9 Trends Happening RIGHT NOW In Social Media


While we often talk a lot about the trends in the future, particularly at this time of year when we are all prone (me included) to do our customary predictions post, here are nine trends that are happening in social media right now.

1. Brands are still using Facebook to launch products – We did it with the Ford Explorer two years ago and brands from Burberry with their fragrance launch to Heinz are now on board.

In fact when it comes to using social to create buzz around new products, Heinz and Cadbury are two of the brands to beat. Cadbury now defaults to social for all its product launches, having previously used Google+ and Facebook to build excitement around its new product lines.  And Heinz called on its Facebook community to help promote new variations on its Ketchup and soup products.

2. Super advocates are at the heart of programs.  Forgive my chocolate bias here, but Wispa used this to launch their new product, Bitsa Wispa. They worked with their most loyal fan to have her launch their latest product, differentiating it from the traditional product launches consumers are used to seeing, and encouraging Wispa fans to share the news with their Facebook friends. The photo of super advocate Kate Mead holding the new product has attracted more than 1,500 ‘likes’ and 278 comments, meaning the launch will have also shown up in their friends’ news feeds.

3. Celebrate the rise of the Famebook Fan. This focuses around the use of a natural, organic comment on a Facebook page and the creation of a campaign concept from it, usually adding a layer of surreal comedy to it. The Bodyform example  has been well publicized: after Facebook fan Richard Neil posted a tongue-in-cheek accusation of the company for altering the perception of what going through the period really entails, the brand created a parody video featuring their “CEO” who was directly responding to the fan’s comment.

4. Allow fans to control real world activations. Skittles is a brand that really has placed the fan and real world activation front and center in social media. Mob the Rainbow was a Facebook campaign that was created to activate and engage Skittles’ large social media audience. The program enlisted fans to take action on Facebook to take action by participating in real-life, physical events.

5. Listen and respond to controversial issues. McDonald’s Canada hosts online social media discussions around myths and connects with its customers directly. Since the campaign began, McDonald’s Canada has fielded more than 14,000 questions and responded with text on the website, photos, and the YouTube videos, highlighting the company as being open, honest and ready to deal with difficult questions.

6. Drive a new level of remarkable content marketing. My current social media brand crush is Red Bull. Felix Baumgartner’s Oct. 14 jump from the middle of the earth’s stratosphere, sponsored by Red Bull, made social media and space history. The almost 23-mile free fall jump set records, stunning and amazing people around the world, who reacted on social media. This represents a very specific content marketing strategy for Red Bull – remarkable content gets people talking and is shared, but is not about the brand or company itself. While Red Bull has now become synonymous with dare-devil adrenaline-based sports (we rarely see the brand talking about the product itself) and the jump is a prime example of how to focus content around a specific moment in time.

7. Instagram reaches young, visually-based audiences. Ben & Jerry’s is currently running a promotion that challenges fans to take photos that capture “euphoria” capitalizing on the fact that Instagram has over 100 million users and Facebook’s backing, making it ideal for marketers looking to woo a young demographic.  The winning photos will be featured in B&J ads in that person’s neighborhood. Smart, simple and bang on target for B&J’s target audience.

8. Pinterest is a good traffic driver but not for all brands. Sony’s Pinterest strategy began with research into what brand content was already being shared by its fans. This allowed the Sony team to plan its potential boards and analyze the assets they already had in its Flickr community, in-house and in its archives. The resulting campaign has seen an 800% increase in traffic from Pinterest to the Sony store website, 2.5 times the traffic from its Twitter account.  BUT it is not for all brands. It is very obvious this is a good use case for Sony. For some brands with different demographics – Pinterest still skews heavily female in the US –  there is not a clear use case.

9.  Memes enable responsive marketing. This approach to memes is something that is becoming an increasingly popular social tactic among large brands, capturing the popularity of sites like memecreator in a fun and brand-relevant way. Just look at recent examples jumping on the popularity of Carly Rae Jepsen’s track Call Me Maybe – from the shirtless A&F guys singing her song to Cookie Monster’s addictive ditty for Sesame Street. Both created a shareable relevant piece of content that is scrappy to produce and easy to share.

Do you have any trends to add to this list for right now?

