As 2015 comes to a close, predictions for the year ahead are spreading like wild fire. Social media is on the minds of marketers as The Drum Network asks its members: what do you think will be the social platform giving your agency/brand the edge in 2016?
Michael Walker, senior business development manager, ORM
There are three types of people when it comes to social.
Firstly, there are Artists - the creators of social content e.g. brands and celebrities. Their most relevant platforms next year I predict will be Vine, Meercat, Periscope. Why? Because their eyes are fixed on a new channel. One of the world’s most successful social agencies, Vayner Media, currently have 25 people signed to a Vine ‘advocate’ roster. These individuals (most of which are still teenagers) make at least £70,000k a year (some much more than that) making six second videos promoting brands to their audiences.
Secondly, there are Groupies and fans. These are the commentators and sharers of social content e.g. customers and communities. Their most relevant platform next year will be Twitter. Why? Because of ‘people power’. For example, this year the sports entertainment company WWE changed storylines at the last minute before their biggest show of the year, WrestleMania. This was because the community caused an uproar on Twitter once it was leaked that Roman Reigns was going to be made champion in the main event. WWE responded by moving in a new direction, with Reigns losing the championship match to a surprise challenger, Seth Rollins.
And thirdly there are DJs - those who curate, collate and customise existing content e.g. bloggers and reporters. Their most relevant platforms next year I think will be Flipboard, LinkedIn’s Pulse and SlideShare. And again you ask why? Because they strive for less effort and maximum impact. Remixing content is the biggest opportunity in the market right now. Currently, this is best done by email, for example Jason Hirschhorn of redef.com runs one of the internet’s most popular daily news roundups, via email lists. The new networks which allow people to become DJs (without having their own platform) will be the most popular and valuable for audiences and brands.
Lauren Archer, head of marketing and PR, Silverbean
Personally – and I don’t think I’ll be alone on this one – the social platform that’ll give agencies/brands the edge next year will be… all of them, providing they’re used properly. I’m constantly baffled and occasionally amused by the social media output from SO many companies who fail to grasp that whatever they’re posting should be actually useful to their audience.
Simply shouting out offers and new products on social media isn’t an effective strategy, so I’d suggest that instead of using new additional platforms “because they feel they should”, they should really nail down their strategy on existing platforms and be honest with themselves about their approach.
Use listening tools and analytics to understand your audience, identify your targets and curate content and posts that meet the needs of those users, otherwise you’re just filling the social media stratosphere with even more pointless hot air.
Marc Bubb, creative designer, Kolab
For me the 3 main players in my social media locker are the standard Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and feel these will continue to be the platform of choice for agencies and brands to convey agile and current content. These three give so much immediate access to fans, we will see plenty more than we did in 2015.
If 2015 has taught me anything though, is that Social is the new front door—brands are investing in reaching customers where they are: mobile and social and are doing it through video content. Video content has massively grown and shows no signs of slowing down. More than 50 percent of people who visit Facebook every day, watch at least one video.
My prediction for 2016 is that we will continue to see plenty of growth in video and gifs across all 3 core platforms, but I would personally also recommend snapchat and periscope to clients and brands. The latter is a mobile app that allows you to easily live stream video to your client base, currently used by a lot of friends I have who sell products via Etsy. I feel we will see larger brands picking up periscope to directly market to fans much like vloggers do.
Tess Werling, account manager, The Future Factory
Social media for agencies has the same rules as for brands – stay away from what you are not. Not everyone’s audience is on board with a meme of Miley Cyrus riding a kitten into the sunset.
If the medium you work in is video, installations and stunts, get them up on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. If your work is visual, crank those Valencia filters up on Instagram and make a board on Pinterest.
It’s also important to not let social media posts disappear into the overgrown garden of the internet and nothing looks worse for a company than two lonely posts 4 months apart. If you don’t have the resources, energy or time to apply your stamp to multiple social channels/platforms, stick with one and keep it going.
As for which platform helps an agency maintain its edge? I want to say that Snapchat is the one to go for (as will most people) but I think Tumblr edges it for me. Why? Have a look at Ford's Tumblr.
