Social Media Toolkit - The 2018 Edition is an on-going series written by Jon Westenberg with the vision of providing readers with insight into the social media landscape.
There will be one chapter published each month.
The final chapter will be available in an all-inclusive e-book version which you will be able to download right here on the ManageFlitter blog.
We hope you find the series informative and encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Where Are We?
Digital marketing has changed. It’s changed drastically and impossibly, in the past 10 years, and it shifts more with every new platform, every new technology and every new advancement. If you’ve been working to promote a brand, a startup or a business online, being aware of what’s going on, what’s developing and what’s falling behind has never been more important.
It’s 2017. Where are we?
To my mind, there are a few big platform shifts that have happened in the past year or so on social media. These are what are shaping new social engagement and guiding the ideas and the movements of agencies and departments who want to be agile and be aligned with where their audience are and where they’re going.
In the past 12 months, we’ve seen a number of big things. Snapchat, which was the new media darling for almost any social agency or influencer, has taken a massive hit through Instagram Stories eating its lunch, Facebook stealing its features, and the wider news about its own shares tanking starting to scare aware its users.
Where Snapchat used to be a thriving and growing option, for many marketers it is now becoming a dangerous liability. It’s not getting the job done, and no matter how many new features are added, there isn’t a move back to the platform.
For people who have invested heavily in Snapchat, this means that the efforts and energy aren’t being directed to where they should be. For people who want to make that audience work, there’s an opportunity to transfer styles and formats of content to the competitors who have taken Snapchat’s own approach.
2. Instagram Stories
The next biggest thing to look at is Instagram Stories. This has been a huge breakthrough for the platform, and it’s been incredible to see how their coopting of Snapchat has appealed to the users. People have taken advantage of the instant reaction and engagement that audiences can give them through the platform, and that’s meant that Instagram has almost had a second breath of life.
Seeing Instagram grow means that many brands are trying to find a way to monetize stories. But that’s not easy. Just because Instagram has never been designed for that kind of content monetization. After all, sharing a link on Instagram is still a big difficulty.
If Instagram continues to commit to this format, what is that going to mean for content creators? That's something that many marketers are going to need to be asking.
3. Facebook Messenger
This is a massive growth platform. It is a sign of the trend towards messaging and a more private kind of public social media (Snapchat do this too!) that appeals to people who want to establish a different and more personal way of communicating with their friends and audiences.
This is big. This is big because the level of engagement that you can get on Messenger is far higher than the level of engagement you'll receive from your email marketing. Or from any other social channel. When you communicate with an audience member through Facebook Messenger there is a connection on a more intimate level that can be quite persuasive.
There are a few more opportunities with Messenger as well. Chatbots are opening up as a great channel and a great option for many brands. Creating rooms. Creating daily updates. These are positive and they are about to become a lot bigger.
4. But what’s going on with long form? (Medium, I’m looking at you!)
Long form content is the wild card.
Medium and LinkedIn were two platforms that were standing apart from the video, messaging and personal connectivity of Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.
Medium went through some changes when they introduced their paid memberships and began the struggle of standing out in the long form content field, without relying on advertising or brand sponsorships. But they also introduced Snapchat style Series features doing stories.
LinkedIn are going through changes more and more where they are attempting a shift towards being a video network, or being a more socially engaged network.
Both of those platforms going through such drastic changes means that long form content is in flux. We don’t know what it’s going to look like, we don’t know what platforms will crush it, and we don’t know who will still be standing and doing it in another year’s time.
These shifts highlight the following channels as being important:
Telling stories to individuals through messaging platforms including Facebook Messenger, Telegram, Whatsapp etc. This is important because it works, and it’s important because it represents a growth area and reflects the behaviour that users want to take part in.
The fact that messaging apps have taken off so strongly in the past few years, and particularly in the last 12 months, means that it’s a form and a channel to watch.
2. Snapchat style stories
Social platforms are starting to take advantage of the portrait view stories that Snapchat pioneered. This means that it’s more important than ever before for content to be created and intended for people who are going to consume it in portrait mode on a mobile device.
The importance of content being created for where it’s meant to end up is that it highlights how strange our content production is at this point. Regardless of how much we are aware that people consume content on mobile, we don’t create for it. Stories as a format is going to force that to shift. It has for Snapchat, and it has for Medium!
3. Live video
Facebook’s live video, Twitter’s live video, Instagram’s live video, YouTube’s live video - it’s all important and is likely to continue to be important. When you’re able to generate instant content that people want to engage with, that they can engage with, that feels natural and authentic, you’re opening yourself up to a win.
That’s been a huge strategy for some brands who didn’t want to invest in expensive video production. It’s a huge strategy for brands who want to show themselves as being real people. It’ll continue to be important as platforms push it to their users, recognising the benefits they get from people being that involved in their feed.