'It'd be silly to overlook virtual and augmented reality,' TMW Unlimited's Laurier Nicas Alder on why we're one step away from more immersive experiences

From live-streaming to Snapchat and near-constant Facebook algorithm changes what’s a marketer to do when it comes to navigating the rapidly changing world of social media?

Lo Adler

As the deadline for this year’s Social Buzz Awards approaches, The Drum has approached to some of the best and brightest minds in the industry – who just so happen to be judging this year’s awards – for advice.

Last week we spoke to Sony's UK digital and community manager, Hollie Bennett, who advised that brands shouldn't fear being 'left behind', next up is Laurier 'Lo' Nicas Alder, head of social at TMW Unlimited who explains why video is 'flavour of the month' and how we shouldn't ignore the Pokemon Go phenomenon.

How have platforms like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Periscope changed the social landscape, have you noticed changes in the way brands are now using social as a result?

How platforms with live video capabilities have impacted the industry is not a new phenomenon; social is an ever-changing landscape as new platforms increase in popularity and the old platforms learn new tricks. But there is no denying that live video is definitely the flavor of the month, with brands and media outlets forgoing a slick wrap-up video edit for a real-time, but less polished, live feed.

Has the emergence of these new platforms impacted your role in any particular way?

As a large social team with a variety of clients across sectors, each member of the team has their own unique experiences to bring to the table and we’re always keen to knowledge share with one another and stay ahead of the trends as a solid unit. So though some of our clients haven’t found the right opportunity – or perhaps enough courage – to use live video, we have great hands-on experience and case studies to share with them should the right time come around or, indeed, if they need reassurance.

Which brands do you see as a ‘front runner’ in using these new platforms?

It’s encouraging to see news media outlets using these live platforms on the scene and brands reporting from events. It allows the viewer to feel like they’re part of the experience, whether that is from a breaking news perspective or from a money-can’t-buy, behind-the-scenes point of view. News out of your home city? Live. Exclusive product launch? Live. Couldn’t afford to go to Cannes? Live.

What do you think has been the biggest change to the social media landscape this year?

The proliferation of live video is definitely the biggest theme of this year.

What do you predict will be the ‘next big thing’ in social and why?

No crystal ball here, but I think it’d be silly to overlook virtual reality and augmented reality hitting the mainstream. With Facebook’s 360-videos in full force, we’re only a step away from a more immersive virtual reality experience – with Oculus Rift leading the charge, no doubt. We also shouldn’t ignore the Pokemon Go explosion – augmented reality is on course to become even more popular, right from the palm of your hand.

When new platforms emerge do you think it’s best to jump right in or hold back and let others test the waters? Why do you feel this way?

From a practical point of view, it’s important for a brand to landgrab a handle for future use. From a strategic standpoint, remember to always be genuine to your brand. It can be easy to be swept up into the hype of something new. If it feels like you’re trying to shoehorn your brand into something and it’s not working, then that will be apparent to your community too.

Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn has predicted Facebook “will be probably all video” within the next five years, what’s your take on this?

Nicola Mendelsohn has an educated view to make such a bold claim. She has an all-access backstage pass to the content stats and audience behaviours on Facebook, so it’s clear that she’s making an educated guess on the future of the platform. You can’t argue with the logic either, there is no doubt that video has exploded – as Mendelsohn said, “We’ve gone from a billion video views a day to 8 billion daily views in a year.” Whether or not the high-speed train that video is taking through our newsfeeds will carry on at the same rate is yet to be seen, but one thing is for sure – Nicola Mendelsohn wasn’t just waiving her finger in the air when she was quoted on her predictions, she knows her stuff.

A lot of brands still focus time and energy on ‘traditional’ platforms like Facebook and Twitter, do you feel these brands are in danger of being left behind?

Not every platform is right for every brand, but not reviewing your social media strategy is just plain ol’ dangerous. Just because something always worked before, doesn’t mean it always will – ask Blockbuster. When new platforms come along, it’s important to look at your brand objectives, target audience behaviours and social ecosystem before committing to a major strategic change.

Join us next week when another one of our Social Buzz judges will be sharing their thoughts on the latest trends.

The Social Buzz Awards, sponsored by Buzzoole and Tint, are open for entry until Friday 5 August, for more information on the awards, how to enter and this year's judges visit the Social Buzz Awards site.

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