Creator marketing shows no signs of slowing down next year, pushing new boundaries for the continued democratisation of attention and influence. As the playing field continues to evolve, anticipating the trends and changes that will shape the coming year is crucial for brands and marketers seeking to stay ahead. Here, Impact Studio explored what we think will define the creator landscape in 2024, providing insights and foresight for navigating what's to come next.
(1) In a world increasingly dominated by algorithms and AI, the role for creators in driving relevance, credibility and authenticity will be greater than ever.
Authenticity has become an obvious buzzword for creator content. Gone are the days of sending creators products and expecting them to produce scripted content. Fakeness, prescriptiveness and unnatural storytelling… all swipeable offences. But authenticity will take on new meaning in 2024, moving beyond standard definitions of brand alignment and creator affinity, to something far more real. The rise of generative AI will make it increasingly difficult to determine what content is ‘real’ and what is generated algorithmically.
Creators - their faces, voices and existing relationships with their audience - cut through this, creating a human connection that trumps any algorithm.
This human connection or relationship formed between consumer and creator is a tight bond - 7 out of 10 consumers say they trust creator’s suggestions as much as their friends. And while AI might come up with a catchy slogan or some trendy graphics, it doesn’t speak to you like your best friend does.
Brands looking to leverage generative AI in creator marketing in 2024 should do so in a way that elevates, complements or maximises the value of creator content - not replaces it. From simple caption and thumbnail generation to uploading a long form YouTube video and requesting multiple cut down variations tailored to TikTok for split testing, there will be ever-growing ways to use AI to maximise the value of creator content.
Smart brands will leverage the human skills, relationships and emotion of creators to create human-centric content that, when paired with smart technology, will have real impact in 2024.
(2) Sound will continue to be an important, or even driving factor in both creator and branded content, but creative tensions arise as flexibility across formats becomes a key requirement.
Since its rapid ascension to 1.6 billion users, TikTok has positioned itself as a sound on platform. On TikTok, audio isn’t an afterthought. More often than not, it’s the starting point and inspiration for content, driving trends and catapulting never-before-seen creators into the spotlight. Brands too have seen great success through smart use of audio - RyanAir, Duolingo and others have seen viral success through participation in trending sounds.
And the numbers too, prove the power of audio - 9 in 10 users say that sound is vital to their TikTok experience, 61% like brands better when they create or participate in a trend and brand recall actually increases by over 8x when distinctive sounds are used. Audio has been proven to hook viewers in, increase dwell time and drive recognition, so will TikTok’s introduction of Out Of Phone have the same effect sound off?
Creators are fast to evolve, and will be forced to adapt in 2024, creating content that still resonates without voiceover, music or trending audio. An easy win? Text overlays. But not very exciting, or consumable. Smart brands and creators will have to find more interesting ways to hook passersby with visuals in just a glance.
Is it possible? Yes. Will it be tricky to really connect to users in the same way as a 121 in phone experience? Absolutely.
(3) Can TikTok continue to buck the trend of platform decay and avoid the curse of enshittification? Creators and the platform will have to continue to tread a fine line, balancing creative and commercial demands.
As features and formats are copied and rolled out across social, platforms become increasingly homogenised. And while TikTok gained traction as a result of consumers desire to find something different, a growing favorability of lower funnel action could lead to, what Cory Doctorow coined, the enshittifaction of the platform and a descent into same-ness.
Enshittification occurs as platforms shift away from user growth and engagement as their primary aim, and move toward a model more focussed on prioritising revenue generation. So far, TikTok has done a great job at balancing these two aims, but as influencer marketing spend on the platform looks set to exceed $1.3 billion in 2024, brands will be expecting more robust results and greater return on their investment, leaving TikTok facing the toughest test yet of it it's dedication to creative, content and format innovation. (source)
On a platform that celebrates individuality and showing up as yourself, this shift would be a test of creators' willingness to deliver results vs. staying true to their craft. In 2024, creators could be forced to make a choice - follow the algorithm blindly into conversion tactics or stay loyal to their creativity.
In 2024, can TikTok continue to break the cycle, prioritising creativity, personality and community?
(4) As performance incentives grow and the technical set up gets easier, 2024 is the year shoppable content really takes off.
TikTok is setting the pace for social shopping, leveraging word-of-mouth marketing through #tiktokmademebuyit (7Bn views this year in the UK alone) to become the UK’s most shopped platform. Hype created to make products go viral combined with the introduction of TikTok Shop has transformed social commerce.
On average Gen Z consumers make 19 TikTok purchases a year, and as the platform plans to quadruple the size of its merchandise sales annually through TikTok Shop, exponential growth is to be expected.
As brands are better incentivised to set up TikTok Shop and the facilitation of that set up becomes easier, shoppable content looks set to skyrocket in 2024. Shoppable content however, is made so much more impactful, relevant and higher performing when audiences’ favourite creators are involved.
Creator recommendations drive purchases - 53% of TikTok users have bought a product after seeing it in creator content. Additional platform advancements like AR and VR try ons and LIVE shopping will supercharge this even more. 50% of TikTok users have bought something after watching live. The fusion of mobile entertainment and impulse buying (41% of Gen Z and Millennials make an impulse purchase online every 2-3 weeks) presents a unique opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in interactive content.
