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How brands are planning to navigate the social media & marketing landscape in 2024


By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

January 12, 2024 | 9 min read

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A roundtable from The Drum and Brandwatch brought together marketers from Britvic, Cisco, CNBC, HP, HSBC, ITV Studios, NBCUniversal, Virgin Media O2 and We Are Futures to discuss trending topics in social media, AI and data. Here’s a recap of the big themes.

Leaders discuss how to navigate the social media & marketing landscape in 2024

Leaders discuss how to navigate the social media & marketing landscape in 2024

Establishing and maintaining trusted customer relationships has never been more important for marketers. However, the fragmentation of media channels and the democratization of content creation pose significant challenges.

Marketing and content leaders see a massive opportunity for the potential efficiencies driven by tech and the ability to create better, more personalized experiences for audiences that encourage higher levels of trust in brands. But issues around security, transparency, rights ownership and brand control will need to be addressed.

This was the focus of discussion in a recent roundtable hosted by The Drum and Brandwatch, to discuss the trends that matter going into 2024 – with a focus on influencer marketing, artificial intelligence (AI), and the demise of third-party cookie data and how this will impact audience trust and shape social strategies in the months ahead.

Towards influencer marketing maturity

As influencer marketing becomes more routine and established as part of the regular marketing cycle, there will be a need to introduce clear guidelines and regulations, especially in categories such as financial services, to give brands the quality assurance they need.

Looking ahead, the emphasis on influencer marketing looks to be greater in 2024, partly due to its relative affordability at a time of pressure on marketing budgets.

HSBC’s global head of social media governance, Eduardo Beltrao, said that brands with limited campaign budgets could “start with influencer marketing,” creating content that can then be amplified with social advertising. “And make the most of what you’re spending there, which compared to an above-the-line budget might still be a drop in the ocean.”

Rachael Courtney, head of social and content at Virgin Media O2, highlighted the effectiveness of building long-term relationships with influencers – something that her own team is moving towards with specific annual budgets “so we can start having those conversations with influencers about long-term partnerships, and over the year they become known for being friends of the brand.”

The session also explored the impact on brand trust in the case of an influencer espousing controversial views on broader events in the world. Arnaldo Smet, CNBC’s director of marketing communications, said: “If you’re building that relationship with an influencer, you want to do the vetting, go to social monitoring, look back on their accounts. You want to go deep.”

These checks and balances play a key part in building trusted connections between brands and audiences, said Osasere Aimiuwu, brand manager for Robinsons Fruit Shoot at Britvic. Especially when working on a brand that targets young audiences, it’s vital to “be clear on what your values are, and make sure they line up with those influencers.”

All in one tools like Brandwatch Influence that enable marketers to build, manage, discover and measure influencer campaigns will be a key part of the toolkit for navigating this space in 2024.

Building trust in AI

Emerging technology, especially AI, will play an increased role in influencer marketing and, more generally, in content creation. The issues of regulation, authenticity of voice, and control again emerged as significant issues in 2024 and beyond.

Generative AI and the importance of valuing and protecting intellectual property (IP) were high on the agenda, especially in light of its potential to accelerate social listening and generate content quickly.

Cisco’s senior director of global digital media, Tejal Patel, said: “Generative AI is enabling us to summarize listening insights more quickly, making us more efficient. It has also broadened keyword identification which helps us create more relevant content at speed. It’s just making our jobs a lot quicker.”

Helen Chapman, head of strategy at We Are Futures, a brand and social impact agency, is partnering with clients on using AI securely and legally in ways that don’t infringe on rights and erode trust among young people who are the early adopters of gen AI. That’s important, she said, “especially if you are exploring how a financial services client can potentially use AI to improve financial wellbeing for young people.”

The issue of bias built into AI algorithms by humans was identified as a theme by Nick Taylor, director of product marketing at Brandwatch. Rather than fearing AI, the real trust issue involved is people “not understanding the power of what they’ve got, and how they employ it. If you are asking an AI to do a task, and it has a really horrendous inherent bias. That’s a very big problem.”

However, the potential to use AI for creativity and democratization of content creation will more than make up for the challenges involved. Pippa Scaife. vice-president of global growth strategy at NBCUniversal said: “If you take more of a human, controlled approach and think about how this supplements what we’re already doing, rather than overtake what we’re doing, then it opens up an amazing spectrum of opportunity.”

A sentiment to which ITV Studios vice-president of social media, Claire Hoang, agreed: “Gen AI is going to be increasingly important. It’ll make life easier – but the human touch will still need to be involved and making sure the guardrails of any software used are thoroughly checked is key.”

The slow death of third-party cookie data

The deprecation of third-party cookie data on Chrome in 2024 will likely lead to advertisers placing greater reliance on first-party data and focusing on the privacy and regulatory issues accompanying this.

Businesses will also face challenges due to developing first-party sources and removing silos within businesses to make this a reality. Sebastien Bourne, head of media in North West and Central Europe at HP, said: “There are various databases from different organizations like marketing, sales and reporting that are operating in silos that need to be pulled under one to facilitate first-party targeting.”

Building more coherent structures that connect these teams will be an issue in a post-cookie world. And there is also likely to be a greater emphasis on social media platforms like TikTok to provide social commerce as a direct link between brands and consumers, while establishing high levels of security to protect the privacy of younger audiences.

It was fitting that the debate concluded on this theme because it highlighted both the potential that lies ahead for brands and also some of the trust issues that they must address. There’s no doubt, however, that advertisers, which build strong, direct relationships with customers through influencer and AI-driven content have a big opportunity for growth in the years ahead.

For more insight into the biggest trends marketers should be watching in 2024, check out the Brandwatch 2024 Digital Marketing Trends report.

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