It’s that special time of year when we look into the future of social media and digital marketing with my big predictions.
Some of my 2023 predictions were perfect, and some others not so much. But that’s the nature of the quickly evolving world of digital marketing. I can’t get it right all the time, but it’s definitely fun giving it a try.
Things move so quickly online that you have to plan for the future while being ready to adjust for everything you can’t plan for (do I need to mention how quickly AI became a part of our lives as marketers in 2023?).
With 2024 right around the corner and off the heels of hosting my in-person retreat, I have some exciting predictions to share for the new year, with a big emphasis on reconnecting with what makes us uniquely human and the evolution of community building and engagement.
In this episode of the podcast, I talk about:
- The major differences between tactics and strategies
- My 2023 predictions: The hits and misses
- The crossroads of Artificial Intelligence and our humanity
- Walmart’s Experiential Marketing Mean Girls Moment
- Replacing the word audience with something more relatable
- Redefining social media
- My word for 2024
This Episode Was Made Possible By:
Riverside All-in-One Podcast & Video Platform
Visit Riverside and use the code DREA to get 15% off any Riverside individual plan. We use it to record all our podcast interviews!
Watch the Episode Below:
Andréa Jones (00:00):
Every single year, one of the most listened to episodes are my predictions episode, and I'm hoping this year's no different because I'm about to dive into all of my predictions for what's happening with social media marketing in 2024. Let's get into it.
Welcome to the Savvy Social Podcast, the show that blends stories in strategies to help businesses create engaged and profitable online communities using the unique power of social media. And now, your host, Andréa Jones.
Andréa Jones (00:45):
Listeners, you're in for a treat. Before I dive in today's episode, I got to remind you to grab your 15% off over at Riverside. Riverside is the podcast recording studio that we now use for our show, and y'all, they feel super luxurious. So head over to Riverside. You get 15, that's one 5% off all of their plans by using the code Drea, that's DREA at checkout. Click the link in the show notes to get started today for free.
I'm excited for this episode and it's coming at the right time. I'm recording this just after our first ever retreat. I just hosted an in-person retreat in Niagara on the lake, and it was amazing. The conversation in the room was, I actually am struggling with the words at the moment. It was more than I could ever hope for. I came back with so much clarity about myself, about my business. There's so much connection happening in the room, and it was one of those moments where I sat down and I was like, oh, a lot of us are going through the same things in our business. A lot of us are experiencing the same things. And then also there's so many insights from someone as they're experiencing the same thing as you are. You get a different perspective. You get to see the same problem or the same challenge through a different lens, and that brings me so much clarity.
But during the retreat, I hosted a session called The Future of Marketing, and I started that session asking a question about the iPhone. Do y'all remember when the iPhone first came out? Little hint, it was 2007. That was 16 years ago at the time of recording this episode 16 years ago, and so much has happened in the past 16 years. 16 years ago, we had to have a university or college email address to even get a Facebook account. I remember this because I had graduated in 2007 from high school trying to go into university, and I hadn't gotten my email yet, so I couldn't get into Facebook. And it was the second that I got my email from university that they then opened it up for everyone. I was actually kind of frustrated. I was waiting that whole time. It's a core memory for me.
And this was pre-Instagram, pre TikTok, pre all of these things. And so much has changed in marketing in the past 16 years that I guarantee you it's going to massively change in the next 16 years, which is why I like doing these predictions episodes. Now, I do want to talk about something as well, and I do this at the start of every one of these episodes, which is these episodes are focused on tactic. Hey, these episodes are focused on tactics. So I love to talk strategy strategies like your big picture, high level, this is the direction we're going, and tactics are the way that you implement that strategy. So for example, let's say you are a therapist and your strategy is you want to expose the truth behind some of the buzzwords of the social media influencer therapy sessions. You want to expose the truth behind it.
So the tactic would be starting a YouTube channel and creating videos defining what gaslighting means or defining what it actually means to be triggered. So that would be the tactic is I'm going to do this on YouTube. The strategy is like, here's where I'm going with this. 10 years from now, that tactic may look different, even though your strategy, your ultimate goal is the same. When I talk about these episodes, I oftentimes talk about tactics because that's really what changes year to year. Last year I put on my That’s So Raven moment and got clairvoyant and looked into the future, and a lot of what I predicted came true. So the first thing I predicted last year is that social media is search. And I said, social media and search are going to get into bed and become a polyamory relationship and be kind of, what did I mix it with?