With better incentivisation, more streamlined set up, the integration of new tech features and the continued growth of creator influence, shoppable formats will really take off in 2024.
(5) Creators and their content will continue to become a more dominant part of media planning and buying outside of social channels.
Fancy a Bariaki burger? KFC joined a growing number of top tier brands who used social-first creators in other channels this year. And it’s not just TV, walk past any Footasylum this season and you’ll see the faces of some of social’s most influential creators looking back at you from screens and building-high posters.
Creators are increasingly appearing in new media channels, a trend set only to accelerate in 2024, bringing with them a dedicated audience whose affinity with the creator ultimately drives greater consideration for the associated brand.
But it’s not just creators themselves who are popping up in new places. Creator content too is increasingly being used in unconventional spaces - repurposed as digital OOH and in-store marketing, giving shoppers new touchpoints to interact with their favourite creators away from their phones. This rollout of creator content not only marks the takeover of more traditional ads, replacing models with recognisable social faces, but ads more broadly too are taking inspiration from social content - in format, tone and tempo.
In 2024, more brands will look to maximise the value of creator content by using it in other placements and leverage existing relationships with creators in other media channels. With built-in audiences, creator appearances create a buzz and excitement that ads need to cut through.
(6) The way in which brands measure the success of their influencer marketing campaigns will evolve to finally be on a par with other channels.
As brands allocate incrementally larger portions of their media spend to creator marketing, the industry shows no sign of slowing down in 2024. In light of this, creator campaigns will increasingly need to prove their value against traditional forms of media, as influencer marketing further establishes itself as a permanent part of the media mix. It will also need to prove its worth to new stakeholders who may show resistance to a marketing tactic that’s new or less familiar.
The only way to prove this value is by providing robust measurement of the impact of a creator campaign, and doing so in ways that are comparable to traditional media measurement. Focusing on social platform metrics is no longer enough - we need to showcase the results of creator marketing by focusing on the real business outcomes that it drives.
Whether it’s analysing audience perception and sentiment, or measuring brand lift and sales, new, more quantifiable methods of measuring creator campaigns continue to materialise, giving social managers and influencer departments across brands and agencies the numbers they need to truly demonstrate the impact and success of creator campaigns.
In 2024, expect creator marketing to not only receive greater proportions of marketing investment but take its rightful place alongside heritage media, proving comparable ROI that’s not only qualitative but easily quantifiable too.
(7) Audience targeting set to evolve in a shift from demographic to community-based segmentation
Marketing segmentation has hinged on demographics based audience targeting for decades, reaching could be and should be consumers by age, gender, location, and interests.And for brands with mass appeal these tactics have and will continue to be effective, but for brands looking to appeal to select, niche audiences, demographic targeting will lead to expensive wastage, and the reach will far outweigh the impact. The new way to target? Community.
TikTok has redefined community, birthing cultures, subcultures and even sub subcultures, each with their own needs and wants from brands. No longer can consumers be spoken to simply based on their age - while they may be the same generation, one Gen Z female can consider herself worlds apart from a peer who has different tastes.
And it's not just demographic targeting that will fall short, but broad interest based targeting will no longer cut it on TikTok. Targeting based on an interest in Fashion for example will reach audiences that will never convert. Just a short scroll through the FYP unearths endless fashion subcommunities - gorpcore, corpcore, cybercore, blokecore to name just a few. Find in which subculture your product will resonate, identify and partner with the creators leading the conversation and then do additional paid targeting to get that creator in front of the richest audience. The more specific you target based on community, the more impact you’ll have.
Brands who are able to show up in niche communities, speak to them in their own unique vernacular and appeal through shared in-jokes will win big. 76% of TikTokers say they like it when brands are a part of ‘special interest’ groups on TikTok and creators are the perfect vehicle through which to reach them.
(8) Paid distribution and machine learning come together to drive greater efficiency and accuracy
Machine learning is already being used by advertising platforms to simplify campaign set-up, find the most valuable audiences and streamline ad creatives with performance goals. In 2024, the landscape of paid social media will be increasingly shaped by AI.
1. Crafting optimised and impactful paid media captions, ensuring text is not only engaging but also strategically tailored for success.
2. Further shaping and making suggestions for ad creative, resulting in fully optimised content and automated campaign set up.
3. Assisting in strategic decision-making, including audience suggestions, to refine and target campaigns effectively.
The integration of AI into our processes not only elevates human thinking but also empowers us to maximise the effectiveness of our paid media ads. This leads to successful campaigns while also delivering significant efficiencies and time savings.
As we look to 2024, there’s one thing that’s certain; for creator marketing, change is the only constant. It’s not just brands and agencies who aren’t willing to evolve who’ll be left behind, but those who aren’t actively trying to stay ahead - in the know of what's trending, who’s breaking the internet and the continuous updates to regulations - who’ll find themselves playing perpetual catch-up.
See you in 2024.