Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017 | 7 min read
Chewbacca Mom, #Rio2016, and the US presidential election—these are just some of the biggest stories to hit social media this year. While it’s important for marketers to keep an eye on these major trends, it’s also crucial for them to understand how they break across each unique platform.
After all, some social networks drive conversation around sports and live TV, while others host talk about travel and retail. Depending on which industry your brand is in, you’ll likely incorporate different platforms into your marketing mix, and refine your strategies according to the content on those platforms.
That’s why we’re breaking down the biggest stories on each social network this year, with tips for what marketers can learn from them.
This year, Facebook chose to highlight only two categories: global news and Live video. This, in itself, is telling of how Facebook sees its platform fitting into conversation online. It’s not just a place to connect with family and friends; it’s also a hub for gathering news, discussing important world updates, and sharing experiences in real-time. It helps, too, that Facebook is taking steps to limit fake news on the platform.
Specifically, Facebook’s list of most-talked-about global topics combines a mix of politics and pop culture. For instance, at the top of the list are the US presidential election, Brazilian politics, and Pokémon Go. Further down, we see Black Lives Matter, the Olympics, Brexit, and the Super Bowl.
The Live video list also combines politics with pop culture. However, the top political videos are confined to the US, suggesting that perhaps Live video has yet to take off across the globe. These top videos include the famous Chewbacca Mom, BuzzFeed’s countdown to the 2020 presidential election, and musician Ted Yoder’s soundscapes—which have a combined 300 million views.
What this means for marketers: Facebook users are interested in being politically aware, but that doesn’t stop them from sharing fun pop culture updates and viral videos. Marketers should understand that their posts—organic and paid—will be seen in this context. Most importantly, Facebook Live video is already making its mark, and brands would be wise to start experimenting with the format in an effort to engage audiences in real-time.
Political conversation surged on Twitter, too, including talk about #Election2016, #Brexit, and #Trump. However, Twitter differs from Facebook in that it hosted discussions about major TV broadcasts. For instance, among Twitter’s top 10 trends are #Rio2016, #Euro2016, #Oscars, and #GameofThrones.
Twitter also helped birth two new Internet challenges this year: the #Mannequinchallenge and the #Sogonechallenge. Participants ranged from celebrities and sports stars to politicians and journalists. Brands weren’t afraid to jump on board, either, with companies like Target, Denny’s, and Sprite taking their shot.
— Target (@Target) November 7, 2016
What this means for marketers: Twitter is still the go-to social network for sharing reactions and opinions about TV broadcasts, especially when it comes to sports. Twitter’s global user-base is also strong, driving top trends about world news and pop culture events. In fact, the most retweeted tweet of the year came from a YouTube gamer in Spain. As Twitter rolls out features for livestreaming and TV-like ads, this space should get even more interesting for marketers.
Celebrity appreciation is alive and well on Instagram, surpassing recognition for both global newsmakers and sports stars. Just look at Selena Gomez, who beat out Cristiano Ronaldo and even Pope Francis in terms of follower growth. In fact, Instagram’s most-liked picture is her ad for Coca-Cola.
A photo posted by Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) on
While other platforms can get weighed down by tragic and controversial news, positivity and good vibes continue to spread on Instagram. After all, the top three emojis are the red heart, the heart-eyes smiley, and the laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying smiley. If that doesn’t convince you, take the fact that #love is the most-used hashtag on the platform.
Instagram also remains hot among travelers, with the platform naming its top hotels, restaurants, destinations, and geotagged cities of the year. Among the elite are the MGM Grand Las Vegas, Disney Theme Parks, Times Square, and the Eiffel Tower.
What this means for marketers: If you know your audience is interested in travel, fashion, retail, or celebrity culture, Instagram is the place to be. In fact, 48% of Instagrammers use the platform to find travel destinations. With its new Snapchat-like Stories feature, the app is also providing more ways for people to share their unique experiences. This gives brands a new opportunity to learn about their customers and offer exclusive looks at their own products and offerings.
No one can truly know which stories will break next year. But we can look at past conversations—and promises of future features—to predict how each social network might be used going forward.
For instance, Facebook will likely continue to drive political conversations, and Facebook Live will open doors for new methods of communication. Twitter will also jump from being just a second-screen platform to a first-screen platform, too, with sports livestreams and TV-like ads. Meanwhile, travel and fashion will continue to flourish on Instagram, especially as brands partner with celebrities and influencers to reach new audiences.
For marketers, it’s important to keep tabs not just on these flashy new tools, but also on the conversations that they generate. This way, your content can blend seamlessly into each platform and engage audiences based on their interests.
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