Social media search or something else? And I said, I was going to get into, I just listened to this episode myself. They're all going to get into bed together and they're going to have fun and it's going to all become one big happy family. And that happened. I mean, TikTok search has really exploded. When we think about long form content and short form content, what's social, what's not? It's kind of hard to tell, right? It's kind of hard to tell. And that definitely happened this year. More search based platforms like YouTube really leaned in to YouTube shorts. We see social platforms like Instagram and TikTok leaning into search and even new and emerging platforms like Threads as also adding search components to it to keep up with this amazing collection of digital marketing tools. So social media, the definition of it is changing. Second thing I talked about last year is the rise of fakery.
And at the time when I recorded that episode, what we know is ChatGPT today, OpenAI's tool did not exist. So yeah, the rise of AI fakery has come to pass in a very real way. And so we'll talk about that today. So that prediction came true. The other prediction that came true is digital burnout is happening at mass even more this year than it has in previous years, and it's probably going to continue that way. Unfortunately, we have a lot of content we can consume, and as business owners, we're also bombarded with a lot of those shoulds, the things we should do, and then we get overwhelmed and we shut it all down. So that is unfortunately continuing to happen, and I was right about that. I was right about community advocacy being huge, and my word of the year last year was community.
And that became even more important. We see this with the rise of things like broadcast channels where your smaller pockets of intimate communities are happening. And then I said effortless marketing was going to win, and that is true, but I was mostly talking about TikTok at the time, and I thought TikTok would double triple in the amount of attention that it's getting, the amount of users it has, and it has seen growth, but on a much smaller scale. So I wasn't quite right about that prediction. Higher quality content is actually still winning. I talked a lot about this no makeup, makeup look, and I'm actually seeing higher quality content. So super high quality production level content still reach the top of my feed. I think of someone like Jay Clouse, one of my mentors who is doing fantastically on YouTube and his content is very high quality.
His animation team is doing an amazing job with his short form content as well. And it's super high quality, highly produced content every second of that video is thought of and it's winning. I wouldn't have thought that would be true at the end of last year when I made that prediction. However, that effortless that I just woke up like this bedhead look, content still is working today. One of my clients, Linda, had several videos take off on Instagram getting tens of thousands of views, and a lot of them are very casual. She's sitting in her car, she's sitting in her office holding her phone, talking to the camera as if she's video chatting a friend, and people really related to that over the videos where she's got the mic and she's in the studio. So I want us to think more about how we can mix that high low strategy, which I've talked about more on the podcast.
So highly produced videos versus the organic. I just thought of these videos, highly stylized content versus the more casual content. Alright, so that was last year. Let's get into the 2024 predictions. So my first prediction for 2024 is that we're going to see the rise in putting humanity into artificial intelligence, putting humanity into artificial intelligence. Here's the thing, ChatGPT really shook things up. I know I've talked about this a lot on this podcast. I talk about it a lot in our private podcast, which is the feed podcast that we create for our members in the Savvy Social School. It's because there are significant changes happening in marketing because of these chat-based artificial intelligent tools. Because anyone, you don't have to have a coding background. Anyone can go into a tool like ChatGPT and say, write me a social media post about this topic and it will scrape the bottom of the internet all the way to the top and go, here's something that could work.
So because of this, I think putting the humanity behind AI is going to be a massive, massive deal changer. In 2024, I wrote a Facebook post recently in a Facebook group asking about some influencer marketing that I was working on for a client. We're doing a huge client campaign and they need influencers, basically content creators, someone to come in and create content around this campaign. And I wanted to see what rates were and get a sense as I was putting this package together for the client and someone in the comments mentioned, why not get AI to represent this brand for you? And as a consumer, my brain instantly went to, I would never work with a brand that has a robot basically telling me that I should purchase from this brand. For me, it feels really disingenuous. It feels like the brand is frankly trying to remove humanity from it.
