How to Increase Social Media Engagement in 2024

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Brands have a bigger marketing challenge today arguably than ever before because consumers are more skeptical about advertising than previously. Not only are they turning away from brand-created content on social media, but most of them also no longer trust influencers.

That’s why increasing social media engagement and using social media effectively to promote brands in 2024 requires a radically different approach.

The Problem with brand-created content

Marketers have long known that most consumers dislike ads — one survey found that 96 percent of participants don’t think ads tell the truth, and over 37 percent of people even get annoyed with targeted ads, feeling like their privacy has been infringed upon. This dislike might make sense, since Harvard research shows that, the more advertisements people are exposed to, the unhappier they become.

For a long time, social media seemed like the solution, as a way to meet people during their discretionary time in places they naturally hang out. Over the years, however, social media users have become increasingly skeptical of the content that brands produce. In one 2021 study, just 19 percent of people believed brand-created content was authentic. Worse yet, just 12 percent said it had an impact on their decisions to purchase specific products or services.

To get around that challenge, many marketers have turned to influencers, using these third-party endorsements to build trust and drive sales. While that may have worked for a while, today’s consumers no longer listen to influencers.

According to a 2023 study, only 12 percent of respondents would be more likely to purchase something if an influencer promoted it, and over 50 percent say they scroll right past such posts. For 42 percent of participants, having an influencer promote a product or service may actually reflect negatively on the brand, since they regret having made an influencer-promoted purchase in the past.

Given this situation, how can brands market themselves effectively on social media? The answer is to create content that departs from the usual marketing scripts, reveals the human face underneath the polished appearances, and resonates with consumers through the power of authenticity.

The Solution: Authenticity

In my experience, the posts that generate the most engagement and create bonds with social media audiences best are not the ones I would have expected. I didn’t even plan some of them — they just fell into my lap — but they tend to share a common quality: authenticity.

In the realm of social media, authenticity means letting the audience see your brand’s representatives during their unscripted moments, like allowing people to come backstage and hang out with the performer while they are getting ready for a show. These posts require a certain amount of vulnerability because they show people in a more human light, making their subjects more relatable and likable.

For instance, next-generation influencers who are currently gaining popularity are eschewing polished looks and scripted performances and simply being themselves. Consider the “Get Ready With Me” (GRWM) videos in which people put on their makeup and dress to go out. Trends like these have propelled personalities like Alix Earle and Monet McMichael to huge followings.

Similarly, posts that look like you’re having a FaceTime call with the influencer reflect people’s desire to connect on a more personal level, prioritizing authenticity over highly curated content. This approach can also work for brands.

How to incorporate authenticity in social media

Social media marketers should take note of these trends in favor of authenticity and leverage them on behalf of their businesses. Sometimes, it means just going with the flow and realizing you can use material that might otherwise have fallen onto the cutting-room floor.

For instance, I was videoing one of our co-founders as he was recording a podcast when his GoldenDoodle interrupted, looking for a hug. The co-founder paused the show, scooped him up, and held him for the rest of the podcast. It was a sweet moment, so I posted a short clip.

That post got a lot of attention and engagement. Many people can relate to the affection between people and their pets, and showing our dog-friendly work environment also highlighted an important aspect of our company culture and moved members of the audience with similar values. Goodwill flourished in both directions. This is the kind of powerful, enduring connection brands can still forge with users on social media.

Effective content that resonates with today’s savvy audiences

Stimulating user engagement in 2024 might seem harder than ever before. But if you understand the current trend toward authenticity and keep an eye out for opportunities, you’ll be able to start posting effective content that resonates with today’s savvy audiences.

People won’t experience your posts as advertising if you put the sales pitch aside and relate to them on a human level. Yet these posts will forge a powerful emotional connection that positions your brand well when it comes time for customers to make purchasing decisions

Jacklyn Lavoie is a Marketing Specialist with a Otter PR. She initially refined her organic social media skills by spearheading marketing initiatives for her own online retail store.