2024 digital marketing trends | key takeaways
16% of X users say they’ll start using the platform more often in 2024 (and 35% have said they’re not going anywhere)…but the platform has a heavy political lean towards the far right.
Threads is the light, cheeky, irrelevant social media platform we’ve all been waiting for. Grab your handle now, and go have some fun!
Former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, has started an invite-only social media platform called Bluesky, and you can join the waiting list!
In the EU, EEA, and Switzerland, Facebook is offering a paid, ads-free subscriptions for €10/month. Could they roll this out in the U.S.? Maybe. Might as well hedge your bets now.
Presenting AI-generated content as your own is content marketing catfishing, and it’s definitely an ethical gray area. Own up and credit your content—this might become regulation soon enough!
Google’s Search Generative Engine (SGE) will roll out in 2024, and will pretty dramatically decrease click-through rates for anything below the AI snapshot.
Don’t make authenticity inauthentic. Authenticity is not a trend—it’s a moral and ethical choice. Remember: nothing is easier to sniff out than corporate B.S.
It seems a bit schtick-y to write about emerging digital marketing trends at the beginning of a new year. After all, digital marketing changes constantly, so it’s not like—boom!—all of a sudden these trends and considerations have become a thing. However, it’s never a bad idea to step back and take a good look at the marketing landscape…particularly because we’re seeing some stormy-looking clouds on the horizon, and we want to make sure you’re prepared for whatever inclement weather is about to roll in.
Of course, it’s not all foul weather out there. Here are five key trends and considerations to factor into your 2024 marketing strategy:
Social Media Marketing Platforms: The Fall of X, the Rise of Threads, and What the Heck is Bluesky?
X: Falling, but not Fallen
Elon Musk purchased Twitter on October 27, 2022, fired the entire executive team, lost 80% of his headcount, renamed the company to X, allowed users to buy their “verified” status (and algorithmic preference) through an $8/month premium subscription, and might start charging all users $1/year…you know, to prevent bots.
So, you’re probably not surprised to hear that it’s, uh, not going very well over at X right now…
Active users are down by 15%, ad spend dropped by almost 60%, and the company’s value has been slashed in half.
Is this the end of X? Not nearly. Hubspot reports that 34% of active X users plan to keep using the platform, and 16% say they plan to use it more often in 2024. But the audience is growing increasingly conservative, as Musk pushes the platform further and further right. Considering that X has come under fire for antisemitism and other hate-speech-type grievances, this underscores the fact that more than 66% of consumers choose brands whose values are aligned with their own.
What does this mean for your social media marketing strategy? Here’s what we recommend:
- Keep (or create) your X profile, if for nothing more than the SEO value that you’ll derive by increasing the size of your digital footprint
- If your or your audience’s political beliefs lean to the right, then welcome home—X is the platform for you!
- Even if your audience isn’t right-leaning, consider sharing “newsworthy” content when it makes sense—share your blogs, discuss industry trends, or examine relevant current events
Birdhouse Marketing & Design still shares a minimal amount of content on X, but—honestly—scrolling through the feed is a bit soul crushing these days. We prefer lighter content…
…like what we’re seeing on Threads!
We’re Digging These Threads
Think of threads as a text-based Instagram, with a Twitter-like character limit. The app claims 160 million users, and that number is expected to grow as we move into 2024.
Threads is…the social media platform we’ve been hoping for. At least so far, the content is (mostly) light, irreverent, and cheeky. As a marketing tool, the benefit will be more on the branding and relationship-building side than the lead-gen side, though we wouldn’t be surprised if advertising options became available as the user base grows (though we kinda hope not—it’s really nice to scroll through a feed of all-organic content).
What else do you need to know about Threads?
- You need to have an Instagram profile in order to create a Threads profile
- You can create a unique Threads profile for every Instagram profile you manage
- Threads posts are limited to 500 characters
- You can also post videos and pictures to Threads
- Threads uses tags instead of hashtags (but they’re essentially the same thing); you can use one tag per post
- You can tag other accounts the same way you would in Facebook or Instagram
- Don’t get crazy about trying to drive traffic to your website; focus more on having in-app conversations
If you haven’t already created your Threads profile, we suggest you do it sooner than later—if for no other reason than to secure your handle. Get familiar with the app, and see what kind of content other businesses and leaders in your industry are posting. Then…get to posting! On Threads, you can get away with a bit more than you can on Facebook and Instagram. Have fun with it! Oh, and follow us, would ya?
