The 2020 pandemic forced us to adopt entirely new measures in our lives across the board. One of the aspects affected overwhelmingly has been in terms of making socializing adjustments. As social gatherings were severely limited to cut down on the spread of the virus, people had to calibrate their social behaviors.
To do so, humans leveraged the technology of social networking, an area that blossomed more than ever during the last year of the pandemic. These allowed people to reestablished the sense of kinship and community that had to be abandoned rather suddenly.
Six Newest Trends in Social Media
While social media has been around in some incarnation for the better part of the last two decades, its evolution has accelerated very recently. When people had to withdraw from in-person interactions, however, one of the biggest things that were forfeited was the ability to use voices in social interactions. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that audio-based social networking has become the fastest growing and most popular new type of social platform. And while this type of social media format is in its infancy, social-media experts believe that it is here to stay.
One of the most pivotal interactions however occurs in the business realm, and for companies who need to engage with their target customers online. While popular social media platforms like Snapchat and Facebook still dominate the space, others like Pinterest and Reddit are finding more ways to appeal to unique uses to advertisers. Where the real power of marketing lies, however, is being early on-board up and coming social media platforms that will shape Gen Z marketing and millennials, as well as early adopters. The earlier the newer platforms are leveraged for the business, the more agency and dominance of a business will have in that space later.
Because things change so quickly and platforms are developing at a rapid rate, there is no time to take it lightly. Businesses need to remain on the cutting edge of social media so they can take advantage of the benefits of up-and-coming platforms before competitors have them on their radar.
This post will address several new platforms that companies should seriously consider familiarizing themselves with. Some have already begun to gain notoriety, while others are still seldom known in the social media space, but their popularity is rising quickly. We will address the primary uses for these apps, how they can be utilized now, and what marketing strategies can be employed with these apps in the future.
Most people have heard of TikTok by now, but many don’t actually know what the platform is. As a brief history, TikTok started up in 2017 as a lip-synching app, and just a year into its life was merged with Musical.ly, another app of a similar nature. Since then, the app has been downloaded an astounding 2.6 billion times globally, and currently services 1 billion monthly users. This makes it, hands down, the most popular platform in the world, trumping Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other long-term contenders.
Much like Vine did years ago, TikTok permits its users (who are generally under 30 years of age) to record short videos which are then looped. But unlike Vine, TikTok adopts the attributes of Musical.ly and Snapchat in that it features many musical overlays, AR filters, text, and many other enticing effects. It also allows the creative, catchy videos to be tagged with hashtags in order to promote the ease with which other users can find them.
There are varying methods of using hashtags to promote on TikTok. One of them includes accessing the ‘Challenges’ tab where users can issue a challenge to others via a hashtag, and those who accept these video-based challenges can respond with a video of the challenge being completed or attempted, including that same hashtag with it.
With the platform’s meteoric rise in popularity, brands are getting into action to acquire extra attention for their offerings to a potentially untapped market of people. This also allows brands to show their fun side, and often appealing features. As an example, the Washington Post has even joined TikTok. As one of the world’s most trusted sources of serious journalism, few would expect the Post to produce light-hearted, fun content, but they have found ways to do so. For instance, a particularly popular video features the paper’s journalist struggling to ascend some stairs to the backing of “Electric Feel” by MGMT. Its posts like this have earned the Washington Post an additional 850,000 followers.
Other brands are beginning to promote cleverly through TikTok as well. Guess, the jeans brand, has started the #inMyDenim challenge prompting users to wear any denim jeans products by the brand backed to “I’m A Mess” by Bebe Rexha. They are far from the only fashion company joining in on the fun but effective promotional strategy. It is not expected to be long until many other brands catch the wave as well, learning to use catchy, funny, and entertaining videos to showcase their brand’s products and services.
TikTok’s popularity has not gone unnoticed by other big social media presences. Last year Facebook responded with their own version of TikTok, Lasso. However, after some evaluation, they decided to scrap the project and instead invest in Reels, and Instagram off-shoot.
Overall, Instagram Reels is a direct countermove to TikTok, allowing for similar functionality in terms of short, entertaining, looped video creation, backed by popular contemporary tracks, and adorned with various special effects. Brands seeking to market their products can utilize Reels in the same way as they would TikTok to engage with the Gen-Z audience. The savviest businesses might not want to take sides, but rather leverage both of these powerful platforms together for the promotion of their brands.
