The Future of Social Media [Research]: What Marketers Need to Know

Download Now: Free 2024 Social Media Trends Report
Cassie Wilson
Cassie Wilson


Social media has changed considerably since the MySpace days, and it‘s part of a marketer’s job to stay on top of its advancements.

A woman checks social media on her phone; Future of Social Media

You're probably wondering what the social future of social media could look like and how marketers will need to adapt.

Download Now: The 2024 State of Social Media Trends [Free Report]

To answer your question, here are my guesses based on the latest research, data, and current advancements in social media.

Table of Contents

The State of Social Media in 2024

Explore the top trends in social media for brands to know and optimize your social strategy.

  • AI Content Creation
  • Community Building
  • Social Media Shopping
  • Social Vs. Search Engine
Learn more

    Download Free

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    You're all set!

    Click this link to access this resource at any time.

    What is the future of social media?

    Through our multiple surveys, research, and additional data, here's what I predict for the future of social media:

    • Consumers will search for information on social media or via AI instead of traditional search engines.
    • Brands will rely on influencers, especially micro-influencers, rather than celebrities.
    • Consumers will enjoy a seamless shopping experience on social media.
    • Brands will create more short-form content to connect with their audiences.
    • Brands will leverage AI tools to create personalized content for their audiences.
    • Brands will place a greater emphasis on creating an active social media community.

    Now, let's dive deeper into each of these trends.

    future of social media trends

    Search on Social Media Instead of Engines

    A few weeks ago, I posted to Facebook asking for the best local photographer for new headshots. Using my friends’ suggestions, I found a great photographer who blew me away with the quality of her work.

    I’m not the only one who uses social media for recommendations and reviews. It's becoming more common for consumers to search for products, recommendations, or reviews on social media rather than search engines.

    According to our 2024 Social Media Trends Report, 87% of social media marketers believe consumers will search for brands more often on social media before turning to a search engine.

    In a TechCrunch article, a Google exec suggested apps like TikTok and Instagram are threatening two staple Google discovery apps: Google Maps and Google Search.

    “In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” said Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan, who runs Google’s Knowledge and Information sector. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”

    Why is this happening? Raghavan believes it’s because young adults prefer visual-forward content when it comes to discovery.

    With more people using TikTok as a search engine, it makes sense the app added more search features to keep users engaged.

    In August 2022, TikTok tested a feature in which keywords from video comments are highlighted and linked to search results. This serves as an additional way for users to discover new content while scrolling on the platform.

    Now, when you‘re watching a video on TikTok, you’ll notice a small search bar at the bottom of the screen with a keyword or topic associated with it. When you click on that search bar, the app will take you to more videos associated with the keyword.

    If traditional search engines fail to meet consumer needs, TikTok and other social platforms may take the lead in product and content discovery as they prioritize visual content.

    Another rival for search engines is AI chatbots like ChatGPT. Users can ask ChatGPT questions in the form of prompts, and the bot will generate answers to their queries.

    Though data is limited regarding how often people use ChatGPT instead of search engines, ChatGPT currently receives about 1 billion monthly website visitors and has an estimated 100 million active users.

    More Reliance on Influencers Over Celebrities

    According to our 2024 Social Media Trends Report, 84% of brands plan to work with influencers and creators to be the face of their brands.

    31% of marketers say working with smaller influencers, particularly those with followings between 1K and 100K, is a great investment. Working with smaller influencers is more cost-effective for brands than working with celebrities.

    More importantly, consumers trust influencers and creators. From my experience, I’m more likely to be interested in a product if someone who’s relatable to me endorses it. Truthfully, that’s how I landed on the Curly Girl Method and totally changed the health of my hair!

    This is likely because, with influencers specializing in an area, their opinions are more valuable than those of a faceless brand.

    Say, I’m looking for hiking gear. A hiking influencer who hikes all year long and has a history of reviewing hiking products will probably offer more insight than a friend who went hiking once.

    As a result, influencers – although strangers – can be deemed more valuable than loved ones. In the future, that trend will likely continue as content creators are popping up every day.

