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Woodruff 2020 Roundup: Anticipating and Adapting to Social Media Trends

Welcome to “Woodruff 2020 Roundup,” a series where our own forward-thinking experts anticipate the needs of our clients throughout 2020 and beyond, and how we’ll respond with innovative solutions and unexpected ideas.

Here’s Social Media Lead Brittany VanMaele on the ever-evolving state of social media, and why we’re particularly suited to keeping on top of those changes for our clients.

Overall, social media is making a shift back to its origins. It started as a place for people to connect with other people, but (as always), people started realizing you could use social media to cash in. Once monetization took hold, it was only a matter of time before the brands swooped in. Before we knew it, ads were pervasive and data scandals (thanks a lot, Cambridge Analytica) were headlining the news.

As with every new and wholesome toy, eventually cynicism set in. Today, social users tend to be a little jaded, which has caused platforms like Facebook to recommit to the user. (Putting the “social” back in social media, amiright?)

The chase for the audience never ends

In this age of social media cynicism, we’re ironically seeing people begin to use it for the more wholesome and un-cynical reasons social took off in the first place: People want to tune more into each other now, and tune out the noise. Which, unfortunately for those in the marketing biz, can mean tuning out brands.

To flee the barrage of ads and data-sucks and perceived corporate shenanigans, users are taking a number of different approaches. Maybe they’re joining a Facebook group to share photos or stories with other like-minded people. Or they’re going back to the forums (hey, Reddit) for advice on a product or service rather than asking the brand itself. Consumers seem to value interacting with each other via direct messages or Instagram stories, or tuning into TikTok for user-created content, as opposed to seeking out the ol’ company line.

And that means that crucial conversations are happening in corners of the internet that your brand may not have tuned into. And just like they did in the stone ages of the Internet, just like their audiences did in the wake of recent privacy and data issues, brands have to evolve their strategies to have a place in this new ecosystem. It’s a dog chasing its tail, only the dog has multiple tails and occasionally it catches one. And the chase begins anew.

How we can help find that audience again (and again)

How is Woodruff social poised to help find and retain that audience all over again?

We’re focused on building communities on your owned social channels. This is a constantly evolving and often case-specific process, but we work hard to tailor a specific strategy to every client’s very specific needs. Here are a few ways we’ve connected with ever-elusive audiences for our clients.

  • Managing a Facebook group where pet owners can discuss their pets’ quirks, hobbies and dietary needs
  • Studying your audience and developing content that resonates with them specifically (and the memes, they flowed like wine!)
  • Launching a contest to collect more reviews or user-generated content to spark more authentic conversation
  • Providing personalized customer service to the fans who are engaging across channels
  • Administering “surprise and delight” programs for brand advocates

But we’re also tuned into how we can address the increasingly personal uses of social media. This could mean:

  • Determining the best way to insert your brand into content that users are already making and posting — like launching a GIPHY channel stocked with branded GIF stickers for fans to use in their Instagram stories
  • Identifying potential influencers or channels to partner with in distributing or amplifying your content
  • Leveraging social listening to snoop on the conversations that users are having without you — and draw insights from those discussions to drive strategies on your other channels
  • Creating content that’s more user-centric — which encourages those fans to share the content on their own pages. Including the user in your own content is a great way to encourage them to share your content. Every #FanPhotoFriday showcase or a meme featuring a fan’s dog is a reason for your audience to spread your word — free of charge.

The more it changes…

The key to staying on top of social media trends is simply to stay on top of social media trends. You have to be in it, every day. Every minute in some cases. Social is the Wild West, where the cowboys and pioneers have teleporters instead of horses and oxen. Your audience can disappear and reappear in the space of a single day. It takes a team of dedicated people who honestly love this stuff to know where the audience is going next, not only now but three stops down the road.

Brittany VanMaele, Social Media Lead | Woodruff


Brittany VanMaele
Social Media Lead