Social Trends for 2024

The monthly social trends report from Media Cause spotlights the biggest trends on social media each month, and spotlights how nonprofits and social good organizations can use social media effectively to reach and engage with their audience. These monthly trends are written by Alex Piscatelli, Social Media Strategist.

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2024! We’re back for this year’s social trends predictions.
Let’s get into it.

 


Trend 1: Authenticity is King

One of the biggest online cultural shifts we’ve seen in recent years is a huge emphasis on authenticity. The 2010s and even early 2020s were focused on girlbossing, “aspirational” content from influencers traveling the world and doing a lot cooler things than we’re probably doing, and being #ThatGirl—someone who hustles, focuses on their wellness, and employs daily acts of rigorous self-care. But this isn’t the trend anymore.

2024 is about authenticity, baby! Verve, a global insight consultancy, released a trends report November 2023, finding that Gen Z is “pushing against expectations of productivity and polished perfection to embrace a messier, more chaotic style.”

In our opinion, this was a shift that had its beginnings in 2020—TikTok became a staple at a time when everyone was staying home during a pandemic. People were baking bread and making whipped coffee (oh, those were the days), and we didn’t want to see a Kardashian partying on a private island. (Remember the backlash from Kim’s 40th birthday when she surprised her “inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time?” Truly, what a time.)

 

During the pandemic, new influencers were gaining fame, and they felt more relatable—Charli D’Amelio was at home making dance videos, and Alix Earle was just talking about her everyday life in college while filming “get ready with me” videos. Everyone started posting “photo dumps,” something I credit YouTuber and Relatable Girly™ Emma Chamberlain as popularizing. Sure, it’s a curated post, but it’s meant to look low-effort. A Boston University student told Input that photo dumps are a “personal scrapbook,” saying, “posting what I want takes stress and pressure out of posting on social media.”

 

People no longer want curation and something to look up to—they want to see real portrayals of people living life the same way they do.

And this is true for brands, too. Anecdotally, last year, I was trying to watch the Love Is Blind season 4 live reunion on Netflix, but it ended up airing more than an hour late. Everyone was cracking jokes about the failed live reunion. I was in an Instagram Live from the Netflix account that was supposed to broadcast the show, and the comments were going off. Included in the comments? Brand Instagram accounts. I won’t name any names, but why would a car company be interested in Love Is Blind? It screams inauthentic and just trying to hop on a trend.

Organizations and nonprofits need to keep their mission front and center when it comes to social, and be authentic to it.

A nonprofit excelling at being authentic on social media is Monterey Bay Aquarium—on Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, Discord, and more. The aquarium, a nonprofit based in California, uses a fun and informative voice while keeping all of its content animal- and environmental-focused. This TikTok of staff naming sea otter facts and Reel on training a baby fish are great examples.

 

 

Monterey Bay Aquarium isn’t trying to reach everyone by following the trends everyone is doing. Instead, its social accounts are excelling in hyper-specific content on marine animals and ocean conservation. And the audience is joining.

 


Trend 2: Online Audiences Want to Be Entertained

Life is hard for a lot of people right now—there’s an ongoing pandemic, wars, climate catastrophe, economic instability, and people are grieving countless losses. Social media is a place people go to with hopes of connectivity, community, and distraction. At a time when everything seems dark, people want to mentally unwind.

This is why, for example, Duolingo found such great success on TikTok. It’s entertaining and “unhinged”—you don’t know what that silly green bird is going to do next. The brand prioritized entertainment over being promotional, and guess what? When I decided I wanted to start learning Italian, the first thing I thought of was to download Duolingo. (Yes, I do, in fact, have a 32-day streak now, please hold your applause!) And it’s not just me—in July 2023, daily users on the app were up 62% year over year.

In a consumer survey, Hootsuite found that 34% of consumers say “too much self-promotion” is a turn-off in how they perceive brands on social, and 56% think brands should be more relatable.

Repeat after me: Not every brand can do what Duolingo is doing. But being unhinged isn’t the only way to be entertaining.

I’m a huge fan of the nonprofit Experience Camps. They hold summer camps for grieving children who have lost a parent, caregiver, sibling, or someone close to them, so they can form a community with other kids who have experienced such huge loss. Despite dealing with something so heavy as grieving children, its social media presence is 10/10.

 

For example, this TikTok captioned, “When everyone sees a butterfly at grief camp,” with a bunch of campers running, and the caption, “Mom, is that you?” It garnered more than 2 million views, 300,000 likes and 2,000 comments. Other amazing examples include this one where campers picked grief camp slogans and this videoexpressing annoyance at anyone who has ever said “you’re so strong” to someone who has lost a parent.

As a 27-year-old who lost both her parent—my dad when I was 17 and my mom when I was 25—I am actively grieving. And I seek out Experience Camps’ social media because it allows me to escape this internal grief, even if just for the length of a TikTok, be entertained, and feel less alone.

Remember that being entertaining doesn’t equate to being unhinged. Think about how your nonprofit can leverage entertainment in its own way.

 


Trend 3: Influencers With Niche Audiences Are More Important Than Ever

I won’t talk to you all about my obsession with the reality show Survivor again considering I already did that two months ago, but I must emphasize the power of niches, especially going into 2024. As previously mentioned, I spend a lot of time on the Survivor subreddit, listening to Survivor podcasts and looking at “Survivor Twitter.” I’ve been thinking a lot more about these online niches, and the more I think about it, the more I notice it.

I was listening to the Giggly Squad podcast with Paige DeSorbo and Hannah Berner, and they often talk about what side of TikTok they’re currently in. There’s BrideTok, BeautyTok, FashionTok, and more. We’re all logging onto TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, and Twitter (X) and getting completely different experiences.

Because of this, micro- and nano-influencers are more important than ever.

Studies show influencers with 1,000 to 10,000 followers generate more than twice the engagement rate of larger influencers.

We’ve talked about the power of authenticity and entertainment, and all this is included in the power of smaller influencers. For brands to work with these influencers, it means they are working with real people who have authentic ties to some sort of community or niche and know how to make interesting content that speaks to that audience. In 2024, community members are the ones in control. Any organization looking to speak within a community should be working with its community members.

Here are some examples of influencer work we’ve done at Media Cause to help nonprofits reach niche audiences:

For brands and nonprofits, this means knowing you’re not going to reach everyone. And that’s more than okay. In 2024, we don’t want to reach everyone—we want to reach the people who connect with our missions most.

 


We hope you enjoyed our monthly trend report!

Social listening is a helpful tool for identifying insights and understanding trends and conversations that help you make proactive decisions for your organization.

Media Cause can help your nonprofit create listening topics to understand the sentiment associated with your brand, industry, topic area, or related campaigns. We’re equipped to help with hashtag research and identification related to your key issue area so that you can proactively join conversations and remain relevant.

Interested in learning more about how Media Cause can support your team with social media listening? Reach out to us today.

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