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Between Q3 and Q4 of 2021, Facebook lost roughly one million daily active users, according to its earnings report. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Business Insider, “People have a lot of choices for how they want to spend their time, and apps like TikTok are growing very quickly.” The message for digital marketers only using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp? Don’t place all your social media eggs in “the big four” basket. It’s time to diversify your efforts into different platforms with different audiences having different kinds of conversations.
If you want to connect with your audience today, you need to do more than simply stay up to date on emerging social platforms. You need to evolve with your audiences, diversify your engagement portfolio, and allow experimentation to become a best practice as the term “new normal” keeps shifting.
User-generated content (UGC) is nothing new, but the way it’s being created, sourced, and shared is changing. In 2020, when people weren’t able to head outside to create new content, easy-to-use content creation apps like TikTok (launched in 2017) jumped in popularity, with Instagram Reels launching to compete. These platforms provide formats and templates that empower people everywhere to reinvent or remix content. With remixing, anyone can take a trend and recreate it into something new, expressing their own personality or ideas.
Tip: User-generated content drives 28% more engagement than standard brand-led content.
The trick to remixing is focusing on authenticity rather than achieving the glossy, polished content that has dominated branded social media posts in the past. These are not videos that need to be created by a professional film team. In fact, they are often most engaging — and engaged with — when created in the moment on a handheld device without scripts, lighting, or hair and makeup. Here's an example from language-learning platform Duolingo.
For healthcare and SaaS brands, remixing presents a plethora of co-production opportunities, especially since so few have yet to venture into this market. Companies can provide logos and branded templates on which creators can base their content. They can also start or sponsor trends on TikTok to push their information and products out to millions of potential customers.
Once brands find communities that are creating and engaging with their branded, remixed content, they can engage with those communities in greater depth, recognizing their audiences’ contributions. This encourages users to create more content, while also strengthening organic connections between companies and consumers. The content that marketers facilitate can make a stronger impact than the content they create.
One warning, however. Not all user-generated content is positive. If it’s significantly off-brand or critical of your company, it can lead to a crisis. Be sure to monitor remixed content closely, so you can counter any negativity before it goes viral.
Companies that add virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) to their marketing strategies will have new and exciting ways to quickly reach a large audience. If you’re in the beginning stages of testing these emerging technologies, AR may be the best place to start. It only requires a phone or desktop app, so it is more accessible for customers than VR, which requires a headset.
AR marketing includes everything from free, customizable social media filters that display company logos or other branded images, to apps that let customers get a complete view of products in the environment in which they might use them. There are countless other applications as well.
The market for virtual and augmented reality in healthcare, for instance, is expected to reach $2.4 billion by 2026, according to Allied Market Research, as use cases expand to include pain management, memory care, and medical training, among other things.
If you’re thinking about new marketing tools and approaches, now is the time to embrace VR and AR. The technology is affordable and widely available, but it’s still new enough to give you an edge over your competitors.
Live streaming platforms allow audiences to be a contributor, a viewer, or both within a variety of virtual community spaces.
Platforms like Twitter Spaces offer live, ephemeral audio conversations. People in live conversations want to be heard. And members want to listen or contribute to a specific topic. Herein lies the marketing opportunity.
While many of these platforms don’t allow ads, promotions, sponsorships, product endorsements, or chat room rights (at the time of this publication), that doesn’t mean they never will. Until then, brands can think outside the box and focus on adding value by being part of the conversation. Much like companies that engage with creators who remix their content on TikTok, brands can interact and contribute to the conversations happening in a meaningful way.
Talking in a non-promotional way directly to potential customers, influencers, or journalists, is an opportunity to share your brand's personality with your audience. This could win fans who may one day become customers.
Not every new social media platform grabs attention the way TikTok did during pandemic lockdowns. In fact, by the time a platform makes headlines, certain segments of the population may consider it yesterday’s news. As a marketer, it’s wise to keep watch on what new platforms are emerging, even if they’re destined to be the next Vine (which actually lasted four years). You never know; you might just get in early with the perfect niche audience.
As of spring 2022, one candidate to try on for size is BeReal. Popular with Gen Z and focused on authenticity, the photo-sharing app notably uses no filters. The app notifies a user each day, at a different time, that they have two minutes to take a photo. They then take photos using both the front-facing and rear-facing cameras on their phone, to show the world how they look and where they are at that moment. Once they post it, they have access to similar photos taken by users they follow.
CNBC reported that BeReal had 10.7 million users as of May 30, and the company is worth $600 million. Not bad for an app that audiences only use once a day. At the moment, BeReal’s terms and conditions prohibit using the app for advertising or commercial purposes. However, when technology companies find opportunities to earn money by connecting marketers with audiences, they tend to embrace those. Now could be the time to get familiar with BeReal and see where it leads.
As the world of social media and digital platforms is always changing, and different platforms impact one another in unexpected ways, it’s essential for marketers to be aware of the landscape — even if they come to the decision that their current channel set is the best thing for their audience right now. When it comes time to reach new audiences, however, new tactics and tools can present outstanding opportunities for marketers to diversify their consumer outreach and build community in authentic and engaging ways.