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We’re asking ourselves, given the speed at which social media trend cycles are evolving, what will be important to watch in 2024.
6. Telegram might become the next super app
8. Every grid post will be a photo dump
9. LinkedIn will deprioritize personal content (and win more love from Gen Z)
10. TikTok Shop will spark a re-emphasis on authenticity
11. You won’t need a Be Real strategy
12. TikTok will continue to be the birthplace of video trends
13. The unhinged social media manager will calm down a little
14. Social isn’t moving into the metaverse quite yet
16. You won’t ignore YouTube Shorts anymore
Welcome to social media in 2024, where trends change faster than Taylor Swift fan theories. There are hot new platforms, fresh ways to shop, and countless algorithm updates. It’s enough to make even the savviest heads spin.
But no need to spiral, friends, because we’ve done the digging for you. Take this blog post as permission to stop obsessively checking every app in search of the hottest new social media trends.
While the shakeup at X seems to have stabilized in recent months, the uncertainty at the platform did give plenty of other text-based apps an opportunity to eat up some market share in 2023.
Mastodon, for example, has 1.7 million monthly active users. The Jack Dorsey-funded Bluesky Social is invite-only (exclusive!) but boasts over 1 million active users.
And then there’s Meta’s Threads app. It exploded out of the gate in July 2023, reaching more than 44 million daily active users in record time.
But don’t give up on X just yet. The platform formerly known as Twitter is still the most-used text-based social media app.
X says its user base exceeded 540 million in 2023 and will grow to over 650 million users over the next five years (though Statista reports slightly lower numbers, as well as a dip in users worldwide in 2023).
X platform usage remains high, even if those users aren’t quite sure what to call it:
But the popularity of these new competitors has made one thing clear: people are hungry for text, and not just on text-based platforms.
Over on Facebook, old-school text posts are still doing big numbers. Auntie Anne’s has been repurposing top-performing tweets as Facebook posts for years now, and the engagement those posts earn is eye-popping.
The success of these posts, especially among marketers, makes a ton of sense. They require less time to create (especially if you use a tool like Owly Writer AI) and are way less likely to get stuck in your approval process.
What are we getting at? No matter what happens at X, text-based social apps aren’t going anywhere. And text-only posts, even on platforms that aren’t considered text-forward, are far from over.
If you want real insights from real people, Google search results don’t always do the trick.
But you know where you can reliably find a wealth of advice from actual humans?
That’s right: social media. In 2024 and beyond, social media channels represent the biggest threat to traditional search engines.
TikTok is now integrating Google search results into its in-app results, and the platform has added robust search tools like Keyword Insights to its Creative Center.
Plus, recent surveys suggest that social media platforms are the second most popular way for Gen Z to research their shopping decisions. It looks like Google is right to worry about TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram encroaching on its territory.
In 2024, if you’re not answering your audience’s questions on social, chances are someone else will (and it might be your competitors).
We talked about social SEO as an important trend in 2022 — and tested our theories in our own experiments — but it’s an even bigger deal now.
Last year, the social SEO tactics we suggested focused mainly on keyword optimization in captions and profiles. Now, social strategies are evolving to address search intent while still producing content that entertains as it educates (edutainment, if you will).
As long as it’s still relevant, evergreen content can show up in social search basically forever. And the more engagement those posts have, the more likely they are to rise to the top of social search results pages.
This is an illustration of a post that the Hootsuite social team optimized for search engines.
Social search is still new, but as the platforms continue to improve and expand their search functions, we can see this particular social media trend continuing far into the future.
Since we’re still recovering from the whiplash of the short-form video takeover, it feels crazy to say this, but here goes: longer videos are about to be hot again.
When we say longer videos, we don’t mean long videos. Unless you’re in a long-form niche (YouTube video essays, for example), we’re talking a length of two to five minutes per video instead of less than a minute.
There are a few reasons why we expect the Algos to reward meatier videos this year.
First, the big platforms keep increasing their maximum video lengths. Instagram reels can now be as long as 15 minutes, and TikTok is reportedly testing that length as well. Plus, X (Twitter) rolled out its premium subscription, which allows paid users to upload videos up to two hours long.
Second, user behavior is changing. As we mentioned in trend #2, users now frequently turn to social networks to answer questions they might normally pose to Google or other web search engines. Content creators on social media need to be able to answer questions in depth in their videos, which takes more time.
Finally, people are heading to social media to kill time and be entertained more than ever before. (We’re guessing that’s why Paramount recently uploaded the entirety of Mean Girls to TikTok.).
In short, social media is poised to earn an even bigger chunk of the Free Time Pie this year, if you can imagine that. And our brains love getting sucked into stuff, so bank on it: long(er) is the new short.
