What’s New In Social – February 2021

What’s New in Social?

Social media is a beast, with a billion moving parts.

Algorithms. New platforms, latest features, channel-specific strategies, influencers.

Trending topics, best times to post, engagement Vs lead generation, social selling, just to name just a few.

There’s a lot going on across social media and it can often feel like if you’re treading water, you’re falling behind. OST is committing to writing about 3 of the most pertinent topics from the month, in particular, topics that we feel will benefit our clients knowing about.

Every month, we’re taking a look at what’s new in social, and what’s trending and exploring them a little bit further so you don’t have to. This month we’re taking a deeper look into the Clubhouse fever from the US, discussing whether Reddit should be taken seriously as a marketing tool, and the Instagram copycat problem.

Clubhouse – WTH?

Like a shiny new toy, everyone wants a piece of the pie when a new social platform comes along and makes waves. The newest and arguably most exclusive new platform on the social scene is Clubhouse. Think of it as the love child of Houseparty, podcasts, and needing to join a meeting but pretending your camera is broken so your colleagues aren’t subjected to seeing you in your PJs. 

It’s essentially an audio-only social networking app, which is currently in beta mode. It’s also only currently available to iPhone users (sorry, Androids), the only difference is that Clubhouse is currently an invite-only party. Just like an actual party (remember those?), you have to be invited by a current member, who will send you a link to download it. Despite this, the popularity and mainstream attention of Clubhouse has exploded over the last month, with thought leaders and influencers such as Elon Musk hosting live clubhouse rooms.

Once you sign up, you select what you’re interested in and you will then see individuals and ‘rooms’ recommended to you based on your interests. You’ll be able to see who is in what room and join or drop out as you please. 

What happens in a Clubhouse room?

These rooms are hosted by speakers, just like a webinar or live-stream, who talk about whatever they want. You will be able to see the name of the room and who is in it and can even raise your virtual hand to ask a question. You will need to be approved by a host or ‘moderator’ before you’re allowed to actually speak, but then you can speak to anyone from anywhere in the world. 

What sets it apart?

The app is purely audio, meaning no bells and whistles – you can’t even leave a comment (sorry, trolls). All of the rooms are live and you can’t save or listen back to them afterwards, meaning the content is raw, organic, and completely authentic. 

You can say goodbye to little pixelated hearts and thumbs as likes and followers don’t count for much here. It’s all up to you to join rooms you’re interested in to speak and network. You will get a notification every time someone you follow is speaking in a room, which will take you straight to joining that room. You can raise your voice and be heard whether you have 10 followers or 10,000. 

Another key difference is there are no visuals or cameras involved. Whether you’re on the sofa or at the shops, you can join in without worrying about your appearance. The fact of the matter is, hearing someone speak from personal experience about something they’re passionate about establishes a relationship quicker than any meme, 15-second video, or blog post can. It’s why Twitter created Fleets.

In a world where human contact is minimal and video calls can be exhausting, could this ephemeral content offer the perfect solution to remote networking? 

So the question some people are asking is if there are no comments, no stories, no likes… how can it compete with the likes of TikTok and Instagram? Quite simply, it isn’t trying to. Not at the minute anyway. It serves a completely different experience and purpose. With the growing impact of podcasts, it’s also worth considering if this shapes us towards a new frontier of audio-first media?

Being an audio-only platform with no captions or comments, it currently doesn’t cater to anyone with a hearing impairment, so there is still work to be done to be fully inclusive. As of 1st February 2021, the app has 2 million users and is valued at $1billion. Will it stick around for good? Is it just hype drummed up by Mr. Musk? We’ll see!

Image of clubhouse app

Is it time to take Reddit seriously?

It’s arguably the most talked-about breaking news story of 2021 so far – WallStreetBets (r/wallstreetbets) is the subreddit that sparked the GameStop short squeeze and showed the world what can happen when people unite online and take action using a social media platform as their headquarters. Put simply, it made Wall Street panic and pay attention to a community of underdogs causing big problems for them. 

Does this mean Reddit will be taken more seriously from now on? Historically known for its memes and controversial threads, could it actually be the key to accessing a whole new untapped audience? It might not be the place to promote your brand film or your blog or as aesthetically pleasing as Instagram, but it beats both Twitter and LinkedIn in daily traffic, so why isn’t Reddit included as one of the staple socials for marketing? 

One of the challenges in organic social media is serving your content to exactly the right people. Reddit sorts this out for you, with thousands already categorising themselves by subscribing to communities of interest to them. Don’t make the mistake of using Reddit as a home for repurposed content from your social channels, Redditers are fiercely protective over their communities, won’t tolerate generic promotional content and they’ll let you and everyone else know about your mistake. You must provide content that contributes to your audience and respects the nature of the platform to succeed. 

There are plenty of untapped opportunities specific to Reddit, arguably the most interesting is the “ask me anything/AMA” threads, that invite Redditors to ask questions to brands/users. There is also a Reddit ads platform where you can target specific communities. It’ll be interesting to see if the recent buzz around the platform will lead to increased ad spend. 

“Reddit has long been regarded as the ‘Front page of the internet’ regardless of whether that’s in a positive or negative light. In this case, I would say it’s an extremely positive thing, and that Reddit is maturing, as a platform. To me, what this situation shows, is that ‘Community marketing’ works and online tribes are becoming increasingly more powerful. Expect what has happened to Gamestop, AMC, and other stocks, to carry on, as people grasp their opportunity to share their displeasure at Wall St practices, and potentially make a bit of money out of it.”

Jeremy Burnel, Marketing Manager, OST

The one lesson from this? Serve the community, not yourself. 

Keeping up with the Joneses: Is Instagram for reel?

Reels were introduced to Instagram last year to compete with the absolute sensation TikTok turned out to be. They never really took off as well as the company hoped when the Trump administration threatened to ban TikTok in the US, but do users really want one platform that offers the features that make each individual platform unique? 

From Twitter Fleets to Spotlight on Snapchat, social platforms have been incorporating each other’s features to keep up. In the latest bid to compete, Instagram confirmed to Techcrunch that it’s working on a Vertical Stories feed, similar to TikTok’s UI. Although not yet ready for testing, we’re sure it won’t be too different to navigate as most social mobile activity is primed for vertical scrolling. 

At this rate, we’ll end up with five or six platforms that all do exactly the same thing, with no obvious differentiation in purpose or demographic. Do all social channels have to keep up with each other, or will one be brave enough to buck the trend?

Do you need help with your digital marketing strategy? Contact us.

Jeremy Taylor
Date: 16th February 2021
Category: Blog Social Media Marketing

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