The good news about social media is that it’s (generally) forgiving. A foot in mouth or misstep may cost you a few followers, but your mistakes are generally buried in the waterfall of social messages. And that’s the bad news too. Twitter, in particular, is consumed in a linear way. Turn your head for a moment, and you miss what just happened.
That makes it hard to spot trends unless you are a passionate observer. There are no experts in social media (despite what some would lead you to believe), so it is up to all of us collectively to pay attention and share what we know. Here’s my shot at sharing what I see today and what I believe is ahead for 2015.
1. Hash tags are taking on greater importance
In one social research project I conducted this year, 22% of the tweets we collected contained at least one hash tag. On the whole, the use of a hash tag doubled the chance that the content would be retweeted. Not bad. So why aren’t more people using hash tags — or more importantly, why aren’t more people using hash tags correctly?
A hash tag enhances the chance that someone who doesn’t follow you will find your content, especially on Instagram and more recently, Facebook. Take time to research what hash tags are being used for the content you share. It’s that simple. All of the social platforms now make hash tag research as easy as putting the text in a search bar. See what surfaces. Does your content fit in the universe of messages and images you find?
I recently decided against using the hash tag #USA on a family-friendly campaign when I discovered that the hash tag had been hijacked by several porn sites. So be careful. Keep the right company with your hash tags, and the payoff will be delightful. You’ll find friends and followers for keeps.
2. Snapchat is coming on strong
OK, so the idea of sending out images that self-destruct after a few seconds might not be everyone’s idea of heaven, but Millennials are rapidly adopting this social platform to stay in constant communication with their friends (more specifically, people in their contacts).
The Verge reports today that investor cash is pouring into a company – now valued by one estimate at a minimum $10 BILLION dollars.
Some pioneering brands are now using Snapchat to reach this young audience, and Snapchat is doing some things that underscore the strength of its worldwide scale – believed to be anywhere from 100-200 million users. (To put that into perspective, this year-end estimate shows Twitter’s active users at 284 million.)
On New Year’s Eve, Snapchat furnished users with a video round-robin of celebrations from Dubai to Cape Town to Edinburgh to New York’s Time Square, pulled exclusively from its feed of what its users were sending to each other. I watched it around 10pm CST – and must confess all 3 minutes or so was entertaining. (Hat tip to the editor)
3. Visuals drive engagement. Period.
Words are important; images are essential.
Images are no longer the icing on the cake. They are the cake.
And video is taking it all to a new level. But I’m not referring to leveraging YouTube. Apps like Flipagram and websites like Canva are giving the novice social practitioner access to a suite of powerful and polished tools to create memorable social objects.
LinkedIn doesn’t support a video embed from Flipagram (yet) – so if you haven’t yet checked out the magic – try watching this very nice example.