The landscape of social media is always changing. This means brands need to stay informed about the latest trends and best practices. Facebook and Instagram’s infamous algorithm have thrown many a social media manager or business owner for a loop – because essentially, we are at the mercy of these giant platforms, and you never know when an update to the algorithm is coming. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt and keep up with the changes.
What is having an impact on social media right now?
The Creator Economy
The creator economy is the culture of content creators who are getting revenue from their creations – typically content like short videos or stories, often promoting products or providing entertainment.
Today, anyone can become a creator. There are over 50 million independent creators, ranging from social media influencers to bloggers, who are turning their content into (often lucrative) small businesses. When you think of how massive the creator economy has become, even over such a short period of time, it’s really no wonder kids would rather become YouTube stars than astronauts.
Brands are leveraging the creator economy to grow their brand awareness, collaborating with creators in both the micro-influencer and influencer space. Audiences develop almost personal relationships with these creators and trust their product recommendations. (stat goes here)
TikTok’s Rise to Fame (And The Vertical Video Boom)
TikTok quickly rose to fame in [year] and today has over [#] users around the world. The app allows users to watch short entertaining videos on everything from “how-to’s” to comedic skits to the ever popular TikTok dances. According to Statista, the annual TikTok user growth rate in the U.S. in 2020 was 85.3%. Compare that to Facebook’s at a disappointing 8.7%.
What has made people fall in love with TikTok? Most would say that it’s the authenticity. While platforms like Instagram have always been home to curated, aesthetically-pleasing content, TikTok has more of a raw appeal. It feels more real, and people connect with that. The short, entertaining clips make it easy capture even the shortest attention spans. And even though viewers are drawn to the short content, the average user spends at least 100 minutes a day across all platforms watching online videos. We all know what it’s like to get lost in the scroll, only to realize later how much time has passed.
Social networks like Instagram and YouTube have followed TikTok’s lead, and vertical video is taking over. Meta launched Instagram Reels in 2020, and on Facebook in 2021. Next was YouTube with YouTube Shorts. While they rolled our Shorts in North America in spring of 2021, they had actually first launched the beta version in India back in the fall of 2020. It’s safe to say that vertical video isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and brands need to embrace this.
We mentioned that TikTok’s appeal is the “real” feel of the videos. They are not perfect or overproduced. Even Instagram content, which has been criticized for being often unrealistic (prompting trends like Instagram vs. Real Life) has been leaning into less filtered, and more in-the-moment content.
Users expect the same level of rawness of even the largest brands that have major production power. In most cases, they don’t care about perfect lighting or quality. They want it to feel real and relatable.
This puts smaller brands in a good position, because they don’t necessarily need a videographer and intense resources to create compelling content. However, we won’t pretend it isn’t time consuming. It can put increased pressure on brands to churn out video content and feed the content machine.
It’s crucial that any social media video plan should be led with a proper content strategy. Brands need to be creative and quick to adapt to trends that are changing weekly, and a solid content strategy lays the foundation.
COVID 19 and Work from Home Culture
The pandemic managed to shake the way we interacted with our favorite social media apps. Our social media habits changed, leading to more time spent on social media daily, more videos consumed, and new peak times for usage. It also wasn’t uncommon to rely more heavily on social media for human connection at a time where many were incredibly isolated.
Many worked from home and still work from home to this day. The 9 to 5 now has the added flexibility of being able to pull out your phone without your boss noticing it, or stepping away to cook something to eat in the kitchen. This gave employees the freedom to take breaks when they needed, and with a more flexible workday, we saw a change to the times of the day users were engaging with social media.
All to say – the metrics we knew and understood suddenly changed. The unpredictability of the last few years has had an impact on social media metrics, and while brands have long looked to them for validation and bench marking, some would argue they’ve become much less stable. There is a new normal to adjust to. And as we come out of the pandemic, we can expect social media behavior to change once again.
Going Forward and Embracing Change
As we write this, we are aware that in six to twelve months, this article may very well feel irrelevant. The speed at which social media apps evolve is undeniably fast these days, and that isn’t changing any time soon.
Brands should be investing a healthy portion of their marketing budget into an overall content strategy to determine not only what is the best social media approach for them, but how it ties into their larger marketing ecosystem. It’s also important to regularly monitor trends in order to stay up to date and get the most ROI out of your content.
At the end of the day, the right social media strategy will efficiently lead to higher brand trust, awareness and ultimately, revenue.
Contact us today to discuss your content strategy and social media needs.