The Future of Social Media: creating a futureproof strategy for social success

Social media continues to evolve rapidly as new capabilities and platforms transform consumer expectations. While this is great for users, it can be a logistical nightmare for brands.

We discussed the future of social media and how brands can navigate emerging trends with Liv Wedderburn, the Social and Influence Director at TWM Unlimited and Co-Chair of the DMA’s Social Media Council, on our Human Understanding Lab Leaders podcast.

The rise of info-social

One of the most significant recent trends in social media is the tension between what consumers want and what platforms are delivering. This includes the rise of info-social, with people using social media to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

A catalyst in this rise was the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. As Liv told us: “Lots of people were trying to spread information very quickly with their peers in unregulated areas so that they could get information out there. People were adding all their information to carousels on Instagram or via their Stories, which was a really quick way to understand what was going on. But it was also a quick way to show that you had an allyship with the causes and say, ‘this is where I hang my hat.’”

Neuroscience’s role in social media

While the society we live in is constantly changing, so are the social platforms we use and the types of content people consume. For example, simple organic content can often perform far better than time-intensive and costly creative campaigns.

Brands, therefore, need to use data to monitor and enhance their campaigns. While this can come down to guesswork, like analysing when video content appears to perform best, it also relies on knowing what encourages people to engage.

Liv explains: “Something we do particularly well within TMW is our approach towards content from a neuroscience perspective and having understanding human behavior as a whole. We’re looking into the psychology of what makes people engage, and partnering that with creative excellence.”

Navigating the social gamechanger, TikTok

The rapid rise of TikTok, which first launched internationally in September 2017, has created significant challenges for marketers. However, this new player in the market offers many benefits, and it’s not all change.

As Liv told us: “The basic rules of what good content is haven’t changed. TikTok has a huge amount of closed captioning and supporting copy to help you understand content quickly. So it’s different, but the rules still apply and you have to be more relaxed about them. If you’re a brand and your social media manager or social agency wants to do TikTok, you have to trust them and see how it goes.”

The theory that TikTok is only for young people is gradually being debunked. TikTok’s audience went from predominantly under 24 to predominantly over 24 for the first time this year, and it’s gradually shifting to the over 30s market.

As Liv says, that presents new opportunities for marketers: “It’s changing how we approach eCommerce and creators in terms of influencer marketing. You can shop directly through TikTok, and the creative spin incentivises people to make amazing content that brands can utilise. It drives behavior, and that’s ultimately what every brand is trying to do.”

How to get your brand on TikTok

So if that’s got you thinking that you need to get your brand on TikTok, then here are Liv’s top tips for getting started on the platform:

  • Establish your niche: TikTok is the home of niches, with a TikTok for every single thing you can think of. So it’s vital to think about what your niches are and what you want to become known for. For example, Nando’s knows that everyone loves its Fino Pitta, so when it came back on the menu after the pandemic it started a fun TikTok trend.
  • Consider how you can educate: B2B brands also have a great opportunity by releasing more educational content. While YouTube is established as a great place for ‘how to’ content, TikTok enables brands to do it quicker and address the issue of viewers’ shorter attention spans.
  • Do your research: TikTok’s search capabilities are highly advanced, making brainstorming ideas a quick process. Look at what your direct and indirect competitors are doing or not doing, search for keywords, and use that inspiration to get started.

Succeeding in the future of social

TikTok’s immediate success is indicative of how quickly the social media landscape can change. Liv advised that keeping pace with this change relies on:

  • Don’t be afraid: Facebook and Instagram realise they’re fighting a losing battle with new platforms. So think about how you can adapt, how these platforms fit into your strategy and utilise them while they’re encouraging people to stay. But don’t be afraid to try new platforms out and see how you get on.
  • Community remains vital: There’s still no point in doing social without community. Make sure you take time to create content that’s useful, beneficial and relevant to your customers.
  • Test and learn: Listening to the data is hugely important. Unlimited has vast teams of people focused on social reporting, as well as paid, community, social, and influencer experts, which shows the importance of using data to test and learn.
  • Make your content accessible: There’s no excuse not to be creating content that’s accessible in 2021. And, as Liv says: “The future of social is one that will look down or penalize those who haven’t thought about accessibility within their content. So make sure you consider that when you’re creating content.”
  • Invest in influencers: All the social platforms tell us that community and influencers are vital, including Twitter’s Tip Jar, TikTok’s Creator Marketplace and Facebook announcing it’ll pay creators $1 billion through 2022. So investing in influencers, rather than expensive creatives, can be a beneficial approach to build up brand advocacy and authenticity.

The world of social media may be changing daily, but some things will never change. The traditional theory of delivering content that appeals to and engages your audience is just as relevant to funny, short TikTok videos as it is to print ads.

Discover the future of social media with Liv by listening to the podcast in full here. Or reach out to learn how our teams can support your ongoing social strategies: or