentically convey its message. This strategy is not only practical but also accessible, allowing businesses of different sizes to leverage the influence of social media effectively.

For small businesses, influencer marketing offers a unique opportunity to expand their audience and foster more meaningful engagement. The key lies in partnering with influencers who share the brand’s values and can authentically convey its message. When planning marketing budgets, small businesses might consider allocating funds specifically for influencer partnerships. This strategy is not only practical but also accessible, allowing businesses of different sizes to leverage the influence of social media effectively. Investing in influencer marketing can yield a high return on engagement and brand recognition, making it a smart allocation of advertising resources.

Trend #4: Social Search and SEO in Social Media

As we delve into the final major trend for 2024, the focus shifts to how social search and search engine optimization (SEO) are increasingly converging within social media platforms. SEO in social media refers to optimizing content to boost visibility and discoverability, catering to the growing trend of users using these platforms as search engines. Users are searching for specific content, products, or reviews, making social searching a gateway to the collective experiences and knowledge of the platform’s users. This transition offers a more personalized and authentic search experience and calls for a strategic shift in content creation, where the emphasis is on effective keyword integration rather than solely relying on traditional hashtags.

Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest aren’t just for browsing anymore; they have become key search engines, especially among younger demographics. A striking statistic from a report published by Frontier highlights this trend: 82% of consumers now prefer to search on social media over traditional search engines. This significant shift indicates a growing reliance on social platforms for initiating searches, whether it’s for specific content, products, or reviews.

In the earlier days of social media, hashtags played a significant role in content categorization and discoverability. However, the widespread misuse and overuse of hashtags resulted in a cluttered and less effective search experience for users. A recent study by Hootsuite sheds light on this shift to keywords, revealing that Instagram posts with a strategic focus on keywords outperform those reliant on hashtags. Posts featuring SEO-focused captions experienced a 30% higher reach, underscoring the growing importance of keyword optimization in social media content strategy.

In this new era of social media, small business owners have a valuable opportunity to enhance their online visibility through SEO-focused content creation. Shifting from traditional hashtags to keyword-rich captions can significantly improve discoverability on social platforms. This approach is particularly beneficial for small businesses aiming to connect more effectively with their audience. Embracing this trend can help small businesses better position themselves in the digital landscape, making it easier for potential customers to find and engage with their brand.

Final Thoughts

As we wrap up our exploration of the top social media trends for 2024, it’s evident that the digital world offers numerous opportunities for small businesses to connect, engage, and grow. Authenticity, personal connections, and strategic online presence are more than just buzzwords; they’re essential components of a successful digital strategy in today’s ever-changing social media landscape. Whether it’s through embracing long-form video content, harnessing the power of UGC, integrating influencer marketing into your advertising mix, or optimizing captions keywords, the path forward is clear. Small businesses equipped with these insights and strategies are well-positioned to not only navigate but also flourish in the dynamic world of social media. Remember, the key to making the most of these trends is to stay true to your brand’s values and voice while continuously adapting and evolving to meet your audience where they are. Here’s to a successful and digitally savvy 2024!

References

“As TikTok pivots to long-form content, are consumers ready?” The Drum,  Link

“Social Media Trends: 2023 Review & 2024 Forecasting,” Hacker Noon,  Link

“Science: You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish,” TIME,  Link

“What is User-Generated Content? And Why is it Important?” Hootsuite Blog,  Link

“What is Influencer Marketing: Create a Winning Strategy,” Sprout Social,  Link

“16 Influencer Marketing Trends That Will Shape 2024,” Influencer Marketing Hub,  Link

“Exploring the secrets of search in the digital world,” Frontier,  Link

“Experiment: Instagram SEO vs Hashtags,” Hootsuite,  Link