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Caiman gets social at Social Media Week 2016

I recently attended Social Media Week in New York City, along with fellow Caiman social media expert Kyle Buyers. We found the conference enlightening, entertaining, and filled with moments that were interesting both for our clients and for Caiman itself. Speakers came from a range of outlets - from premier publishers like The Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post, to millennial havens like MTV and Giphy(Note: If you don’t know what Giphy is, look it up. It’s the future of chat.) We heard perspectives and speculations about SnapchatWhatsApp, Facebook, and Kik and beyond. Social media is a huge beast and there is no way for a brand to be on every channel and speaking to every audience, so it’s now up to savvy, strategic marketers (like Caiman!) to leverage industry opportunities with company strengths.

Snapchat panel from SMW 2016

The harsh truth is that social media is growing faster than brands can figure out what to do with it. Gone are the days of simply posting to a Twitter or Facebook account and letting the content spread organically. Today "organic social" is dead. To have any hope of succeeding, companies are spending a pretty penny (more accurately, huge stacks of bills) to get the right message in front of the right audience at the right time. Social has evolved from 1:1 interaction (e.g. AOL Instant Messenger) to broadcast (Facebook), and is now evolving into small group sharing (mainly messaging apps like WhatsApp). Social marketers are constantly trying to evolve storytelling to have a relevant place in the conversation.

In order to hit the right people with the right message at the right time, marketers have to know who those people are and where to hit them with the message. Between shuffling between two bustling locations in New York City and braving the subpar weather, we noticed that three messages were really shining through at Social Media Week 2016.

Messaging apps are growing really, really fast. Messaging apps represent the shift to personalized content sharing among friends, family, and close groups. Platforms like WhatsApp, LINE, Viber, and Kik are driving trends and roadmaps for other social networks. Amazingly, users on these platforms want to engage with brands as much as brands want to engage with them! Companies have seen open rates of up to 58% on daily push notifications and engagement rates as high as 30%, when the rest of the social world struggles to hit a 2% engagement rate. There’s the evidence that if brands hit the right people with relevant and exciting content at the right time, they can do extremely well. Of course, this is easier said than done. 

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Caiman consultant Kyle Buyers selfies from inside the internet.

As Caimanites, we pride ourselves on helping clients get ahead of the curve, succeed beyond industry standards, and think strategically on where best to focus their efforts. After Social Media Week in New York, we will be leading one of our clients on their first ever campaign on a messaging app, as well as delivering on the multitude of insights we took away from the conference.

Video content is here to stay. The landscape continues to move toward a heavy emphasis on video within social. Platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can support video content, and new platforms such as Snapchat have video content built into their DNA. Snapchat users view 1B stories daily – that’s a lot for 60M monthly users. Only 6% of brands are on Snapchat, and Caiman is currently helping some of our clients manage the organic and paid strategy, creative, and execution. Don’t be surprised if more social networks emerge with a video focus, and keep an eye out: if brands aren't executing on video and doing it well, they’re already behind. 

Some other key takeaways:

  • 29% of all time spent on screens is vertical, signaling a shift to more active, thumb swiping engagement versus passively watching.
  • Use square photos and video to take up the most real estate on someone’s phone – you worked hard to get in front of them, now make your money work for you! 
  • The most successful video content doesn’t rely on sound or language at all. Think about what emotion and reaction you are trying to elicit, and work backwards from there. Great content will follow.
  • Video content that has an emotional appeal transcends global and cultural boundaries. We successfully helped design, execute, and distribute an emotion-heavy 2015 holiday video for one client and set a new record for unique views and optimized cost.

To be at the top, you’ve got to pay. Brands spent $40B on native advertising in 2015, and we expect to see an even higher figure through 2016. Take an audience-centric approach to content and don’t “fool” the consumer with clickbait. Brands should focus on instead fueling them with rich content or exciting tools to then distribute. Caiman helped launch one client’s first ever native strategy and campaign on Imgur. That pilot turned into an 18-month commitment with content receiving over 12% click through rates and 90% approval scores from a highly critical audience, also new records for the client. 

Now that you’ve paid to create and distribute the great content, it’s time to cross-promote across your other channels. Cross-channel promotion has become an integral part of social strategies that Caiman helps to drive - not only will your channels see growth in followers, but engagement rates will increase, too. After driving this for a client, data proves a positive correlation and we have increased our cadence and allocations by a factor of 7.

Though SMW2016 might be done, the insights provided will help Caimainites drive extensive social strategies across multiple industries for 2016 and beyond. (We attended a slew of talks from some bright and accomplished speakers and would be happy to chat your ear off, but we’ll keep it short here.) Audience and emotion will remain king in driving all content creation as video, messaging apps, and paid media continue to soar and mature.

And if after all of it you’re still totally lost on what to do on social, just Snapchat a celebrity dog eating pizza. Pizza rules the internet. It’s a fact - we heard it directly from Buzzfeed.