50% Social Media Users will cut Engagement as Digital Marketing Evolves: Gartner

A recent study conducted by Gartner suggests that a substantial decline in the perceived quality of social media platforms may prompt half of all consumers to drastically reduce or completely halt their engagement with social media by the year 2025.
TeamViewer user on a laptopThe survey, encompassing 263 respondents between July and August 2023, revealed that 53 percent of participants believe the current state of social media has deteriorated compared to either the previous year or a five-year span.

Buffer, which offers the strategies and tactics to take social media marketing to new heights, has listed the top social media apps and platforms for 2024.

  1. Facebook — 3.03 billion MAUs
  2. YouTube — 2.5 billion MAUs
  3. WhatsApp — 2 billion MAUs
  4. Instagram — 2 billion MAUs
  5. WeChat — 1.3 billion MAUs
  6. TikTok — 1.05 billion MAUs
  7. Telegram — 700 million MAUs
  8. Snapchat — 557 million MAUs
  9. Kuaishou — 626 million MAUs
  10. Qzone — 600 million MAUs
  11. Sina Weibo — 584 million MAUs
  12. QQ — 574 million MAUs
  13. X (formerly Twitter) — 556 million MAUs
  14. Pinterest — 445 million MAUs
  15. Reddit — 430 million MAUs
  16. LinkedIn — 424 million MAUs
  17. Quora — 300 million MAUs
  18. Discord — 154 million MAUs
  19. Twitch — 140 million MAUs
  20. Tumblr — 135 million MAUs
  21. Threads — 23.7 million (predicted U.S. users)
  22. Mastodon — 1.7 million MAUs
  23. Bluesky — MAU unknown

Gartner says the primary factors contributing to this decline were identified as the proliferation of misinformation, toxic user communities, and the prevalence of automated bot accounts. Concerns regarding the impending use of GenAI (AI specifically linked to a generation) on social media were notably high, with over 70 percent of consumers expressing apprehension that increased integration of GenAI could harm the user experience.

While social media continues to be a prime investment channel for digital marketing, consumers are actively seeking ways to curtail their usage.

“A significant portion of respondents indicated a decrease in sharing personal content compared to previous years. As the landscape and user experience of these platforms evolve, Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) must pivot their strategies for customer acquisition and loyalty retention accordingly,” Emily Weiss, Senior Principal Researcher in the Gartner Marketing Practice, said.

Gartner’s projections for marketers to adapt to this shifting landscape include several key insights:

By 2027, it’s anticipated that 20 percent of brands will pivot towards positioning and differentiation strategies centered on the absence of AI within their operations and products.

A survey conducted in May 2023 revealed that 72 percent of consumers believe AI-generated content could disseminate false or misleading information. Furthermore, respondents expressed diminishing confidence in AI-powered experiences compared to human-driven interactions.

Distrust and skepticism surrounding AI capabilities may lead certain consumers to seek out brands emphasizing a more human touch, eschewing AI-related associations, Emily Weiss said.

In the coming years, approximately 80 percent of advanced creative roles are projected to incorporate GenAI to achieve distinct outcomes, necessitating increased investment by CMOs in talent specialized in leveraging this technology.

GenAI integration in daily creative functions liberates teams to focus on high-level ideation and strategic innovation, thereby amplifying the measurable impact of creativity on business outcomes.

By 2028, it is estimated that organic search traffic for brands will plummet by over 50 percent as consumers gravitate towards AI-powered generative search options.

CMOs reliant on organic search strategies should diversify their approaches as the proliferation of GenAI in search engines is poised to disrupt traditional SEO tactics significantly.

To combat the potential challenges posed by GenAI, it’s projected that by 2026, 60 percent of CMOs will adopt content authenticity technology, intensified monitoring practices, and brand-endorsed user-generated content (UGC) to safeguard their brands from potential deceit unleashed by AI advancements.

As the utilization of GenAI tools escalates across marketing channels, transparency regarding their deployment becomes crucial in maintaining customer trust, Emily Weiss said.

In anticipation of these transformative shifts in consumer behavior and technological advancements, marketing leaders are urged to recalibrate their strategies to navigate the evolving landscape effectively.

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