5 Social Media Marketing Trends Freelance Writers Need to Watch for in 2020 blog post featured photo black iPhone and a silver iMac

Social Media Marketing Trends Freelance Writers Need to Watch for (Updated for 2024)

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As a freelance writer, your primary marketing focus needs to be on social media. Social media still delivers the biggest impact when it comes to finding new clients and marketing your writing for the time and money invested in it. And with the new year coming up fast, now's the time to review changing trends in the social media marketing world so you can make your plans and maximize your reach.

Social Media Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2024

Text Posts are Climbing Back to the Top

I cannot tell you how happy this makes me.

With the turbulence that has all but taken over X (formerly Twitter), I, as many others, have been trying to find a replacement.

As of right now, there seems to be three prospects:

  • Mastadon is a decentralized microblogging platform that works similar to X (formerly Twitter). I generally hear about Mastadon as being the closest replacement to X (formerly Twitter) currently available, and at 1.5 million monthly active users, I'm going to put that at a solid “yeah, maybe”.
  • Bluesky is another decentralized microblogging platform and between you and me, this is the one I'm the most excited about. BlueSky was developed by Jack Dorsey, and while it is still invite-only (as of this writing), it's already up to over a million active users. I am on BlueSky and I do like the user interface. I find it easy to navigate. I liken it to, say, 2014-2015 Twitter—when Twitter was a little loud but before it turned into the toxic acid slime that it became. I do like that you can follow different interests and feeds. Needless to say, this is the platform I am following the closest right now.
  • Threads is another text-based platform owned by Meta. Basically, Meta (the parent company of Facebook and Instagram) launched a copy of “if Facebook owned Twitter”. Of course, being a Meta company meant almost immediate hype and a huge launch, Threads jumped up to 44 million daily active users in like 2 days or something, it was insanely fast. But, it didn't take long to see that Threads was really just the answer to “what if Instagram did text instead of photos and videos?” That said, and it did have some good features, and if Meta can fix the issues, then it might actually be good. But a lot of people have already abandoned it as a platform after that first week.

What this all tells me is that Twitter (I am purposely using “Twitter” here to denote the platform the way it was before Elon Musk rebranded it) gave us something that no other platform had given us. And we are all frantically searching to replace it. No one actually likes X, but many of us loved Twitter. I know that I, personally, enjoyed having a place where I could just have a thought and post it right quick without having to necessarily work out imagery or even how this post might look on a profile in relation to other posts.

I, along with others, also love Twitter Parties, particularly pitch parties, with literary agents and publishers. No other platform has even come close to being able to replace these.

I've also noticed both on Facebook and on LinkedIn that text posts, with no images or videos, can get amazing reach. This leads me to believe that while these platforms might still be pushing some of their newer content types (at least in the case of Facebook Reels, which are trying to take over my newsfeed), they are also equalizing other factors which are helping these text posts regain some of their reach.

Not only that, but we're all just sort of sick of “creating content” or “consuming content” and we really just want to start actually connecting and having conversations.

This is one of the biggest parts I miss from X (formerly Twitter): the conversations.

And we need it to be easy to have these conversations. Clubhouse burst onto the scene as one of the first audio drop-in chats back in 2020-2021 and it was amazing. But it was so hard to integrate Clubhouse with the rest of your business in any way that it was just too much effort to actually try. Sure, there are plenty of people still using Clubhouse, just not really for marketing their services anymore.

Now they use it for small gatherings and a little networking on the side when they don't need to communicate with anyone regularly.

Shoppable Posts and Feeds

The number of shoppable posts on different social media channels is going to go up as more and more consumers turn to social media for their purchasing decisions. Already, 11% of Instagram users and 15% of Facebook users log into those platforms to shop for brands or products.

And before you think “oh, well 11% isn't all that big,” remember that Instagram now has over a billion active accounts — so 11% is still 11 million people who log in to Instagram with the intention of shopping. There are still plenty of other people who log into Instagram with a different intention and end up shopping or making a purchase because something drew their eye or caught their attention.

In fact, 130 million Instagram users tap on shoppable posts every month.

So far, these types of shoppable posts are best suited for tangible products rather than services, so I don't expect that we'll be able to use them to sell our services any time soon. But we can expect to see more social media platforms integrating shoppable posts and those posts becoming easier for brands to implement. And as that happens, you can expect more businesses to want to capitalize on good writing and copywriting skills to help them sell their products.

Additionally, while you might not be able to use them to sell your writing services, you may be able to use them to start selling your books, should you choose to start publishing.

