Newsletter: New Years Edition



Lessons from 2020

  • Innovation trends that impacted 2020: augmented reality, the meta-verse and live streaming on social platforms (AdAge)
  • The stickiest, most addictive, most engaging, and fastest-growing social apps (Andreessen Horowitz)
  • 2020, the year Instagram became Facebook (The Verge)
  • On TikTok and Twitter, the short comedic clip became an art form and a balm for pandemic anxiety (New York Times)
  • Five incredible Instagram features launched in 2020 (MarTechSeries)
  • In its end of year report, YouTube identified three key thematic areas within the latest video shifts: 1) the broadening archetype of the content creator and the mixing of content genres, 2) the increasing interactivity of video, including the rise of “co-watching” for live virtual events, and 3) that audiences are increasingly looking to digital media to help them navigate the real-life challenges they face. (YouTube)
  • The themes of love and thoughtfulness dominated GIPHY’s most viewed GIFs of 2020. Publishers who created content around encouragement, resilience, inspiration and social justice had the best success, with entertainment channels SNL, NFL, NBA and Netflix all boasting high view counts. (GIPHY)
  • Instagram’s Year in Review focused on how memes drove conversation and engagement on the platform in 2020. (Instagram)

Platform Updates: Top 10 Changes of 2020

In every edition of the Social Media Portal newsletter, I publish a list of “platform updates,” which consists of feature launches, new tools and changes to the top social media platforms. Looking back at the list of hundreds of changes, here are 10 of the most important from the past year:
  1. Platforms debut their TikTok competitors, most notably Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Sounds on Snapchat.
  2. As social live streaming took off in March, new features for live streaming have been prioritized all year. Notable upgrades include Facebook’s Live Producer, the ability for Instagram Live streams to live on via IGTV and previewed in the feed, and YouTube’s improved Premieres feature.
  3. Social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat integrate e-commerce (direct shopping features) into their apps. Related to our world in public media, the addition of fundraising capabilities were also added to LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and more.
  4. Accessibility features come to social media platforms, such as auto-captioning for IGTV and Facebook Live.
  5. The launch of the ephemeral “Stories” format comes to Slack, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  6. Twitter eliminates threaded replies and the mandated quote tweet.
  7. Most robust event hosting and management comes to Facebook, Messenger and LinkedIn. Features include live streaming, event registration, targeted advertising and monetization.
  8. Facebook consolidates messaging, giving users the ability to message between Facebook, Instagram and Messenger as if you were using the same app.
  9. Taking a cue from how TikToks spread rapidly across social media, Snapchat opens up, allowing content that was previously proprietary on the platform to be shared widely.
  10. Facebook rolled out updates to clearly distinguish News content from non-news content, such the launch of Facebook News and registered News Pages, original reporting prioritized in the algorithm, an option to register as a journalist and even the temporary algorithmic prioritization of “trusted” news sources during the 2020 election.

2021 Trends & Predictions

  • eMarketer’s 2020 report and projections for social media use in 2021 (eMarketer Research)
  • What Insider Intelligence analysts expect in 2021: the rise of social entertainment (eMarketer Podcast)
  • The new “Social+” category takes on a single category and builds an integrated social experience around it (Andreessen Horowitz)
  • Live, Social and Shoppable: The Future of Video (Andreessen Horowitz)
  • The future of social media is all talk (Wired)
  • Facebook, YouTube and Instagram will remain the most popular platforms in 2021 for social video, but new video platforms will rise to prominence (HubSpot)
  • 2021 predictions for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and LinkedIn (Social Media Today)
  • Infographic: key social media trends to pay attention to in 2021, including the popularity of Stories, the rise of niche platforms and using video for social commerce. (Social Media Today)
  • Nine social media platforms that should be on your radar in 2021, including Houseparty, Steemit, Nextdoor and Vero (Forbes)
  • 10 Instagram Reels predictions for 2021 (Later)
  • Analysts predict an increase in social shopping and livestreaming on social channels in 2021 (Adweek)

