Q&A: The 2024 Social Media Outlook

December 4, 2023 | Workforce Boosts, Tort, Regulatory, Tax Reforms Top 2023 Accomplishments Andrew Gillman, Director of Delivery, Performance Marketing, andrewg@performancemarketing.com

An active supporter of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, Performance Marketing works with clients across Iowa. The Corridor Business Journal, which serves the Cedar Rapids/Iowa City and Quad Cities business communities, recently asked Performance Marketing Director of Delivery, Andrew Gillman, for his view on the state of social media and the challenges involved in helping businesses succeed on social platforms. Their conversation follows.

Generally speaking, what does the world of social media look like right now?

Social media is in a state of upheaval. Platforms are changing constantly, which means businesses have to pivot often — and quickly. These changes also mean we’re on the edge of some very exciting things related to technology and social media marketing.

Are there any challenges you’re seeing?

Absolutely. Data privacy is a big challenge. The increase in regulations in recent years has made targeting across social channels more difficult. For instance, Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, eliminated several valuable audience profile qualifiers from their paid media platform (Ads Manager). This makes it difficult to target users based on home ownership status, household income and home value, just to name a few.

User protection and privacy have an impact on all areas of social media to varying degrees, but especially on paid social. Because paid social media is a mechanism for getting in front of broader audiences, it’s hit with data privacy regulations harder than the organic and user-generated content side of social platforms.

So, what’s the impact of data privacy on brands?

Since data privacy challenges apply mainly to third-party data, brands should prioritize capturing first-party data. The difference is that first-party data is volunteered by existing and prospective customers, meaning it’s less problematic to use. Brands may also need to pivot to broader targeting options, and then continue to optimize those campaigns to zero in on the most responsive and worthwhile audience segments.

What about consumers?

Consumers can control the marketing messages they see easier than ever before. Each of the main social media platforms has some degree of privacy settings that allow users to control their exposure to brand messages.

The stricter a users’ privacy settings, though, the less likely it is they’ll be served relevant content. Social media works because it’s where people spend a lot of time connecting and learning about new ideas, products and brands. The more time we spend on a social media platform, the more it learns, which gives it the ability to serve up content specifically tailored to an individual’s interests.

For example, if you’ve been on the search for a new pair of Adidas shoes, platform algorithms will know that you’re interested in Adidas and probably deliver more relevant content like current promotions to help you get the best deal on some new kicks.

There’s debate about how businesses should use social platforms. What’s the best approach?

Marketers keep trying to fit social media into the traditional PESO — paid, earned, shared, owned — model. But because of the dynamic nature of social media, it’s too large and complex to fit into a singular box. Social media fluctuates between three distinct areas:

1. Shared, when focusing on amplifying social content.

2. Owned, when focusing on organic content development and community management.

3. Paid, when focusing on reaching new audiences or amplifying a specific message across channels.

There’s not a one-size-fits-all formula but using all three tactics will yield the best results. For some businesses, they focus more on sharing original content and connecting directly with their current followers, while others’ priority is to reach the masses and grow their audience using paid campaigns. Make sure to test all three strategies before ruling any out — you might be surprised at which one performs the best.

Where does AI fit into the social media conversation?

AI isn’t taking over social media … yet. At the moment, AI is best used for brainstorming organic content topics and scaling up posting quantities. It’s less helpful for delivering personalized, brand-specific social content. We still believe that social media should be exactly that — social. When AI enters the conversation, you lose a little of that authenticity. Social content should be nothing if not authentic, so although it’s tempting to ask ChatGPT to come up with 20 social posts in the blink of an eye, what’s going to make your audience want to engage with your brand is a human touch. 

Where do we think AI really shines in the social space? Ad buying, offering smarter targeting, more efficient bidding and real-time, automated optimization. It is also the technology behind personalized ad creative, delivering messages to consumers based on their past behavior.

Can you touch on how companies might use each of the major social platforms?

Meta has billions of global users, which makes it a great choice for targeted advertising. Other benefits are its seamless cross-platform branding and advancements in virtual reality and augmented reality experiences. The downside is only large companies with deep pockets are currently able to fully leverage these opportunities. Until Meta’s marketing solutions become more scalable, it’s OK to focus on your current platforms and see how they evolve over the next year.

As far as Threads and X, which is formerly known as Twitter, they’re in an ongoing battle for audiences and only time will tell if X or Threads will prevail. Any social media community manager worth their salt will be monitoring Threads closely to see where it goes. But until it’s a viable platform for your brand, it’s fine to observe from the sidelines.

LinkedIn is another big one, but users don’t spend nearly as much time on LinkedIn as they do on other social media platforms. The ability to scale on LinkedIn is not as reliable as on other platforms. However, for B2B brands, LinkedIn paid advertising really hits the spot. Marketers can target content by job title, industry categories and experience levels, which offers some big opportunities to B2B brands. Plus, LinkedIn has rolled out some valuable tools to support B2B advertisers’ lead-generating efforts. I encourage you to check them out.

TikTok is super trendy, making it tricky. It pushes its creators to fit within the platform’s preferred content style — favoring short, low-production, vlogstyle content. This style can be counter-intuitive to the polished style many brands prefer. As a result, the platform favors personalities over brands. But some savvy brands are adapting and learning how to create TikTok-worthy content. TikTok has a style all its own and it may or may not be yours

My best advice for TikTok: Do your research. Determine if you can sustain the high-frequency posting schedule. Commit to the content style only if TikTok has been dubbed “right” for your brand.

How can businesses determine if a platform is right for them?

New social platforms are popping up all the time, but none of them currently holds a candle to the behemoths of the space — Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Snapchat and YouTube. With that said, we always encourage brands to do their research to determine if there’s a true opportunity before diving into a platform, regardless of its size or popularity. And if you’re going to join, be ready to dedicate time and resources to doing it right.

Remember, in social media, there are no guarantees. All the changes we’re seeing just underscore the importance of vetting platforms before jumping in head first. Brands should be intentional when choosing platforms and proceed with some level of caution, opting for the path of greatest authenticity and opportunity.

If you have questions about a specific platform or need advice heading into 2024 planning — our team can help!

About Anthologic

Anthologic is a collective of marketing and technology companies that can seamlessly partner together to build brands, craft stories, accelerate business and more. Brands in the collective include Performance Marketing, Blue Traffic, Vector Haus and Flatout. For more information, visit Anthologic.com.

This article was republished with the permission of ABI.