And this trend is blowing up. This year alone, I was able to connect my shop to both Pinterest and TikTok. Even Discord has added “Server Shops” that, while they don't integrate with your shop, they do allow you to sell memberships, digital products, and even services right there inside your group.

And while Facebook and Instagram have already been allowing shops for a few years now, Meta and Amazon recently announced that they are working together to allow people to shop on Amazon without leaving the social apps. Yeah, you'll soon be able to see an ad on Facebook about a product on Amazon, and instead of clicking on that ad and being brought to the Amazon site, you'll just be able to buy it right there in the newsfeed without ever leaving Facebook.

I think this all comes down to psychological friction. We, as people, are so bogged down with so many things to do, so much content to consume, and I don't know about you but I am sick and tired of all the passwords, 2-factor authorizations, email reminders, trackers, and apps.

It's too much!

And we all know that the more choices you present to your audience, the smaller the chances of them taking any action on that post. The more clicks that a person has to go through, the less likely they are to engage with your content, comment, or even read through the whole thing.

If someone sees a product on Instagram, allowing them to purchase it right then and there rather than sending them to another site increased sales by almost 50%.

So I'm not at all surprised to see Amazon try to follow the trend and set up a deal which would allow many of their millions of storefront managers and affiliate members take advantage of this.

Digital Detox Trends

Social media use world-wide is exploding, with 3.484 billion people (roughly 45% of the world's population) using social media regularly. And while you might think “woohoo, bigger audience” people are also tiring of social media and all that comes with it.

With 1 in 5 consumers choosing to unplug from social media for extended periods of time, digital detox is a growing trend that affects millions every month. And every time they detox, social platforms and statistics go through major shifts, decreases in reach, and decreases in engagement.

This means social media platforms are going to be changing their already-complicated and ever-changing algorithms even more so they can try to keep what attention they can capture. And that means using creative communication to connect with your audience and helping your clients do the same.

Declining Organic Reach

Experts have been saying for years that organic reach on social media is dead. Organic reach on Facebook has dropped steadily from 16% in 2012 to just over 2% in 2016 and closer to 1% in 2019. And all indications are that Instagram's organic reach is going to follow suit.

In fact, organic reach across all well-established social media platforms follow the same pattern. And while some are enjoying brief increases every time they make a major shift in their algorithms or platform, we can expect the downward trend to continue for a number of reasons:

  • More and more businesses are continually putting out content. And not only that, but more and more of them are increasing their content to try to combat the declining reach. Unfortunately, just putting out more and more of the same content is having the opposite effect than what they want to happen, so their reach goes down even further.
  • More and more people are trying to get off social media. See what I said above about the growing digital detox trend – people are getting off of social media for extended periods. The fact that they call it a detox is very telling – it implies that social media has a negative impact on their lives. So, more businesses will need to combat this by publishing more valuable content that has a positive impact on their audience.
  • People are using more than one social media channel, following more and more pages, joining more groups, and opting into more newsletters at higher rates – but they aren't really spending that much more time on social media than they used to. So, what little time they have been spending on social media has just been getting split further and further down.
  • Shiny object syndrome. On more than one occasion, another new social media platform has popped up and grabbed people's attention. The latest of these is TikTok – a video sharing platform that is making waves. Sometimes, these platforms make their impact and then fall right back off the radar as people return to their previous platforms. But other times, as with TikTok, they stick around a little longer and keep people's attention.
  • Higher competition to get into those feeds. Social media platforms rely on their algorithms to help keep people on their platforms. Yes, it's so they can make money – but no, it's not so they can force you to pay them for the reach. Trust me, with as much money as these platforms are making based on their own ads and data, they aren't changing their algorithms to try to squeeze the $20-$120 a week you spend on ads out of you. But if people can't log into these platforms and see what they want to see, they will stop logging in – then everyone loses.

Additionally, with the decline of organic reach, you can expect paid advertising to come back to the forefront. In fact, Pay Per Click (PPC) ads are one of the top three conversion generators. And, according to Serp Watch, people are 52% more likely to click on an ad if it is at the top of a Google Search Results Page.

Video is (Still) on the Rise

Everyone has been saying “video is the future” for years — and, well, that future is here.

Not just in the need for video itself in terms of ad content and getting onto YouTube, but in the use of video.

Now, when I say “get on video” I don't necessarily mean go out there and launch a YouTube Channel. But start planning and incorporating video into your marketing strategy. What sorts of videos would businesses looking to hire you as their writer want to see when they visit you on Instagram or Facebook?

Brainstorm that strategy and start planning it out. The faster you can build a strong foundation for your video marketing strategy, the better.

