By C-K’s Social & PR team

The heartbeat of good social media content planning are the trends that foster conversation. They’re a way to nod to your customers to say, “we are listening.” But on a larger scale, it helps keep creative tactics rooted in reality.

The following social media trends and signals are currently driving the platform and content strategies of tomorrow.   

The “What About Me” Effect 

Thanks to the algorithm gods, you don’t have to look far to find content, media or opinions that align with your values and interests.  It can almost feel jarring when we’re served something that isn’t “for” us.  

Maybe inevitably, a phenomenon emerged, something TikTok creator Sarah Lockwood (@SarahTheBookFairy) coined the “What About Me” effect. The “What About Me” effect refers to people’s tendency to focus on themselves when engaging in social interactions, often seeking validation, attention or recognition for their own experience, thoughts or feelings. It can manifest in various ways, such as individuals steering conversations back to themselves or feeling left out if they perceive others as receiving more attention.  

Lockwood highlights a prime example of this behavior in action, referring to a vegan bean soup recipe shared by another creator on the platform. The creator received scores of comments requesting substitutions for beans or ways to make the soup something other than a soup.  

In response to Lockwood’s video, a baker stated that she often receives comments saying “I hate cookie cakes” on videos of her decorating a cookie cake. Another user commented saying, “the worst is when someone will post an appreciation post of their dad and people will say, “wow must be nice having a dad.”  

While the ever-present “What About Me” effect is not surprising, understanding the impact of this behavior on creators and users alike is one worth watching.  

Longer Attention Spans 

People are watching longer videos if the content is resonating, and TikTok users spend over half their time on videos that are over one minute long. Retention is important for keeping time spent in an app high, and now TikTok is making it clear that they’re rewarding horizontal videos with greater reach if they are 1+ minutes in length.  

We’ve been conditioned to believe that this trend is because of our phones, but a new (old) way is actually driving this change: TV. Neal Mohan, YouTube’s CEO, has noted that people are viewing more than 1B hours of YouTube content a day on their TVs and that creators have seen their TV watch time increase by over 400% in the last year.  

So while content has gotten more sophisticated over the years, and creators are smarter with pacing to keep people engaged, we cannot overlook the fact that the platforms are also engineering creator’s behaviors with rewards like greater reach. While this might not be indicative of a full pendulum swing back into legacy media, the vehicle for delivering content is as important as the content shared.  

Purposeful PR 

PR packages are sent to influencers with the intention of generating buzz around a brand or product, ultimately driving sales. However, as influencers continue to receive an overwhelming amount of packages, audiences are growing tired of the emphasis on excessive consumption. Brands continue to send packages, wrapped in an abundance of wasteful shipping materials, to prominent influencers who could never possibly use all the products they receive.  

Over the past year, a “deinfluencing” trend has gained momentum, as audiences are now more drawn to mindful living, sustainability and conscious consumption. As a result, brands need to think about who their products are truly for. When brands align with influencers who resonate with their ethos and target demographic, their PR packages become more authentic and compelling.  

This targeted approach maximizes the impact of influencer marketing efforts and fosters stronger connections with intended audiences, while simultaneously reducing waste.  

Shrinking Newsrooms 

Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen legacy papers like the Los Angeles Times reduce their staff by 20%, music journalism giant Pitchfork get folded into GQ and new outlets like The Messenger closing less than a year after they launched.   

A recent study from the Northwestern Medill School of Journalism found:   

  • The U.S. has lost nearly 2,900 newspapers since 2006 and is on pace to lose one-third of all newspapers by the end of 2024.  
  • Almost two-thirds of newspaper journalists have disappeared in the same timeframe, mostly employed at large metro or regional newspapers.  
  • There are 204 counties in the U.S. with no local news outlet, and 1,766 have no or only one local news outlet.  

The further fragmentation of the journalism industry makes it harder for PR professionals to land placements due to fewer reporters, resources and outlets to share news with.   

Social Shopping 

With the convenience of browsing and buying within familiar social environments, shopping on social media has become a cornerstone of modern retail, shaping consumer behavior and redefining the shopping experience.  

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest have integrated shopping features, allowing users to discover and purchase products without leaving the app.  

This has revolutionized the way brands interact with consumers, offering personalized shopping experiences tailored to individual preferences. Influencers and brands collaborate to showcase products through engaging content, driving impulse purchases and fostering a sense of community around shared interests.  

As technology continues to advance, the future of shopping on social media holds immense potential for further integration and innovation. Augmented reality and virtual reality are poised to revolutionize the experience, enabling users to virtually try on clothes, test out products, and visualize items in their own spaces before making a purchase.  

Shopping on socials will likely become even more seamless, with frictionless checkout processes and integrated payment solutions, blurring the lines between social networking and online shopping.  

Moreover, as social media platforms expand their capabilities and user bases, the global reach of social shopping will continue to grow, making it a pivotal channel for brands to connect with consumers worldwide.