Consumers to limit interactions with social media by 2025

A perceived decay in the quality of social media platforms could drive 50% of consumers to abandon or significantly limit their interactions with social media by 2025, according to Gartner, Inc.


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A Gartner survey of 263 consumers between July and August of 2023 found 53% of consumers believe the current state of social media has decayed compared to either the prior year or to five years ago. The top reasons for this perceived decline were the spread of misinformation, toxic user bases, and the prevalence of bots. Concern about the impact of anticipated GenAI use in social media is high: over seven in ten consumers agree that greater integration of GenAI into social media will harm user experience.

“Social media remains the top investment channel for digital marketing, but consumers are actively trying to limit their use,” said Emily Weiss, Senior Principal Researcher in the Gartner Marketing Practice. “A significant slice says that, compared to a few years ago, they are sharing less of their own lives and content. As the nature of social media use and the experience of the platforms change, CMOs must refocus their customer acquisition and loyalty retention strategies in response.”

Other Gartner predictions to help marketers respond to the changing landscape in 2024 and beyond include:

By 2027, 20% of brands will lean into positioning and differentiation based on the absence of AI in their business and products.

A Gartner survey of 305 consumers in May 2023 found 72% of consumers believe AI-based content generators could spread false or misleading information. In addition, a Gartner survey of 320 consumers in February 2023 found consumers’ perception that AI-powered experiences and capabilities are better than humans is eroding. 

“Mistrust and lack of confidence in AI’s abilities will drive some consumers to seek out AI-free brands and interactions,” said Weiss. “A subsection of brands will shun AI and prioritize more human positioning. This ‘acoustic’ concept will be leveraged to distance brands from perceptions of AI-powered businesses as impersonal and homogeneous.”

By 2026, 80% of advanced creative roles will be tasked with harnessing GenAI to achieve differentiated results, requiring CMOs to spend more on this talent.

As CMOs try to “do more with less”, GenAI promises increased productivity and cost savings. Much of the attraction of GenAI for CMOs revolves around productivity and cost savings, especially for creative services. However, the enhanced productivity will enable senior creative roles to redirect their skills and time to more advanced strategic creative endeavors, such as leveraging GenAI product and service innovation.

“The use of GenAI in a creative team’s routine daily work frees them up to do higher level, more impactful creative ideation, testing, and analysis,” said Weiss. “As a result, creative will play a more important and measurable role in driving business results, and CMOs will actually increase their spending on creative and content.”

By 2028, brands’ organic search traffic will decrease by 50% or more as consumers embrace generative AI-powered search.

The rapid adoption of GenAI in search engines will significantly disrupt CMOs’ ability to harness organic search to drive sales. A Gartner survey of 299 consumers in August 2023 found consumers are ready for AI-enhanced search, with 79% of respondents expecting to use it within the next year. Furthermore, 70% of consumers expressed at least some trust in GenAI-backed search results.

“CMOs must prepare for the disruption that GenAI-backed search will bring to their organic search strategies,” said Weiss. “Marketing leaders whose brands rely on SEO should consider allocating resources to testing other channels in order to diversify.”

By 2026, 60% of CMOs will adopt content authenticity technology, enhanced monitoring, and brand-endorsed user-generated content (UGC) to protect their brands from deception unleashed by GenAI.

Rapid advances in GenAI have left organizations without the frameworks and best practices to ensure responsible use and mitigate risk. A dedicated content authenticity function and development of guardrails for brand will be an organizational imperative.

“As content created with GenAI tools balloons throughout marketing channels, transparency around its use will become increasingly necessary to maintain trust with customers,” said Weiss.