Global trends shaping marketing in 2024
It’s been yet another unforgettable 12 months in the world of social media and marketing. We’ve seen AI dominating conversations, increasingly outlandish ‘fake OOH’ stunts, the continued growth of TikTok and much more. What 2024 has in store still remains to be seen, but as per our annual tradition, members of our global leadership team are kicking off the year with their thoughts about what’s around the corner.
Playing the long game of influencer partnerships
Suzie Shaw, CEO at We Are Social Australia
Influencer marketing is maturing. Savvy brands are increasingly moving away from one off campaigns, and embracing long-term collaborations with influencers. This can mean working with a smaller squad of celebrities and macro influencers, or with a larger group of micro and nano creators, depending on the brand’s objectives. This strategic shift towards consistency not only enhances brand loyalty and credibility, but transforms sporadic promotions into a compelling brand narrative across multiple touchpoints, that engages audiences over a period of time and builds trust.
Ongoing influencer partnerships also make it easier for brands to remain agile and capitalise on the latest trends. A pool of creators can quickly and nimbly generate reactive content for brands at scale, putting them at the heart of the cultural conversation. Having a team of trusted influencers to activate at short notice can help brands seize new opportunities and swiftly respond to emerging trends, ultimately enhancing their ability to stay relevant and in sync with the ever-shifting zeitgeist.
Mischief mode: Fun returns to social
Jim Coleman, UK CEO and Regional Lead for UK & North America
The rise of social media revolutionised the way we connect, share, and communicate. However, in recent years, what started as a space for fun, playfulness, and creativity has become a battleground for attention and engagement. But amidst this commercialisation, there’s a compelling counter-trend emerging. Digital natives are breaking free from the constraints of commercial structures by embracing mischief – a trend we call ‘Mischief Mode’ in our recent Think Forward report.
We’re seeing this play out in a number of ways. Creators are pushing back on category norms and surreal content is on the rise. Bolder brands are embracing a sense of “disruption”. The rise in ‘fake OOH’ content is a brilliant example of this – this VX work we recently did for Adidas to celebrate its lightest-ever shoe, the Pro Evo 1, captivated audiences on social. The trend is a great opportunity for brands to encourage and amplify playful behaviours within their community. For example, home security brand Ring launched a competition for its customers to win $1 million if they managed to capture an extraterrestrial on their cameras, leaning into the world of hoaxes to promote its smart doorbells.
The combination of status quo disillusionment, and the advancement in AI tools making it easier to experiment with creativity, means it’s the ideal time to bring the fun back to social.
Barbenheimer as a blueprint
Roberto Collazos Garcia, CEO at We Are Social Germany
2023 was the year of the crossover, of worlds colliding: Barbie & Oppenheimer and Taylor Swift & the NFL – two of the year’s most viral moments came from two fanbases that couldn’t have been more different. Seemingly out of nowhere, synergies were created that generated more engagement for the brands involved than all the social media campaigns of the year put together.
The takeaway: Since everything is nowadays in flux – it is easier than ever to connect as a brand with fandom (check out our Think Forward report for more on the trend of Everyday Fandom). It is not genre driven anymore but identity driven. You don’t need to be in a genre anymore to add a narrative to something. You can just identify with it.
Blurring of digital boundaries
Gabriele Cucinella, Stefano Maggi and Ottavio Nava, Regional Leads EU Area
In 2024 we’ll see an evolving digital landscape, where individuals will increasingly repurpose social platforms in creative ways. LinkedIn, traditionally a professional network, is now being chosen also for dating purposes, while Grindr, known for its dating scene, is being leveraged for networking. This fluidity underscores the lack of rigid boundaries in how various channels fit into the media diet of today’s audiences. At the same time, there’s a growing appetite for specialised social networks like Strava, Behance, and Nextdoor. These platforms, dedicated to specific interests, professions, or activities, are increasingly seen as viable alternatives to more generalised social networks.
