Ep 3: Serious Social – Planning your social for tomorrow, today
What planning must you do for the inevitable new normal? What we know is – fundamentally the pandemic is changing some big factors in society from economy to technology. We need to understand where our role is as brands and it’s uncertain. So how do you build a roadmap for social success when the landscape keeps changing. Insights, advice and tips from 16 years of uncertainty building a business based on social media! Listen for more
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Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.
How to plan your social media for tomorrow, today. This episode was recorded live on Facebook, on Friday 3rd April 2020.
Hi, my name is Katy Howell, I’m CEO at immediate future, and welcome to our Serious Social live from our homes. Today I’m going to talk a little bit about something really important to do now right now, when we’re busy, which is planning for tomorrow today.
We have been frantic the last couple of weeks, we have been frantic. Nearly every marketing department has decamped somewhere else – homes and other places, and of course met with a completely changing society. But things are beginning to get into a place where we’re kind of balancing out. We know what we need to do – now is the time to look up look at the mid-term and long- term in marketing, to understand what is changing now, what has changed, what will change down the line, and what will stay the same.
So, I know we’re spinning plates, but now is the time to plan. What we know is – fundamentally, the pandemic is changing some big factors in society from economy to technology. We know need to be on top of that because we need to understand where our role is as brands and it’s uncertain, the play out that will happen is an uncertain future, so how do you plan for uncertainty?
Well sixteen years ago, I decided to launch a social media agency before there was a thing called social media, and one of the things I’ve learned in 16 years is how to plan when you have no idea what the future holds! None! I had no idea whether or not Twitter would take, I didn’t even know MySpace would disappear. I had to plan for a changeable environment, so I thought I’d help you guys, and help myself as well by thinking through what it is – what are the fundamentals we need to do right now to think for the future. Why is that important to us to do it now.
So over the last 16 years I’ve realized there are three things that really matter, that we need to pay attention to. The first is macro trends and big signals which are happening now. I’ll go through these in a second. The second is what is being innovated and disrupted, today, that will actually keep and stick down the Line. And then also understand what won’t
change, as they say, there’s lots that does but fundamentally something stay the same.
So let’s start with macro changes – there are macro trends and macro signals and big signals, now one of the things that’s really important to understand is that that kind of breaks into two elements. The first star is some fundamental societal changes that were with us already – that are accelerating because of what’s happening because of the pandemic. The first is trust, and trust in brands. I mean it was degrading at a rapid rate through 2018 and 2019 wasn’t very much better at the early part of 2020, but now it’s kind of tanked, and the impact of that is that you have an audience a consumer and a customer who are now sceptical, bit sensitive looking for what’s in it for you and very questioning.
I want to read you a quote I get it from Ashley Friedlein who heads up a social messaging network, a private social network called Guild, but he was quoted in a magazine – it’s just such a great quote because it says Ashley Friedlein declares that “for marketers and brands, trust is critical and the battle of the next decade will be about gaining or regaining trust with customers, coming up with a new purpose touting your values. Claiming authenticity and transparency alone won’t cut it.” So, reality is, we have to be on top of what makes trust.
The other thing that we began to see really through last year and driven, I have to say, dare I say the word Millennials, but by that category of generation, which is the need for experiences above acquisition, and that is also going to accelerate and I suspect when we come out of this lockdown if not pandemic, we will want more experience and we will want more human interaction with brands and we want that emotional connection with brands. For a lot of companies that that I see on social media that is a big step up now. The other part which is just my Katy theory is that we’re gonna want comfort. We’re gonna want things that make us feel good after being a little bit deprived having queued for our food, having been in a place which was is unimaginable to most of us, and that may mean a return to a bit of nostalgia, it may mean affordable luxury it may be more real and tangible things that brands can do.
So that’s kind of the macro trends that are accelerating through this period. The second part is signals – so there are big signals coming out of and I’m just gonna talk about the social media signals because there’s plenty of them basically, so what we have is a whole you whole load of new formats and greater functionality that the social media platforms have apps that you rally behind what’s happening and the increased use of social media – it’s up seventy percent according to Facebook across all its profiles – we know that people are spending more time on social than anywhere else, so we need to think about the signals that are changing in terms of increased use. People who haven’t been on social media before – we know, for instance, that group calls have gone up a thousand percent on Facebook – I’ve got some other stats here. So Insta and Facebook lives now have double views, double the amount of views than they did a couple of months ago. And more importantly WhatsApp and the dark socials are going ballistic – so those signals mean that more people are using habitually using social media in a way that they have not done before. What will happen is, of course, the numbers will drop slightly when we when we come out the other side, but once it becomes a habit, it’s always a habit. Once you’re on a group with your family on WhatsApp, you will stay on that group with your family on WhatsApp.
