The Economist recently wrote about a “strange pattern to come” regarding oil & energy. To build on that theme, we can most certainly say there are strange patterns arising in digital and social around the world. From ecommerce livestreaming taking China by storm, to the popular new platform Clubhouse now in hot water, to Jack D and Jay Z donating 500 BTC to fund the development of Bitcoin in Africa and India…does this mean we’ll be using BTC to buy from our livestreams soon? 😉 But then again, who even has BTC?! Strange patterns, indeed…
Super Bowl Marketing Looked Super Different
Watching Tom Brady win a Super Bowl for the seventh time may have been the most familiar sight from this year’s big game. Social media was abuzz about The Weeknd’s halftime show, this polarizing Oatly commercial and a moment of silence for frontline workers lost to COVID-19. However, noticeably absent were ads from mainstay brands Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Hyundai. In contrast, companies that recorded notable growth during the pandemic, such as Fiverr and DoorDash, made their Super Bowl advertising debuts. Brands concerned about receiving backlash from “COVID-weary consumers” on social media pursued alternatives to in-game commercials. Others, such as Budweiser, completely redirected their advertising dollars to campaigns to promote vaccine awareness and distribution efforts.
Long-form Content in a Short-form World
Longform content is making a comeback, with both Facebook and Twitter announcing plans to roll out newsletter tools. For Facebook, this is part of a larger plan to provide more legitimate news sources on its platform, giving users the option to subscribe and receive more content from journalists and writers they trust. Facebook hasn’t shared a formal update or acquisition, but Twitter has acquired the newsletter service Revue. While Twitter historically has been known as a place for brief updates, this acquisition proves that sometimes 280 characters just isn’t enough.
Users Are Swarming the Hive
After going viral on TikTok and Twitter, Hive, a social media app with MySpace, Twitter and Instagram-like features, briefly dominated the Apple App Store charts. It became the number one social media app and number two most-downloaded app, gaining over 130K users in just a few hours. Hive touts itself as a nostalgic mashup of all three platforms, likely why users swarmed to download it. While we don’t know if Hive will become a true competitor to existing apps, its popularity to date might point to a larger trend of online users looking to try new social experiences (as seen with Clubhouse). Given this, (healthcare) brands must stay on top of where their audiences are engaging to ensure they are reaching them where they are most active.
The Ground Shaking Under Social Giants
Many social media advertisers still have brand safety concerns that could impact paid dollar spends in 2021. Platforms have made efforts to address these issues, but the steps they’ve taken have not been as straightforward as some advertisers hoped. For example, Facebook reversed its algorithm changes that boosted news from authoritative sources shortly after the election and scaled back on other measures related to misinformation. As a result of the brand concerns, shareholders of Home Depot and Omnicom filed resolutions to determine if their ads funded hate speech. This indicates some brands are reevaluating their advertising, which could have worrying implications for platforms. Combined with the swell of grievances aimed at Robinhood, revocation of Section 230 could be closer than we think.
Personalizing the Telehealth Experience
The increased demand for and use of telehealth across all demographics since the pandemic began last spring has given developers insight into patient preferences. Overall, consumers of all ages prefer phone or video calls over texts and want telemedicine platforms and apps to function seamlessly with the real world, similar to their experience with Uber and Amazon. Meanwhile, providers are interested in using telehealth technology to establish more personal connections to patients with chronic conditions rather than those suffering from colds, flu and dermatology issues, which are the current focus.
Taking the “Para” Out of Parasocial Relationships
The continued COVID-19 lockdowns combined with increasing use of social media are taking the “para” out of parasocial relationships. Many platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Cameo, OnlyFans and Twitch, allow celebrities and influencers to interact with their audiences directly or form communities through ongoing conversations with fans. As the pandemic continues, partnerships with influencers and celebrities may resonate with audiences even more strongly, as everyone is craving face-to-face interaction and deeper connections.
In Other News…
Social platforms launched new initiatives to celebrate Black History Month.
Dual-medium collaboration: Fast Company thinks this simple feature makes video meetings way more productive.
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