Welcome to Social Media Updates for January 2024. As we kick off the new year, the pace of change in social media hasn’t taken a break, and neither have we. 

In our latest session, hosted by Luan Wise and Andy Lambert, we discuss the most recent trends, data insights, and platform updates that are shaping the industry. Don’t miss out on these valuable insights – watch the full video now for a detailed overview.

Social Media Data Insights- January 2024

Mobile Social Media Use Continues to Grow

It’s no surprise that scrolling on mobile is how most of us catch up on our social feeds. And this is increasing year-on-year. We’ve pretty much hit the point where if you’re not focusing on mobile-friendly content, you might be missing out. 

Content that works great on mobile is a must. Think big, bold, and simple – anything that’s a strain on the eyes is a no-go. 

It’s not just about keeping an eye on what the competition’s up to; it’s about making sure you fit right into your audience’s daily scroll. Ever tried to view your own content on your phone? Give it a go – it’s the best way to see if you’re hitting the mark or if you need to tweak things to make your content mobile-friendly.

YouTube’s continued dominance as the go-to app for teens is a trend that marketers can’t afford to overlook. Teen behaviour on social media often sets the direction for the future, and YouTube’s popularity is a clear indicator of where things are heading.

Facebook, Discord and BeReal’s Teen Usage

This trend highlights YouTube’s potential as an underutilised asset in social media. Despite TikTok’s slight dip in popularity from 2022 to 2023 and Facebook’s continued dominance, the rise of platforms like Discord is particularly noteworthy. Discord, often viewed more as a community platform than a traditional social media platform, is gaining traction, signalling a shift in social media where users gravitate towards niche, community-focused spaces.

Interestingly, BeReal’s new initiative to introduce feeds for celebrities and brands shows an attempt to adapt and keep up with these evolving trends. However, its success remains uncertain, as the platform experiments with ways to engage users and attract brand participation.

People are Using Multiple Social Media Platforms

The data suggests that the average social media users accesses 6.7 different platforms, debunking the myth of platform exclusivity. With a small percentage of users loyal to only one platform, it becomes clear that diversity in platform use is the norm. 

While YouTube may top the charts, it’s essential to recognise that audiences are not only using one platform. Marketers need to consider not only where their audience is active but also the suitability of each platform for their brand and the unique ways audiences engage with content on each.

TikTok is the Top Social Network for Consumer Spend

While TikTok might have seen a slight dip in teen popularity, it’s certainly cashing in when it comes to how much users are willing to spend. What stands out is that this isn’t just ad revenue; it’s consumer-driven spending on products and TikTok’s own currency, the TikTok coins.

The platform’s integration of commerce and content is driving spending to new heights, surpassing even giants like Disney+ in mobile revenue. TikTok is one of the first mobile-first platforms to cross the $10 billion mark!

This spending spree isn’t just about the products. There is a Creator Economy, with users feeling connected enough to their favourite creators that they’re opening their wallets to tip them or access exclusive content. This trend shows the combination of community and commerce that TikTok has mastered.

For B2C brands, especially, TikTok represents an ideal spot for e-commerce success.

… But Gen Z’s Trust in TikTok is Declining

Teens are becoming aware of what they perceive as low-quality, scam-like products being pushed on the app. This could be affecting the platform’s credibility.

TikTok is at a crossroads, with its initial phase of engagement and user acquisition giving way to a monetisation phase. Unlike Facebook or Instagram, which lean heavily on ad revenues, TikTok seems poised to diversify, focusing on features like tipping creators and shopping. However, this shift towards TikTok Shop and the emphasis on commercial content are perhaps contributing to a trust deficit among users.

YouTube remains unaffected by this trend, maintaining its position at the top, perhaps due to its established reputation and different approach to content monetisation. 

The issue of trust is complex, and tied to how influencers and creators balance their content and build their audiences. 

As for platforms like LinkedIn, obtaining data can be tricky since they are more reserved with their statistics, often bundled within Microsoft’s broader reporting. However, it’s clear that LinkedIn continues to grow, albeit with different usage patterns and demographics.

Looking at the larger picture, we’re on the cusp of welcoming Generation Alpha, the cohort just reaching the age to legally create social media accounts (13 years). Their entry into social media, alongside shifts in platform demographics, will undoubtedly influence future trends.

Facebook, often rumoured to be losing ground, still boasts a robust 3 billion active users. It’s not fading away but evolving.

X Usage Continues to Grow and Remains the 3rd Most Visited Social Media Site in the US

Despite the buzz and some scepticism around its data, X has held its ground, showing growth and securing its spot as the third most visited social media site in the US, trailing behind giants like Instagram and Facebook. 

The lesson here is that change in social media isn’t always as straightforward as it may seem. Users can be surprisingly steadfast, sticking to their familiar social spaces despite the ebb and flow of media narratives and the introduction of new platforms.