Actionable Advice for 2021 Social Media Success

A Talkwalker/HubSpot report outlined major social media trends for 2021, including this advice:
  • Continue to invest in the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), but understand how user behavior on each changes over time. Take action: find the right mix of platforms to invest your time in; adapt as user behavior changes; monitor organic and paid insights actively.
  • Embrace the meme as a way to communicate. Brands will benefit from remixing trends and memes to reflect your brand’s expression of that idea. Take action: track your brand’s logo or visual identity across social media, engage in the meme community, share UGC memes, and be cautious of copyright rules.
  • Connect with creators and influencers to encourage creative expression of your brand. Take action: create templates, tools and digital assets that can be remixed; engage with creators.
  • Make sure your strategies are adaptable and acknowledge world events, allowing you to change quickly and coherently based on the moment. Take action: understand where your brand sits within a crisis; be conscious of news and world events.
  • Nostalgia marketing is on the rise (and something public media is poised to capitalize on). During times of uncertainty users are looking to connect with happier times. Understand that nostalgia content resonates only with certain generations; segment your audience to maximize effectiveness. Take action: create content from your archive, re-release old shows or products, and present content in an “old school” way.
  • Putting messaging into the world now comes with the expectation of conversation and engagement — that you will respond in a meaningful way. Take action: come up with a conversational tone that is consistent among all social contributors; break the silo between content, marketing and customer service; invest in chatbots, social messaging, and respond to all mentions and comments.
  • Gaming has become a social activity, with communities appearing within gaming and virtual worlds. Take action: expand your search for communities beyond Facebook to popular games and streaming platforms for gamers, participate in these communities, create personalized content within games.
  • Be aware of and educated about fake news and misinformation on social media, and avoid being manipulated into sharing or perpetuating false narratives. Take action: ensure your social channels are secure and verified, monitor social media mentions closely, and take extra steps to vet what you share.
  • Adapt your strategies to a socially-conscious audience. Take action: be ready to take a stand only if it can be backed up by action; engage authentically with issues that matter to your audience; monitor the response to your messaging; align your editorial, marketing, and PR on positioning.
Download the full report here.

Bonus: Nieman Lab Predictions for Journalism

Every year, Nieman Lab publishes a slew of predictions for the journalism world in the upcoming year. Below, I’ve pulled my favorite quotes and passages from the group that apply to social media and engagement work. Click here for the full collection of Nieman Predictions for 2021.
  • Rather than putting all our eggs in one basket… a wise media organization in 2021 knows that it’s better to reach each platform’s unique audience where they are instead of putting all their resources into just one.” —Nisha Chittal, The Year We Stop Pivoting
  • That new franchise you’re building, that podcast, the video series: Who is it for? What need is it serving? What will the audience do with it? Do they really want it, need it? … These are the questions we need to be asking so that our content — how we serve our audiences — can steer our strategy.” —Cory Haik, Be Essential
  • We’re finding that by adjusting our Twitter outreach to avoid certain unintended cues — coded words and phrases that appeal mostly to audiences on the left or right — we are better able to reach people who are interested in having a conversation and being challenged.” —Raney Aronson-Rath, To Get Past Information Divides, We Need to Understand Them First
  • “YouTube and Spotify will find themselves on a collision course as podcasting and video converge.” —Edward Roussel, Tech Companies Get Aggressive in Local
  • “The future resilience of the world’s media lies in focusing on niche audiences and verticals. Its success lies in organizations that speak to very specific interests and the need for credible content.” —Tshepo Tshabalala, Go Niche
  • “St. Louis Public Radio took to Twitch, a live-streaming platform favored by gamers (and the occasional lawmaker), to host a news talk show during the pandemic… Twitch events build a direct connection with the station’s audience while avoiding the privacy and algorithmic pitfalls of platforms like Facebook and YouTube.” —Rodney Gibbs, Zooming Beyond Talking Heads
  • “If a court someday forces Facebook to break up, that by itself won’t spark alternative online platforms for people to connect and interact. Those new digital spaces will still need to be built, and journalism organizations are in an ideal position to rally people to them.” —Burt Herman, Journalists Build Post-Facebook Digital Communities
  • “The more journalists become digital creators, the more they’ll become subject to the type of struggles mainstream influencers have been dealing with for years.” —Taylor Lorenz, Journalists Will Learn Influencing Isn’t Easy
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Article by: Tory Starr

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