Social media: Looking the beast in the eye

 In Live U, News, Uncategorised

No longer simply a way to chat and share a few pictures, social media is now part of the worlds of news, information and entertainment — and the opportunities for those industries are endless.

Sometimes, even when you see something coming, it can look a lot different up close than you were expecting. That might be how many of us view social media. When Facebook, Twitter and YouTube first came on the scene, it didn’t take long to realise it was going to change how we communicate with each other. We knew it was big, but did we really see it for what it has become?

Social media hasn’t just revolutionised how we communicate with each other and provided a mountain of data for marketers, it’s taking over how we get our news, research information, watch movies, keep up with sport, and listen to music. It’s impacting when and where we do these things and how we react to them.

Now we want all our communication options to “talk” to each other.  We want to tell our friends what we think of a programme as we’re watching it. We want to share our thoughts live to our Twitter followers when we’re watching a YouTube video or watching the news on my laptop, but we don’t want to change to another social media option to do it. We want to do what broadcasters and advertisers do — have our messages appear at the top of the list of what people see and share the news happening around us as it happens.

And social media platforms are keeping ahead of these demands. Look at Facebook as an example. It now wants to be your TV. That means it’s no longer simply about sharing your content; it wants to be the provider of all your content. Want to watch a movie, see you favourite sport team in action or catch up on your favourite sitcom? The Facebook video tab will provide it. Facebook is becoming a content provider.

Social media platforms have to keep pace in this way. Users are already looking to streamline their social media usage and find ways to interact that are less polarizing.

Traditional broadcasters and entertainment outlets have to keep pace too.  Not only are new competitors entering the market, viewers are becoming part of it too. YouTube Live and Facebook Live are just two examples of how viewers are expanding the content they share. Breaking news can be shared by onlookers immediately, without the need to be distributed through news media. Fans come to sport and music events armed with mobile devices that let them share what they are seeing.

To remain competitive, the broadcast and media industries need to ensure the content they provide is as timely as possible, in the best quality, and from locations not easily accessed by the public. Fake news is a hot issue, but the industry can use this to their advantage. Social media platforms are finding ways to allow authorised content to rise to the top of listings to hedge out fake stories.

Tied in with this is the fact that social media channels have become a source for information searching. You no longer just have to search on Google, for example. You can type search terms into Twitter and see what’s being discussed and shared. Content with focused hashtags and categories on Pinterest and Instagram can also become more visible to searches. Social media has to be considered an important element of search engine optimization.

The good news is there are increasing ways to monetise video on social media. Last year, Twitter announced that some content providers (those considered approved influencers) can elect to run pre-roll ads in front of their tweets that contain videos. The provider receives a portion of the ad review.  Growing in acceptance are post-roll ads, particularly when they relate to the previous video or are a good bridge to the next video when you are supplying a range of related content. Co-branding will also gain in popularity on social media video. A car company may want to have its logo appear in the corner of all your videos and product placement will occur in videos. Add to all this the idea that viewers will only be able to comment on a video if they opt in to view an ad, and you have a way to monetise viewer reaction.

It may be said that social media platforms have moved well beyond “social” to a more encompassing “communications” media. They are no longer strictly a replacement for phone and email communication. They have merged into the realms of the news, entertainment and information resource industries.

We’ve seen social media up close now, and we are excited by the opportunities it’s presenting.

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