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Trends & Insights | Blog

Finding your entertainment fit for 2024

February 19, 2024


The entertainment-first social media era is here. With the competition for attention at an all-time high, how are brands using entertainment to surprise, educate, shock and delight consumers online?

Emillie Hawes & Charlea Hale-Abusham

In an era where we’re all doom-scrolling and social media has overtaken mainstream media for many, the competition for attention has reached an all-time high – and brands are responding with entertainment as their superpower.

While the concept of social media as entertainment isn’t a new one, it’s not all about laugh-out-loud content and stand-up snippets. In 2023 especially, we saw a host of entertainment tactics rise to popularity on social media – from the unhinged brand account (think: Channel 4 on Threads), to the continued domination of short-form trend-led viral video content (think: every brand on TikTok). 

But, as we look ahead to the social media landscape in 2024, how does entertainment fit into it? What does entertainment-first mean for marketers and brands, and which formats do we expect it to take this year?

Read on to explore our predictions. 

Three types of entertainment-first content

Social media as entertainment is a universal concept, but an audience’s concept of entertainment can vary widely – with many factors at play, like age, location, and interests.

In 2023, we took a deep dive into entertainment-first content as part of our Trends report – which unveiled three clear styles of entertainment that could be emulated by every brand.

1. Meme and pop culture

Perhaps one of the first types of entertainment-first content that springs to mind, meme and pop culture is all about spinning media moments into viral social posts – like “David’s dead”, or Homer Simpson backing into a bush. 

Brands have been tuned in to this format for a long time, but the competition nowadays lies more in giving the funniest take, rather than being first off the mark. And it doesn’t even matter if the meme doesn’t relate to the brand – there’s almost always a way to jump on a viral moment and put a spin on it that feels authentic. 

2. Lifestyle content

Long before memes and trending audio, social media was a place purely built from people sharing their life experiences. As networks have grown to become powerful advertising spaces too, lifestyle still wins – and audiences are still hooked on seeing ways to upgrade their everyday. In the entertainment-first age, brands are coming up with increasingly novel ways to play into this appetite.

Our research found a huge lean towards recipe content – an age-old staple in the social media lifestyle offering. But recently this has moved away from the flat-lay tutorials we know and love, and has become a little more unhinged – with big FMCG brands serving up creative content that riffs on the classics. Heinz x Absolut vodka pasta sauce, anyone?

Day-in-the-life videos are also a booming player in the lifestyle space, with creators and brands alike using the format to lift the curtain on their day-to-day and entertain through relatability. 

3. Education

Every day’s a school day. And while learning-based content might not scream ‘entertainment’ in the traditional sense, it does take plenty of forms. 

Whether it’s a trending travel hack, showcasing brand stats, ‘did you know’ content, or even sharing insights into a product or service, there are plenty of ways for brands to entertain while they educate – it just takes a little more imagination.

These three types of entertainment-first social are of course not the only options. There are many nuanced ways to build a community and spark joy among your followers. But they’ve proven popular time and time again, and are well worth experimenting with as a starting point.

How are brands entertaining on social media in 2024?

As expected, we’ve already seen a handful of brands leaning into entertainment-first campaigns and content in 2024. 

There have been two in particular that caught our attention that, despite being incredibly different in nature and execution, both hold entertainment as the core engagement driver. 

Age UK x ITV Big Brother

First is Age UK’s #UncomfortableReality campaign, which created an unconventional partnership to raise awareness of loneliness of older people.

Understanding that Big Brother’s newest season brought the programme to the forefront of pop culture conversations, Age UK decided to adapt an iconic feature of the show to inform its content.  The video showed an older man in the Big Brother house with, as happens in the show, a voiceover announcing the time of day and what the inmates are doing. After a few announcements, it becomes obvious that the man is completely alone and left to fill his own time – mirroring the experience of many older people. 

This example shines by taking something familiar and loved by an audience, and showcasing it in an unexpected way – building enough intrigue for viewers to want to watch on. By being tuned into pop-culture, Age UK and ITV were able to create a narrative that was relevant and unexpected. The format draws people in, and the content then educates them – with stat-based facts interspersed throughout each scene.

Underpinning it all, Age UK was able to ensure audiences were ultimately more receptive to its message of loneliness among older people – before reinforcing its importance.

McDonald's Chicken McNugget Anniversary 

To celebrate the anniversary of the Chicken McNugget, McDonald's Switzerland built a campaign around the decades-old maths theorem: The Chicken McNugget Theorem. 

McDonald's and maths? We hear you, but it’s actually a real thing that thousands of people online have discussed for years. The theorem stems from the fact that it’s impossible to order specific quantities of McNuggets, such as seven or eleven, as they’re currently sold in packs of four, six, nine or 20 (in Switzerland). With the restricted quantities comes restricted sharing, which for lots of McDonald's meal-sharers is a problem – often resulting in someone being left out, or a halved nugget being the final portion. 

McDonald's tapped into this conversation (including YouTube videos with over 2m views!) and decided to do something about it – with a slightly unhinged approach. And so The Chicken McNugget of Love campaign was launched, giving customers the new menu item of an individual chicken nugget – and the opportunity to never have to face the impossible maths theorem again. 

This campaign again plays into pop culture, but even more so brand culture. McDonald's' rich history was key here in creating a hyper-relevant and unique campaign. 

Finding your entertainment-first fit

So which format is right for your brand? Answer: There isn’t one.

And by that, we mean there isn’t just one answer – it all comes down to your audience. Being entertaining on social media ultimately involves cracking the code and discovering exactly what makes your following tick. If there’s a particular type of content they seem to have an appetite for, how about trialling new formats to see if results soar? You can even ask them directly what they think, using devices like Stories and polls to unearth what else they want to see on your brand’s channels.

You’ve (probably) dipped your toe into entertainment before – so use this to your advantage. Take a look at what you leaned on in 2023 and see how you could evolve from it. Could that meme rip-off have evolved into a bigger brand campaign? Or perhaps that educational infographic could become a behind-the-scenes video series? Much like how your wardrobe changes with the seasons, your approach on social media doesn’t have to stand still either – and stepping out of your comfort zone could be a real game-changer. 

  • Listen to your audience - what are they gelling with? If there’s a particular type of content they love, how about trialing new formats to see if results soar! Your audience’s views are important, have you thought about asking them through stories or polls what else they’d like to see?
  • Finding your fit can mean evolving from what you leaned on heavily in 2023, and that’s ok! As with our fashion sense, our wardrobes can change through the seasons - your approach on social media doesn’t have to stay the same, stepping outside of your comfort zone could be a real game changer.

Test and learn, for your audience’s sake

Once you’ve pinned down the formats you might want to try, the real work begins – and this is where testing and learning is crucial. 

Adapting your content calendar to trial new formats could avoid audience fatigue in 2024, and keep them coming back for more. But don’t try to do too much too quickly. Take it one bite at a time, weaning your audience gradually. This could mean trialing one new post per month in a different entertainment style, allowing you space to put the feelers out and see if it lands.

And one thing’s for sure: as long as entertainment exists, it will continue to evolve. There will always be a new trending media moment, a new format, or a new punchline that’s captivating en masse. Be smart with your choices – immerse yourself, fully, into those that will work for you. 

If you miss the moment, or the mark, don’t panic. The next opportunity to entertain is probably just around the corner anyway…

To explore how our team can help with your 2024 social media strategy, email hello@battenhall.com.