So on a personal level, it was an instant no for me. I was like never in a million years, and I've actually haven't seen this out and about in the wild yet. I'd be very curious to see it in real life. However, I do think that there's potential for artificial intelligence to help fast track our ability to be human. It'll help speed things along and help us be more human. So AI, artificial intelligence is going to make it essentially easier for us and give us more space to be a human. So do I use tools like ChatGPT? Absolutely. I mostly use it because sometimes in text-based writing, I come across a little stuffy, and so I give it the ChatGPT, I'm like, can you make this email sound nicer? And ChatGPT gives me some help. And then I kind of use some of what it gives me and some of it's just way too goofy so I don't use that piece and I move on with my life.
So something that would've taken me twice as long, I'm cutting my time in half and I'm able to show up more as a human. So yes, I think AI is helpful and I think the humanity behind AI is going to be even more helpful. I also think it can be very dangerous. I talked on the podcast recently about Mr. Beast and how there was an AI version of Mr. Beast who is the most subscribed to YouTube channel, currently most popular YouTube channel. Someone created an AI version of Mr. Beast, ran a TikTok ad that said, pay us whatever, a dollar and we'll give you an iPhone. And people were paying it because honestly, that sounds like something Mr. Beast would do, right? He does some wacky stuff on the channel. So when we think about that piece of it, there's a huge danger in appearing or seeming like artificial intelligence because instances like these build distrust with your average everyday consumer.
So that's the first trend that I predict is that there's going to be a push to put humanity back in front of ai. And AI is simply a tool that can help drive us and help us be more human. Second thing, I see a rise in experiential marketing. Experiential marketing, and I'm going to use social media as an example for this, but really this prediction is going to go across the board. I think what's happening right now is as marketers, especially as business owners, we see the opportunity of new platforms like Threads or TikTok, and we instantly go there and try to haw our wares, right? We're like the kid on the corner going, get your newspaper, get your newspaper here. You know what I mean? And it's like, we don't need that. We don't need the shouting, we don't need the yelling.
Does the newspaper even have an interesting story? So when we think about that effect on social media, we're ignoring it. We're literally skipping past it like it's a YouTube ad, and we get frustrated when we can't skip past it. Those unskippable YouTube ads, instead of thinking of this as an advertisement, you can still think of it as an advertisement, but thinking about it as an ad people want to consume, I just shared one in my team Slack channel, depending on when you're watching this, go look up the Walmart Black Friday campaign. I saw it on Walmart's Instagram and they created a video that was essentially a recreation of mean girls. And my millennial brain was very happy to see Lindsay Lohan, I dunno. I was just like, oh, this is so delightful. And I watched the ad knowing it’s a Walmart ad, and I think this is so smart of Walmart, love them or hate.
It's so smart of Walmart because they know their target audience. They know that the prime shoppers right now at Walmart headed into the holiday season are millennials. We've got young kids. Budgets are tighter now. So even if we previously shopped somewhere else, we're considering Walmart and using Mean Girls iconic, the way they even started it talking about we wear pink anyways, just it was so spot on. And then of course, the fact that they got Lindsay Lohan in the ad and it really just speaks to my millennial heart. And so that to me is an example of experiential marketing on a large scale. I didn't mind watching the ad and I actually have a little bit more of a warm and fuzzy feeling about Walmart now because of it. So how do we break this down? Well, there's two elements to me of experiential marketing.
There's marketing that is entertaining and there's marketing that's informative. So entertaining marketing is that Walmart ad and informative marketing is more of that storytelling style delivery that a lot of us will probably lean on as business owners. So it really just depends on your personal strength. I know me personally, I tend to skew more informative and I try to put entertaining pieces in there, but mostly my stuff is informative. And the reason I skew tours informative as well is because I sell educational products. I sell services where I need my customers and clients to be informed before making a purchase. So yes, I'm still using entertaining elements, but it's informative first and foremost. It's not an ad. I think that's going to be so key. The last component of experimental marketing that I mentioned in previous episodes, I actually think this was two predictions ago, 2022 predictions episode.
