Where to from here Pomegranite blog

Where to from here: 2024 trends in a nutshell

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

By Anja

For my recent skillshare – the last one of the year – I decided to test the Pomegranite team on some of the 2024 social media trends we can expect to see. There were some key events that inspired this topic, like Hootsuite dropping their highly anticipated 2024 Trends Report, as well as the general feeling of the year coming to an end, and the excitement for what’s to come in the dynamic world of social media. Also, I get a kick out of using new features on Instagram. It’s like the opposite of FOMO.

What do you want to see more of?

I started by asking this question because I wanted to hear from the team (a pretty diverse group of people with unique interests) how they use socials. As much as we might see similar content on social media platforms, for every, “Oh yes, I saw that already,” there are even more, “I’ve never heard of that, would you send me the link?”.

It’s fascinating to be able to learn a bit more about people through their social media usage. At times it actually feels a bit like prying, simply because the more we use social media, the more it becomes a sort of digital journal, where scrolling through somebody else’s feed for a few minutes would probably tell you a lot about them. I’m not judging though! And the team’s answers were great. Generally, most of us are looking for more authenticity (speaking of trends, have you seen Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2023?).

Who decides?

According to an article from the London School of Design and Marketing, trends are born from a mix of cultural influences, technological progress and consumer behaviour. So who actually decides what social media trends are? As users, we do.

Social media users make social media what it is, and platforms are engineered to evolve as our needs evolve. While there are certainly other factors – like advertising profits – that influence social media use and design, platform functionality will always rest on the user and the needs that arise from our social contexts.

Our needs as users on social media are:

Connection: To be seen and heard by others as part of a community. This isn’t community in a typical sense – online, it’s more about feeling validation and belonging. Ever read through the comments on a post solely for the purpose of finding one that echoes your opinion? That behaviour speaks to this connection (and explains some of the brand new Instagram features we’re seeing that are designed to create more engagement, like sharing a post comment to an Instagram Story).

Connection also speaks to our work at Pomegranite. We want to inspire positive change through social media, and amongst other things, connection is our vehicle. On a more serious note, the depth of connection we experience through social media has become particularly relevant since 7 October 2023. The intense violence that we have been witness to on social media – and our ability to feel connected to people who have been deprived of their voices – has made way for a resistance movement that has transformed all of our online experiences, daily.

Psychological and habitual: Dopamine is a key factor influencing our consistent use of social media. It activates the brain’s reward centre by releasing dopamine, a “feel-good chemical” linked to pleasurable activities like social interaction. This, along with habitual use of our phones, has made social media use frequent and continuous.

Search: The easier it is for users to find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to use that platform. Search optimisation will heavily shape the trajectory of these platforms.

Interest discovery: We want to tap in to the unique things that we, as individuals, want to know more about. This is why everyone has a unique algorithm, with varying content tailored to you.

2024 trend round-up

I’ve picked a few, either because they were surprising, or because they just made sense. Here are five trends to look out for next year, in a nutshell.

  1. Text-only posts

Yup. Text-based social apps aren’t going anywhere. This one might come as a shock, especially since the most popular social media platforms have always been optimised for image-first content. The rise of Threads, in an exceedingly tumultuous time for X, is testament to the success of text-only posts. Text-only posts, even on platforms that aren’t considered text-forward, can do big numbers. Reddit, Facebook, Threads, X and LinkedIn all support text-only posts.

  1. Social platforms as search engines

Social media channels represent the biggest threat to traditional search engines. In 2023, Tik Tok nearly surpassed Google as the most popular search engine for Gen Z. For us, this means that SEO is an even bigger deal, so we’ll be focusing on keyword optimisation in captions and profile bios, and creating content that answers common questions in our niche.

  1. Undercover engagement and DMs

Something we’re seeing less of on social feeds is organic, uncurated content from friends and family. But while organic posting on social media may have dipped, organic engagement is still at an all-time high. It’s happening, it’s just undercover.

Think about how you used to share funny posts with your friends or family – this would primarily be through publicly tagging people. Now, it’s easier to just send content directly to your friends – via a link on WhatsApp, or within the social media platform you saw the original content on. This means that direct messaging is becoming increasingly frequent, and it’s something that brands can leverage for customer service. Meet your audience where they are – the DMs.

  1. Shares as a key metric 

The fact that you can now hide your like count on Instagram shows how the platform has responded to users’ needs for authenticity and the desire not to be judged by vanity metrics. It also shows how Instagram knows what type of engagement is most valuable. Likes don’t really cut it anymore, as they don’t show how much users valued content. A share, however, shows that the content resonated with users in some way.

In 2024, shares will mean more than likes or comments. Algorithms are prioritising content that gets engagement, so shares are becoming increasingly important. They tell the platform that content was valuable enough to pass it on, and therefore get more traction and engagement.

  1. The photo dump

They’re here to stay. Also known as a “carousel”, a photo dump is a collection of images in one post, usually on Instagram. Since TikTok introduced photo mode, they’ve taken off on that platform too as an alternative to video content.

Photo dumps allow brands to tell longer stories, participate in photo-specific trends, and connect with their audience in a way that feels unfiltered.

So, where to from here? Social media in 2024 will certainly be shaped by generative AI (but that one needs its own blog, it’s on the way!), search optimisation and creative ways of utilising SEO, direct and authentic engagement, and finding different ways to captivate an audience with content that speaks to them.

And, because it’s the digital world, it would be remiss not to expect a few surprises.