We are already over halfway through 2020, a year that has thrown up some unique challenges and created a series of rapid fluctuations within society. Some of these changes have been longer-lasting than others – online grocery delivery slots and toilet paper became valuable commodities in the short term, while we are still seeing consumers shifting towards e-commerce and convenience over brand loyalty. This backdrop has set the stage for new trends in social media, and increasingly brands are establishing a presence on newer social media platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok. Although usage of these apps is predominantly among a younger demographic, these new social media channels satisfy user demand in what market intelligence company Nielsen terms the ‘new era’ economy, where staying at home has prompted a need for interactive and relevant experiences from brands online.

Why use social media channels?

With social media users passing the 3.5 billion mark this time last year, businesses and organisations from large to small have been using social media to reach out to their customers, particularly during lockdown. Some brands with an established following recently created their own popular hashtags to prompt engagement. Some successful examples are the Royal Academy’s #RAdailydoodle challenge and Pret A Manger’s regular #PretRecipeBook sharing. It’s not all big names and targeted campaigns, however. Sudbury beauty and cosmetic salon Lipstick and Locks used Facebook and Instagram to post lockdown progress updates, FAQ videos, and details of a charity auction.

Social media provides an ideal conduit for many B2C companies to create a dialogue with their customers. This contributes towards establishing a brand identity online. For others, social media will not be the right fit. If you can’t spare the time to write quality posts on a regular basis or do not believe the content you’re putting out, your customers will know and quickly lose interest.

What to think about when selecting your channels

When considering what social media channels to invest time and effort in, it isn’t just about their relative popularity. Ask yourself where your target audience spends their time online. Revisiting your web personas will help you consider all of the different options out there. Does the channel fit your brand image? How many existing social media platforms can you feasibly manage? Keeping an eye on promising social channels and doing some research will determine which could be worth your time. Every social media platform advertises different unique features. Newcomer Vero promises productive and meaningful content, while Caffeine offers a video based social broadcasting platform. Steemit even incentivises users with bitcoin. The popularity of rival platforms ebbs and flows. Channels such as Reddit are enjoying a resurgence; meanwhile Facebook announced that their own TikTok rival Lasso would deactivate in July. This was after just a year and a half in existence.

Although it can be time-consuming to shift focus to yet another social media channel, it may provide better features that suit your business. Many promise fewer adverts and less congestion. The larger networks rely on their following and history to ensure that they will not be disrupted by new players. It is often easier for new brands and start-ups to get on board with the latest trends. This is because they may be more likely to experiment with new channels or creative formats. However, these new platforms can work to the advantage of many businesses. This is particularly if your offering aligns with interest in a specific category or topic. For example, niche brands such as subscription dog toy service BarkBox have gone viral on TikTok by taking advantage of the internet’s love for pets.

Points to take away

In summary: don’t try to be everywhere at once. Keep your eyes open for disruptive and creative opportunities to build your brand. Finally, track where your audience is spending their time, and adapt to their changing needs.

Do you need help with your social media presence, or perhaps marketing communications more generally? Get in touch with Mackman at customerservice@mackmangroup.co.uk, or call 01787 388038 to speak to one of our friendly team.