What Brands Need to Know about Social Media in 2016

January 8, 2016

Written by NewsWhip
Social media

A new year is here, with new trends in brand marketing. Here’s how to get your followers buzzing about your content.

Brand journalism is the big thing of 2016. Brands are becoming more personal than ever to reach their consumers where they spend substantial time, social media. A brand can sculpt their reputation through social channels, and compelling content can engage new audiences organically. Reviews and comments from consumers are public on social, and how a brand reacts is visible to the entire world. 
We’ve looked into what publishers need to know this week, sports social marketers, and political communicators too. But as brands are expected to have a no-holds-barred social presence with their consumers, here are the tactics that will see social success in 2016.

Video Is Victorious

Over and over, we’re seeing that the content that resonates is video. Our most-engaging content on both Facebook and Twitter in 2015 were video pieces.

[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/redbull/videos/10156400188245352/” bottom=”30″]

Red Bull is consistently one of our top brands in the social media rankings. They’ve transformed themselves into a publisher of compelling content that captures the adventurous, loud, embracing life image they want to project. This video, posted January 1st, partnered with Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner and scored nearly 4 million views. Captioned with a catchy Adele lyric, it received over 114,000 likes, 24,000 shares, 2,100 comments.
Video allows brands to have a medium for interactive storytelling. Compelling stories engage users and have them sharing and clicking to come back for more. Nearly every platform is getting in on the video game, and many social channels revolve directly around it, such as Snapchat, Vine, and Periscope.

In October BMW launched their new M2 in an unsponsored live stream on Periscope. They built the hype by promoting it on a ‘secret’ Instagram handle users had to discover. In the 10-minute reveal, BMW reached over 5,000 viewers. Live streams give a sense of urgency and exclusivity, making followers feel like they’re catching a inside-scoop before anyone else.
Snapchat too is getting bigger and bigger for brands, especially those that have events, such as sports. These channels can be used for other time-sensitive campaigns, like promotions, Q&As, and collaborations.

The Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals Snapchat story during their December 28th game, as reported in our “5 Tools Every Sports Social Marketer Needs” post

The Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals Snapchat story during their December 28th game, as reported in our “5 Tools Every Sports Social Marketer Needs” post

Like we noted for sports marketers, immersive video experiences like GoPro and virtual reality technology are becoming more accessible as well. More and more are users able to experience the world digitally. Brands can show off their products and services in 360 degrees. Imagine driving a car in VR, or experiencing a travel brand before ever getting on a flight.

Personality Please

Brands are expected to play the game of social media like the rest of us. A stodgy, blank voice doesn’t win followers. Users want to feel connected to the personalities they follow online.
Social media creates the opportunity for brands to speak to their audiences directly. That voice should come out of the brand’s culture and identity. Will it be elegant and clever, like Tiffanys? Aspirational like Red Bull? Educational like General Electric? Kind and family-centric like Kleenex?

Tiffany’s timely tweet for the New Year scored over 3,000 combined shares and retweets. Even while making a joke, Tiffany’s kept their poised but witty brand voice. It’s important to be authentic and genuine in social media, and not just fall back upon straitlaced marketing speak. For the brands and celebrities who try platforms like Reddit’s popular AskMeAnything events, they are quickly sniffed out by users and rejected if they are disingenuous and only focus on promotion. People want to enjoy the content they see on social media, not feel as though they’re watching a commercial. 

Let Your Followers Have a Voice

Social media tears down walls between people and brands. No longer are brands primarily speaking to consumers through a TV screen or print ads. On social, people can talk back, and have those conversations readable, shareable, and likable by the rest of the world.

Twitter is a great channel for interacting with followers. Brands like Starbucks build credibility by responding to followers who comment on tweets. This tweet announcing the new Latte Macchiato, received 1,600 retweets and 6,300 likes. Starbucks was quick to answer followers who were curious or excited about the new drink.
Brands can also source content from followers. Doritos has been doing this since 2006, in a with their “Crash the Superbowl” campaign that has now turned into an annual competition. Though this will be the final year, they inspired over 32,000 submissions of user-created 30 second ads. Social media buzz is grown through the entire promotion as fans are encouraged to share and vote for their favorites.

By listening to fans, brands can build a cycle of content creation. Their content can inspire users to create more content, that can be recycled by the brands. Again, Reddit is big for this. When we looked at the top auto brands on social media, the subreddits were full of fans proudly showing off their cars.

Be Seamless on All Screens

Pew Center for Research released some staggering numbers last year in digital research. 50 million Americans are almost never offline. Not only that, but more and more rely solely on their smartphones for internet access.
Mobile and tablet are no longer the “second screen”, but for many users, the first way they consume websites, emails, and social media. It’s predicted that by 2018, the largest consumer markets will consume 90% of content first on mobile.

[fb_pe url=”https://www.facebook.com/bettycrocker/videos/10154104345409316/” bottom=”30″]
We mentioned Betty Crocker’s video in our holiday food brand roundup, but it’s worth another mention for its use of best practices. The video had 5.6 million views,183,000 shares, 96,000 likes, and 5,500 comments. Short and sweet, it gives viewers a readable recipe while they watch, and shows them how easy the recipe is to duplicate.
Users expect seamless experiences on whatever device they’re using. Content made for social media should reflect that. The best-performing Facebook videos are square, reflecting that mobile users don’t need to flip their phones while viewing. Keeping the mobile majority in mind will build trust with your following and promote engagement.
How far can brands go? Red Bull’s mobile efforts have even translated into an app that features stories “that fuel your inspiration”, complete with “mind-blowing images and unmissable video”.


Our aforementioned brand stars like Red Bull and Doritos are already savvy to using social media influencers. Using influencers allows brands to capitalize on the already expansive fan base of that person, and reach new audiences. Influencers are already trusted sources by their fans. The casual nature of platforms like Vine mean influencers can be themselves, which adds a layer of authenticity to the endorsement. Live-stream platforms like Periscope are great for spontaneous and exclusive takeovers of a brand’s channel.

Hasbro’s toy brand NERF partnered up last year with Vine star Jerry Purpdrank, who has nearly 9 million followers on Vine. The collaborative Vine had over 16 million views. In terms of engagement, it received 365,000 likes, 75,000 shares, and 3,700 comments.
The key is to choose influencers who work with your brand voice. Red Bull regularly uses athletes and thrillseekers to create exciting content that embodies their brand message. Famous Youtubers, Instagrammers, (and now Snapchat stars) get tremendous views, and are “needle in a haystack” sources of creativity and talent that can energize a brand.

2016: Brand And Publisher As One and the Same

We’ve noted before that the most successful brands are the ones acting as publishers in their own right. They’re building a fan following that finds their content trustworthy, interesting, and share-worthy.
Tracking how that content is hitting can be done in NewsWhip Spike.

Spike brands Facebook

Spike’s view of three top engaging Facebook posts brands in a 24-hour view

Spike lets social media teams discover the trends and stories catching attention before they go viral. With over 2 million digital content objects captured daily, Spike helps marketers and community managers streamline discovering what to create and react to on their social channels.
Take a free trial of Spike to find the best content for your brand.

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