As social media continues to evolve, each platform proves to serve a unique purpose in the sharing and branding paradigm.
Instagram, the image-based platform, lets users show-off their personality in square frames. For brands, they are able to create followings, sponsor images and videos, etc.
Snapchat is for ephemeral, real-time personal activity that isn’t exactly “post”-worthy in the long-term, but brands use it to provide their audience with an intimate, “behind-the-scenes” feel.
Twitter is primarily text-based with a “random thought of the moment” quality. It is where brands can find quick mentions and keywords to analyze their social awareness.
And Facebook, the “OG” of them all, is a central hub for photo albums, marital status declarations and where a simple “like” can get consumers 10 percent off their next shopping trip to Banana Republic.
More recently, however, social platforms have been looking to one another to identify the next big trend in user experience that might enable them to rise above their competitors.
From the outside, it certainly looks like several players are trying to “eat Snapchat’s lunch.” Instagram, for example, introduced its Instagram Stories feature in August, and it looks just a bit too familiar. Twitter, on the other hand, recently announced that it’s adding the ability to put stickers on uploaded images to enable greater creativity with images, which certainly puts it in the camp of replicating Snapchat’s successful filters.
Taking a closer look at Instagram Stories, the latest advancement in its quickly changing video strategy, the hope, or at least as it appears, is that this addition will not only drive more users to the platform, but that those users will post more frequently.
However, it has the potential to backfire by confusing users and forcing them to rethink what platform is best for each of their individual experiences.
A few questions come to mind with “merging” of features: What will happen to each social media platform when the features that make them unique become ubiquitous? How are businesses supposed to keep up with these changing capabilities if their social strategies aren’t always as nimble as they should be? What new social platform will pop up next and take everyone by surprise?
If there’s anything we know for sure, it’s that creating engaging, immersive content is the new standard for all marketers. Businesses have started to shift away from stagnant, text-based content, and are now focusing more on content such as video, which has ability to make more of a connection with consumers and can provide a feeling of “this is what we’re doing right now.”
And while video is still new to many businesses, it seems to be the “future of media.” Therefore, more marketers are opening their eyes to it. Yet, businesses that tap into the engaging qualities of video are similarly confronted with platform variety (or oversaturation, depending on your point of view) and are constantly working to figure out what the best avenue is for their own content.
While the lines have always been blurred between user experiences on social and what content to put on which platform, today it’s even less straightforward and will require companies and agencies some trial and error to figure out.
The way I see it, marketers should be testing the waters with all social platforms and seeing what the most successful channels are for their brands. However, it’s important to remember who target audiences are and to utilize those channels that focus on specific demographics.
It’s doubtful that social platforms will ever hold their own unique features without some sort of overlap. But for businesses, the recent and fast changes happening in product capabilities across social networks should be a warning sign that strategies need to be adaptable, and that experimenting in social will continue even as the platforms mature.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.