I talked about interactive content and the rise of interactive content, and that has not gone away. I saw this recently on Wendy's Facebook page. So the Post said, tell us what you're dressing up as for Halloween, and we'll tell you what menu item you should order on your next visit. And I was on Walmart Canada too. This post had over 300 comments of people just sharing their Halloween costumes and then Wendy's was like, oh, you should order the spicy chicken nuggets. It was like an opportunity to have an interactive experience with their audience that I thought was quite unique. And so I do think more and more of these experiences will be important to end consumers as they're perusing social media while there's this common understanding, this common trope that attention spans have shortened. I don't think that's the case. Yes, it is shortened to capture someone's attention, but we still binge watch things on Netflix.
I just watched an entire TikTok series of some guy who lives I believe in Atlanta, who swears his apartment is empty and they're trying to make it look like people live there. I spent an hour watching these videos from this guy. It's not the attention span that shortened, it's just that we have so many options of content to consume, and when we have options, we're most likely not going to choose to watch an ad unless it's like that Walmart ad or a Super Bowl ad, right? We're not going looking for ads, we're looking for entertainment or information. So that's working on social media right now. We'll take a quick break and then when we come back, I'll get into the other two trends for 2024.
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All right, prediction. This trend is going to shake things up in 2024. So trend number three. Prediction number three is that Mr. Al, the algorithm is going to get his PhD. Okay, Mr. Al's going to get even more sophisticated, and I think this is already happening across the board, but it's going to happen even more in 2024. And here are the ways that I predict it's going to happen. Number one, Mr. Al's entire goal is to deliver you the exact content you want to see when you want to see it. So while there have been a lot of restrictions on collecting user data and how that user data is being used basically to stalk you around the internet, I do think conglomerates like Meta, for instance, who own Facebook, they own Instagram, they own threads. They're going to be using that data cross platform, and they're really going to try to deliver you custom based on your uses per platform and across the board.
So even for instance, if you're not on threads and you've joined Threads today, I believe they're going to use information from Instagram and Facebook to try to deliver you content you want to see on that app. Okay? So it's going to become more sophisticated. I do think this is a huge challenge for business owners because if your content isn't interesting, it doesn't matter how many followers you have, it's going to become even more challenging for people to see that content. The days of posting a flyer about whatever it is you have to offer are over, it's going to be really, really, really challenging to just be a billboard. The perk though is if you truly deeply understand your audience and you create content specifically for that person, and I'm using audience very loosely, I don't like that word. I like community, you'll know this. I like community.
So when you create content for your community, your people, they feel seen by it and they consume it and they pay attention to it, and they give the algorithm Mr. Al signals like, I want more of this. And so that's actually great for you as a business owner who previously it may have been challenging to get engagement. If you understand your audience deeply and you can speak their language, you will be rewarded for that because Mr. Al, he's beyond the simple algorithms. He's getting more complicated and complex. So what that means on a technical basis is things like comments and likes are going to become even less important. The algorithm is going to look for other signals that indicate that person is interested in your content. And that goes beyond a comment and and I think that's just shifting with the way that we scroll around social media.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I don't really like and comment that much, especially if I'm not working. If I'm just on TikTok just hanging out for hanging out's sake, I got a second TikTok just for that. I do not like and comment. I will share sometimes little videos to my husband that I think he'll like, but I do not like and comment, but I watch that algorithm still knows what I watch and I share. So the algorithm still knows what I share. So the algorithm's going to become even more elegant comments and likes while they are a signal to the algorithm of engagement, they're not going to be as important. So it's a little bit of a warning to you as a business owner because if you're focused so heavily on comments and likes, you're not getting the whole story. Look at shares, look at saves, look at watch time, look at impressions and reach.
All of those things are going to give you a better story about if your content is working versus comments and likes. Algorithms are also getting more complex in understanding the context behind what you're sharing. So an example would be on threads. I notice if someone posts that they're leaving X or Twitter, that post is really, well, they've written it into their algorithm, or at least they had for a while that if you announce I'm no longer on X, formerly known as Twitter, like I did for some reason, that post is really, really well. The last thing I'll say about Mr. Al is that he's not really that interested in hashtags or keyword stuffing. I've seen a lot of people add a lot of hashtags to their posts, and I used to talk a lot about this with Instagram, and we had this conversation recently in the Savvy Social School where we're noticing the amount of traction from hashtags is decreasing because in the school, we look at our metrics every single month, and when we look at those metrics, we notice there's not as many new people finding us through hashtags.
