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GuidesResearch methods13 social media research topics to explore in 2024

13 social media research topics to explore in 2024

Last updated

15 January 2024

Author

Chloe Garnham

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With the rise of technology, social media has been adopted across the globe. 60% of the world’s population uses social media, spending an average of two hours and 24 minutes on platforms each day.

Research in this area garners continuous interest given social media’s prolific use. Exploring social media research questions helps people understand the impacts, effects, and intricacies of social media on individuals and the wider community.

To help you choose a specific area to examine, here are some of the top social media research topics that are relevant in 2024.

What makes a strong social media research topic?

Consider the factors below to ensure your topic is strong and compelling:

  • Clarity: regardless of the topic you investigate, clarity is essential. It ensures readers will be able to understand your work and any wider learnings. Your argument should be clear and your language unambiguous.

  • Trend relevancy: you need to know what’s currently happening in social media to draw relevant conclusions. Before choosing a topic, consider current popular platforms, trending content, and current use cases to ensure you understand social media as it is today.

  • New insights: if your research is to be new, innovative, and helpful for the wider population, it should cover areas that haven’t been studied before. Look into what’s already been thoroughly researched to help you uncover knowledge gaps that could be good focus areas.

Tips for choosing social media research topics

When considering social media research questions, it’s also important to consider whether you’re the right person to conduct that area of study. Your skills, interests, and time allocated will all impact your suitability.

  • Consider your skillset: your specific expertise is highly valuable when conducting research. Choosing a topic that aligns with your skills will help ensure you can add a thorough analysis and your own learnings.

  • Align with your interests: if you’re deeply interested in a topic, you’re much more likely to enjoy the process and dedicate the time it needs for a thorough analysis.

  • Consider your resources: the time you have available to complete the research, your allocated funds, and access to resources should all impact the research topic you choose.

13 social media research paper topics

To help you choose the right area of research, we’ve rounded up some of the most compelling topics within the sector. These ideas may also help you come up with your own.

1. The influence of social media on mental health

It’s well-documented that social media can impact mental health. For example, a significant amount of research has highlighted the link between social media and conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress—but there’s still more to uncover in this area.

There are high rates of mental illness worldwide, so there’s continual interest in ways to understand and mitigate it. Studies could focus on the following areas:

  • The reasons why social media can impact mental health

  • How social media can impact specific mental health conditions (you might also look at different age groups here)

  • How to reduce social media’s impact on mental health

2. The effects of social media exposure on child development

There are many unknowns with social media. More research is needed to understand how it impacts children. As such, this is a very valuable research area.

You might explore the following topics:

  • How social media impacts children at different ages

  • The long-term effects of childhood social media use

  • The benefits of social media use in children

  • How social media use impacts childhood socialization, communication, and learning

3. The role of social media in political campaigning

Social media’s role in political campaigning is nothing new. The Cambridge Analytica Scandal, for example, involved data from millions of Facebook profiles being sold to a third party for political advertising. Many believe this could have impacted the 2016 US election results. Ultimately, Facebook had to pay a private class-action lawsuit of $725 million.

The role of social media in political campaigns is of global significance. Concerns are still high that social media can play a negative role in elections due to the spread of misinformation, disinformation, and the bandwagon effect.

Research in this area could look into the following topics:

  • How people are influenced by social media when it comes to voting

  • Ways to mitigate misinformation

  • Election interference and how this can be prevented

4. The role of social media in misinformation and disinformation

Misinformation and disinformation mean slightly different things. Misinformation is unintentionally sharing false or inaccurate information, while disinformation is sharing false information with the deliberate intent to mislead people.

Both can play a role not just in elections but throughout social media. This became particularly problematic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research into this area is important given the widespread risk that comes with spreading false information about health and safety-related topics.

Here are some potential research areas:

  • How misinformation and disinformation are spread via social media

  • The impact of false information (you could focus on how it impacts health, for example)

  • Strategies for mitigating the impact of false information and encouraging critical thinking

  • The avenues through which to hold technology companies accountable for spreading misinformation

5. The impact of AI and deepfakes on social media 

AI technology is expected to continue expanding in 2024. Some are concerned that this could impact social media. One concern is the potential for the widespread use of deepfake technology—a form of AI that uses deep learning to create fake images.

