Q&A with Eytan Oren on the death of the News Feed

Last week, social media and chat marketing expert Eytan Oren visited WGBH to share his perspective on the rise of Stories, AR, and chat apps as alternatives (and replacements) to the social news feed. Afterwards, we grabbed him for a quick Q&A.

Q: You presented research about how the News Feed “era” is over. What do you mean by that?

Oren: The social media news feed, as a format, was popularized by Twitter and Facebook in 2006– and it was built for an era when desktop computing and text-based content dominated. But today, the social landscape has transformed into a mobile first, video-driven environment.

The news feed will be important for years to come, but Stories is the first popular social format designed from the ground up for mobile. It was invented by Snapchat, which deserves all the credit, but Facebook’s adoption of Stories across its family of apps has accelerated the sea change. In fact, Facebook forecasts that sharing to Stories will surpass sharing to Feeds at some point this year.


Q: How do you evaluate the new opportunities such as Stories, Chat Apps and Augmented Reality? As a media organization, where should we start?

Oren: The starting point is usually data, especially when it comes to getting buy-in within an organization. It’s natural for companies to gravitate to platforms and formats they already use, so numbers are an effective way to objectively evaluate if emerging opportunities are too big to ignore.

With chat apps, significantly more people use them now than traditional social networks. Over 1.6 billion social accounts use Stories every day, and the format is growing at a significantly faster clip then news feeds. And with augmented reality, many of the world’s biggest social apps– including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube — introduced open platforms for developers recently. So for the first time you can reach an audience of billions that don’t need to download an app to use your AR experience.

All these platforms offer exciting opportunities, whether its for creative storytelling or increasing memberships.


Q: In this new era, what kind of skill set does a social media manager need to have?

Oren: Five years ago, a social media manager was tasked largely with writing great news feed copy, curating visuals, and engaging and growing an audience. With the rise of Stories, the job description is transforming significantly. Today, a social media manager’s toolkit should include storytelling, videography, photography, layout design, video interviewing, and knowledge of platform-specific tools like GIF stickers and augmented reality.

That said, great Stories can be raw and and informal in tone, so you don’t need the polish of a Nat Geo photographer / videographer. It’s more about developing a feel for the medium and making compelling content that connects with people.


Q: What media organizations are doing this well, that we can look to for inspiration?

Oren: The New York Times makes some of my favorite Stories. They usually lean into striking photography, with deliberately simple, sparse copy that breaks a great story into bite size pieces. You can tell they’ve made a conscious decision to approach Stories copy in a way that works for the medium, rather than syndicate news feed posts or paragraphs from articles.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert shoots great behind-the-scenes footage of guests for their Stories. They also design fun quizzes using the poll feature, and do a terrific job employing consistent branding with GIF Stickers, boomerangs, and their choice of fonts and colors.

Refinery29 is especially strong with speaking-to-camera, and forging what feels like a 1-to-1 interaction with the viewer. They’re among the best in terms of visual branding; they make custom GIF Stickers and combine Instagram’s native fonts in inventive ways. And when it comes to integrating sponsors and partners, they’re also quite skilled at branded Stories content that’s entertaining without feeling forced.

Eytan Oren is the CEO of Block Party, a consultancy and full-service agency that specializes in strategy, audience development, channel management, media buying and research.


Article by: wgbhsocial

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