Disruption: Michael Stelzner’s 2024 Social Media Marketing World Keynote

Jake Woehlke
Nomadic Jake
4 min readFeb 20, 2024


Photo by dole777 on Unsplash

Upheaval in marketing? Seismic changes in the social media landscape?

They can be summed up in one word: disruption.

That’s the key word that formed Michael Stelzner’s (Michael A. Stelzner) keynote opening the 2024 Social Media Marketing World conference, held this week in San Diego.

Stelzner began by taking attendees on a journey of disruption through recent memory: comparisons of network TV shows to on-demand Netflix streaming, radio shows to on-demand podcasts, and so on. Disruption continues to happen, but with advances in artificial intelligence technology, the moment of reckoning has come to social media marketers.

Disruption itself has the potential to scare marketers, alter consumer behavior, and threaten the work and livelihood that marketers count on. But, Stelzner reassures, “disruption” itself can prove to be an opportunity, and has proven to be a source of opportunity for marketers in the past: the afore-mentioned changes from television to streaming, radio to podcasts, and attention to social media through freely-available content and delivery channels proves that the disruption occurring in other industries have themselves become a boon to marketers.

We’ve been disruption-free for years now. But that all changed in November of 2022.

In November 2022, OpenAI released ChatGPT: the first widely-available Large-Language Model (LLM) available through a chatbot. With its easy accessibility and functionality, its incredible growth of over 1.7 billion users in its first year should come as no surprise. But with that growth has come a new “normal”: ChatGPT has been replacing Google as a user’s first destination when they decide to search the internet. This growth and adoption, Stelzner notes, creates true disruption for search, content, and the marketers who are responsible for developing the same. And while sites like ChatGPT and generative AI programs appear as a risk to content creators and marketers, marketing with content remains a “massive opportunity” and social platforms are in desperate need of content.

Stelzner notes that now is the time for marketers to embrace disruption within the industry by first “recoding our thinking”; removing limiting beliefs like “What works now will work tomorrow” and replacing that with “seeking new ideas, because marketing eventually has diminishing returns”. His path forward included thinking about different scenarios, doing things differently, and testing what may work and what may not; testing things like unscripted vlogs, longer-form written content, and a “special” podcast episode with a more personal message.

graph of most important content formats for marketers, 2024 survey results

While video continues to be the top format marketers utilize (46% of respondents in the 2024 Social Media Marketing Industry Report), Stelzner’s video tests produced few actionable results, and after three months of testing, he ended his experiment. The next two experiments both involved written and written-adjacent content: the first of the two being a long-form text post shared on Facebook, LinkedIn and X/Twitter. The content of the post was created to resonate with his intended audience, taking opinions and discussing shared struggles in a relatable way, and produced positive results in both engagement with the content and reader reactions (messages and comments).

While marketers don’t see written content as important as video (25% of marketers believe written content is their most important content type), those that do still feel the format itself is important; marketers who are pushing written content and wish to increase their output shared that they intend on increasing their written content on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram (60, 40, and 38% of survey respondents respectively).

published is better than perfect, quote by Michael Stelzner
Michael A. Stelzner on Medium

Stelzner’s final experiment involved a “special” podcast episode, published through his Social Media Marketing podcast and outside of his normal schedule and format; following his written experiment, the podcast was a more personal tone and shared struggles and “real stories”. The resulting episode performed extremely well in an audio format, and the message, repurposed in a text format in both social and newsletter formats, also performed extremely well.

Both written and podcast experiments, Stelzner states, are real “marketing”. The content produced created a deeper connection with customers and fans, was created to make a lasting impact, and produced the opposite of an AI output: real stories and authenticity.

Proving that content can still perform, Stelzner finished the keynote by charting a way through disruption: creating genuine content, fostering genuine connections with your readers/listeners/viewers, and embracing three “liberating truths”:

  • There are new opportunities just around the corner if I watch for them
  • I seek new ideas because my marketing eventually has diminishing returns
  • I embrace change because it helps me remain relevant and valuable

Remembering that disruption is happening and will happen again, Michael Stelzner hoped to equip marketers with the information and, more importantly, mindset to weather the waves of disruption and come out on top.

Jake Woehlke is a content creator, digital semi-nomad and travel photographer. Follow him here in Medium for articles on entrepreneurship and content marketing, and catch him on Instagram at nomadic_jake



Jake Woehlke
Nomadic Jake

Creator, marketer, and support consultant taking time to become a financially independent digital nomad. Come wander with me. // jakewoehlke.com