2023 was a fast-paced year for social channels, with new ones emerging, others flopping, and brands trialling new formats and approaches to make their mark. So what lies ahead this year? Read on for our predictions...
Back in November, as part of our annual Battenhall Trends event, we explored the year’s prevalent trending themes of entertainment, platforms, safety, influencers and AI.
It was undoubtedly a fast-paced year for channels – with new ones popping up and rising to prominence, while others flopped - and brands trialling new formats and approaches to make their mark platform-wide.
In particular, we looked at what life after Twitter/X was going to look like for brands online, and shared our key findings:
- Twitter usage is down but the platform won’t be going away completely anytime soon and still serves many communities so don’t rule it out just yet
- Threads exploded onto the scene initially only to fade away pretty quickly, however usage is on the up again so it’s one to keep an eye on
- LinkedIn has seen an impressive glow-up in recent years, moving away from just being seen as a job site and is delivering great results for brands
So what’s happened since then - and what’s on the horizon for channels in 2024?
As predicted: Threads vs Twitter/X
Even with a new video-first strategy and steady ‘everything app’ metamorphosis, Twitter/X continues to slog along with numbers that Elon Musk has branded as ‘incredible’ usage growth, at 384.2 billion users. And, despite an explosive launch, Threads has since maintained ‘steady’ progress – now a reported 130 million users (as of 2 February 2024).
From our perspective, Threads’ usage among individuals is growing well (undoubtedly helped by its recent European launch) but brands, as well as the most-followed X profiles, are still slow to pick up.
Launching into a new platform is often a challenge for brands. It takes time and resource to establish a presence on a new platform, and when the numbers for Threads aren’t as high as they were, you can see why some might be hesitant to invest the effort.
This can be common with new platforms. There’s often a usual cycle that happens: platform launches, brands go all-in… then realise they might not be sure what to do yet to capitalise, and eventually drift off. But that doesn’t mean it’s all over for Threads. It’s still one platform to watch, especially with brands like Monzo, Matalan and BBC Good Food booming on the platform (Monzo and Matalan’s strategies notably include leaning into the persona of posting like a person, rather than just depending on branded content).
Among other tech enhancements on the platform, Threads is set to jump on the fediverse bandwagon, which may even allow users to cross over to other platforms and follow Mastodon users by the end of 2024.
Harnessing the power of your employees on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is continuing to provide huge value for brands and individuals. As mentioned in ourTrend talks, the platform has really experienced a glow-up in recent years – evolving from a glorified job site, to a fully-fledged social media network with thriving (and genuine) communities.
To make the most of LinkedIn in 2024, it’s worth focusing your efforts on a robust strategy for employee advocacy and leadership communications. This can cause a halo effect off the back of your employees and leadership teams’ efforts, which can be incredibly valuable for both business growth and attracting new staff.
Our big LinkedIn feature to watch this year is collaborative articles. There are hundreds of articles around topics ranging from marketing to public administration and healthcare. The articles begin as AI-powered conversation starters, developed by the LinkedIn editorial team, then contributed to by the LinkedIn community – with individuals sharing their perspectives.
By contributing regularly to these, users can secure a ‘Top Voice’ badge for a topic on their profile, which is a great way to establish employees as thought leaders in their spaces. The articles also help increase reach and exposure on the feed, alongside regular content sharing.
It’s time to TikTok (if you haven’t already)
Another platform to have on your radar for 2024 is, of course, TikTok.
This is another example of a platform that’s been through a big transformation - evolving from its reputation as an app for teens to post dancing videos, into one of the biggest apps across all ages serving hundreds of niches, and offering countless advertising and revenue opportunities.
For consumer brands, all eyes are on TikTok Shop – which is already having a huge impact on online shopping in its bid to take over the ecommerce world. Users stay on apps to be both entertained and to spend, and TikTok is currently taking the biggest slice of this pie, recently becoming the first app to reach $10 billion in all-time consumer spend.
Much like B2C brands might think LinkedIn isn’t for them , many B2B brands switch off or roll their eyes at the mention of TikTok. However, we’re seeing more and more companies in the B2B space understanding the power of TikTok, and making the most of the algorithm’s ability to target specific and niche communities. Monday.com, Grammerly, Adobe and Salesforce (to name a few) are nailing TikTok content, trying innovative formats from engaging customer stories and product top tips, to trending formats and memes.
So, what’s next?
When considering your platform priorities for the year ahead, the choices you make should all come back to one thing: your audience.
Invest your effort and plant your flowers where you know they’ll grow and thrive. If your audience has strong values that mean X won’t be a place they spend their time, don’t bother. If short-form video is their jam, steer clear of Threads and double down on your TikTok strategy.
It’s impossible to know what will lie ahead in 2024. Existing platforms may boom, but new ones might emerge and outpace them all. Always be prepared to weather the storm of platforms changing and launching – and a refreshed and refined social media strategy is the best way to futureproof your brand and tackle any challenges head-on.
Missed out on our Battenhall Trends for 2024 event? You can watch all of our talks on YouTube.