Every generation grows up alongside different technologies, which shape everything from communication preferences to how ideas are shared. Social media has undoubtedly been a breakthrough that not only changed the way people interacted with each other but also the way brands market. Fast forward to today, and we see social media undergoing a transformation once again as shopping and live commerce take center stage. While these developments are new to previous generations who have watched social media evolve, they are expected by generations born into a social media savvy world. For brands, the fight is on for the attention of a new generation.
Trends Marketers Should Track
We’re all familiar with the rise of TikTok, which accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. And the momentum hasn’t stagnated. Instead, the app has created a new thirst for short-form video content. E-Marketer and Insider Intelligence predict that TikTok will see average usage of 45.8 minutes per day for adult users this year, gaining steam ahead of YouTube, which averages 45.6 minutes per day.
We’ve seen many social media platforms gain traction for a short period of time only to disappear from the limelight as word-of-mouth fades. It’s safe to say not all social media platforms will blow up like TikTok. However, trending platforms do tell a story of how younger generations like Gen Z prefer to engage online. Here are some new social media trends marketers should keep their eyes on:
Live Audio: Since Clubhouse was launched in 2020, social audio has become increasingly popular. HubSpot Blog research found that 65% of social media marketers ranked live audio chat rooms among the top three most effective social media formats. In June 2021, Facebook launched its own version of social audio: Live Audio Rooms and podcasts. Somewhere Good leans into this format. The app is a new voice-recording-based social platform that launched in April 2022. But that’s not the only unique thing about it. As The Cut puts it, “there are no followers, no likes, no personal feeds or profiles beyond the very basics: name, pronouns, location, and photo.”
Authenticity: Social media is often blamed for the problem of inauthenticity online. BeReal is a new photo-sharing platform that allows users to share photos of their days. However, the app sends a notification to everyone at a random time each day prompting them to do so, and users only have two minutes to share their photo. The platform encourages community, authenticity and truth. Also, like Somewhere Good, there are no likes for posts; there are only “RealMojis.” These are emoji-like selfies.
“Economies Of Attention”: The New York Times published (paywall) a rundown of startups that offer the ability for fans to pay creators directly. For example, NewNew is an app that lets creators poll their audience on what they should do and, in effect, lets them dictate aspects of their lives. Courtne Smith, the founder and chief executive of NewNew, told The New York Times that they are “building an economy of attention where you purchase moments in other people’s lives.” Similar to NewNew, PearPop lets you pay creators for content through challenges. According to their website, more than 100,000 creators actively use PearPop.
The Impact On Marketing
If one thing is clear from the list of up-and-coming social media platforms, it’s that younger consumers crave authenticity. Research from GWI indicated that 45% of Gen Z believe there is too much pressure to be perfect on social media. I believe this has led to a strong preference for “authentic marketing” and demand for transparency from brands. It’s no longer about the flashiest marketing campaign. More budget is unlikely to buy trust with this new generation.
Brands that are looking to build relationships with Gen Z should revamp their old marketing habits. Successful brands will need to diversify their marketing strategy and earn credibility in their respective communities—and in many cases, there is no better way to do this than by leveraging influencer collaborations. But, celebrities may not hold the same weight with Gen Z: 44% claim they’ve made a purchase decision based on a recommendation from an influencer, according to Kantar research (via Marketing Dive). While not all of the emerging platforms allow brands to have a presence, influencers can be a great way to reach audiences in spaces where your brand isn’t present.
The right influencers can help you grow genuine relationships with your audiences on social media, but brands must find the right influencer who embodies their brand’s voice and personality. You should also ensure that their creative style will work well with your brand once they start creating content. The most effective influencer should be trustworthy and popular within your niche. When it comes to influencer marketing, bigger isn’t always better: Micro-influencers can also be very effective choices for reaching your audience.
Companies like Nordstrom, for example, have launched their own live-stream shopping channels. According to its website, Nordstrom’s model gives customers access to employees and brand partners across the beauty, home and fashion categories.
Understanding Your Customers
Knowing where customers are discovering products and finding inspiration on social media will help marketers shape their social media strategy. With the right tools and strategies in place, the next generation of social provides an avenue for brands to create even deeper, more authentic relationships with their customers. As marketers, to better understand where the future of digital is heading, we should look to the trends that are unfolding in the now.