Posted at Jan 14, 2020 7:30:00 AM by THAT Agency | Share
It used to be that major topics got discussed on social media. Now social media itself is a hotly debated topic. It's for good reason: older platforms are facing growing pains and controversy about their social and political responsibility. What does that mean for marketing? New social media platforms are always going to rise, but they're doing so in a fierce environment. What's the next big social media platform and how will marketing on them be different?
Slow vs. Fast Trends
You'll notice a theme here: the rise of chat apps. The old guard of Facebook and Twitter might give way at some point as more traditional social media platforms, particularly with Facebook's stubbornness about transparency and accountability. That erosion is very unlikely to happen in 2020 alone.
There's a light exodus of users from Facebook, and less appeal to Gen Z, meaning niche traditional platforms will begin to rise. That said, those are slow trends worth watching for future years.
Platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram will continue to extremely useful. Be aware that Instagram is removing likes from its posts. The social media giant doesn't like the idea that it's getting very little of that influencer money.
We'd caution you from running away from influencers as a result. Shoppable posts are becoming a new way to leverage influencers' reach even more effectively. These will allow much more precise and controlled campaigns.
The territory that's most directly in play for quickly emerging social media platforms exists in chat apps and – to a lesser degree – socialized search engines. These are the faster trends that are likely to be the next big social media platforms.
Malwarebytes Labs performed a survey that found 95-percent of people distrust social media. People are exceptionally concerned about accuracy and privacy. That's one reason that security-heavy apps are becoming much more popular.
Telegram is a free, encrypted chat app that focuses on user privacy and security. It doesn't even allow paid advertising, and it doesn't sell user data. How is it useful in marketing then? You can create groups and channels focused on a brand or product, and feature content marketing. This relies on chatbots, conversational commerce, and content creation. In other words, focus on inbound marketing here.
The advantages are that users drawn through these methods are more likely to spend more, develop a relationship with the brand, and become repeat customers.
Viber is a free secure messaging application with more than 1 billion users. It's extremely easy to use and can sync across multiple devices. Like Telegram, it includes self-destruct options for messages.
Viber shares many strengths with Telegram, though perhaps doesn't communicate them quite as well. It also focuses on providing free audio and video calls so long as a user has a data plan and secure connection. There's a focus on quality.
Users can start a Viber Community that has unlimited membership, so it's extremely useful for communities centered on brand and inbound marketing strategies similar to Telegram. Line is yet another similar secret chat app that should be considered as the next big social media platform.
Its user base is only 30 million. It doesn't compare to Telegram's 180 million, Viber's 1 billion, or Line's 600 million, but that also means it gets to build on the lessons learned from those others. Whisper is focused on complete anonymity. Users don't have an identity or profile. They can't be found through a search. There are no friends or followers. Even chats and private messages can maintain that anonymity.
That sounds like a marketing nightmare, right? The major element of Whisper that's appealing is that it groups by location. That's particularly appealing for small- and medium-sized businesses that are focused on a region. Whisper promises to be a bit tougher to figure out, but has great potential because of its appeal to a user base that's drawn to its unique features.
This is China's top search engine. Search engines aren't usually considered social media platforms, but this one works more like a forum with search functionality built into it.
When a user makes a search, they're directed toward discussion threads that address the topic. If none is available, a new discussion thread is created around the query.
The appealing part of this is that Baidu Tieba has about one billion registered users, and 300 million monthly active users.
As Google toys with the concept of socializing searches, familiarity with Baidu Tieba might also give a window into potential ways that search engines evolve in the U.S.
Be Cautious With...
TenCent QQ is China's largest social media platform. It's also one of the largest in the world. It allows access to nearly a billion people worldwide. Why be cautious with it? Western consumers – especially Millennials and Gen Z – have become extremely wary of TenCent's potential censorship of various political issues.
Platforms like Reddit have already seen the kind of controversy that can surround these issues. TenCent invested heavily into Reddit, as well as other Western social media platforms like Snapchat. That hasn't necessarily held back these platforms, but it has created difficulty for many businesses on them.
While the controversies themselves aren't always initially embraced by the larger community, the nature of social media means it only takes a dedicated and vocal group to educate and involve a more general user base.
Look no further than game publisher Blizzard's extremely rocky 2019 to see the level of blowback that can happen as a result of censorship concerns on social media. It united activists, users, and lawmakers against the business. Blizzard was hardly alone in facing this level of controversy, but it is one of the more public and easily understood examples.
If your marketing focuses on younger consumers in the U.S., be very judicious about the choices you make when it comes to platforms like TenCent QQ.