Also, while we're talking about video, you're probably going to hear a lot of people talking about short-form video, especially considering how popular TikTok still is even years after it exploded onto the scene. But in reality, no one actually likes short-form video.

Well, let me clarify: people enjoy consuming short-form video when they want something to scroll. But when they want to watch something, they still seek out long-form videos. Not only that, but long-form videos also end up paying more than short-form videos ever can; which means creators enjoy creating long-form videos more, and the quality is showing.

Videos on TikTok are slowly declining in quality and being repurposed to other platforms, exemplifying how little effort people want to exert on short-form videos.

Meanwhile, longer videos on YouTube are seeing increased numbers and views and videos are getting better and better.

Start Optimizing for Voice Search

Alexa, Siri, Google Home — all these smart speakers are having a major impact on how people interact with the Internet, including the rise in Voice Search.

Fewer and fewer people are tapping on their smartphones and tablets to search the Internet for things, and even fewer are using their computers. By 2021, roughly 42% of the United States will use voice assistance to search the Internet at least monthly.

This trend is going to have two major impacts on content marketing:

  1. If you want to get found when someone does a voice search, you will need to optimize your content for voice searching. The same goes for your clients' content that you write.
  2. Just as they did with mobile-first ranking in their algorithms, Google is likely going to reward content that is voice optimized in the rankings even when their users are on desktop or mobile devices while searching. This could mean a major shift coming in the current rankings, as pages that have been dominating the search results may finally give way for up-and-comers and newer websites who are adopting this trend early. And knowing this can really give your clients a huge advantage over their competition.

Social Media Platforms are the New Search Engines

Look, I love Google and I geek out about search engine optimization.

But search as we know it is about to change forever. Already, 51% of GenZ women prefer to search for things on TikTok instead of Google. And that's just the beginning.

Social media platforms are no longer just spaces for networking and content sharing. They are rapidly transforming into powerful search engines, a trend that freelance writers should keenly observe and leverage. This transformation is particularly evident in platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which are now being indexed by Google, marking a significant shift in how content is discovered and consumed online.

And Pinterest was already indexed by Google, giving you a search engine within a search engine!

Weirdly, the only platform that still seems to be failing at everything search related is Facebook.

The Rise of Social Search

The indexing of social media content by Google is a game-changer. When you search for a topic, you're now just as likely to find a TikTok video or an Instagram post as you are a traditional webpage. This integration means that content on these platforms has the potential to reach a much wider audience, extending beyond their native user base. For freelance writers, this opens up a new avenue for content visibility and audience engagement.

Embracing SEO Strategies on Social Media

Recognizing their role as de facto search engines, platforms like TikTok and Instagram are incorporating typical search engine tools to enhance content discoverability. One such tool is the use of ALT Text. ALT Text on these platforms serves a dual purpose: it makes content more accessible, aiding those who use screen readers, and it also acts as a search optimization tool. By including relevant keywords in the ALT Text of images and videos, creators can improve their content's visibility both on the platform and in Google searches.

Moreover, keyword research, a staple in traditional SEO, is becoming increasingly important in social media content creation. Understanding and using the right keywords can significantly boost a creator's reach. This involves not just identifying popular and relevant keywords, but also understanding the nuances of how people search on these platforms, which can differ from how they search on traditional search engines.

The Implications for Freelance Writers

For freelance writers, this shift means adapting to a new content landscape. It's no longer just about crafting compelling narratives; it's also about understanding and implementing SEO strategies within social media platforms. Writers need to be more strategic in their use of keywords, hashtags, and even the structure of their content to ensure it's discoverable both by platform algorithms and search engines like Google.

Social Media Marketing Trends Prove One Thing Above All

Social media isn't dying. It's not going anywhere. And even with all the people complaining about Facebook, and data breaches, and complaining about how social media has taken over everyone's lives — it's not going anywhere.

It is, however, evolving. It is simultaneously becoming more ingrained into our daily lives. It's no longer a luxury or something people browse through out of boredom or just to pass the time — nor is it something people use solely to contact their friends and family or hold their D&D Games on.

Daily integration: everything from learning new skills, consuming news, shopping for products, and – yes – having fun with our friends and family.

Which means the businesses that are going to thrive in the coming years on social media are not necessarily going to be the ones that spend the most money on ads or pump out the most content, but rather integrate themselves into their audience's daily lives.

It's no longer enough for you to check in online everyday. Help your clients build their social media community in such a way that their audience checks in daily, make it a habit, and you will find that they have a hard time ignoring you.

Did you enjoy this article? Here are some more posts on social media marketing you may like:

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