Online community trends for 2024: Our predictions for managing owned platforms and social media
With AI rapidly evolving the digital landscape and our online behaviours, the community management industry is on the precipice of big technological shifts in the years ahead. Some experts are suggesting generative AI will be the biggest and fastest technology leap in modern history.
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, what’s to come in 2024? We’re community managers, not psychics, so we can’t predict the future, but here are five trends we think will play out in 2024.
1. Authenticity in content
In 2024, expect to see brands focusing more on joining the existing conversation by elevating the voices and ‘raw’ content of people within a community, or sharing their own unfiltered views and values. Resisting the urge to carefully polish content or control the narrative will be hard for many—but it’s a better path to building trust and legitimacy as a brand.
How to apply this trend thoughtfully:
- Identify genuine customer wants/needs and capture real customer/employee stories that showcase your impact/value, such as through videos and testimonials.
- Make it a priority to capture and repurpose user-generated content (UGC) as an outcome for your online campaigns and content strategies.
- Be transparent. Support credible content creators from your community as brand ‘ambassadors’ rather than using high profile, highly-curated influencers.
2. Fragmented communities
The decline of X (formerly Twitter) shows that people will desert platforms that don’t serve them anymore. People are more wary of big corporate social media—and even a major player like Facebook has seen more success from its ‘groups’ feature that lets smaller clusters of like-minded people interact. In 2024, we’ll see increased fracturing of communities and growth of micro-communities on less-populated channels like Discord, Bluesky and Threads. Part of this fracturing is likely to include the growth of apps like Locket, Yubo and BeReal which focuses on friends first, social media second.
How to make it work for you:
- Find and incorporate niche communities into your community management ecosystem. Watch and learn each sub-culture and look for ways to subtly nurture and empower them.
- Consider establishing your own exclusive micro community for your brand’s most loyal fans, but make sure you’ve got a well-resourced plan for engagement and the ability to apply the feedback you receive.
3. Continued rise of video content
Videos have emerged as the preferred medium for consuming content across social media channels like Instagram, TikTok and others. In 2024, we’ll likely see increased investment in vertical video formats across platforms, and the monetisation of these formats. For example, YouTube shorts have recently introduced ad placements.
Some practical steps you can take:
- Incorporate video content to foster higher levels of engagement and build brand loyalty, with a focus on content that suits a portrait orientation.
- Augment static graphics with video for product demonstrations, launches, reviews, storytelling and sharing important messages with your audiences.
- Capture event-based experiences on video to repurpose content, such as sharing clips from real-life meetups or podcasts across your online communities.
- Always use captions but consider if your video is going on an audio-on platform such as TikTok or an audio-off platform such as Facebook.
4. SEO/social search
Social media is evolving as a search tool in its own right. In a recent study by Google, the search giant found that roughly 40% of younger people are using TikTok or Instagram as their search engine. Optimising social media content for search should be a key priority for brands in 2024, if it isn’t already.
How can you embrace this trend?:
- A good keyword strategy will be key for growing your influence in 2024. There are a multitude of free and paid tools (e.g., Answer the Public, Semrush) that help you discover popular searches but you’ll need to categorise and prioritise them for your brand/audience.
- Update your processes so every community manager knows how to access and apply the right keywords as they develop captions, image descriptions and captions for every post or video.
- Understand what works best from a search perspective for each platform. For example, back in 2022 Adam Moserri, the CEO of instagram, announced that hashtags don’t really matter on the platform anymore. Instead, using keywords in the caption is best for discoverability.
5. AI to optimise workflow
As mentioned earlier, AI will continue to dominate digital product releases in 2024 and will feature heavily in discussions about how community managers can ‘do more with less’. Efficiency is great, but we recommend always prioritising original content and human connection.
Actions to consider in 2024:
- Avoid the temptation to ramp up content quantity with AI. Instead, you could use AI tools to analyse large datasets, improve personalisation and generate starting points for campaign and content ideas that can be refined by your team to maintain quality.
- If you’re keen to adopt a chatbot or content moderation software—think about how you’ll mitigate potential AI misinformation, bias or a decline in the user experience. You’ll still need a human to keep watch and intervene when needed, so don’t assume it will definitely save you time/workload.
- Know that more and more of your members and customers will be using AI. Start thinking now about what you will and won’t allow in your community and social media page and what parameters you can put in place for allowing AI use that doesn’t erode human connection.
Just like skinny jeans, trends popular at a point in time won’t work for everyone. What remains constant in online communities is the need for clear guidelines, great content and skilled, empathic community managers. No-one knows your community like you do.
We’ve seen a lot of trends come and go in our 13 years of operation. If you want experienced support to navigate online community management in 2024, get in touch.