And we notice that when we post without hashtags, it gets less reach or impressions, but not much less than posting with hashtags. Same thing with keywords. There's a few marketers right now who are saying, put hashtags and keywords in your Instagram caption. So they'll literally have the batch of hashtags, and then underneath that, the have a batch of keywords, and that's not as important to the algorithm. It's going to actually start viewing content like that a little bit like spam. That's what I predict is going to happen on a lot of social media platforms. I think hashtags will still be there because it's a part of that social media experience, but they're not going to be as important platforms like threads that doesn't even have hashtags. They just use keywords that are embedded into the post itself. You have limited space. You're not stuffing it full of keywords, you're just talking about the things that you want to talk about.
Platforms like TikTok, for instance, recently added captions, so closed captions to all of their videos. So every single video uploaded from here on out to TikTok will have closed captions, and I can almost bet money on the fact that they're using those closed captions to help deliver content more effectively to more people while also being accessible. And I think it's a beautiful thing. So when we think about what Mr. Al is doing, he is working very hard to try to deliver you the content you want to see, and that's going to improve in the next year. Last prediction is that community is going to go far beyond individual platforms. So communities are going to be going far beyond individual platforms. And right now, sometimes we think of community as the tool. So a lot of people will say like, oh yeah, I have a Facebook group, and that's my community of people.
So if I ask them where's their community? They'll say, oh, I have a Facebook group, or I have a sub stack, or I have an email list, or I have a circle, mighty Networks, whatever. I think the communities that you serve are going to be more complex and they're going to go beyond a specific platform. So while someone reads your ck, they may also follow you on Instagram and comment on your posts there, or someone follows and watches all your toss, but then has conversations with you on threads, or there's someone who reads your newsletter every day and then DMs you on LinkedIn with their thoughts or with their feelings. That community that you're building goes beyond individual platforms, which is why I think the word audience doesn't feel quite right. These aren't people who are just observing you from afar. That will happen anyways.
The people who make an impact on you, the people who you make an impact on, that's your community, and that's going to go beyond one platform. So multi-channel platform, multi-channel marketing, or what I like to call marketing ecosystems are going to be so important to support the needs of your business and your community while also serving how you prefer to deliver content. This goes into my word of the year, which I'll talk about in a moment, but social media is changing and I feel it, and this is a conversation I've been having this weekend, this past weekend at the Savvy Social Retreat. It was just beautiful to talk to everyone about this. And social media as it's defined in my mind today, doesn't fit what's happening in marketing. And so I feel myself shifting to something that matches what is happening. And so here's an example.
I sat next to someone on the bus. It was actually a trolley. A trolley from we were going on this wine tasting that I couldn't do because pregnant, but we were going on wine tasting for the retreat, and they mentioned that they want to be on social media. And in talking with them, I realized social media, while it can be a piece of the puzzle, they're missing other pieces. They're missing other key pieces, things that I recommend to my savvy social school members, things that I talk about on this podcast, things that I work with my clients on, and yet, it's not a core part of how I describe what I do. I still say I'm a social media strategist when in reality I'm more of a digital marketing strategist or a community relationship building person. I don't have words for this yet. So for example, for this person, having a substantial long form piece of content first would actually serve their needs better than looking at a social media strategy. So something like a podcast or a blog or a newsletter or being on CK would actually get them farther in their journey to thought leadership versus the short form nature of social media.
Or I was talking with a client recently about a potential client. They were really struggling to convert people on social. They added long form content. They go live all the time, and then they break that down into social content, and then they're looking at their conversions and they're seeing social media really isn't converting into their programs. And so I look at their strategy and I go, okay, yeah, you have long form, you have short-term form, but you're missing the intimacy that your audience needs to convert into a program that's so intimate, right? Your broadcast, broadcast, broadcast. Where's the private conversation? So typically this is like an email marketing strategy, or if you're a service provider, this could be consultation call. It's some other step after social media. Most people don't buy something from thought leaders, especially larger programs just from social media. Maybe they'll buy a smaller, under a hundred dollars product, but if you're selling a $5,000 program, typically that doesn't come from one social media post.
