The State of Social: Q1 2024

Author: Caitlin Kryl, Content Marketing Manager

Startup leaders: Let’s play social media red light ❌ and green light ✅. Quarterly, you can check out our new “State of Social” series for a lowdown on emerging channels, answer, “Should startups join?” and dive deeper into the latest social media news.  

Because, if college senior me could see the state of social media today… 

10 years ago, I began research for my senior thesis. It was essentially about WHY social media (namely Facebook at the time) is an effective marketing strategy for businesses and how to capture the attention and engagement of the hottest new generation: Millennials.

For some added perspective on how technology has shifted in 10 years, I present to you this graduation day photo which was likely taken on an iPhone 4.

It’s wild to see how much the landscape has shifted today—and not just the fact that Gen Z has designated Millennials as uncool and marketing teams are now piecing together Gen Alpha (!?) engagement strategies. 

Companies no longer ask IF they should be on social media, but WHERE to plug in. 

They’re also much more intentional about how they spend their resources and energy as audiences demand a much more authentic social media persona. As this objectively young media channel grows up, it can be hard to keep up with the moments that will become canon in social media’s history, and others that might just be a blip in the larger timeline. 

Here are a few headlines to be aware of for the first couple months of 2024:

BlueSky opens to the public, 2M new ‘skeeters’ join 

While there’s still mixed consensus around what to call a BlueSky post (is ‘skeet’ really what we’re going with?), X (formerly Twitter) competitor BlueSky made a major move to broaden the platform’s impact. After a year as an exclusive invite-only closed beta, BlueSky opened their platform to the public – and saw 2M new users join in the first week.

The lowdown: 

  • A solid percentage of journalists have migrated their efforts to BlueSky – but there’s still no clear consensus on the X true predecessor, and many key journalists and influencers remain on X.
  • Custom feeds: While this platform is algorithm-free, you can curate custom feeds to filter, say, business-related content from cute puppy memes. 

Should brands join? 

❌ Not quite yet. If you’re seeing more of your audience and community migrate, I first recommend creating a brand-aligned personal account and exploring engagement opportunities. 

Folks to follow on BlueSky:

This list of 80+ science-related feeds is a start!

More context: 

Full Q&A on Bluesky via Tech Crunch

Threads shows steady growth; launches trending topics

Threads—the Meta-born text app and another X rival—unveiled a new ‘Trending Topics’ feature that vows to make it easier for users to find content that aligns with them. Some users are skeptical about the embedded filter that would remove content of a “political, government, or social” nature from discovery feeds. 

The lowdown: 

  • Mass migration? Not yet. A recent Social Media Today report stated that half of the most followed platforms on X have yet to create a Threads account. 
  • Active users dropped by around 80% shortly after launch, but Meta recently announced a rebound in their Q3 earnings report with 130M monthly active users (X reports 500M for context)
  • Discoverability drawbacks: Threads is mobile-only, and does not allow hashtags or DMs

Should brands join? 

❌ Don’t have Instagram? If you’re a company who didn’t already have an established audience on a Meta platform, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to stand up a presence on Threads. 

✅ If your company has an established Instagram, Threads could be a solid opportunity to test out text-focused content if you’re seeing your audience engaging there.

More context: 

Here’s the initial advice I shared when the app went live in August. 

LinkedIn still leads the B2B space

Not to jinx anything, but I see LinkedIn as the platform with the least amount of risk, and the most opportunity for B2B orgs — especially in the science and tech spaces.

No major updates or news to report as of today, but anecdotally, this is where we see the highest return on investment for our life sciences and climate tech clients, especially when employing a strategy that utilizes social 

The lowdown: 

  • According to Hootsuite’s Social Trends 2024 report, almost 80% of healthcare organizations have a presence on LinkedIn
  • Only 3 million of LinkedIn’s 260 million users post every week – that’s about 1 percent!

Should brands join? 

✅ I think you know the answer here. Get started already! And if you’re a company leader, a personal LinkedIn strategy might be your next big step. 

 X (formerly Twitter)…debatably rotting but still useful for media strategy

Dwindling economics, stagnant audience growth – but many remain. More than a year after the drama-packed Musk takeover of the platform, the future of X is STILL up in the air. 

The lowdown: 

  • Twitter made its API private last year, breaking the connection between the platform and some third-party apps used to schedule, plan, and analyze content. 
  • Data indicates that a large percentage of major companies have suspended their ad spend on the platform.
  • Twitter analytics have been…wonky…to say the least for a while now. When I go to the analytics page, 75% of the data is missing, and when it tells me to try out the beta, I get redirected to the Twitter homepage. Not ideal for business leaders trying to measure platform value. 

Should brands join stay? 

✅ X is likely not going to be your main platform, but many of X’s original community/audience members are still active there — especially journalists, who use X to quickly vet a company before following up on a lede or a pitch. While a full-fledged platform strategy might not be the move, cross-posting content from other platforms to keep consistent can’t hurt.

More context: 

For an inside scoop into the Twitter/X world, former Twitter employee, Sheon Han recently wrote about their experience in The New Yorker

TikTok: Brands join trends while copyright conversation comes to a head

TikTok is where I continue to be surprised by brands’ openness to experimenting with content that would have been unheard of even five years ago. It’s also arguably one of the most labor-intensive platforms, with a steep learning curve for companies who might not be fluent in video. 

The lowdown: 

  • Companies and creators from the Mayor of Boston to top pharma companies use TikTok to connect with their communities more informally. 
  • Whose rights? Unable to reach a suitable compensation agreement with TikTok, Universal Music Group (UMG) pulled their entire catalog of music from the app, leaving hundreds of musicians unable to use their music on the platform and muting the sounds on millions of pre-posted videos. 

Should brands join? 

⚠️ If your company is still new to using video on other platforms, proceed with caution. 

The sheer volume of TikToks required to break through to the “For You Page” makes this challenging for smaller operations without in-house social media talent. For reference, big brands like Duolingo and XYZ have team members whose full-time job is dedicated to TikTok strategy and execution. 

That’s the latest for the year so far. I look forward to exploring what Q2 has in store!

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