For brands, acknowledging and adapting to these unconventional user behaviours is a unique opportunity. By understanding and tapping into these shifting trends, brands can build engagement, while maintaining relevance and authenticity in the eyes of their audience.
Cultivating loyalty through value added strategies
Akanksha Goel, CEO at Socialize / We Are Social Dubai
The ascent of value-added marketing marks a pivotal transformation in consumer preferences globally, underlining the increasing importance of enriched brand experiences. In an era where consumers are inundated with choices, the concept of value-added marketing goes beyond mere product or service offerings, focusing on the delivery of additional benefits that resonate with the customers’ needs and desires. Whether through personalized promotions, exclusive access, or enhanced customer support, these supplementary elements contribute to a more comprehensive and memorable brand encounter.
Digital media plays a pivotal role in the execution of value-added marketing strategies, offering a dynamic platform for businesses to engage with their audience on a personalized level. The immediacy and global reach of digital media empower brands to create real-time, meaningful connections, fostering a sense of community and loyalty among consumers. Consequently, the integration of value-added strategies within digital marketing not only enhances the perceived worth of a product or service but also cultivates lasting relationships in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Vincent Reynaud-Lacroze, Managing Director We Are Social Paris
Social media is well established, behaviours and habits have cemented. Feeds featuring user conversations are no longer the epicentre of social media platforms; there are more opportunities for sharing, reactions and conversation features than ever before on messaging channels or private groups. Those who predicted the end of social media some time ago were right in seeing the need for privacy and control of personal data, but had not anticipated how platforms would adapt.
Driven by algorithms increasingly focused on our centre of interest, it’s now content from influencers, brands, and opinion leaders that shapes our timelines. And if you’re looking for a new travel destination or a DIY tutorial, it’s increasingly on TikTok or Instagram that you’re looking, instead of using a search engine tool.
Social media platforms are now more fragmented than ever to answer specific needs and have become the convergence point for all our digital needs: entertainment, information, communication with peers and even product purchasing. It’s as if the whole of the Internet were moving to social media platforms.
Sorry 2023, THIS is the year AI enters social
Coby Shuman, Managing Director, We Are Social Canada
If 2023 felt like the year of AI, we ain’t seen nothing yet. 2024 will be the year of AI experimentation, from social analysis to content creation. 2025 will be the AI tipping point as we transition from experimentation to institutionalizing new age social practices powered by more mature AI services.
Mainstream consumer awareness around AI generated content will be on the rise in 2024. This will be driven in part by social platforms, as they firm up the way they label content so it’s clear to users what’s ‘real’ and what’s not.
Brand and agency policies on AI technologies within their business and their creative work are now essential. AI can touch almost any aspect of a business and while the potential is huge, the ethics and risks associated with it as a new technology should be considered with ethics, morals, and compliance in mind.
What does this mean for brands? Sure, saving money on production costs may be the natural place to start. But don’t be surprised to see more AI opportunities that deliver even more moments of value between your brand and community. The question isn’t just “how can I unlock efficiencies?” rather “how can my brand be more distinct and meaningful using AI capabilities?”. So, let’s balance both mindsets.
As technology gets more intuitive, consumers are craving REAL
Sam Grischotti, Managing Director, We Are Social Amsterdam
We often talk about putting “people before platforms” when creating content for social. Right now, this has never been more important. In a world where people are becoming hyper aware of the impact of technology and AI, brands can resonate with consumers by acting in a more “human” way.
We have done this for many of our clients by being real and raw. This works for social media users on platforms like TikTok, who don’t always want highly polished and broadcast quality films. Small content creation teams, using native functionalities, results in authentic output. It looks like something that could have been captured by our audience’s peers (except that the brand messages are there…. subtly).
It’s not by chance that the preferred design aesthetics of Gen Z are scrappy and playful. And that fashion trends often play into scruffy rather than couture. It can be summarised by the desire for a more human and authentic approach to life – a realness and creative spirit that tech can’t yet comprehend or capture.