Clubhouse breaks away from the traditional and asynchronous style of other platforms which share broadcasted content out to users for consumption, choosing instead to provide a strictly audio-based connection between a speaker and their listeners, but in real-time. Podcasts, which this sounds similar to on its face, still publish the content and put it out into the world for future content consumption. With Clubhouse, the information shared is akin to being in a room with a speaker experienced in a particular area, and being able to ask them specific questions.
Topics discussed in these joint meetings in Clubhouse can be on a whole slew of topics. A successful business owner or entrepreneur can join and field questions about their journey through getting their business off the ground and share strategic tips to help others who are interested to take actions that yield better results. Struggling comedians can use Clubhouse to attend events with more reputable comedians, displaying their stylings, and perhaps garnering some interest from big names. Celebrities can join for Q&A sessions about the business or even relationship advice. In other words, the platform is rife with possibilities.
At this time, Clubhouse is available only for iOS devices and is still in its beta version. But the lack of presence in the Google Store would potentially be a hindrance, they have faired quite well. Many investors have offered their support to further developing and expanding the platform, drawn to Clubhouse’s unique approach to the social platform game.
One of the unique qualities of this type of social media presence is that while others aim to draw in as many followers and users as possible, Clubhouse operates by invite only. While this may be the way of operation during the beta stage as the app’s developers try to get everything tested and streamlined before going full-scale, as of now it’s only the current Clubhouse users who serve as the decision-makers of who they deem beneficial to join the platform. That means that if you’re not currently issued an invite by a current member, you will need to wait to join Clubhouse when it launches officially and fully.
The most recent arrival, only surfacing at the tail end of 2020, is Twitter Spaces. But its recent arrival is not stopping it from growing. It is still in its beta stage, as the app works out its particular audio features, but the idea is to offer a voice-chat-based alternative to the somewhat limiting 280 character font form of communication.
While in beta, Twitter Spaces relies on a selection from Twitter for invites to be able to create a new audio conversation space. While this is a similar concept to Clubhouse in some ways, there is a bit of a difference in how opportunities are offered and threats are minimized between the two. While Clubhouse relies on a strict community standard guideline set, Twitter Spaces aims to take measures upfront to make the platforms usable by anyone who wants to do so, while keeping it safe for anyone who wants to become a member.
Industry experts predict that Twitter Spaces will generate a lot of useful opportunities such as conducting training sessions, live discussions, and Q&As, as well as interactive business consultations and cases for public outreach by brands. This will be helped along with Twitter’s already familiar nature of the non-visible, dialogue-based form of communication, with the voice aspect being the next logical step in the evolutionary process.
While older, Twitch.tv has been the reigning leader in game-streams. But Twitch could be facing some competition in the form of Caffeine.tv, which is preparing to encroach on the streaming space soon.
Built by former Apple designers, Caffeine allows gamers to share their PC or TV screens while playing their favorite games. Similar to Twitch, which allows high subscriber and follower channels to monetize their gaming streams, Caffeine will also open up a monetization program for broadcasters with large engagement metrics.
Lest you think gaming is all that Caffeine will be offering, it might be worth noting that they are also dipping into the sports and entertainment realms. As recently as 2019, they streamed the X Games that took place in Aspen. Investors have not been shy in backing the platform either. Multiple entities, the biggest of which is 21st Century Fox, have put their money into the platform. According to Caffeine’s Crunchbase profile, the platform has now secured $259 million in investments.
The success of a platform such as Caffeine goes to show not only the rising prominence of streaming in the entertainment realm but, more broadly, that it can capture an audience, specifically the highly coveted Gen-Z generation, essentially securing popularity for decades to come. Marketers who believe that live streams can help them expose their brands to a wider audience market should seriously consider Caffeine.tv in their generation z marketing campaigns, even if they already utilize the Twitch platform.
With 2020 confiding people to their homes, social engagement needed a boost from varying video apps. Multiple different apps started popping up to fill this need. Some apps, like Meerkat, have existed in the pre-pandemic era but didn’t really start seeing growth until 2020. In fact, during that year, Meerkat rebranded to “Houseparty” and has since taken off as user interest in video communication apps increased.
Armed with a serious facelift and revamped features, Houseparty has made a real splash. Before 2020, the app had 1 million users and an already respectable figure. Since then, the user count has exploded to 50 million.
Keeping up With 2021’s Media Trends
Keeping up with media trends in 2021 is vital, as consumers are flocking to the digital space in massive numbers. Businesses can leverage the power of these new platforms in their family marketing to acquire massive new levels of audience interest in their brands, and while not every platform will yield massive successes, there is no harm in experimenting with up-and-coming trends.