Every movement begins with a moment.

In or Out? Social Content Trends for the New Year

Posted 17 January 2014 6:00 PM by Lauren Clinton

Low production value content – In (and on the rise!) Unproduced, real-life and user-generated photos and videos are definitely “in.” Taking photos of products in everyday situations is relatable and creates a more accurate product expectation for consumers than simply slapping a filter on stylized pictures from photo shoots that lack the authenticity consumers crave.

Wondering if this trend will make its way to more traditional channels, like TV? It’s already there. The first Vine commercial was launched by Dunkin Donuts this September during Monday Night Football. Different versions of the ad ran throughout the season, which ignited a trend to normalize social-created content airing across platforms previously reserved for high production value content. Trident followed suit with their own social influencer-created TV commercials filmed in Vine. Only a few months later, KFC launched a series of national #HowDoYouKFC commercials mimicking the look of videos filmed through a front-facing phone camera.


Shock value – In Content doesn’t need to be appalling. Having just enough guts to create some surprised chatter will do! Look at Kmart’s previous approach to sales through discounts versus its new approach, which burgeons on the edge of shocking content. Advertisements for free shipping ("Ship My Pants") and its latest Christmas commercial featuring Joe Boxer products both garnered large amounts of earned media through social conversation and several features on news sites after being picked up by savvy reporters looking to show what is new, different and smart. We’re awarding bonus points to Kmart for including an on-screen #ShowYourJoe hashtag in their YouTube video, giving viewers a tool to continue the conversation through earned media on other social networks.

Copycats – Out Looking at you, Hamburger Helper. Here’s a tweet from Ben & Jerry’s the day marijuana was legalized in Colorado. 


Here’s Hamburger Helper’s tweet a full day later.

Same cadence, same format and same photo. Brands should be different and bold. Copycats aren’t creative and, for that reason, they are out. Four for you, Glen Coco — we mean, Ben and Jerry’s — for directly commenting on Hamburger Helper’s copycat content. Meow. 

Being relevant – In (But remember, it’s more important to be smart.) Last year was the year real-time engagement in social media moved beyond live tweeting and celebrity Q&As. Like any new territory, it came with its witty triumphs, silly jokes and, naturally, more than a few comments that totally missed the mark. The first use of smart response to an event: Audi offering to send LED lights to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome during the Super Bowl blackout. It was product-relevant, showed the character of the brand and proved that Audi knows its audience. (ß See what we did there?)

That being said, this same trend has also created a monster in brands that desperately seek attention by making it a habit to comment on every single piece of news in pop culture and politics, and then hoping it will grow legs through earned media and win tons of attention for the brand. The most recent offender is Denny’s, which posted a tweet making a joke out of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s bridgegate scandal.

We’ve cautioned brands about the danger of the over-share before, and Denny’s deleted the tweet an hour later after receiving negative feedback from their community. Bravo for listening, but there’s not an apology or acknowledgment in sight.

A tight paid, owned and earned media cycle – In Leveraging paid, owned and earned media (POEM) together is key to getting the biggest bang for your marketing buck. Implementing social media strategies in isolation from other channels and initiatives is a huge missed opportunity in more ways than one. Use channels together in ways that make sense for your audience and provide value, and you won’t be sorry. One of the best POEM implementations we saw all year was during the Emmys. Target assembled look-alike outfits for characters on nominated shows, and then provided users with links to drive them back to Target's website, which loaded a custom search for the styles of clothing and accessories pictured. Do you like Hannah's pink flowered skirt from HBO's "Girls?" Click, buy it, and share it courtesy of integrated social content planning.

Social in a silo – Out We just talked about this above. But it’s important, so we’re saying it again. It’s not smart to make your social efforts an island and hope that “if you build it, they will come.” Social channels have evolved and so have the expectations of consumers. There’s no longer novelty for consumers in following a brand just because it’s there. To win the attention and engagement from a digital audience, brands need to invest, provide value in social content and leverage the capabilities of social networks paired with other owned channels to achieve business goals. What social content trends are you expecting to take off in 2014?





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