By Ideas Collide
Over the years, social media has evolved in response to how their users interact with individual platforms. While traditional social apps sought to facilitate communication amongst social circles, social channels are now focusing on the entertainment value their media provides with communication coming in second.
However, social media’s communicative abilities haven’t been completely abandoned – instead, platforms have put a greater focus on the genuine connections between users. In a rapidly evolving landscape, it’s critical to keep up with current trends, stay relevant and join the conversation. So, without further ado, here is an overview of the rise of entertainment-based apps and the search for genuine connections, and how you can leverage these insights for your brand.
With a slight shift away from interpersonal connection and a significant jump towards entertainment-based content, apps are beginning to evolve to fit the desires of their audience with new features, curated content, and new ways to interact with other users. Furthermore, with a shift towards short-form video, interactivity, and highly curated content for each specific user, new platforms and established platforms are changing to fit the increasing desire for entertainment-based content.
Exploding onto the scene in 2016, TikTok has revolutionized how we use social media and prompt other platforms to evolve. Users can find nearly anything on the app, from ‘fit checks’ to niche humor and more based on short-form videos lasting around 30 seconds. With waning attention spans and a never-ending stream of content curated specifically for you, it’s hard to imagine TikTok losing popularity anytime soon.
A platform that has long since established itself, YouTube is one of the most popular platforms for Gen Z and millions of people worldwide. While YouTube is already a video-based platform, the channel has recently introduced YouTube shorts. Like TikTok and Reels, YouTube shorts offer people short-form video content in 60 seconds or less with catchy music overlays.
Longtime social media favorite Instagram launched Reels in 2019 (with most unable to help but notice Reel’s similarity to TikTok!). Since then, Reels have been used by Instagram users everywhere, reaching wider audiences than most image-based posts. Although a video component is necessary for platforms to adapt and keep up with current trends, many have disliked Reels and the desire to return to Instagram’s original purpose – image-based content. Although Reels won’t be going anywhere soon, Instagram’s shift was a lesson to us all: grow with the times, but don’t lose sight of your original purpose.
To stay competitive, the ever-evolving platform Facebook has recently added a new video feature. Like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube (we’re starting to see a pattern here!) Facebook videos allow users to upload short and long-form video content. Covering news, trends, comedy and more, Facebook videos gives Facebook users the ability to create and enjoy video content.
Popular photo and video sharing app Lemon8, originally launched in Asia, is nothing new – but in the past few months, Lemon8 has exploded in both the U.S. and U.K.
Both Lemon8 and TikTok are owned by 10-year-old startup ByteDance. While the two may be owned by the same company, the platforms couldn’t be more different. With many describing Lemon8 as a combination of both Pinterest and Instagram, users are free to explore specific topics and content. Lemon8 is the solution for those who have lost interest in Instagram and are looking for aesthetic content free of the shrink-wrapped way Instagram promotes the use of their platform.
As traditional social media continues to shift, we’ve seen apps gravitate towards personal connections outside the conventional sense. Now, it’s not enough to connect with others – it’s all about the quality of the relationship.
Working to make personal connections less manufactured and more akin to how we see each other in person, platforms are beginning to focus less on our highlight reel and more on our reality.
"Now focusing on genuine connection beyond the filters and highlight reels, new apps have altered how we connect with others."
One of the latest personal connection apps focused on the moment, BeReal, has changed the game for social platforms everywhere. BeReal invites people to live in the moment, prompting users to take a single photo randomly during the day that they can share with their followers. Incentivizing users to visit the app less rather than more, BeReal offers a fresh perspective compared to the constant social use other platforms push. Many are experiencing social media fatigue, leading to a rediscovery of what social media can be: something that allows you to feel connected to others without the need to manufacture the ‘perfect moment’ for all to see. Brands everywhere can take note of the shift to content rooted in reality that isn’t misleading or pushy. While BeReal doesn’t offer advertising space, brands must learn how to leverage the platform, sharing trustworthy content with their target audience.
As the aforementioned platform, Lemon8 continues to grow as a platform, it’s hard to put labels on it just yet. While Lemon8 dabbles in the entertainment side of social media, it also promotes connection and fosters relationships between groups of people. Users are encouraged to share their interests and follow these topics which in turn feeds them content relating to that community. They can then interact with others who have similar interests, helping promote a greater connection between like-minded people.
