Doesn’t starting another year with fresh social media marketing trends and insights feel a bit like gearing up to watch a brand-new season of your favorite TV show? Despite the familiar faces and a sense of déjà vu, you wouldn't miss any episode.
Well, consider our Unboxing Social 2024 your go-to guide for staying updated on the latest trends in social media marketing. We collaborated with Kantar Profiles to serve up some truly game-changing insights that social media buffs like you crave.
We surveyed 500 social media marketers working at B2B, B2C and even B2B2C establishments across industries and countries. We then analyzed the resulting data to offer you a truly global outlook on the goals and challenges faced by social media marketers.
Recently our panel of social media experts, which included Neal Schaeffer, Joe Charnitski, Kristen Linsmeie, Kristi Daraban, Michael Maas, Daisy Morris, Susana Rosa and Dr. Teo Pham, unpacked the nitty-gritty of these survey findings during two LinkedIn live events.
They shared their unique point of views on the growing role of AI, the importance of social media tech consolidation and why social listening is the fool-proof way of scaling a business, among other things.
In this blog, we’ll highlight the key insights from their discussions so that you know where to place your bets for 2024. So, are you ready to uncover the spoilers for the next big social season? It's going to be lit!
- AI integration: the key to happier customer experiences
- AI complements the efforts of its human counterparts
- AI shifts focus: Revenue is the primary goal in social media marketing
- Tech consolidation will become top priority for social media teams
- Social listening will go beyond social marketing
- Moving social to the front office
AI integration: the key to happier customer experiences
Our survey revealed:
Three in four marketers globally plan to implement AI to offer better customer experiences on social media.
Joe, who moderated the panel, posed a pivotal question to the speakers: How can brands make the most of AI to connect with customers? In what new ways can AI help brands engage with their audience on social media that they couldn't do before?
The ensuing discussion revolved around the need for speed in social media marketing.
The consensus is clear — everyone wants to quickly gather insights from data, respond to customers and grab new opportunities. That's where AI can be a game-changer. But the panel strongly agreed that it's important to keep things human, finding a balance between cutting-edge technology and maintaining a genuine human touch.
Generative AI has turned the content creation landscape upside down, enabling businesses of all sizes to produce diverse and quality content at scale — from videos to multilingual translations. The panel highlighted how working together and connecting different tools in the AI world is key to improving customer experiences.
Daisy Morris shared a piece of wisdom:
“Do not post and ghost.”
Joe then delved into a crucial aspect of AI integration: the need for brands to craft a robust strategy. As businesses start integrating AI into their marketing workflows, an important question arises: How can brands effectively address security concerns associated with AI integration? Neal stressed the importance of research and development (R&D) to figure out the best ways to use AI safely in an organization. He suggested using experimental simulation data to see what's possible.
Neal was also in favor of hands-on approaches like brainstorming and trial and error methods to truly understand how AI can be leveraged to improve business outcomes. He also highlighted the importance of an organization examining its workflows to identify where AI intervention would be ideal.
It's all about exploring and understanding the potential of AI in a practical and hands-on way.
And addressing security concerns in AI adoption is a multifaceted challenge, requiring collaboration across departments.
Legal and IT teams must be actively involved, aligning their efforts with the overall strategy. While security is not something that most marketers may know or be aware of intuitively, treating it as an enterprise-wide initiative is a necessity. More importantly, understand the risks associated with keying in data into AI engines; pay attention to where the data comes from and where it goes during the AI training process.
Since AI is rapidly evolving, collaboration with information security organizations becomes vital. This collaboration ensures a thorough understanding of the security policies of AI vendors. This understanding is crucial because it empowers you to make informed decisions, assess potential risks and implement effective security measures when you start leveraging AI to augment your marketing operations.
With the intricate nature of AI integration, having granular insight into the security practices of AI vendors becomes crucial in maintaining a robust and secure AI-powered working environment. As businesses navigate this complexity, emerging patterns highlight the importance of getting certified against SOC 2 and other such security and compliance standards. This involves a strategic focus on secure passwords, privacy controls, APIs and data center locations, forming the foundation for a comprehensive approach to AI security.
AI complements the efforts of its human counterparts
“Now we're entering into this AI era where maybe you don't even need as many skills on your team in terms of being able to actually craft and create content in whatever format it might be,” said Jay Baer before adding, “But now you have to have somebody who's great at commanding the forces of AI. You need an AI prompt engineer to be able to figure out how to get the most out of the AI tools.”
Key survey finding:
One in three social marketers highlighted AI literacy as a key challenge for AI adoption in their organization.
Hiring talent is one of the top three challenges social media teams face these days, yet the least budget (just 7%) is allocated to upskilling and training the new recruits. Thankfully, social media marketers recognize this gap and 51% of them plan to invest in upskilling their teams in the next six months.
So, how can teams capitalize on the opportunities presented by AI?
Kristi emphasized the importance of upskilling teams to use AI effectively and integrating it with other departments.
Neal highlighted the potential of generative AI in content creation, making it accessible and efficient for all team members.
Content is the currency of digital media. And the democratization of content creation through AI aligns with the trend of bringing social media marketing in-house.
Content demand is at an all-time high and generative AI can help meet this demand by producing diverse and tailored content.
The need for AI expertise in marketing teams is anticipated to grow and training initiatives will likely become crucial for future employees.
