Social media has become a constantly-morphing cipher for companies to crack.
By now, most companies have a solid idea about how to engage their audience on the major platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and are able to cope to some degree with their continuous algorithm changes.
But how are companies supposed to handle all of the emerging trends and platforms? Where do you spend your time? Your budget? Which platforms are being used by your audience? And who’s really using these things anyway?
Recently, one of the biggest trends to shake up the traditional networks has been the rise of live content. “New trends like mobile live streaming are impacting the way companies communicate with their customers and audiences,” said Cathy Hackl in a recent Online Class. Hackl, a teacher at IE Business School and CEO of Globally Social, a social media consultancy, has been working with companies and professionals to adjust their social media strategies in accordance with these new trends. Networks like Snapchat and Periscope are among some of the fastest growing networks, with hundreds of millions of users – both embrace urgency to connect and engage, or “FoMO” as stated by Hackl.
F.o.M.O. – Fear of Missing Out
The latest trend rising in social media apps and networks is ephemeral content. When you post a piece of content on Facebook or Twitter, it isn’t going anywhere. In fact you’ll probably repost it a few more times over the coming weeks to keep it resurfacing in front of your followers. Your followers don’t have to worry about it disappearing. But that’s all going out the window.
Modern social media content is short, punchy, and vanishing faster than Sasquatch, leaving everyone who missed out on the sighting feeling like a chump. The fear of missing out introduces new reason for audiences to become more engaged than ever with the people and companies they follow.
Take Snapchat, for example. If you aren’t following a brand now, you’ve already missed out on most of the content. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, you can’t scroll through all the previous posts. The longest-lasting content a company can share is a story (unless they are advertising) – and it will only last for 24 hours. And Periscope? If you didn’t catch the live-stream – you’ve probably missed out!
And speaking of live streaming…
You’ve heard of Meerkat and Periscope by now. The concept is simple: you create a live broadcast that sends push notifications for followers encouraging them to join. Not only does live broadcasting have the FoMO element, but it also has a behind-the-scenes feel that shows the humans at the company. And when it comes to social media, breaking down the fourth wall to engage your audience is a must.
Well why aren’t other major platforms getting in on live streaming? So glad you asked – they are! Facebook has introduced “Live” but has only made it available to celebrities and certain verified accounts. It would be surprising if they didn’t open up the feature to the general public in due time. YouTube? You bet. The video giant is also entering into live streaming. Hackl acknowledged that Instagram (although owned by Facebook, which has begun live streaming) has not entered the realm, nor does she anticipate that happening in the near future.
One of the biggest challenges with new social media platforms is figuring out how to use them to engage with an audience.
Live streaming has been used to give followers sneak peaks of upcoming products, or events to build excitement. This includes unboxing a new product, or hands-on demos. And one of the best ways to spread their reach: influencers.
Hackl shared an example in which she was engaged by Applebee’s for a campaign. To kick off the launch of new menu items, the food chain planned to give away 2 million free appetizers to customers. Applebee’s created the hashtag #TasteTheChange, and called upon influencers to visit locations with their friends to build excitement and live stream their experience. The result of leveraging influencers? One Billion impressions across all channels.
How else are people using Snapchat? Live events, private contests, and special promotions are particularly popular. And when it comes to promotions, Hackl points out that this creates urgency: “If you don’t catch it now, you won’t be able to use it!” This gives audiences all the more reason to follow their favorite companies, or risk miss out!