Reflecting on the past year and the events surrounding X, Luan suggests there has been an unexpected silver lining: it’s prompted much-needed dialogue within companies about their social media activities. It’s challenged the “business as usual” approach and encouraged a re-evaluation of why we use the platforms we do. The conversation is no longer about being present everywhere just for the sake of it but about making deliberate, strategic decisions that align with brand values and goals.

Instagram Reels are Beating TikTok for Average Views

Instagram Reels are now outperforming TikTok in terms of average views. This shift marks a stark contrast to the narrative just a year ago, when TikTok was the undisputed king of short-form video content.

This change reflects Instagram’s successful strategy to reclaim attention. By introducing and pushing Reels, Instagram has not only increased the time users spend on the platform but also enhanced engagement, particularly among teens. This success can be attributed to Instagram effectively adopting TikTok’s format, albeit with its own twist.

While Reels are generating impressive reach, it’s worth noting that TikTok’s FYP recommendation algorithm still holds an edge in terms of connecting content with the most relevant audiences. Consequently, TikTok maintains higher engagement rates, despite Instagram Reels’ climb in views.

The underlying message here is clear: short-form video content reigns supreme across platforms. Regardless of the nuances between TikToks and Reels, including performance differences based on account size and audience, the trend towards bite-sized videos is undeniable.

Data from sources like Social Insider reveals interesting patterns, such as Reels performing better on accounts with smaller followings, while TikTok content excels on accounts with larger audiences. This suggests that the effectiveness of these platforms can vary greatly depending on factors like audience size, sector, and content.

TikTok Are Going After YouTube

TikTok is introducing the ability for users to upload videos up to 30 minutes long, signalling a direct challenge to YouTube’s stronghold in the long-form content space. This development comes with intriguing insights: TikTok creators are now spending half their time on the app watching content that exceeds one minute, and those posting longer videos are seeing a fivefold growth in follower rate.

The trend indicates a clear shift in TikTok’s strategy. The platform, once synonymous with quick, 15-second clips, is now embracing longer videos. This change doesn’t diminish the effectiveness of shorter content but rather expands the possibilities for creators. Engaging audiences right from the start of the video is still crucial, but there’s now more room to explore and expand narratives.

TikTok Is Growing As a Search Engine

This trend, which we’ve been tracking for a while, shows that 40% of consumers now use TikTok as a search tool, especially among younger demographics. Data from Adobe highlights this growing behaviour.

Two key factors are driving this shift towards social search: 

Firstly, there’s the ‘search cost’ – not in monetary terms, but the time and effort it takes to find what you’re looking for. Traditional search engines like Google often require sifting through ads and SEO-optimised content, which can be time-consuming and frustrating. In contrast, TikTok offers a more direct and streamlined experience. The platform bypasses the clutter of traditional search results, providing quick and easy access to content. 

The second factor at play is ‘opportunity cost’ – the risk of making the wrong decision. In a world where choices are abundant and consequences matter, users are increasingly seeking quick validation for their decisions. Social media platforms like TikTok provide immediate feedback through likes, comments, and shares, offering a layer of peer validation that traditional search engines can’t match.

This shift towards social search isn’t just a passing trend; it’s a huge change in consumer behaviour. For professionals working in social media, this evolution presents a significant opportunity. Organisations must understand that social media is no longer just about broadcasting content or providing entertainment. It has become a vital tool in the consumer’s decision-making process.

New Social Media Features- January 2024

Meta

  1. Imagine’ Text-to-Image Tool: Meta’s focus on AI is evident in their latest tool, ‘Imagine.’ It’s a standalone application, separate from Facebook and Instagram, where you can describe an image and have it created for you.
  2. Chat-Triggered Features: The Imagine tool can also be triggered through chat, adding a layer of interactivity. 
  3. AI Personas Based on Popular Characters: Meta is introducing AI personas that resemble celebrities. These personas, like a virtual Snoop Dogg, aren’t the actual celebrities but are designed to mimic their likeness. 

Instagram

  1. Customisable “Add Yours” Stickers: Instagram now allows full customisation of “Add Yours” stickers, making user participation in content more interactive and engaging. 
  2. New Follower Growth through Collabs: Instagram’s collaboration feature now provides insights into follower growth from collaborations. 
  3. Create Cut-Out Stickers from Static Posts: Instagram’s new cut-out feature lets users create custom stickers from static posts. This tool encourages creativity and content repurposing.
  4. Livestream with a Stream Key: Instagram now supports live streaming via a stream key, enabling simulcasts across multiple platforms. 
  5. Increased Popularity of Notes Among Teens: Instagram Notes has seen a surge in popularity, particularly among teens. This feature taps into the trend of private sharing, allowing users to communicate more discreetly and intimately.
  6. Ability to ‘Like’ Instagram Notes: Users can now interact with Instagram Notes by liking them, adding another layer of engagement to this feature. While not crucial for all businesses, it’s an interesting addition for brands with a strong Instagram community.
  7. Direct Story Sharing with Friends: Instagram has introduced the ability to share stories directly with friends, emphasising private and direct communication. This aligns with the trend towards more personal and intimate sharing on social media platforms.