These days, social media feeds are busy with news, memes, creator content, ads, organic marketing from brands, and arguments about whether the dress is black and blue or white and gold (just kidding!). 2015 called and asked if you were paying attention!
The one thing you don’t see much of on social feeds anymore is organic, uncurated posts from friends and family.
There are many reasons for this shift. But the fact that personal updates don’t live in plain sight doesn’t mean they’ve completely disappeared from the social media landscape.
In August 2023, Business Insider interviewed a handful of Gen Z Instagram users for an article ominously titled “Social media is dead.” 22-year-old content creator Tati Bruening said:
“There’s this very weird, unspoken social standard of what’s allowed on Instagram. I know that for my age group, it’s like you give up on it entirely, and then you just post only to your close friends or alternate accounts. There’s this sublayer of Instagram that’s much more true to what the app once was, but it is just not viewable to the general public.”
But Close Friends stories and finstas aren’t the only private places Instagram users share personal updates with friends. Even more engagement happens in DMs.
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said in a recent episode of the 20VC podcast: “Most of Instagram’s growth has been in stories and DMs.” He also admitted Meta was aware of the messaging app Telegram growing into a potentially significant competitor, even though Instagram is “not a messaging app.”
Maybe this is why the team at Instagram has developed many new DM-centered features recently, including:
So, what does this mean for social marketers?
First, tracking brand-related engagement is more difficult when it happens in the privacy of DMs—off-limits territory for social listening tools and traditional analytics. But that doesn’t mean it can’t yield significant business results (see our tips for tracking this type of dark social media below).
Second, brands and organizations need to get comfortable with the fact that DMs are the preferred communication method for most social media users. This goes for B2C conversations too, which means that social media will become even more of a customer service channel in the coming years.
Every social marketer wants to expand their reach, but if you’ve ever tried to buy followers or likes, you know the results can be disappointing. Especially when your boss asks you to prove how those investments have paid off.
Comments, likes, and followers can all be faked. Views and impressions are easily inflated. But there’s one engagement signal that’s much harder to game: shares.
Unlike comments, likes, followers, or views, shares represent actual value. When someone shares your content in Stories, DMs, or off-platform, you know they’re willing to vouch for you to their own audience.
Don’t get us wrong: comments and likes are still valuable engagement signals. But if you design your content to be shared, the likes and comments will still follow. The reverse isn’t always true.
Platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and X have either made share counts public or are testing doing just that—and if that’s not a nod to their importance, we don’t know what is.
If you want to make sure your content gets shared more in 2024, start by looking at what’s already working. (Hint: Hootsuite Analytics makes this part pretty easy.) What has your audience responded well to in the past, and how can you make more of that?
Then, when you’re creating new content, try running it through social media consultant Rachel Karten’s shareability test before you hit post.
You already know group chat is the new Facebook status (see trend #4), which is why messaging apps like Telegram are in such a sweet position to skyrocket this year. The privacy-focused chat platform has over 800 million monthly active users and gets around 2.5 million new sign-ups per day. (Seeing the dollar signs yet?)
Although Telegram has been around since 2013, it didn’t become the full-fledged social media network it is today until much more recently. That’s thanks in part to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has consistently used the app to communicate during the war with Russia.
What was once an app for sending secure messages to friends now has many enticing social features. And the platform continues to add more, which is why we think it’s in a strong position to become one of the next super apps.
Some current Telegram features include:
The app added an advertising platform in 2021, which allows brands to send sponsored messages to channels with 1,000+ subscribers. Marketers might want to consider integrating Telegram into their paid strategies and striking while the iron is hot on this platform.
Mastodon. Hive. Bluesky. Threads. What do these social networks have in common?
Sure, each has been touted as Twitter/X’s heir apparent. But they’re also either current or future examples of decentralized social media networks, and they may be a sign of things to come.
But before we get too far into it, a refresher on “decentralized platforms” (because this stuff can get confusing).
Unlike traditional social networks, decentralized platforms use blockchain or peer-to-peer networks to distribute information across many servers.
That means your data isn’t confined to a single server, and no one entity controls it. If enough of these networks are connected, you can communicate seamlessly across them.
That’s exactly what the fedi verse, or “federated universe,” is all about. Users on one network in the fedi verse can follow, interact with, and share content with users on another. The fedi verse is big on privacy, independence, community and connection.
That said, the fediverse may not be our social reality just yet.
The team behind Threads certainly seems excited to move towards a decentralized model, but so far, Threads still operates a lot like other traditional social networks.
And while the shakeup at X this year had some social marketers questioning the concept of traditional, centralized networks, the platform formerly known as Twitter has managed to retain most of its users.
Plus, most existing decentralized networks are still too technically complex (see the many “How does Mastodon/Bluesky even work??” posts on X) for most regular users.