Bluesky: The Social Media Platform No One Asked For…
Former Twitter CEO, Jack Dorsey, founded Bluesky as a decentralized, text-based “microblogging” platform. At its core, Bluesky is the same as other social media platforms: you have a profile, you follow other profiles, you engage in conversations with other users, all is well in the world.
But here’s the catch: it’s invite-only. Yoohoooo, Bluesky…we’re still sitting on your waitlist…
Here’s the other differentiating factor: it’s a decentralized, open-source platform that allows users to have a decent amount of control over how the platform operates, and what is being developed.
And here’s the last thing: Bluesky will be an ad-free space (thank you), so—in order to be solvent—the app will make money by selling premium handles. So, by default, our handle would be something like @birdhouse_mktg.bsky.social, but if we wanted to remove the bsky.social part, we could purchase a premium handle.
Once we get our invite code (ticktock, Bluesky…) we’ll report back with our analysis.
hedge your facebook bets
Due to Europe’s rapidly-evolving regulatory landscape, Meta was forced to launch an ad-free, subscription-based service in the EU, EEA, and Switzerland. For around €10/month, adult users can experience Facebook and Instagram without any ads. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
It’s important to note that this subscription-based service isn’t available in the United States. At least, not yet.
Reports show that, even if an ads-free subscription-based model was available in the United States, most users wouldn’t subscribe. However, the users who would pay a premium price to eliminate ads from their feed would be the most affluent users (read: the most valuable users, at least from a marketing perspective).
Don’t panic yet. Whether an ads-free model will become available in the United States is a huge question mark. For now, you should just start hedging your bets:
- Start investing more heavily in search engine optimization
- Explore Google Ads and other pay-per-click advertising options
- Experiment with other sources of advertising: Reddit, Yelp, banner ads on third-party websites, etc.
- Grow your word-of-mouth referral programs, or loyalty rewards programs
So many of our clients have placed the vast majority of their eggs in the Facebook advertising basket—frankly, because Facebook advertising works, and it’s incredibly affordable. But they constantly ask us whether there is something else they should be doing. If Facebook ads ever did become irrelevant, you should have back-up options that would keep leads coming in, and your brand in front of its audience.
AI in Marketing: Stop Catfishing, Own Up & Co-Create
No One Likes to be Catfished, Especially Your Consumers…
Not gonna lie, we’re getting super tired of seeing AI-generated drivel on social media, in emails, and in blogs. AI-generated content lacks personality, and is—at best—a regurgitation of thoughts, ideas, and concepts that already exist.
Boring. And honestly, a little misleading.
It’s content marketing catfishing, really, and we just want it to stop. Please.
The privacy and ethical violations that you risk when you rely on generative AI are worth understanding, and some experts expect that companies will have to publicly credit their content to AI in the future.
Are you willing to own up to your audience that you have reduced yourself to using AI to generate the content that is supposed to showcase your knowledge, industry authority, and position as a thought-leader?
We’ll tell you straight up, no AI was used to generate the content of this article. And we don’t use it to generate content for our clients, either.
However, while we don’t recommend using AI to generate content, we do recognize its value in other facets of marketing…
You + AI = A Powerful Combo
A lot of businesses are still trying to figure out how to use AI to their greatest advantage, and businesses that can figure it out will rise to the top. Here are a few ways in which AI may be able to support your company’s growth and evolution:
- Optimize internal processes: use AI to take meeting notes or summarize the key learning points from a training seminar
- Improve your product or service offerings: There is probably an AI that can help you take your products or services to the next level—even to the point that you could increase your prices.
- Solve internal problems: Get to talking with your team, and find their sticking points. What drives them crazy on a day-to-day basis? What tasks do they avoid or procrastinate on? Could AI alleviate any of this pain?
It’s important to remember that AI is as dumb as it’s ever going to be, so if you (like us) have been underwhelmed with AI’s capabilities so far…just wait. It’s literally getting smarter by the day.
