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What do Social Media Users Want in 2024?

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Mindshare and Snapchat’s new study reveals the conscious and unconscious social media users’ preferences in 2024.

Understanding the evolving needs and desires of social media users is crucial for brands and marketers who want to stay ahead in 2024.

This is why Mindshare and Snapchat teamed up to produce a study on social media preferences across different platforms. The study was conducted in two parts, with a quantitative survey of more than 28,000 adults across 14 countries worldwide.

The first part, developed by Mindshare’s Worldwide Data Strategy and Insight team examined consumers’ daily social media behaviors. The second half, developed by Mindshare’s NeuroLab team (the agency’s in-house neuroscience department), dove deeper into consumers’ unconscious preferences and their emotional perceptions of different platforms.

The study’s findings revealed that six distinct “need states” are governing social media users’ behaviors.

The Six “Need States” Driving Social Media Behavior: 

  • Exploring (22%): Openness to new experiences and discovering new places
  • Learning (16%): Finding happiness in expanding knowledge
  • Progression (15%): Desire to build your future and move up in the world
  • Joy (19%): Specifically looking for fun, upbeat moments and experiences
  • Hanging Out/Time Waste (15%): Passing the time in their day-to-day lives
  • Connection (13%): Using social technology to share their lives with family and friends

“A few simple but powerful needs underpin all social behaviour. They are to explore, learn, to connect, to progress, to have fun or just to waste time. This knowledge is the key to unlocking the true power of social media,” says Glen Parker, Head of Data Strategy and Insights, Mindshare Worldwide.

Cultural Differences Impact User Behavior

These six need states exhibited significant variations across different markets, reflecting the cultural differences of each region.

For instance, the United Kingdom and the United States predominantly perceive social media as a space to be entertained, while emerging markets like India regard it as a source of progression. In Turkeythe Netherlands, and France, the emphasis lies on exploration and learning. In Germany, consumers primarily view platforms as tools for changing opinions.

Generational Insights: What Resonates Across Age Groups?

Mindshare and Snapchat also correlated these need states with generational preferences, offering invaluable insights into engaging diverse audiences.

For example, the research showed that 24% of Gen Z value Progression, which is the highest percentage of all the need states for that generation. Whereas only 4% of the post-war generation (defined as ages 78-98) found Progression relevant to them, which is the lowest percentage of all the need states for that generation. In contrast, the needs for Connection and Joy progressed with age.

However, the desires for Learning, Exploring, and Hanging Out were consistent across all generations.

Subconscious Beliefs About Social Media Platforms 

As part of the study, Mindshare’s NeuroLab conducted Implicit Association Testing (IAT) to quantify consumers’ subconscious beliefs about different platforms.

This part of the research aimed to understand the behaviors that set 10 well-known social platforms apart, enabling the alignment of consumer needs with platform strengths and behaviors.

For example, audiences most associated: 

  • Snapchat with learning, promoting, and delivering feelings of joy;
  • Instagram with exploration and receiving recognition from others;
  • LinkedIn with building connections and cultivating careers.

“We know that Snapchatters feel more connected and pay more attention to the content they are seeing on our platform because they’ are engaging with their trusted circle of close friends and family. The  research reinforces the fact that the joy Snapchatters feel when using the app influence how they view business messages in a positive way, ultimately driving business outcomes for brands”, says Alexander Dao, Global Head of Agency Development & Sales Partnerships, Snap Inc. 

Tailoring Strategies for Maximum Impact in 2024

Terence Scroope, Executive Director of Customer Strategy at Mindshare, highlights that each social platform offers unique capabilities to address audience preferences, making it critical to consider this diversity when selecting partners for a campaign.

By tailoring media strategies to align with the unique need states of each platform, we can build programs that truly resonate with different audiences and make a meaningful impact across a wide range of markets.


From September through December 2022, Mindshare and Snapchat conducted online studies with Mindshare’s Worldwide Data Strategy & Insights team. The tests included qualitative questions about social media use with research platform Audience Origin and Implicit Association Tests (IAT) run by Mindshare’s NeuroLab.

In total, there were 28,000 participants, ages 18 years old or older, across USA, UK, AustraliaCanadaDenmarkFranceGermanyIndiaItalyNetherlandsSaudi ArabiaSwedenTurkey, and the UAE

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