We first talked about photo dumps back in 2022, but at the time, they seemed like a passing fad.
Apologies: Our crystal ball must have been malfunctioning that day.
Photo dumps, formerly known as carousels, are now the only way to post on Instagram, and since TikTok introduced photo mode, they’ve taken off on that platform too.
You’ve probably noticed that your friends are posting on Instagram less frequently these days. But do us a favor and check out their last few posts—they’re photo dumps, aren’t they?
Those friends aren’t alone, either. There are now more than 3.6 million Instagram posts using the #photodump hashtag.
And while the name may imply a lack of curation or strategy, that’s definitely not the case.
The multi-photo format allows creators and brands to tell longer stories, participate in photo-specific trends, and connect with their audience in a way that feels authentic and unfiltered.
They’re also a great way to deliver a lot of information without investing in a costly, production-heavy video. On Instagram, you can share up to 10 photos or videos in a single post, and on TikTok, you’ve got up to 35 slides.
carousels, sorry, photo dumps, are still the top-performing format on Instagram, earning more reach and engagement than reels or solo posts.
Better storytelling, more reach, and higher engagement for less money? Yeah, we’d call that a format worth investing in.
We watched closely as COVID-19 turned LinkedIn from a place for professional updates, career advice, and work brags to a feed filled with personal anecdotes and weekend selfies.
But just as we were warming up to the professional platform getting personal, LinkedIn started giving some signals that it would be returning to its roots.
In fact, LinkedIn has already rolled out some algorithm changes that prioritize professionalism, including one that focuses on “knowledge and advice,” especially among subject matter experts and people within a user’s network.
This is due to the fact that LinkedIn claims that its users value knowledge-based content the most, particularly when it was shared by a person they know.
Subtext: If you want your posts to go viral on LinkedIn in 2024, you’ve got to work even harder on building out your personal network and followers.
Another indicator that things are getting more professional is LinkedIn’s new Top Voice badge feature. The platform grants these badges to creators who “share valuable expertise through content that demonstrates their unique, original contributions to a topic.”
The platform clearly wants to reward users who share content based on their professional expertise.
One more important trend to note for LinkedIn in 2024: Gen Z will gain a greater share of the platform’s user base. They’re its fastest-growing demographic, and they’re already outpacing their elders when it comes to adding connections on the platform.
And that’s not just because millions of Gen Z’ers age into the job market each year. It’s also because, as critics posit, younger internet users are seeking a place of earnest celebration (and one free of the overly curated, aspirational, and FOMO-inducing content on Instagram and TikTok).
We’ve been predicting the big TikTok e-commerce boom for a while, but it was still surprising to see just how fast the ForYouPage morphed into a shopping app with the release of TikTok Shop in the U.S. in September 2023.
Just a few months later, TikTok is at the center of the social shopping trend. The app’s in-house storefront and fulfillment service are fast becoming an influencer favorite. And if you’ve spent much time scrolling lately, you already know the algorithm seems to be rewarding users who promote it.
With TikTok handling the shipping and fulfillment, too, there’s less incentive for money-makers to take their sales and affiliate rewards outside of the app.
But it’s not all roses and dollar signs. TikTok users are already reporting scams and knock-offs and questioning creators’ sincerity. There has also been a steep rise in “deinfluencing” content, or content that helps users with overspending and impulse shopping.
So, what does this mean for sellers? Besides the obvious—they need to get their products up on TikTok, like yesterday—we predict that creators who promote their goods in a more authentic way will have the most success on TikTok Shop.
You may see influencers lean more heavily into product placement and detach from the overt advertising tactics offered by TikTok Shop.
Hands up, who else placed their bets on BeReal in 2023?
The real-time selfie app captured our hearts, minds, and marketing strategies last year, and why not? An endless feed of unfiltered, spontaneous updates felt like the perfect antidote to highly curated Instagram feeds.
But the app’s popularity came and went, like the disappearing selfies that made it so enticing. Although Be Real amassed over 73 million active users at the height of its popularity, recent stats show that only a third of those users are still active on the platform.
Sadly, we don’t have high hopes for BeReal’s resurgence—at least for brands, and here’s why: the app’s swift rise and fall shone a light on a broader, more salient social media trend. These days, users are quick to adopt shiny new trends, but they’re even quicker to abandon them.
users—especiallThe steady decline in BeReal’s monthly users proved that, once the novelty wears off, users—especially Gen Z users—are quick to uninstall.
You know those TikTok jokes about reels being the place where trends go to die
making theThe idea is that social media trends start making the rounds on Reels after they surface—and sometimes even get old—on TikTok.
But let’s be clear: Even if reels are a bit behind on shiny new trends, they’re still a very relevant (and continuously growing) format, and your brand should definitely be making them.
That said, the TikTok-to-Reels trend pipeline is real.
