Social media has connected the whole world and created a global society made up of an estimated 2 billion people. That means about 1 in 3 people on the planet use social media to spread news, photos, and their opinions.
Naturally, the majority of businesses have realized just how valuable social networks can be as advertising channels. But even though certain adverts and pieces of branded content can go viral, most of the time it’s world topics that set the social media world alight.
So, what kinds of events get global traction and what can your business learn from them?
The US Election
Although it is very difficult to determine what kind of content will go viral, truly important events do tend to spread across social media very quickly.
The US Election is a prime example of the way in which internet users digest and share content around important events. From South Dakota to South Africa, everyone’s talking about the candidates and predicting the consequences of electing either as the next US president.
There are two lessons that businesses can learn about the widespread interest in the election. The first is that people do use social media to explore and discuss important events, but only if they have an impact on the person directly.
In this case, the United States is choosing the next ruler of the free world, and people across the globe are concerned because the outcome may affect their daily lives.
The second lesson is that serious topics are often broken down into entertaining content bites that get shared across the globe in seconds. From memes to bad lip readings, the election race has prompted a wave of user-generated content. The best content goes viral because it is honest.
The brand takeout here is clear: Make sure you make your social media content feel personal and do whatever it takes to make it funny.
In general, the social media sphere is all about fighting for visibility. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the strongest ways is to cross the generation gap.
As social media matures, so does its audience. That means there is an aging population that’s looking for nostalgia, and a newer generation looking for the next cool thing.
Pokémon Go was one of the most successful product launches of all time, primarily because it appealed to two potent audiences: a new generation of gamers and those who remember playing the Pokémon card game.
But what really took the launch around the world was social media. Keep in mind that the game was only available in a handful of countries.
The hype on social went beyond people sharing their game experiences. It was more than the constant sharing of video capturing crowds of people hunting virtual creatures. Social media fueled a frenzy of interest, memories, and anticipation as the game was introduced to a huge audience – far bigger than those playing.
Although your business might not have a product as iconic as Pokémon, it is important to recognize the users within your social media community and create content that appeals to them.
If you can’t seem to unite the audience with a single campaign, then be sure to utilize custom audiences and A/B testing to get the right message to the right people.
The Syrian Boy
Social media is an open platform for people to express themselves freely. It unites us as a global community, and can be a powerful social tool to draw attention to devastating issues.
The photo of the Syrian Boy in the ambulance is a perfect example of the way in which social media can highlight the plight of others. Simple, striking, and deeply touching, this image is representative of the atrocities of war.
The fact that it went viral teaches us that people care what’s happening in the world around them. Even if it is just by hitting the “Share” button on their favorite social network, the online community is not only interested in GIFs and videos of cats.
Although not every brand can credibly play in the socially aware space, there’s no reason why your business cannot take a stand and invest in causes close to the heart of your community.
Without social media, this kind of awareness and compassion that this single image generated would not have been as profound.
As much as brands and business invest in creating great social content, it’s often more helpful to step back and see what people are talking about to shape your social media strategy.
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