So they're missing the intimate channel. And so I sense a shift in the definition of social media itself. And then I also sense a shift in how I'm educating you all listening to this. I know this is called the Savvy Social Podcast, but social to me means building a community. And so marketing ecosystems are going to change. Community is going to move beyond something that's platform specific. It's nuanced, it's complex, and this is going to be a beautiful, beautiful thing. So I'm excited to see that happen in 2024. All right, word of the Year. If you're new to these episodes, I always end them with a personal note, personal little way that I'm approaching the next year. And my word of the year last year was community, which feels so right because of all the things that happened this year. I had a whole plan for 2023, and basically none of it happened in the middle of the year. We switched platforms. So formerly our membership was housed on Teachable. We outgrew the platform, no longer works for us. I did a whole podcast episode on it. We are now on Circle, which I absolutely love. And that was a huge switch for our community, but it actually had so much upside. It was actually quite funny to me, the amount of people who came to me after and said, I didn't want to say anything, but I really didn't like Teachable, and I'm glad we're on circle.
We also hosted our first in-person event this year. I've been talking all about the Savvy Social Retreat. I've never hosted an in-person event before, not even a workshop or anything. I've spoken at Plenty, but I've never hosted my own this past weekend, and it was the epitome of community for me. I'm absolutely doing another one. So if y'all want the wait list, I'll put that in the show notes. And yet this year was one of the hardest I've had financially in my business. I've been in business for almost 10 years. This year was tough. And the ways that I want to serve my internal community, which is my team, I struggled with it. I really struggled, and I just straight up failed in some areas because as you know, when you have financial challenges in the business, unfortunately you have to make tough decisions with your team. And so while my word of view was community, and I feel like I really did a great job serving my external community, you all, I feel like I missed the mark with my internal community, which is my team, which no offense is a little bit more important to me. So my word of the year for next year is one that's some kind of buzzword, sometimes a buzzword, but I really resonated with this. The word is synergy.
Synergy. I said that it was some sort of advertisement synergy. Anyways, so I am pregnant again, I am laughing because it happened just a little bit sooner than I thought, but I'm in my second trimester. I'm due beginning of April, probably actually have the baby around end of March. And so this word definitely comes from a personal place. So personally to me, it means it goes beyond harmony or balance, and it definitely leans into the community aspect in that the decisions that I make for my business, for you all, it has to make sense. So I want synergy in the way that I show up for my clients, for my students in the school, for you all listening here on the podcast, it has to make sense, right? I want synergy with my team. We had a really tough year and I want to feel good about this next year, and I'm already feeling that, and I want to make sure that everyone feels good about it.
Sometimes that means things say the way that they are, but sometimes that means things need to shift. And then I want synergy by leaning into more marketing ecosystems. It's something that I teach anyways. It's a deep part of our framework in the Savvy Social School. And yet I talk about it, and I don't really go deep into the explanation of the how behind it. I talk a lot about why long form content is great and why intimacy content is great. I don't really lean into it. And I was talking to someone recently about my marketing and how I have more people on my email newsletter than I have on any social platform. Should I be an email marketing expert? I have more people subscribe to my email newsletter than I have on any singular social media platform. I mean combined, sure, but combining feels weird.
So much crossover, people bounce around to platforms. So honestly, it makes more sense for me to start talking more about marketing ecosystems versus social media in a silo. So my big takeaway from this past retreat and from reflecting on this past year and thinking about the next year, is that this idea of community goes far beyond social media. Social media is a key component, but it's just a piece of that puzzle. And yes, it is a key piece, but it's just one key piece. And an elegant marketing ecosystem is so nuanced, and it often relies on something on the front end, like long form content and something on the backend like intimacy, marketing, email marketing. So y'all be hearing more of me talking about this.
But before I dive into that next episode, we're going to talk all about rest and social media. This is one of my favorite topics because I do think sometimes we talk a lot about what are we doing in the future, what are we checking off? What boxes are we checking off? And there's a huge piece here missing about taking a break. So we're talking about that next week. I'll see you then. In the meantime, make sure you give us a five star review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify. It helps keep us in the top 100 marketing podcasts. I'll see you back here soon. Bye for now.