So far, TikTok has met BeReal’s efforts with TikTok Now, a feature that prompts users to post a photo of themselves at a random time during the day (much like BeReal). Time will tell how other apps respond to this shift.
Not only has Instagram prioritized video content, but they’ve also noticed the transition to genuine connection in media. Recently, Instagram has introduced direct message (DM) personalization along with DM notes and video calls. Greater personalization, more conversation starters and the ability to connect with users face-to-face proves Instagram’s dedication to creating memorable experiences for their users.
Online communities offer social media users a way to connect with like-minded individuals over niche topics. In addition, users can join and share out information, commentary, photos, and videos about the community itself, making it a particular place for users to gather via social media.
Pioneered by platforms like Reddit and WhatsApp, online communities perpetuate the shift to genuine connection-based apps. Channels that haven’t traditionally latched onto this feature are already sensing the change to authentic connection and have been implementing community-based features to foster deeper relationships and communication on their platforms. Take Facebook groups, for example; users can join topic-specific pages, share information and interact with other followers.
While these platforms might not necessarily be at their peak in terms of popularity, there’s no telling what could happen in the future. Honorable mentions include:
Mastodon is a microblogging service that promotes users to interact with the platform much like Twitter. Instead of ‘tweets’ users can post ‘toots’ which are limited to 500 characters. The primary difference? Mastodon is open-source, decentralized and ad-free. And with Twitter facing mounting legal challenges, Mastodon may be the perfect platform to rise up and take its place.
The latest video-based social app, Byte allows users to create and publish six-second video clips that loop. Users can also join communities that share common interests, giving them more tailored content on their feed. Sound familiar? Byte has been compared to the beloved social media app Vine which was taken down in 2017. Founded by previous Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann, Byte can learn from Vine’s mistakes and rise to compete with other entertainment apps like TikTok.
Another platform that has been compared to Twitter, Hive Social is available exclusively on mobile devices. On the app, you can post, ‘retweet’ what others have posted, follow others and interact with their content. The difference? Hive Social is slightly more straightforward. Users’ feeds show them content chronologically, lacks verified users, allows for unlimited character use and offers unique profile customization. While Hive Social is still a small app that has only recently hit one million followers, it’s definitely a platform to lookout for in the future.
Longtime favorite Snapchat is no stranger to the major social media players of the day; however, the communication-centered app has struggled to keep pace with the rise of entertainment platforms. Snapchat has made efforts to up its video content, offering new features like Snap Spotlight, intended for short-form video sharing with an option to add original sounds or trending music.
Snapchat also recently unveiled Dynamic Stories, a feature that gives major news outlets the option to publish breaking stories and daily news updates. Current partners already include ESPN, CNN and Bloomberg. Snapchat has also partnered with the NFL, WNBA and NBA, bringing users game-day highlights and an option to watch current shows via Snapchat’s discover page. Overall, Snapchat will continue to adapt to compete with upcoming platforms, and there’s no telling what new features they might implement.
Edutainment content – or ‘educational entertainment’ has been prominent across social lately, offering audiences insight and advice on various topics. Edutainment content is a fabulous way for brands to address concerns and provide the perfect life hack featuring your product or service – just make sure you’re being genuine!
"The perfect balance between fun, entertaining content, edutainment content is key to connecting with target audiences and can even help you address common FAQs on your social pages."
As livestreaming continues to pick up speed on social platforms, so will livestream shopping. A popular social media feature in China, live shopping combines social media, live entertainment and instant purchasing all into one.
Live shopping allows users to interact with products virtually. Hosts show the product and allow users to make confident purchasing decisions in real-time. With the growth of e-commerce and increasingly lower engagement rates in e-commerce checkouts, live shopping could be the revive e-commerce needs!
When keeping up with social media channels, it’s critical to stay up-to-date with evolving platforms and trends, ensuring that you know exactly what mass audiences are looking for in terms of specific platform usage.
On top of changing trends and adapting platforms, an effective social media presence also includes monitoring algorithms. One thing we know for sure is that algorithms change, so monitor your content to see what’s still working and what needs to change.
Consider your unique following – meet your followers where they like to spend their time whether it’s on TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat or all of the above. Finally, consider how your content fits within the structure of the platforms you’ve chosen. Learn how information is shared and received in each specific channel, and go from there!
In 2023, content strategies are all about creating content for current and future audiences, but be careful not to alienate your current one. Keep your eyes on the horizon for new trends, do the research, put in the work, and the rest will come.