What Do Social Media Users Expect from Brands in 2024?

Social media continues to be an essential tool companies use to market to customers. More than 92% of brands rely on social media to engage audiences, launch promotions, and sell their products. However, despite being a consistent presence in the marketing plans of countless businesses, social media continues to change. The current landscape at the end of 2023 significantly differs from how it looked at the start of the year. New channels like Threads and algorithm changes shift what users see.

As you map out your social media calendar and strategies, know what is changing and how it can affect you. Here are a few trends customers are driving this year and how you can develop content that better meets their needs.

Different Demographics Have Preferred Channels

First, look at the most popular social media sites in the United States right now. Facebook continues to dominate with three billion monthly active users (MAU), followed by YouTube and Instagram. Threads, which debuted in 2023, only has 100 million active users by comparison. It might not be worth your time to develop a marketing strategy for this channel just yet because it is still growing. Instead, you can focus your efforts on the larger channels.

Along with evaluating the size of your potential audience, you can also explore the demographics within each one. Research shows that TikTok is “maturing” and starting to attract older people. So, while the app might not have been a good fit in 2023, it could be a good choice in 2024.

This all boils down to research. Don’t stay on a social channel that’s not lucrative, and don’t jump on trends because you worry about missing out. Instead, do your research so you can make strategic moves and launch meaningful campaigns. This is even more important for paid social advertising. You can set specific demographics so you aren’t wasting your marketing bandwidth on people who would never buy your products.

Know What Customers Want from Your Brand

Customers follow brands on social media to connect with the company and those who follow it. Your customers want to stay abreast of what your business is up to and discover new ways to support it. However, this support comes with certain expectations. Your brand needs to provide value and participate actively in society as a whole.

According to a report by SproutSocial, 57% of people will increase their spending with a brand they feel connected to.

Keep this data in mind as you develop your social media brand guidelines for 2024. Look at past successful content and see if you can create similar (but new) pieces. Develop a content calendar that balances this high-potential content with new ideas you want to explore. This calendar should be a living document with metrics reports on various pieces. This way, you can see what is working before the month or year ends.

Social Media Is a Customer Service Hub

When you look at the words customers use when discussing following brands on social media, they mention wanting to connect with companies and engage with their content. These are not passive words. In many cases, your customers want direct updates from companies and to reach out whenever they need help. Not only is social media a marketing tool for your brand, but it is also a customer service hub.

The largest group of users who turn to social media for customer service is millennials, with 80% saying they would rather reach out online instead of making a phone call. However, people across all demographics use social platforms to get help from brands.

Evaluate how you respond to customers as you enter the new year and see if you can make any changes to provide better customer experiences. First, make sure you respond to every comment or question — both good and bad. Nearly 60% of customers favor brands that respond to their comments or complaints.

Also, track how long it takes your team to respond online. Most people expect brands to respond immediately or at least within an hour. If your social team only works 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week, customers who reach out on weekends could get frustrated by a lack of response. Consider switching shifts as on-call responders during the weekends or train part of the weekend sales staff to resolve problems online.

Learn What Customers Find Annoying

Throughout the year, you are bound to post several winning pieces of content that engage users and make them think highly of your brand. You are just as likely to post updates that have low engagement rates, click-through rates, and relevant conversions like visits to your showroom.

Fortunately, you can increase your chances of creating quality content by knowing what your customers love and hate. For example, 60% of customers say they are annoyed when brands post too many promotions instead of engaging, high-quality content. Test your post frequency to see if you are over or under-sharing.

While reading ebooks and whitepapers about customers can help you gauge their needs on a high level, you will need to evaluate your customer base to see what your audience specifically wants from you. For example, while customers want brands to have personality, they also hate it when companies use slang or try to be funny when they aren’t. Your attempts to build some character into your content could fall flat and even isolate your audiences further. To quantify these efforts, look into sentiment analysis tools. They can help businesses gauge customer reactions more effectively.

Social media requires a delicate tightrope of content creation. You need to be engaging without offputting, and that’s hard. See what your audience responds to in the coming year and modify your content to meet their needs. Data-driven insights can inform future content strategies and enhance the overall effectiveness of your social media campaigns.

Don’t Be Afraid of Raw Content

In a world where Photoshop and video editing can be done on any smartphone, there’s no shortage of overly-produced content. This overproduction has become so common that customers have started to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of raw content.

Raw content is defined as photos, videos, and other posts that aren’t highly edited or filtered. It can be as simple as taking a picture at your dealership and posting it to your Instagram story. This doesn’t mean that polished content is bad, but rather that it’s important to strike a balance between the two.

Raw content is more affordable to produce and comes with a faster turnaround rate because you don’t have to spend hours editing the footage. While its quality might be lower, the value of the content can overcome any issues viewers have.

The rise of raw content might be frustrating to companies that invested in high-quality video production equipment and photo studios over the past few years. However, know that this form of content won’t completely eliminate your current production plans. Like all things related to social media, your content strategy requires a balance of different posts and ideas. Try making a few raw posts in the new year and see how your audience responds. If your customers like it, you can incorporate more raw content that pairs with your more edited videos and images.

Raw content can make your brand more authentic, winning audiences over. It can also allow you to introduce different team members from your dealership. Behind-the-scenes content, employee spotlights, and unfiltered moments can impact the audience’s perception of your dealership. It adds personal connections that make people view your brand more favorably.

Resist the Temptation to Overuse AI

Another reason to embrace raw content is because it proves that real humans are behind your photo and video creation. AI has been one of the driving trends of 2023 as brands look to use this tool for image generation and content creation. While AI can help you scale your efforts, consider whether it is a better option for your brand than actual human-generated posts.

A third of Baby Boomers and 28% of Generation X consumers say they are less likely to engage with AI-created material. Additionally, people across all generations have a hard time identifying information that is real or fake. When your audience discovers that content is AI-generated, there is a chance they feel tricked or misled by your brand. Human-driven storytelling and personalization are more critical than ever to maintain a genuine connection with the automotive audience.

AI can be a wonderful tool for generating ideas, helping you create images, and organizing information. However, it’s unlikely that you will completely automate your social media creation and sharing in 2024. Keep an eye on customer sentiment regarding AI. You might want to switch to more raw content and human-made posts if it means your brand stands out more positively.

Test Paid Social Advertising

Social isn’t just organic. Consider adding paid social advertising to your marketing plan. You can do this by promoting high-potential posts to see if they perform differently with paid audiences. Test different platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to see how the costs and audiences vary. You might start with an evenly spread budget and then adjust your spending based on your specific results.

If you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to J&L Marketing. Let the experts take over to find a good balance for you.

Work With J&L to Keep Up with the Latest Trends

Keeping up with social media preferences takes a lot of work. Not only do you need to keep your finger on the pulse of online trends, but you also have to adjust and adapt your content to these new desires. Your social media department needs to be just as dynamic as the platforms themselves.

Consider working with J&L Marketing to get extra support with your digital marketing strategies. Our service offerings include paid search, display ads, discovery ads, direct mail and more. Don’t outspend your competition, outsmart them. Reach out to J&L Marketing today and start the year off strong.

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