Sharp’s Top 3 Social Media Trends

by Sharp | March 10, 2016

This post comes from the mind of Social Media intern Tatiana Rocha. Tatiana joins our team from Hunter College where she studies Media Studies.

Last month, Sharp’s Social Media Team perused the many sessions at Social Media Week in New York City, an industry conference that draws thousands of professionals each year. Reflecting on what we learned and what we’ve been seeing since the start of 2016, Sharp Social shares what they’re most excited for in social media this year:

1. Data For The Win:
As social media becomes a large part of consumer’s everyday culture and lives, digital data has become more valuable to brands and businesses beyond the social sphere. No longer is data only informing community management and content creation. These days, social data is helping inform and create better products – both online and off. Digital music service provider Spotify is a great example of this. Spotifystarted as an online music library that offered users the chance to search and play artists and albums. In the years since it’s inception, Spotify has studied its users listening habits to better understand their needs and make improvements to the platform. This data – including time of day, relation to current events, and even the weather – has informed hundreds of curated playlists, which are recommended to the user when appropriate. For example, Spotify found that many of its users search for upbeat, pump-up music in the morning, so if you find yourself browsing the playlists on your way to work, you’ll notice a playlist like “Mood Booster” recommended for you.


Spotify is also using user data to make its product much more personal. What started as album and artist recommendations in the “Explore” feature is now a weekly-curated playlist – made just for you. An algorithm makes personal recommendations based on music that a single listener is consuming, which have a similar feel or sound, but feature artists and songs never before listened to by the user.

To apply this line of thinking to the CPG world, companies are taking social media trends and applying it to their marketing strategy. Case and point – the selfie. Since the first #selfie, it is no question that it has become a high art expression and exploration of the self that has become a phenomenon on social media platforms. As the perfection of the selfie has become a priority for consumers, makeup brands, like Nyx Cosmetics, Covergirl and Make Up For Ever, have created products, such as HD concealers that minimize the amount of editing in pictures, which create a more ‘selfie’ perfect image.

HD Makeup Series

Social data and listening are now more powerful than ever, harnessing the ability to alter industries, inform products, and change the way brands speak to consumers. The new frontier to marketing is the understanding that in a world where people are more connected, there is a need to for brands find connection with their consumers that will have them coming back.


2. The Digital Image Shorthand:
It is no question that a picture is worth a thousand words, especially in a world in which people are reading less and scrolling more. The social media world is a lot less about the word and more about the image. While using images on social is nothing new, we’re seeing a drive towards image-only, as well as video content. There are 94% more views on image content on social, Facebook experiences an average of 8 billion daily video views; there will be a projected 207-million smartphone users in 2016 in the United States alone. With content consumption going mobile and entirely visual, there’s not only a need to share visuals, but also a need to utilize visuals to be so much more than a pretty picture.


What’s new in 2016? The GIF, g(raphic) i(nterchange) f(ormat), is an image that utilizes multiple compressed images to create a short, looping animation. But in layman’s term, it is a fun visual way to express a feeling, sentiment, or situation. It adds the entertainment that can be missing from a conversation.


Where there are no words, there is a GIF, and users have turned to this new medium to share reactions, sentiments, or just a funny situation. The GIF is now far beyond just the social sphere. There are 112 plug-ins and integrations that can be applied to many different applications. From informal dating apps like Tinder and Groupme to corporate email like Microsoft Outlook Mail and Gmail. You can now find GIFs incorporated into online news outlets, being used by brands, and even being utilized by CEOs. If it was an Internet phenomenon, there is a 100 percent chance that there is a meme for it. In the world of the Internet, any moment can be easily marketed as ‘meme-able’ but it has to be crafted correctly. The success of the meme depends on its relateability in the social media world and the conversation at the moment that creates a connection to consumers.


A good example of a brand using trending topics to become part of the conversation is the pizza chain Pizza Hut. Recently, in response to famous rapper Kanye West’s tweets about his debt and desperate need for money, Pizza Hut UK responded back to the king of social media relevance, in a series of tweets that mocked Kanye’s recent album cover Life of Pablo.

Example of Pizza Hut Tweets

The pizza chain took a topic that was already trending and created a funny, backhanded response that left many re-tweeting and sharing this laughable moment. Understanding whom the demographic is, how and what is grabbing their attention, and timing are all key to any gifs, image, meme or videos success on social media platforms. Images are powerful and the immersion of them into your brands content is necessary for it to stay relevant within the trending conversation. But for it to be a success, the content needs to be relatable, original and adaptable to other platforms so that it can extend its reach. If not it will be pushed off to the side in the grand menagerie of images that never were.


3. The Rise of Messenger Apps:
In a world where everything is open to everyone, the intrinsic need for one-to-one communication is on the rise, and users are now turning to messenger apps to get their fix.

Social Networking Apps vs. Messaging Apps usage in millions

Across the globe, messaging apps are amassing huge audiences.In February 2016, WhatsApp reached a huge milestone with more than a billion users worldwide. Today, messenger apps like WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook Messenger have eclipsed social media apps, which offer a unique challenge for brands looking to infiltrate these audiences without dismantling the apps perceived privacy. Many brands feel these messaging apps hold much potential for reaching and engaging with new user bases, and have taken on the challenge of experimenting with this new type of content marketing. One highly successful case for messenger apps is customer service. Newer generations avert from phone call interactions and are more comfortable with texting; so businesses are altering the way costumer service interacts with their consumers. Recently, companies like Everlane and the Hyatt Regency have experimented using messaging apps for online ordering and bookings.

Everlane and Hyatt Regency using messaging apps as costumer service tools.

Publishers are also utilizing messenger apps – often times as a way to build and maintain readership. Notable publications like The Wall Street Journal and tabloid newspapers like Bild have turned to Facebook Messenger and Line apps to deliver news and information to readers. Users opt in to receive updates, and are clued in to the publishers most engaging and up-to-date stories. Beyond obvious applications, some brands are branching out to use messenger apps in fun and unique ways. Last year, Clarks, the iconic shoe brand, launched the campaign  ‘From Rats to Rudeboys’, which built brand loyalty and promoted sales of their Desert Boot through generating awareness of the brand’s history.

This digital campaign utilized WhatsApp by prompting users to add their new mobile number on the app in order to hold real time conversations with boot creators and the people who wore them. The challenge ahead is how organizations will pave the way to find the right tactic to deliver their content on these apps that tails the line between being intrusive and having their voice (and content) heard. Despite the unique challenge ahead, we’re looking forward to seeing how brands navigate these new waters.

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