Ford makes cars, they are not creative, and it’s still on top of the social media game in this channel.
Also for agencies, Tumblr can be used to promote other people’s work. Social media is not there to bash out self-serving content about your business, but to share what inspires your agency. See it as the highlighter to the contouring of your agency identity!
Tom Head, director, Lab
As marketers we talk about cutting through the noise and creating a better experience for our clients and for customers, but we tend to abandon that practice when it comes to ourselves as agencies.
One of the biggest barriers to productivity is waffle. We’re talking about the mind-numbingly long emails or conversations that yield absolutely no results and leach valuable minutes from your already busy work day. That is waffle.
So in 2016, we are practicing what we preach for our clients and cutting through the noise with Slack, a collaborative messaging app for teams. With a growing agency and offices in three countries, Slack will streamline our internal comms, reduce the amount of (useless) email and improve our efficiency. And it’s fun!
Saoirse McKenna, content strategist, Caliber
For social media, 2015 was the year of Vines, Boomerang, Periscope, Snapchat and micro Vlogging; and it’s likely there will be more of the same in 2016.
Innovation, newness and trends will work for brands around the clock, but for the internal marketing of agencies, cutting an edge means something entirely different. Our social must answer three questions:
1. How do we get talented people to join our team?
2. How do we get meaningful brands to work with us?
3. How do we learn, grow and improve as an agency?
Our most effective social channel in this regard, is LinkedIn. It’s where our audience is; it allows us to update, share, comment and learn. It fits our needs. It isn’t new, it isn’t fangled, but it works. Using social to become thought leaders will always beat novelty or being an #InstaAgency.
In 2016, we’ll build on this by championing platforms that encourage conversation, collaborations and smart thinking. It will be the year we focus 99u, futurelearn.com, Slideshare and meetup.com. Platforms that allow us to meet and engage in conversation with like-minded people: agencies, experts, brands and industry young guns. These platforms not only allow us to engage online, but are also an opportunity for us to find events where we can meet these people in person.
Next year we will be using social to be better at what we do, rather than broadcast what we do. Why? Because sharpening our wits creates conversations; internally, online and in person.
Nick Wheywell, associate director & head of digital, Rooster PR
Live streaming will be the way to come alive in 2016.
It may not exactly be hot-off-the-press, and it may already be being used well, but real-time engagement by means of live streaming will be key to connecting with audiences in 2016.
While there will undoubtedly be a whole host of new social platforms arriving to appeal to our ever increasing need to share our lives and business with our online peers, (potentially) nothing is more engaging than video content, particularly ‘live’ content. In a bid to steal a lead on competitors, brands are looking to capitalise on the latest technology and trends that will put them in front of their customers and wow them with an awe-inspiring bit of (live) content that ultimately serves to suck them in with a ‘sign me up!’, ‘book’ or ‘buy now’… which is ultimately what we want for clients.
Live updates are now becoming commonplace with more brands using popular platforms such as Meerkat, Twitter-owned Periscope and even Instagram and SnapChat, to lure potential customers into buying their products, attending their events or booking a flight to their destinations. Fully immersive in its intent, carefully crafted live content is a sure-fire way to engage with new (and existing) customers who want – no, need - a product in their lives… It’s certainly something Rooster wants to ensure happens for the brands it represents.
What I’m looking forward to (apart from getting more clients to incorporate live streaming into their marketing plans, of course), is Facebook Live. Though Facebook is currently gathering feedback from the select few that the platform has been made available to, as and when they roll it out to the average user, I expect it will ruffle a few feathers in the sector. Especially when you consider it is housed on your newsfeed, which means we can engage directly with clients’ fans viewing content, without having to ‘invite’ them or announce the live stream. Additionally, and unlike other platforms, the videos won’t disappear, which is great when you consider the opportunity to share content post event!
The possibilities are endless in a world where the consumer demands information now. Or even, sometimes, in advance of now… Isn’t that right Mr. Marty McFly?!