Fake images can be used to discredit, shame, and control others, so researchers need to deeply understand this area of technology. You might look into the following areas:

  • The potential impacts of deepfakes on businesses and their reputations

  • Deepfake identities on social media: privacy concerns and other risks

  • How deepfake images can be identified, controlled, and prevented

6. How social media can benefit communities

While there’s much research into the potential negative impacts of social media, it can also provide many benefits.

Social media can establish connections for those who might otherwise be isolated in the community. It can facilitate in-person gatherings and connect people who are physically separated, such as relatives who live in different countries. Social media can also provide critical information to communities quickly in the case of emergencies.

Research into the ways social media can provide these key benefits can make interesting topics. You could consider the following:

  • Which social media platforms offer the most benefits

  • How to better use social media to lean into these benefits

  • How new social platforms could connect us in more helpful ways

7. The psychology of social media

Social media psychology explores human behavior in relation to social media. There are a range of topics within social media psychology, including the following: 

8. How communication has evolved through social media

Social media has provided endless ways for humans to connect and interact, so the ways we do this have evolved.

Most obviously, social media has provided ways to connect instantaneously via real-time messaging and communicate using multimedia formats, including text, images, emojis, video content, and audio.

This has made communication more accessible and seamless, especially given many people now own smartphones that can connect to social media apps from anywhere.

You might consider researching the following topics:

  • How social media has changed the way people communicate

  • The impacts of being continuously connected, both positive and negative

  • How communication may evolve in the future due to social media

9. Social media platforms as primary news sources

As social media use has become more widespread, many are accessing news information primarily from their newsfeeds. This can be particularly problematic, given that newsfeeds are personalized providing content to people based on their data.

This can cause people to live in echo chambers, where they are constantly targeted with content that aligns with their beliefs. This can cause people to become more entrenched in their way of thinking and more unable or unwilling to see other people’s opinions and points of view.

Research in this area could consider the following:

  • The challenges that arise from using social media platforms as a primary news source

  • The pros and cons of social media: does it encourage “soloization” or diverse perspectives?

  • How to prevent social media echo chambers from occurring

  • The impact of social media echo chambers on journalistic integrity

10. How social media is impacting modern journalism

News platforms typically rely on an advertising model where more clicks and views increase revenue. Since sensationalist stories can attract more clicks and shares on social media, modern journalism is evolving.

Journalists are often rewarded for writing clickbait headlines and content that’s more emotionally triggering (and therefore shareable).

Your research could cover the following areas:

  • How journalism is evolving due to social media

  • How to mitigate social media’s impact on neutral reporting

  • The importance of journalistic standards in the age of social media

11. The impact of social media on traditional advertising

Digital advertising is growing in popularity. Worldwide, ad spending on social media was expected to reach $207.1 billion in 2023. Experts estimate that ad spending on mobile alone will reach $255.8 billion by 2028. This move continues to impact traditional advertising, which takes place via channels like print, TV, and radio.

Most organizations consider their social strategy a critical aspect of their advertising program. Many exclusively advertise on social media—especially those with limited budgets.

Here are some interesting research topics in this area

  • The impact of different advertising methods

  • Which social media advertising channels provide the highest return on investment (ROI)

  • The societal impacts of social media advertising

12. Impacts of social media presence on corporate image

Social media presence can provide companies with an opportunity to be visible and increase brand awareness. Social media also provides a key way to interact with customers.

More and more customers now expect businesses to be online. Research shows that 63% of customers expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels, while a whopping 90% have connected with a brand or business through social media.

Research in this area could focus on the following topics:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of social media marketing for businesses

  • How social media can impact a business’s corporate image

  • How social media can boost customer experience and loyalty

13. How social media impacts data privacy

Using social media platforms is free for the most part, but users have to provide their personal data for the privilege. This means data collection, tracking, the potential for third parties to access that data, psychological profiling, geolocation, and tracking are all potential risks for users.

Data security and privacy are of increasing interest globally. Research within this area will likely be in high demand in 2024.

Here are some of the research topics you might want to consider in this area:

  • Common privacy concerns with social media use

  • Why is social media privacy important?

  • What can individuals do to protect their data when using social media?

The importance of social media research

As social media use continues to expand in the US and around the world, there’s continual interest in research on the topic. The research you conduct could positively impact many groups of people.

Topics can cover a broad range of areas. You might look at how social media can harm or benefit people, how social media can impact journalism, how platforms can impact young people, or the data privacy risks involved with social media use. The options are endless, and new research topics will present themselves as technology evolves.

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