So suddenly the dark socials have exploded. So social is the go-to channel after news (we’re all watching the news) and it’s likely to mean more users are likely to stay with it – so we need to think about what impact that has in terms of social. So we talked about function and the changes happening – that’s the innovation and disruption. So, what we’re already seeing is that new formats are coming out, new functionalities coming out right now. For instance, we have subtitles going out “live” on lives (I can’t speak today) – on lives. We know that that Pinterest has just launched some trends boards, so, to make their boards more discoverable and more relevant to their audiences. Facebook has launched playlists and series for its Watch, and for its lives, and for all its video. We know that the social channels are doing more than that – they’re not just innovating they’re actually being a bit disruptive!
So Snap has come out with a filter that now shows you your two-metre distance from people. Facebook has just hired a deal with Plessey to launch virtual reality glasses , so AR and VR is speeding up through this process, and that is another part to pay attention to, just some of these innovations, which we thought would probably be the end of the year, are being accelerated. We have rumours that YouTube is launching an alternative to TikTok We have new social networks like Houseparty. I mean things are moving so fast, and the adoption of new things is happening so quickly, we need to be on top of that to work out what will happen when we’re out of this.
You can follow our Social Snapshot blog if you want – every Wednesday we update – every
Wednesday – what’s happened that week, so it’ll help you keep on top of all the news. You don’t have to read everything!
Finally, as I mentioned, before some things will change and some things won’t. For instance, you know people are going to celebrate birthdays, they’re going buy clothes, they’re gonna go for dinner – I’m gonna go for dinner, I can tell you that! And heck you know Christmas is still going to happen. So it really is important now to look at the social data across the past 18 months, there are some things that will peak and trough, that will do exactly the same again, they won’t change. Some that may accelerate further, and some that are just never gonna happen again. What you do is look at all that data and make some smart decisions, just make some intelligent analytics, think about what it is that might stay the same and might be different. So, you’re looking at the last eighteen months, and looking for the themes, you’re looking for the peaks. The other thing is to look at your sector level conversation – so not just how people are talking about your brand, and not just the wider conversation but actually specific to your sector. Whether its food or automotive, look at those and look for the bubbles that tend to happen across the last 18 months. And then make a decision “is this likely to happen again?”.
The last bit is understanding how the tone has changed – you know I wrote a piece in New Digital Age about not being tone deaf. Some brands still haven’t quite got it! We had a lot of April Fool’s stuff going on. But the reality is that we need to understand how the tone of our audience has changed, because they may be working in a different way, thinking in a different way, and a lot of these habits over the next 21 days are going to stay put. So, the ultimate aim of looking backwards is for us to plot all our key events, understand the flow that we need to plan for understand our audience attitudes, what their values are now, and how those have changed. What their interests are, where they’re playing – what’s changing and what isn’t. Mapping this out, the needs and wants of our audience is the priority
then, then you can plan your brand’s role in responding to that. Obviously from our perspective, people respond through social media, but you need to make sure that your messaging is robust, not just for today but for three months, six months and
twelve months down the line. And that also requires us to scenario plan. What happens if…? What happens if …? and create and visualize content and topics that we can flip really quickly. Now that means that you also need to start thinking today about a more agile
marketing team that can flip one way or another. Whether it’s in-house or you’re using in-house and agency, or just agency alone, you want someone who can switch things around if needed, because we are likely to have a slightly changed society, and we need to be able to predict as much as we can, and then tweak it as much as we can. Why? Because the brands that move fast, the brands that are saying the right things today, and midterm and long-term – the brands that do that will own the mindset of their audiences and the faster you can do it the better it will be,
So, think about consistency, you want to build that trust and confidence, so you need to plan for this better future, you need to plan for your brand evolving in line with the societal changes that are happening.
So just a recap, go have a look at what you think of the macro trends, take some time out to do some planning, look at what’s innovating and how consumer behaviour is changing, and what is likely to stick and won’t stick. Have a look backwards, check out what’s happening, what happened in the past and what’s likely to continue to happen once we’re out of this period.
Plan for a better future, be better today as a consequence.
If you’re after more know-how to break the social boring, subscribe now and check out the show notes for links to our website and social profiles.