Social media has been one long stream of bad news this year, it seems.
We had barely made it into 2016 when we were informed that David Bowie had died, which prompted weeks of international mourning. Bowie’s graceful exit was followed by that of Prince, Harper Lee, Alan Rickman, Nancy Reagan, Muhammad Ali, Sir George Martin, Victoria Wood and Leonard Cohen, to name but a few of the famous names that have passed away this year.
It’s not been an illusion either that 2016 has indeed been a particularly gloomy year for celebrity deaths, the BBC explains. Across the whole year, there was a 30% increase in BBC pre-prepared obituaries used in 2016 compared with 2015.
When you factor in the change in the political landscape that has occurred in 2016, it’s little surprise that most people I’ve spoken to can’t wait to see in 2017.
Without wishing to sour any optimism, there’s a good chance 2017 will prove just as melancholy as 2016.
BBC’s Obituaries Editor Nick Serpell explains that because we’re now half a century on from the flourishing of both TV and pop culture in the 1960s – which massively expanded the overall pool of public figures – there’s going to be an inevitable rise in the number of celebrity deaths.
To make matters worse, on January 20, Donald Trump will take the Oath of Office and be sworn in as America’s 45th president. A month later, we’re expecting the Brexit plan to be published by the UK government. Yep, social media is going to be pretty heavy going again next year, isn’t it…
This is potentially bad news for marketers who could see their messages swallowed up by more serious posts. It’s either that or look to hang on the coattails of emotive news stories and risk upsetting followers by having an opinion – or appearing to have an opinion, at least.
Speaking to Econsultancy, Will Francis, founder of Vandal London, said: “From a brand perspective, vociferous commentary and political rants further crowd out their messages and smarter brands are looking to other platforms for more authentic organic engagement.”
Riding the wave of disappearing content
Is there an argument for brands making the move to less serious platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, where there’s greater license for going off-topic? Quite possibly, especially with the trend for disappearing content having boomed this year.
Snapchat and Instagram both now give users the ability to create disappearing content, which can be liberating for both users and brands alike. Quite frankly, if your target audience comprises twentysomethings, you’d be crazy not to dedicate some serious time to Snapchat and Instagram in 2017.
In terms of monthly active users, both networks show no signs of slowing down – Instagram hit the 500 million mark this year, while Snapchat edged past 150 million.
Video to reign supreme once again
Another thing for brands to consider in 2017 is live video, which properly took off in 2016 off the back of the launch of Facebook Live in April. As evidence of its appeal, TheLADbible gained almost 800,000 viewers by stacking biscuits live while CNN’s live-broadcasting of a man scaling the Trump Tower in NYC attracted over eight million views.
Video, live or otherwise, rarely fails to stop users cease their scrolling as they make their way through their news feeds. As a result, Facebook is predicting that by 2020, 75% of all mobile data will be video.
So, how’s your social media strategy looking for 2017? With a focus on video content, hopefully – with a bit of room for experimenting with new platforms like Facebook Live.
Perhaps you are going in a complete different direction to last year and planning to spend more time on those platforms that are kind to brands like Instagram and Snapchat? Or maybe you’re prepared for all the melancholy and anguish that could well dominate Twitter and Facebook news feeds, as it has in 2016, and are going to just roll with the punches?
Whatever happens in 2017, we’re looking forward to the challenge of building long-term relationships with our clients’ customers on social media. While marketers will never be the shoulder to cry on for our customers, we can help provide a little perspective – a little escapism even!