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Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Require Fast-Moving Social Tactics

Another year is almost upon us and with the passing of 2012 it hardly seems like the same world I recall from 2007, five short years ago when I helped launch some of the first brand pages on Facebook and Twitter. Many of these brands were FMCGs or CPGs as they like to be labeled in North America. What is interesting is looking at how FMCGs have evolved in utilizing social to remain relevant in a category that must remain rapid in terms of its marketing tactics.

FMCG marketers must think on their feet at all times like their customers do. The customer in a store aisle doesn’t ponder for hours if he should buy a bottle of soda, a box of macaroni and cheese or a package of cookies. These are quick buys and social still plays a role in terms of priming the customer to make these decisions.

As a result of this, social for FMCGs is very different from that of other categories within B2C and B2B in that the marketing programs within this category’s social must be quick, use their base audience to do the heavy lifting, be set up to engage with customers and their habits as they exist in the present and to take advantage of the neo-publishing model being adapted at a faster rate by so many brands in order to stay relevant with ongoing conversation in a 24/7 world.

The evolution of social platforms and the move toward more mobility will ultimately lead to even more changes in 2013. But for now, let’s take a look at five examples of brands that offered unique solutions in 2012 and then five things FMCGs should be thinking of as they prepare for 2013.

Five examples of great execution for FMCGs in 2012:

  • Oreo – The launch of the 100-day ‘Daily Twist’ campaign helped develop content around the cookie to create conversation. The brand really took advantage of people’s modern-day media habits by creating content around current events to help align the brand with what people were seeing in the news.
  • Red Bull – With one swift fall, the Austrian energy drink brand may have changed the face of marketing forever. Over 8 million people watched the live jump by extreme sports athlete Felix Baumgartner on YouTube while the jump was shown by more than 40 TV stations and 130 digital outlets. Red Bull’s Facebook post-jump photo of Baumgartner gained almost 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and over 29,000 shares within 40 minutes, and half the worldwide trending topics on Twitter were related to Red Bull Stratos. In terms of ROI, some analysts predicted the event went beyond a stunt in that it created international buzz. That mass exposure may have led to a change in customer behavior from buying a Rockstar or a Monster to buying a Red Bull.
  • Old Spice – The brand followed up their successful and unique 2011 social campaign with an even more interesting social campaign that allowed users to remix an interactive video in real time. Users felt like they could truly make their own music making the left-of-center campaign very unique in terms of generating word of mouth.
  • Coca-Cola – Coke always launches a number of unique social campaigns but the biggest move by the brand was their “Happiness Is” Tumblr. Although not the first brand to use the platform, the brand understood how to use the platform, populating it with user-submitted photos and old advertising content giving the brand a unique area in whick to recycle and reuse content.
  • Cadbury – The brand announced in 2012 that they would seed everything via social first before going to traditional media. What Cadbury did was adopt the “test-and-learn” modeling that strategists have suggested for some time. They also moved quickly into realizing that the 1 million fans they had on Facebook were not as important as drumming up engagement of those fans whom they could reach as the more important KPI.

Five things FMCGs should think about in 2013:

  • Mobility – Who isn’t thinking about mobile? The issue FCMG’s need to consider further in this emerging area is how to use real-time applications to help inform customers and incentivize purchases.
  • Listening – Brands do a great job speaking, but listening to learn what customers really want out of products is still an emerging area.
  • Publishing – Not every brand is a publisher. Nor will they necessarily be in 2013. But those which can adapt what Oreo, Red Bull and Coca-Cola are doing will be able to track more efficiently how their content helps drive awareness, sales, CRM and product innovation.
  • Short Form Video as a new monetization revenue stream for the brand – Brands usually pay lots of money to media outlets to amplify their message. They then track this marketing expenditure based on success rates of how much product they then moved off the shelves. This may alter as brands begin to produce more original content that they can then monetize using platforms like YouTube and Vimeo. So instead of always having to buy media, some brands may be able to produce content that is underwritten via social channels.
  • Product Placement in Web and Mobile Video with Online Celebrities – There was a whole empire built around brands getting placed in a blockbuster Hollywood movie. But not every FMCG has a budget to afford this. They do however have the creative ability to tap into video influencers ala iJustine and Joe Penna on outlets like YouTube to get their product placed in one of the several videos these celebrities produce per week. Views between 50,000 and 100,000 per video are commonplace. It’s now a matter of brands and their agencies identifying which celebrities align with their target audience and working to figure out the right creative angle to come across as a natural integration. Stephen Colbert did this most famously with Wheat Thins in 2012.