Facebook

  1. Facebook Stories in Page Feed: Stories on Facebook are now displayed in the page feed. This integration encourages users to repurpose content effectively.
  2. Promotion of Threads Profile on Facebook: Facebook has introduced the ability for users to promote their Threads profile directly on the platform. While there has been some user resistance to the heavy promotion of Threads, this feature represents an attempt by Facebook to integrate and push its services more cohesively.
  3. Linking to Pages from Facebook Profiles: Facebook now allows users to link to pages from their profiles, accommodating those who maintain multiple profiles for different purposes. This feature is particularly beneficial for users who wish to separate their personal and professional or hobby-oriented personas.

X’s Social Media Platform- January 2024

  1. Improvements in Video Embedding: X wants to become a video-first platform. This ambition is evident in their enhanced video embedding features. They are introducing new display options for videos within Tweets.
  2. Updates to X Link Previews: Following a period of controversy where link previews were removed, leading to a less informative user experience, X has reinstated this feature with improvements.

LinkedIn

  1. Hashtags on LinkedIn: While hashtags are not the primary focus on LinkedIn like on other platforms, they are useful for context and discoverability. They help users find relevant content and are searchable. LinkedIn confirms that while hashtags are helpful, the platform also uses conversation topics and keywords to surface relevant posts.
  2. Discontinuation of Lookalike Audiences: LinkedIn is phasing out the lookalike audience feature. Previously, this tool allowed advertisers to create audiences similar to their own data uploads, facilitating targeted advertising. LinkedIn suggests predictive audiences as an alternative, likely relying more on AI-driven criteria.
  3. Start Newsletter Subscriptions from a Draft: LinkedIn has made its newsletter feature more user-friendly by allowing users to create drafts.
  4. Promotion of LinkedIn Articles: LinkedIn now offers the ability to promote articles directly on the platform.

TikTok

  1. Creative Cards for Content Inspiration: TikTok has introduced ‘Creative Cards,’ a feature designed to spark content creativity among its users. These cards are easily accessible through a simple search on the TikTok platform and offer a variety of ideas and inspirations. 
  2. Improved Location Sticker: TikTok has enhanced its location sticker feature, making it more user-friendly and effective. This improvement is significant given the growing role of TikTok in search and discovery, especially for local content. Users often search for recommendations like the best restaurants or attractions in specific areas. The updated location sticker feature allows creators to tag their content with precise locations easily, thereby improving its discoverability for those seeking local information or experiences. 

…And the Rest

  1. Cut long-form YouTube content into Shorts: YouTube now offers a tool similar to Opus Clip, revolutionising content creation into shorts. This is especially useful for long-form, interview-style content. This feature enables creators to extract key clips from their videos, complete with captions, significantly easing the content creation process. 
  2. Threads is focusing on improving search functionality: They’ve implemented a keyword search feature. Unlike traditional methods that prioritise the most recent content, Threads is opting for relevancy over recency to combat spam and improve content quality.
  3. Topic Tags on Threads: A New Era for Hashtags: Threads is introducing ‘topic tags,’ a streamlined approach to categorising content. This simplifies the way users search and find relevant content, making the platform more intuitive and user-friendly.
  4. Refined Tracking of Site Traffic from Threads: Threads has rolled out an update for marketers and content creators: the ability to track site traffic originating from Threads. This traffic will now be distinctly tagged as ‘from Threads’ instead of being grouped under Instagram.
  5. Snapchat’s Leap into AI- Creating Videos from Descriptions: Snapchat is stepping up its game in the AI realm by launching a new feature that allows users to create videos and images based on textual descriptions. 
  6. Enhancements to WhatsApp Broadcast Channels: These channels will now support features like voice notes, enhancing the user experience and offering more versatile communication options. 

Social Media Updates (January 2024) Summary

  1. YouTube is a source of untapped potential for many businesses. The growth of Shorts, the continued relevance across all demographics, the creator monetisation potential and new tools to cut long videos into shorts make it a very appealing platform.
  2. TikTok is going to have an interesting 2024. They are fighting battles on all fronts. They’re taking on YouTube with long-form videos and Amazon with consumer shopping. The ever-shifting search habits towards TikTok will make it a compelling proposition.
  3. X is not going anywhere anytime soon. X remains the world’s 3rd most visited social media site.
  4. Meta has shown what an AI-assisted social media future might look like. Chat bots/assistants will likely change how users discover content on social media. As brands, we should consider the impact that will have.

Previous Social Media Updates Blogs before January 2024