TikTok’s demographic skews younger than Instagram’s, and the platform is always a couple of steps ahead of its Meta-owned rival in terms of editing features, filters, and audio clips. It’s also, by nature, more creative and “unhinged” (more on that in the next section) than Instagram.
All this means that, for now, TikTok is likely to remain the mothership of short video trends, and keeping an eye on it will help you stay ahead of your Instagram-focused competitors.
You’ve probably noticed brands becoming more fun and daring with their online personas in the last few years. This social media trend not so coincidentally overlapped with TikTok’s rise to popularity as a B2C-friendly network. It’s an entertainment platform, after all, and businesses that can’t, well, entertain their TikTok audiences may be better off looking for success elsewhere.
That’s more or less how the unhinged social media manager persona was born. Social media managers fully embraced the language of the internet (niche memes, edgy humor, obscure Gen Z lingo, trending sounds, etc.) to create relatable, often chaotic, sometimes a bit shocking—a
Getting spicy and subverting expectations paid off for a few trailblazers (hi Duolingo, hello Scrub Daddy), helping them go viral and inspiring others to follow suit. Before long, a pizza chain was posting about stuffed crus tussy (?!?), a travel bag producer was telling their audience of “idiots” who didn’t know how to adjust straps to “shut up,” and every other brand account was complaining about their boss in the first person.
And then… it started getting old. The more brands leaned into the chaos, the less authentic the SMM-turned-comedian voice felt. With such widespread adoption, it lost its shock value and a lot of its original appeal. And let’s not forget the poor souls who accidentally took things a bit too far and ended up in hot water.
So, is there a happy medium? Does being funny and relatable outweigh the risk of reputational damage? Is the unhinged social media manager trope slowly dying?
The answer is that it’s complicated.
The unhinged SMM is the polar opposite of the social marketer, limited by inflexible brand guidelines, complicated approval processes, and leaders who don’t understand social media. And most organizations would benefit from building a relatable online personality, learning to speak their audience’s language, and giving social media managers more creative freedom.
Those who decide to go a bit unhinged need to make sure that it’s part of a smart strategy (thorough audience research and clear goals) rather than just posting the team’s only chronically online Gen Z person’s jokes without approval.
2021 and 2022 were full of news about Mark Zuckerberg’s then-new project, the metaverse.
Since Meta is best known as a social media company (home of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and, as of 2023, Threads), social media managers everywhere rightfully wondered how the metaverse would change society—and their jobs.
But, in late 2023, we’re not hearing as much buzz about the metaverse—at least not in the context of social media.
Since Zuckerberg dubbed 2023 “the year of efficiency,” engaging in several belt-tightening tactics, the expensive metaverse project has moved out of the spotlight, but it hasn’t been completely deprioritized. Meta continues to invest in it, but more for gaming than anything else. This aligns with independent predictions on how the metaverse will make money in the coming years:
Is ChatGPT coming for your job? Do you need to rebrand yourself as a prompt engineer? Is AI-written content good enough, kind of okay, or absolute hot garbage?
The jury of LinkedIn thought leaders were still out, but we’ve got some answers.
The TL/DR of our take is: Generative AI is a super valuable tool for savvy marketers. It won’t take your job (unless you’re really bad at it—and we know that’s not true!). It will make it easier, and it will help you get better results faster.
And we have proof. Our team at Hootsuite ran an experiment where we tested a human writer against Chat GPT on X (formerly Twitter). The results were interesting—Chat GPT generated more engagement, but the human-written captions got more impressions. You probably see where we’re going with this: humans and AI work great as a team.
AI can help you get words on the page faster, brainstorm ideas, and create many variants of a specific message for testing. But social media managers are still the brains behind it all.
Tools like ChatGPT will allow you to spend more time thinking about your goals, interacting with your social audience, testing new tactics, measuring your results, and so on.
Simply put, AI will help you become a more strategic social marketer.
Remember when YouTube Shorts first launched in 2021? Many dismissed it as another “TikTok clone” and went back to creating content for the networks they were familiar with.
If we could, we’d go back to those not-too-distant days and give ourselves a good shake. Because YouTube Shorts is more than just a flash in the pan.
According to Google Trends, American interest in YouTube Shorts (generally a reliable indicator of business interest in the platform) has increased by more than 500% since 2021.
If you already have a YouTube channel, Shorts could be a huge opportunity to connect with a new audience. (And if you’re already making TikToks or Instagram Reels, you’ve got a library of short-form video content just waiting to be repurposed.)
You can even link your shorts to any related YouTube video: long, short, public or private. It’s a great tactic to drive up subscribers on a platform that’s already considered one of the most creator-friendly around.
In short (sorry), if you’ve been waiting for a push to get on YouTube Shorts, consider this your official friendly shove.