Welcome to post #7 in a 7 part series examining the top trends in social media for 2015, brought to you by @natureclicker (with much assistance from the rest of the internet). Thanks for following this series. Check back for more posts on social media trends, information on non-profit social, and research updates!
7. Live Social
One of the most distinctive features of social media is its ability to reach audiences in real time. We’ve all seen how trending topics on Twitter or Facebook can draw attention to an issue, generate increased coverage on traditional media, or even prompt public responses from private corporations, state agencies, public figures, or otherwise identified parties. In some instances, the opinions shared on a trending topic can have strong effects on its perception.
However, the “power of now” expressed within social media networks is often overlooked by academics, researchers, and even professional social marketers. Why?
Well, for one thing — it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to predict what will trend and why. Still, the appeal — and the longing for — real time connections are attractive (and potentially lucrative) opportunities for everyone involved in social marketing, branding, or outreach.
How does live contact with your audience differ from other forms of social messaging?
For one, social tools like live streaming allow for an audience to connect with an authentic, candid, and unedited vision of your organization, brand, or message. Sound scary?
However, there are a number of enormous benefits to showing your audience who you are when the script is off the table.
Trust: Building a Reliable and Believable Brand
While “authentic” can be hard to find in today’s world of carefully curated images and content (in social media as well as more traditional forms of marketing), the effort to build a genuine (and still credible) voice isn’t necessarily a lost cause.
Live streaming, tweeting, discussion, and other “off-the-cuff” participation with your audience allows them to see, hear, and participate with your brand in a manner that they can trust is an accurate representation of your true thoughts, feelings, and intentions. It’s a risk, but a worthwhile one. Studies show that honesty and authenticity are prized among consumers, and Bonfire Marketing revealed that 63 percent of users surveyed would buy from an authentic brand over a brand that isn’t perceived as honest in 2015.
Live connections remove the filters, the effects, and the photoshop tutorials from your communication with your audience. While these tools definitely still have a strong place in social media (and marketing more broadly), stripping off these elements from time to time can do a great deal to clearly articulate your message, humanize your brand, and build stronger relationships with your audience.
Involvement: Boosting Interaction and Amplifying Support
Aside from sharing a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your brand, real time connections also allow audiences to be more involved. Social media is nothing if not participatory, and who wants to participate with an unresponsive or belated partner? Not me!
Direct and instant involvement with a conversation, an issue, a question, an image, or a shared moment can help to build a feeling of urgency or excitement within your audience — and that feeling alone is priceless.
I know a lot of organizations and brands that rely on their social media platforms to share news and events, but have a hard time connecting when they’re looking to inspire an action. Obviously, there are a lot of reasons behind this kind of disconnect — but live social can be an incredibly effective strategy to build a new level of participation for your audience.
Do you want people to be involved? Ask them what they think. Tell them how you feel. Create a space where they can feel connected to your work, your product, or your staff. Give them a reason to tune in and see what they’re a part of, and show them the difference they are making when they’re a part of your community.
Engagement: It’s Not Just a Buzzword Anymore!
Through the use of Twitter swarms, hashtag Q and As, or other live feed discussions — local to global audiences are given the opportunity to engage with your brand, message, and even each other.
The key point here is engagement — and I don’t mean the kind that you can pull from social media metrics data.
I’ve made a number of strong connections with a individuals and organizations through live digital events like this, and there is definitely something to be said for the ability to build strong relationships within communities of all shapes and sizes. No matter what the reason behind your social presence is — your community is your support base, and your supporters are more active and involved when their community reflects the same.
For more information on how can you harness the potential of live audience engagement — stay tuned for next week’s post on some of the top platforms and sites for making the most out of your time on social media.
In the meantime, use the comments section to share how you use real time social media events to boost your brand! Still have questions? Leave them below or tweet @natureclicker now!