So it goes, AI isn’t going to take your job…but someone who knows how to use AI will. Make it a point to get familiar and comfortable with AI this year. Just make sure you approach it from the perspective of “how can I, as a human, leverage the power of AI?” and not “how can AI do my job for me?”
Search Engine Optimization: It’s Both More Important and Less Important Than Ever
Could Google’s Search Generative Engine (SGE) Negate the Value of Traditional SEO?
The whole point of SEO is to attract visitors to your website organically. For straight-up keyword searches—for example, “digital marketing agency near me” or “social media marketing company”—SEO matters, and will continue to matter. But SGE could shake things up for question-based search queries…
Basically, if a user types a question into Google—for example, “is search engine optimization important for small businesses?” or “should my small business care about branding?”—Google will straight up answer the question using generative AI, and even allow users to ask (and get answers to) follow-up questions. Experts anticipate a huge decrease in click-through rates for any results showing up below Google’s ‘AI Snapshot.’
SGE is expected to roll out in early 2024, so if your website traffic is highly dependent on SEO…it might be time to start exploring new ways to drive traffic to your site. And we’ve been saying this forever: SEO alone is not a marketing strategy.
How Will Google’s Emphasis on EEAT Content Impact Traditional SEO?
The EAT framework—expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness—has long been a central component of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. However, about a year ago—in anticipation of the proliferation of AI-generated content—Google added a second “E” to the acronym, for “experience.”
AI cannot possibly have any real-life experience, so this update to Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines speaks volumes about the type of content that you should be creating. If you want Google to give you a high Quality Score, then you’ll take extra measures to infuse your content with stories, anecdotes, or other real-world experiences that only a human could have collected.
Remember, just because Google has said that AI-generated content won’t be penalized doesn’t mean that it will be ranked favorably! In 2024, focus on generating high-quality content that showcases your real-world experience…and that actually says something that no one else has said before!
Authenticity, Authenticity, Authenticity
In all honesty, the fact that authenticity is being touted as a digital marketing “trend” is infuriating. Authenticity has been at the core of our marketing strategy since day #1. We have been outspoken about our social values, and have even lost clients because they don’t agree with our stance on diversity and racial equality. But, that’s fine—we don’t really want to work with close-minded people, anyway.
This isn’t a we-started-this-trend rant, though. It’s a please-don’t-let-authenticity-become-a-watered-down-ploy-to-generate-more-business rant. Because nothing is more inauthentic than using authenticity as a tool to drive revenue growth.
Of course, the numbers don’t lie. 90% of consumers say that authenticity is an important factor in deciding which brands they like, and Millennials and Gen Zers say they prefer brands that are real and organic, as opposed to brands that are perfectly-packaged and well-buttoned-up. This means that brands really should put their “why” front-and-center, and be vocal about their core values. But it also means that a lot of brands are going to start “authentically” supporting a bunch of causes they don’t really care about, just to attract more customers.
If your most authentic core value is simply to make money, please leave authenticity out of your marketing strategy this year. Don’t be fake-supportive of something. Authenticity is not a facade.
However, if your brand has taken a firm stance on a social cause—whether that be LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, environmental activism, religion, or politics—own it! The time for political correctness is over. The time to stand for something is now. Let your brand’s voice be heard, and if you are truly being authentic, it will pay off.
Let’s keep authenticity authentic in 2024. Because nothing is easier to sniff out than corporate B.S.
How’s Your 2024 Marketing Strategy Looking?
The start of a new year is the perfect time to finally make the commitment to marketing, whether you choose to manage your marketing in-house, or hire a digital marketing agency to do the heavy lifting. If you’ve been saying you need to revamp your website, get active on social media, make better use of your email list, or figure out how the heck to use AI to propel your company’s growth, now is the time.
If you started marketing today, what do you think your 2024 year-end numbers would look like? Well, if you want to hit those numbers, there’s no time to waste. A marketing program takes time to gain traction, so the sooner you start, the sooner your program will take root, and the sooner you’ll begin to grow skyward.
Let us help you take flight. Contact us using the brief form below, or schedule a free 30-minute discovery session with our CEO and founder today.