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Social trends report unfolds brand-customer disconnect

Hootsuite, a guide to the future of social marketing, has launched its Social Trends 2024 Report which shows that while the social landscape is ever-changing, the approaches of brands to social engagement remain radically unchanged.

Elina Vilk, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of Hootsuite, said: “Knowing these are the trends that keep trending, as marketers we need to ask ourselves if we’re approaching social in the right way.” She further stressed, “If brands are still questioning the value of social, they should instead be asking themselves what value does connecting with people bring to their business. Social can be a massive profit engine for business - but it requires shifting the focus to relationships, not transactions.”

The report reveals a considerable gap between brands and users. While 34% of consumers reported a brand's focus on self-promotion as a major turn-off, 56% believe brands should be more relatable. Conversely, 48% of marketers are still publishing brand updates or news multiple times a week. Billy Jones, VP of Marketing at Hootsuite, proposed the '90% rule' where a modern social strategy adds value to the relationship with content nine times, and only on the tenth does it extract value.

Generative AI being used to create content is also becoming a divisive issue. The report indicates that 62% of consumers are less likely to trust content created by an AI application. Given this context, brands are negotiating between efficiency and authenticity, focusing on the brand experience they create.

Additionally, marketers are struggling to keep up with the continuous release of new user and advertising features. This has led to a shift in strategies with 58% of marketers finding it difficult to keep abreast of updates. Hence, strategic organisations are adopting specific platforms and letting the return on investment guide their activities.

In the driver seat of the social ROI engine is entertainment, with 69% of respondents revealing that engagement is the top metric they use to measure ROI. But the report reveals that 68% of social marketers are concerned about their social activities' ROI, partially driven by a widespread tendency towards self-promotion.

What has evolved is the marketers’ approach to dealing with the noise in the social landscape. In 2024, return on investment takes the central stage as smart organisations close in on their top-performing tactics, according to the report.

Vilk further commented on the need for brands to understand their audience better, saying, “Realising the true value of social is challenging when 42% of marketers don’t know who their real audience is or what makes them tick.” She concluded, “A renewed focus on driving deeper relationships on the right channels is how brands can deliver (and reap) rewards—and break the stagnation we’re hearing from consumers.”

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