Icymi: Let’s Recap Social Media Week 2024

ICYMI: Let’s Recap Social Media Week 2024

AUTHORS Mara and Rachel DATE 04-17-2024

We recently had the chance to attend AdWeek’s Social Media Week. This three-day conference touts itself as “the premier destination for social media practitioners and marketers.” Based on our experience, we’d have to agree.

Social media in 2024 is all about "curating what you want to see," as Megan Thee Stallion declared when mentioning her favorite social media platform (more on that later). Packed with inspiring talks from Gen Z phenoms to social media veterans, the event buzzed with the power of community. The message was clear across all sessions: the future of social media will be built on trust, storytelling, and empowering the voices that shape our feeds.

Here are a few of our top takeaways:

Authenticity was the buzzword of the week.

Being authentic came up repeatedly throughout the conference. Authenticity and trust are crucial for success on social media.

Speakers advised brands to talk like a human. Ditch the disingenuous pitches — consumers can see through inauthentic marketing a mile away. Be funny, maybe even a little weird. Show fans what your product can do, don’t tell them. And most important, don’t get hung up on your content being perfect. Just make sure your content is relevant and made for social.

Roxy Young, chief marketing and consumer experience officer at Reddit, framed it this way: think of social media like a dinner party.

There’s some “social” etiquette involved. You can’t walk in and start talking about yourself. Instead, be entertaining, be clever, and when the moment calls for it, be informative. That last point is really about the importance of being able to read the room, and knowing what your community is looking for. They’ll let you know when they want to learn more. Which leads us to…

Listening is critical.

When social first rolled out, showing up was enough. Brands could make sure they had a handle and posted semi-frequently. A few years ago, a distinct shift happened, and now, it’s all about engagement and entertainment.

Social listening tools can help brands not only find, but predict, the right moments to engage with audiences in bigger and better ways.

Irina Novoselsky, chief executive officer at Hootsuite, gave a great example. Their social team noticed a growing interest in cowboy hats, country music, and more. So, what did they do? They created and dropped a country album. And it’s hilarious. Seriously. Take a listen to the first track, “Subscribe To My Heart.”

Katherine Chan, Duolingo’s global head of social media, echoed the same sentiment. Social listening should inform your strategy. They’ve gone so far as to build a Super Bowl spot inspired by UGC content — further confirming that human expertise is important for interpreting social listening data and informing brand relevance.

She also shared that part of their brand strategy is focused on showing up on other brand’s posts and interacting with other communities. With a social listening tool at their disposal, and a robust set of posting standards in place, their team is well equipped to unleash Duolingo’s now trademark unhinged (and very successful) social approach.

Creators aren’t a “nice to have,” they’re a “must have” for brands.

Whether we’re calling them influencers or creators, what they offer a brand is largely the same: authenticity and community.

These two things work because people buy based on emotion. We’ve all been there. You buy something because of how it makes you feel in the moment (system 1 thinking), and you’ll justify the purchase to yourself after the fact. The right creators know how to tap into this and inspire their audiences to take action.

Another recurring piece of advice for marketers was when you are partnering with creators, listen to them about what they believe will resonate with their audience. If their community senses they’ve been made to read a script, the authenticity is gone.

Instead, bring creators in early and let them guide where the work could go. They know their follower community better than anyone. “Brands need to do their due diligence when selecting creators to partner with,” said Andrew Dawson, an executive contributor at Brandwatch. For some, this might be a more collaborative approach than they’re used to, but it’s one that can bring new ideas to the table, and hopefully bring better engagement and brand connections along with it.

Another insight was to consider building long-term partnerships with creators who represent the growing diversity of a brand’s audience, empowering them to tell the brand story in their own unique voice.

Dylan Marino, social media and influencer strategy director for Loverboy, a RTD cocktail brand, reminded us that “a niche focus doesn't mean exclusion — it's about tailoring your approach to specific communities while remaining inclusive.” With open communication and clear expectations, this community-centric approach can turn brand engagement into a powerful two-way street.

Reddit, YouTube, and more niche platforms are having a moment.

Don’t take it from us, take it from Megan Thee Stallion. The music superstar joined for a discussion on how she stays authentic and stands out on social media. She also shared her favorite platform: Pinterest. Pinterest is all about research and inspiration, and its social commerce is consistently booming.

Reddit is a place where people are looking for deeper conversations. Brands can now authentically and effectively participate in conversations on the platform. Roxy Young, Reddit’s chief marketing and consumer marketing officer, mentioned that the network’s niche communities are likely to create loyal brand promoters by sourcing conversations that speak to a deep brand affinity.

And while it’s a popular ad platform, few brands are making content for YouTube. Tulani André, vice president of social media at National Geographic, spoke about the brand’s efforts to create content specifically for YouTube. It’s been wildly successful. They have nearly 23 million subscribers on their channel, and a key growth driver has been YouTube Shorts, the vertical video format the platform launched in 2020.

And finally, brands should be all about community empowerment.

Forget shouting into the void! The future of brand engagement lies in community empowerment. By prioritizing communities and fostering authentic connections with creators, brands can unlock the power of content that truly resonates.

Interested in talking about how Method1 can jump start your social media strategy and put these takeaways into action for your brand? Reach out to us!

Connect with us

Ready to tackle your brand's challenges?

Let's Talk Arrow Sarah Nayak

Head of New Client Partnerships [email protected]