Everything from Anywhere (EFA) – The new role of social media by Charulata Ravi Kumar

How the last 8 months have hyper-accelerated the adoption of the New Way of Life

The terms New Normal and Social Media are two sides of the same coin. And the coin is soon moving into a museum. 2020 has been the biggest teacher of the impermanence of everything in this world. With or without Covid the morphing of Social Media is inevitable. And now it is at a pace that brands have never been used to. With MySpace lighting the torch in 2004 to Facebook, YouTube WhatsApp, Instagram, and others stepping in to shape the landscape, it’s been one daunting task for brands to chase the user. And with our myopic definitions of Social Media, we run the risk of ignoring gaming, music, and long video platforms like Fortnite, Spotify, and OTT platforms that are bringing interconnected networks as a new way of life.  Travis Scott’s Fortnite concert was a moment for friends to recreate the Live concert energy. Spotify transforms from a music listening app to connecting with friends through shared music and shared apps bringing “people like me” closer, faster. While OTT platforms that catered to individual movie viewing moments are fast emerging as connecting forces.

Do we credit Covid for the shift in social media trends? Only partly. The need to connect with people and imposed restrictions by lockdowns have fuelled the increased use of platforms. The number of people using social media in the world is almost 53%, approx. 12% increase in post-Covid. But of the 7 hrs a day internet users (recent GlobalWebIndexPan survey), close to 2.45 hrs are spent between gaming and music while 2.3 hrs on social media. And this is the new individuality expression that young people the world over are establishing.

Travel and media opened the world to humans but social media osmosised global connections like never before allowing them many avenues to enter communities in a non-linear way. The complexity of the user journeys and their shifty nature has lead-stolen the show from the brands to the consumers who’s shifting behaviours are redefining social media again and again. Let’s look at just 5 ways in which Social Media is playing a role in people’s and brand’s lives today.

From Social Media to EFA Media

“I want to be able to work, learn, know, connect, shop, enjoy, and express all at once.” Brands will need to provide a seamless platform that keeps these multiple tracks always on and integrated, enabling unencumbered living and uninterrupted use of channel. And device agnostic to boot. The surge in mobile-led social due to increased mobility is inching its way into distributed formats as people move from chat on mobile to work on laptops to entertainment on large screens.

Coexistence of macro social and micro social

“I want the world to know me and I want to enjoy with best friends”. Social media platforms were created on the premise of individuals wanting to connect to the world, share their stories, and express their views. On the other hand, the movies from anywhere have changed from a single and family moment to bringing family and friends together through services like Twoseven (runs straight from the browser and supports YouTube, Vimeo, Netflix, Crunchyroll, and private videos) or Plex VR which lets you share a virtual loft apartment and provide a drive-in theatre experience with friends. One may be at home, or anywhere but one remains connected with the world through macro and friends through micro socials.

Social Media Trendmeters vs Research

“I am not telling you anything. It’s for you to know me”. Traditional research methods are slow to capture trends and based unrealistically on what users say. The new world will have to rely much more on insights captured through user behaviours and community choices. Social influencers bring authenticity to brand suggestions and brands will need to find a non-intrusive way of blending into social conversation or stand being rejected. Search based analytics will need to be layered with image and voice-based trends. Stitch Fix, the US online personal styling service uses recommendation algorithms and data science to personalize clothing items based on size, budget, and style with these details being captured through Social Media like Pinterest boards creating personalisation with total relevance.

Enabling hyper localisation in times of immobility

“Where do I find it near me?” Organisations that were masters at long term national and global strategies are now feeling the lump in their throats as they are now reimagining their marketing. Moving from a portfolio driven to a more product rationalised, data, insights, and technology-driven approach that responds to the user quicker with the right content, through the right channel at the right time, brands are providing localisation and ease of access and engagement as more and more users are resorting to geofilters in a manageable radius. Instagram’s location pages make it easier to search and explore products as consumers seek close to home options. Brands need to reconfigure their social presence to enable this need.

Leaning on brand purpose alignment is crucial now

“I like how you are helping me” Work from home has brought in new etiquettes for brands and organisations to work with. With fewer opportunities to use brands as props to communicate an individual’s personality and online group meetings with colleagues, friends, and family restricted to only 35% of you, they have to rely on their purpose, usefulness, and actions to establish deep connects with users and become part of the larger purpose and impression that the user and their community aim to give the world. It has to do, more than say.

With organisations enabling the New Norms (oops… I say it one more time before we bolt the doors on it!), and people moving from enduring to normalising it, the EFA life is here to stay and brands that use Social Media will need to tango with people as they salida in and out of new communities. The new ways of living and engaging we have embraced are demanding a change from brands and their social media role. And a new definition of Social Media itself.

Charulata Ravi Kumar, Managing Director, Accenture shared her views exclusively with Social Media Newspaper

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