It is important to view AI as a tool that can enhance human capabilities rather than replace them. Baer noted,
“Here's where I think the differentiator lies — brands that are using AI to create actual content in the socialverse, I think are doing it incorrectly. To me, the better role for AI is as your brainstorming partner (that is) using AI to accelerate, enhance and optimize the creativity and strategic thinking of your team.”
AI shifts focus: Revenue is the primary goal in social media marketing
Traditionally focused on awareness, only 25% of marketers use social media purely for revenue generation.
This is rapidly changing with the widespread adoption of AI in marketing. It's redefining the role of social media, moving beyond mere awareness to actively enhancing customer engagement and driving revenue generation.
A substantial 79% of marketers seek to improve engagement through AI, with 63% targeting revenue growth and lead generation. This signals a paradigm shift toward AI-driven strategies for achieving tangible business outcomes.
There are various revenue streams within social media but the one that has gained significant traction is influencer marketing, currently accounting for about 12% of advertising budgets of most organizations in the world.
Despite the challenges associated with measuring social media ROI accurately, approximately 46% of social media marketers, as revealed in our survey, plan to increase their spending on influencer collaborations over the next few months.
The struggle to define ROI when it comes to influencer marketing mirrors the early days of social media measurement and analytics. Below are some of Dr. Pham's thoughts on how brands could do this better:
Clearly define campaign objectives, distinguishing between the top- and bottom-of-funnel content.
Directly measure the sales generated from bottom-of-funnel activities using tracking links and voucher codes.
Acknowledge influencers as powerful messengers. Consider the impact of influencer marketing on brand visibility and community engagement.
Here’s Daisy’s take on influencer marketing:
Treat influencer partnerships holistically. View them as an integral part of your broader marketing strategy.
Emphasize influencers' role in brand positioning and creating peer-to-peer advocacy.
Use AI for efficient data analysis, gaining insights into influencer campaign performance, engagements, impressions and conversions.
Tech consolidation will become top priority for social media teams
Key survey finding:
20% of marketing budgets are spent on tools and platforms, but one in three marketers struggle to manage the plethora of point solutions.
Tech consolidation is emerging as a critical trend in social media marketing, particularly as teams become leaner and also due to resource constraints. Recognizing the challenges that go hand-in-hand with managing numerous tools, social media leaders are focusing on consolidation efforts.
The goal is to enhance adaptability and efficiency, ensuring that chosen solutions benefit the widest range of users across the organization.
In navigating tech consolidation, the emphasis is on understanding point solutions, identifying overlaps and exploring opportunities for integration.
Kristi highlighted the importance of data flow in the consolidation process. Streamlining tools not only simplifies user experience but also fosters expertise sharing among lean teams. The need for connectivity or consolidation, where possible, is crucial for enhancing operational efficiency and ensuring a cohesive approach to data management within the organization.
Regular technology audits are recommended to stay abreast of innovations such as AI, ensuring that your organization does not fall behind its competitors. The key is to adopt technology that is user-friendly, globally accessible and, more importantly, aligned with the evolving industry standards.
Social listening will go beyond social marketing
A survey finding shows that 50% of marketers plan to invest in social listening tools in the next six months. The main use cases include:
Improving products/services (39%): Identifying customer feedback helps refine existing products or create new ones that better meet consumer needs
Lead generation (34%): Understanding consumer behavior aids in creating effective lead generation strategies
Real-time sentiment analysis (34%): Analyzing audience sentiment toward brands or topics provides insights into audience perceptions and reactions
Influencer marketing (32%): Collaborating with influencers helps tap into specific audience segments, leveraging their reach and credibility for engagement and conversions
During the discussion, Susana highlighted the crucial role of real-time data and social listening at Roche. Her organization adopted Sprinklr two years ago, transforming its in-house listening process with a modest six-member intelligence team spread across various locations.
Susana illustrated two notable examples of her company’s real-time data utilization.
Firstly, the implementation of a daily newsletter providing sentiment, mentions and impact analysis around the Roche brand. This real-time information is distributed company-wide, ensuring everyone receives timely insights.
Second, Roche's crisis management has seen remarkable improvement, allowing its leadership team to gain the necessary insights within 15 minutes of a crisis. The speed and efficiency in reacting to internal and external crises demonstrate the value of real-time data and the well-defined processes in place at the company.
Susana emphasized the importance of having both the tool and a skilled team behind it to maximize the benefits of social listening.
Moving social to the front office
“What we are finding with the evolution of social media as a whole is that we are going back to the roots of communication. And the root of communication is sitting around a fire pit in the evening and just having a conversation, deeply focused on each other and being social.
“However, this evolution is posing considerable challenges to brands looking to establish a genuine connection with their audiences. The proliferation of social channels, abundance of unstructured data and frequent algorithm updates have made understanding customer needs difficult and engagement ineffective,” says Ragy Thomas, CEO and founder, Sprinklr.
So what should your brand do to thrive in the complex social media landscape? Watch the video to find out.
Want to know more? Here’s a sneak peek into what you’ll find inside our report "Social Media Marketing’s Next Chapter: Unboxing Insights for 2024."
Customer happiness at the forefront: Discover how brands are leveraging AI to enhance customer engagement and satisfaction throughout the customer journey
From past to future: Transition from the strategies of 2023 to anticipate the challenges and opportunities of 2024
The power of social listening: Uncover the rising significance of social listening for marketers and executives alike
Global and regional insights: Explore pivotal trends from a global perspective, with special attention to the US, France, Germany and the UK
Overcoming AI-related security concerns: Learn strategies for managing vast customer data and streamlining social media efforts
Download the report now by simply filling out the form here.