It’s safe to say that social media has changed how brands and consumers interact. It’s not like how it used to be. As a 25-year-old, I don’t claim to remember the “good old days,” and I definitely don’t think I’m old enough to even be saying phrases like “the good old days.” However, I do remember a time when if you wanted to talk to a brand—let’s say, Cheerios—you wrote them a letter and maybe heard from them in a few weeks. Maybe you mentioned something to your friends about it, but you didn’t expect more than a good product and maybe a returned letter.
Not anymore. We demand instant feedback from brands. We understand that there’s a person on the other end cycling through fan comments (or at least the social team at EPIC Creative® does, because, well, we’re that person). But, this shift in brand interaction doesn’t just stop with customer service. As stewards of a brand’s social media channels, it’s important to promptly respond to comments and complaints from fans. But, this reallocation of power from brands to their consumer base is bigger. Most notably, for us at EPIC, it affects the content we produce for our clients.
A former colleague once told me that social media content needs to always do one of two things: inform or entertain. Sometimes it does both, but rarely. In the end, it always needs to have value. The reality is, content has always been intended to inform, but now more than ever, consumers want to be entertained.
The best illustration of this shift can be seen in the growing popularity of visual content. Videos and photos are the most shareable and, dare I say it, “viral” pieces of content on the Internet. They can easily share information with an infographic or product video or provide entertainment through a meme or blooper reel.
Two Super Bowl examples come to mind, but neither example has to do with actual commercials. New Castle’s “almost” Super Bowl commercial with Anna Kendrick poked fun at the commercial process, and though it had very little to do with the product, it was in line with the brand’s tongue-in-cheek tagline, “No Bollocks.” The video was uploaded to YouTube and shared wildly across social channels.
In regards to photos, Oreo scored huge in the aftermath of last year’s Super Bowl blackout with a legendary twitter photo: “You can still dunk in the dark.” Allegedly, the whole creative-design-approval-execution process took only 10 minutes. That’s fast.
At EPIC, the process may take a little longer than 10 minutes, but we’re equipped to capitalize on social media opportunities with world-class designers and an in-house production studio. Where I’m sitting right now, there’s a designer in front of me, and a video editor behind me. Where you sit in your office may be inconsequential, but when it’s time to mock up an image or give feedback on a video edit, it makes a difference.
Knowing how to bring value to consumers through social media—and having the resources to do it—is a pillar of social media success. Now, however, brands that are active on social media are expected to be entertainers as well as informers. The social media “highway” is looking more and more like I-94 during rush hour, and the best way to stand out is by creating engaging visual content and capitalizing on opportunities. The content may connect directly to the product (and in most cases, it probably should), but at the end of the day, it needs to warrant a like, a comment or perhaps even a hand-written letter.