Earlier this month, our marketing team attended the opening day of Social Days 2019, an event that celebrates all things social, opening up our minds to a whole new online world. And because we’re nice, we’ve put together a list of key take-aways and social media trends just for you:
1. Time to get F.I.S.T.Y
If you’re wondering what F.I.S.T.Y means, it’s an acronym Alvin Hussey from the Hook came up with to remember the 5 most popular social channels that marketers should know and use:
Of course, you don’t have to use all of these channels in your social media strategy, it very much depends on your target audience – and for B2B marketers out there, LinkedIn needs to be added to the list, while you might not need Snapchat (so think F.I.L.T.Y. instead).
One thing is clear though, no matter your audience, it’s important to use as many channels as you can, channels being a social marketer’s toolkit to test and experiment with.
And it’s not about using the same filler content across multiple channels; each channel must have its own distinct strategy. You may decide to segment your audience and use Instagram or Snapchat for the younger segment, Facebook for the older one. Another good trick shared is to test a social campaign using paid Facebook ads, before rolling out your idea and adapting it to other platforms. The key is to test and adjust your strategy as you go along.
For marketers that are a little reluctant to venture on Snapchat – it’s definitely worth considering. Dan Thorne from the Guinness Book of Records who opened the event with some extraordinary content (as you’d imagine) disclosed that the Guinness Book of Record’s Snapchat channel now outperformed their YouTube channel, which counts millions of followers.
2. New platforms are emerging
It’s not all about F.I.S.T.Y though (that acronym is so handy). A lot of new channels are emerging, and if you want to keep up with the times, it might be worth downloading the following apps and perhaps even testing them in your next campaign:
You’ll have most likely heard of this one already, if you’re even remotely interested in social. But you may not have dared to ask what it’s about – “Oh TikTok, yeah of course, I use it all the time.” Originally launched as Musical.ly, TikTok became famous as a lip-syncing video channel. It’s now huge and has become the younger generation’s go-to space for self-expression and light-hearted goofiness. It’s also a growing platform for influencers, who seem to have quite an intimate connection with their young followers there. And when we say young, we’re taking about 13 to 20-year-olds. More on the subject of age later.
If you play video games, you’ll know about Twitch. The twist for non-gamers is that it’s not a gaming app. It’s a streaming one. Think Netflix, but for gaming.
The principle is simple: you find your favourite gamer and watch them play whatever game they master. The streams can last hours… 9 hours on average! The viewer session is also longer than your average YouTube session, 95 min for Twitch against 40 min for YouTube. And 48% of the users watch Twitch more than 20 hours per week. Epic commitment from the viewers, a full-time job for the professional gamers… and a fabulous opportunity for advertisers. Advertising is displayed in a corner of the screen during the stream – it’s not clickable, but sits there for ages, which is good if you want to increase your brand awareness. It’s sort of like sponsoring a football or tennis game. One thing to consider before you jump on the opportunity is that, as you’d imagine, the demographic is male-heavy, with the typical user aged 25 to 50.
The viewers can contribute to their chosen player by subscribing a monthly fee. And because that’s not enough, they can also donate money to their favourite players. Apparently, a key gratification for the viewer is to get their name called out by their idol player following a donation – which sounds bizarre to us non-Twitchers, but just imagine watching your favourite actor on screen and getting them to call out your name. Ok, now you get it.
Recently bought by Amazon, Twitch is now starting to venture outside of the gaming world as a live streaming channel, with more diverse content such as cooking, cleaning, art, anything. Watch out YouTube, Twitch is coming for you.
This one was glossed over a little at the conference but it’s where the next generation lay in wait. Focused at the younger generation, PopJam enables kids to create content with stickers, play games and of course, follow influencers. The platform claims to be safe for kids, providing them with a zero-data environment. This means that no personal data about children will be captured in any way; you can’t even take a selfie. Selfies were so 2015 anyway.
3. Content is king
There are many channels out there, and tonnes of brand messaging is being bombarded at users all day long, through paid, organic or influencer campaigns. It’s time to cut through the noise and put more thought into how you can grab the attention of your saturated audience.
It’s all about storytelling and getting into your audience’s shoes. When defining your strategy for each channel, get into the minds of your audience, and think about what they use the channel for and why they would share or react to your content. It may be because they find your content moving or funny; it might even be out of vanity or boredom.
It’s also important to consider what type of content you’re up against, and what seems to work, in terms of branded and non-branded content. If lip-syncing is trending, then why not give it a go? If unicorns or trolls are big, then why not post a meme of a troll on unicorn back? Think outside the box, but always within the limits of your brand.
You must also experiment with different types of content. Of course, visual content performs best, especially videos. Short videos are still very much on trend, but long, editorial-type videos can also perform very well. User-generated content is also growing to allow people to express themselves – and in the context of a campaign, create stronger bonds between the brand and its audience, turning them into brand advocates. User-generated content fits in with the notion of advertainment, which consists in making the audience the star of their own show and putting them at the heart of a brand campaign. Andy Warhol said that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” – social media has become the platform to make it happen.
4. Forget about Influencers; they’re now called creators
An interesting talk was given by Vicky Banham, a creator on TikTok, who explained how she became huge on the platform within a few months, by getting in at the right moment and posting plenty of creative content targeted to her young followers. Her talent is body paint and make up, but there are all kinds of influencers on TikTok, with their own style and talent. She insisted on the importance of brands giving free rein to creators when partnering up with them for an influencer campaign. This may sound high risk, but actually shows better results, as the posts come across as more genuine. By giving creators full creative licence to your influencers you’ll get more engagement from their followers and from the influencers themselves – it’s the basis for an authentic partnership for both parties.
A key point that was repeated throughout the day was to make sure that advertising is clearly labelled as such, with the use of hashtags such as #ad or #advert. Beyond the moral and legal reasons that require publicity to be transparent, your audience is more likely to engage with the content and trust your brand if they don’t feel they are being tricked by an influencer.
5. Down with the kids
It wasn’t just the proliferation of new social channels that surprised us, but the fact that the content targeted at younger audiences seemed to completely miss the mark with older audiences. There definitely seems to be a generational gap between Millennials and the younger Generation Z when it comes to social media behaviours and content. The emergence of new social channels can be explained by the need for younger generations to have their own platform, their own space – without Mum, Dad or Grandma being around to monitor their activity.
There also seems to be a correlation between the monetisation of social media platforms and the disengagement of younger audiences from these platforms – which seems to have happened with Facebook and, more recently, Instagram.
Platforms like TikTok will eventually draw older audiences as they grow in popularity and see their audience age – until the next platform emerges.
Social media is an ever-changing landscape, which is why it’s key for marketers to be on the lookout for new social trends and platforms. And no matter how strange or odd new trends may appear to be, you need to remain open and curious, if you want to stay ahead of the game.
No more eye-rolling; keep those eyes open.
If you want to find out more about new trends, download our 2019 Global Marketing Trends Report, today.