By Andra Searles and Cody Sibulo
2015 sure saw a lot of changes on social media – from entirely new platforms like Periscope taking center stage, to evolving uses of popular platforms like Snapchat – but luckily for you, we’re here to help navigate the forever shifting landscape of social media and describe what emerging trends mean for advocacy work. Read on below as we give you a bird’s eye view into how social media changed the game for advocacy work in 2015 and what those changes will mean for the work Racepoint Global does in 2016. Check it out!
As Millennials, we’re used to coworkers rolling their eyes at our constant obsession with Snapchatting our lunches or fooling around with the latest image filters (they just don’t understand!). However, what was first perceived as a frivolous social media platform, made huge strides in the world of advocacy in 2015.
I’ll Take, “What Is a Snapchat Story?” for $300
While Snapchat has traditionally been used for sharing bite-sized, disappearing snapshots or short videos of daily life directly with friends, Snapchat’s “Stories” feature now allows you to string a series of Snaps together to create a narrative lasting for just 24 hours. Friends can re-watch your “Story” as many times as they like, until it is erased permanently after 24 hours. While Stories might first seem like a silly way to post the play-by-play of trying out a new cookie recipe or giving your friends a glimpse into the views from your vacation half-way across the world, the feature has actually made the biggest impact in terms of advocacy. Stories allow events – from the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show to the GOP presidential debate – to be temporarily live-streamed to all interested parties. Stories around big events are often accompanied by location-specific image filters (called geo-tags), which allow campaigns (or cities, products, companies, etc.) to advertise themselves through creative overlays. While these temporary live-streams have allowed political events to reach new (often times, younger) audiences, the fun, branded geo-tags have invited new audiences to engage on important issues.
(See Fortune’s “How Snapchat won the Republican debate.”)
No More Politics as Usual?
In 2015, political campaigns began dabbling with Snapchat to communicate with supporters, creatively illustrate positions and even live-stream backstage comments from candidates before big speeches around the country. In June, when the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling on gay marriage, the world reacted on Snapchat by using a rainbow geo-filter reading, “Making History.” By August, it’s safe to say that Hillary Clinton was “on trend” when she joined Snapchat, and we’ve only seen the platform become more relevant among political campaigns ever since. Snapchat amped up its sophistication and expanded its audience, wading into the world of news, becoming a hub of international events and enticing advertisers and political campaigns alike this year. For shapeshifting from a platform focused on sharing that “Kodak moment” with friends to a truly international and political tool, Snapchat earns the number one place on our list.
(Extra interested? Check out AdWeek’s “4 Big Developments That Show Why Snapchat Was 2015’s Buzziest Platform.”)
2. Twitter Gets Opinionated…and Pretty?
Twitter, of course, comes in second place this year as the tool has long been the prime tool in any advocacy campaign toolbox. Among the many changes that took place on Twitter in 2015 – ahem, you can now post four photos for the same number of characters as just one (!!) – two big changes caught our eye.
Introducing, Twitter Polls.
Vanilla, Chocolate or Strawberry? One of the most hotly debated questions in history can now be posed to your Twitter followers. Using Twitter’s newest function, Twitter Polls, a user can tweet out a 24-hour poll, offering four responses, to anyone who wishes to engage. The best part? Your vote is anonymous, allowing Twitter followers to tell you how they really feel about an issue, or – well – an ice cream flavor. What’s more? Results can only be viewed after someone has cast his or her vote – meaning no peeking at the answers! While posting your own Twitter poll wouldn’t necessarily encompass the entirety of the Twitterverse, we are seeing think tanks and news outlets utilize these polls for more meaningful results. We will be monitoring how effective polls are at gleaning popular opinion and whether or not Twitter decides to extend a poll’s life beyond 24 hours as we enter 2016.
(Learn more on CNET’s “Tweeters can now be pollsters too.”)
Quote Tweet: The New Retweet?
Gone are the days when a retweet would eat up all your characters! Quote Tweet is one of Twitter’s most highly praised updates this year that embeds an original tweet (image and all!) and leaves you more room to comment, instead of quoting it as text. Quote Tweet is a much needed update for the Twitterverse, as it allows users the space – precisely 116 characters – to provide additional commentary on a retweeted headline, article or funny gif. Retweeting becomes more presentable, by incorporating an original tweet right below your extended commentary. An in-depth example:
(Get in the know with PCWorld’s “Twitter’s ‘Quote Tweet’ revamp leaves more room for your thoughts.”)
Third on our advocacy impact list ranks Periscope, Twitter’s standalone app released in March 2015. Periscope has already become so ingrained in our popular social media culture it’s hard to believe it’s barely a year old! Periscope allows users to broadcast live video directly from their smartphones, transforming the way we consume and create information in real-time. In our culture of breaking news and an obsession with live updates, Periscope fills a void. It provides viewers access to information and unfiltered, initial perspectives from the broadcaster, transporting them to the place or event, no matter where in the world it might be. Periscope also brings a level of authenticity where TV news falls short and elevates the experience by allowing viewers to comment or ask questions on the stream for the broadcaster to respond to, live. Racepoint Global took early advantage of Periscope, with the #WatchingPaintDry campaign.
(Get the scoop on The Next Web’s “Periscope and live video are changing the internet forever”)
4. Facebook’s Got News!
Beyond the viral cat videos and endless event invites, Facebook has stepped into the news distribution game. Earlier in the year, Facebook rolled out a trending news section on its home page with top trends, politics, science & technology, sports and entertainment categories. Though Facebook is wading into a highly competitive space – even for a platform with 1.44 billionactive users each month – Facebook, no doubt, has a strategy. What makes Facebook’s trending news feature unique from that of other platforms? In addition to including the most widely-shared news, Facebook curates stories based on an algorithm tailored to each individual’s interest – the same algorithm used to determine the content on your news feed. Although this change may seem small on Facebook, we expect it to have a serious impact shifting the way we use Facebook going into 2016 and shifting where we go to find the most intriguing stories. As Facebook hosts more and more gripping policy conversations, the platform can increasingly be leveraged to help shape successful advocacy campaigns.
(Read more on Mashable’s “Facebook now wants you to explore what’s trending in 5 topics.”)
THAT’S ALL FOLKS!