    Seamless Shopping Experience on Most Socials

    31% of marketers are interested in using their social media platforms to sell directly to their customers, according to our 2024 Social Media Trends Report. 27% of survey respondents told us that selling their products directly on a social media platform is more effective than driving traffic to their webpage.

    Instagram was one of the first social platforms to offer a seamless shopping experience and integration. Now, other platforms have jumped on the bandwagon, too, for good reason.

    Let’s set the scene: In a couple of years, Gen Z will have fully joined the working class and will have tremendous spending power.

    Our consumer trends report found that most Gen-Zers prefer to discover new products on social media — specifically short-form videos.

    This means that to remain competitive, social platforms will have to offer integrated shopping experiences to keep consumers on the platform. And, it also means brands need to pivot their marketing strategies.

    Although Instagram pioneered a social media shop, 38% of marketers say they spend most of their sales efforts on Facebook.

    It’s safe to say social selling is here to stay and will continue to shape social media trends.

    Short-Form Video Will Become More Important Than Ever

    If the saying, “Content is king,” is true, short-form video is next in line for the crown. According to our research, 29% of marketers say short-form video is more important than ever. And 57% of brands plan to incorporate this content into their social media strategy.

    Short-form video encompasses everything from shopping ads to entertainment to explainer videos. 24% of marketers agree funny videos yield the highest ROI.

    It makes sense that marketers plan to place a higher focus on creating short-form video content, considering they also report that Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the top social media platforms.

    Like TikTok, which is the fourth-ranked platform, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram all feature their own version of a short-form video platform.

    I’m sure there are other social media users like me who get stuck watching videos as they pop up in the feed. Because short-form video is easily consumed, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that 71% of marketers agree it has a high ROI.

    67% of respondents to our survey plan to invest more of their marketing dollars in creating short-form content in 2024.

    AI Will Become a Helpful Tool for Boosting Social Media Strategies

    Our Social Media Trends Report shows that 73% of marketers use generative AI tools to create social media content. And 81% of marketers already using AI say it positively impacts their work.

    What’s surprising is that marketers are using generative AI tools for more than creating social media copy and adapting the tone of their copy to better resonate with their social media followers.

    In fact, 48% of marketers say they use AI to create images for their posts, and 55% of marketers use AI to create short-form videos. I personally use AI-powered video editors to create my short-form content, and it’s never been easier — especially since I’m a novice at video editing.

    AI tools aren’t fail-proof, though; they’re constantly adapting to new data sets and algorithm changes. However, even with AI’s limitations, 54% of marketers say AI can help them create content that better aligns with their target audience’s interests.

    Creating targeted social media posts is crucial because 34% of marketers agree that focusing on their audiences’ interests is a key part of their 2024 social media marketing strategy.

    Given that the market for AI technology is expected to grow to 1.4 trillion dollars by 2030, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that AI tools will become a large part of any marketer’s social media marketing strategy.

    The State of Social Media in 2024

    Explore the top trends in social media for brands to know and optimize your social strategy.

    • AI Content Creation
    • Community Building
    • Social Media Shopping
    • Social Vs. Search Engine
    Learn more

      Download Free

      All fields are required.

      You're all set!

      Click this link to access this resource at any time.

      Greater Focus on Building an Active Social Media Community

      With an estimated 5.17 billion social media users worldwide, according to our 2024 Social Media Trends Report, more and more brands plan to spend time cultivating an active and engaged social media community.

      79% of markets say an active social media community is integral to their overall social media strategy. To create an active community, marketers are diversifying their community-building strategies.

      Here’s how:

      • 18% of marketers say they’ll focus on growing a social media following.
      • 25% of social media managers plan to create better brand awareness and target a new audience.
      • 21% of marketers hope to understand their customers and their needs better.
      • 26% of survey respondents plan to incorporate influencer marketing to grow their community.

      With these strategies in play, 87% of social media marketers believe their brand will have an active social media community in 2024.

      Social media moves incredibly quickly, so we can’t say with certainty what the future will look like. But given recent data, we can say it’s likely headed in this direction.

      Check out our 2024 Social Media Trends Report to gain more insights to planning your social media strategy.

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