I swear I heard a collective cry into the cloud yesterday as social media managers, bloggers and publishers around the world woke up to the news that Instagram has launched Stories – a real-time image and video format with a 24 hour life span similar to Snapchat.
“Another social media trend we have to keep up with, more content to pump out, arghhh,” cried the voices, including my own.
I’ve personally been feeling like this for a number of months. First there was Facebook Live, then there was Snapchat Memories and now we have Instagram Stories – it’s getting hard to see where one social media platform ends and the other begins. Where once we loved each of them for their individual strengths, suddenly they are blurring into one as each platform fights for active users and advertising.
But it’s got me thinking; if we the content creators are struggling to keep up, what does the audience think? Are there enough interested parties out there wanting to follow every minute of our day on umpteen different channels? I very much doubt it.
What Are These New Fandangled Things?
Before we dig into what channels we should potentially be using I thought I should try and explain these new fandangled features. Behold, my simple, lay-woman’s explanation of recent social media updates:
Instagram Stories – Just like Snapchat but without the fun filters. (Presently at least.) Stories don’t appear on your feed but rather can be accessed by clicking the purple ring around your profile pic. Each Story disappears after 24 hours. You can find a FAQ from Instagram on it here.
Facebook Live – Live video broadcast that autoplays in users’ feeds and stays on your page for replays afterwards. People can comment and ask questions during the broadcast for instant interactions. You can find some great tips for Facebook Live here. The most watched Facebook Live of all time is this joyous clip.
Snapchat Memories – Counter to everything we thought Snapchat was about, Memories allows you to upload photos and videos captured outside of Snapchat to your Story. It also enables you to save Snaps to a smart, searchable camera roll and enables re-sharing (and decorating!) of previously sent snaps.
Periscope/Twitter Updates – Last month Twitter announced that Periscope broadcasts will now autoplay in the Twitter feed and that you can also embed Periscope replays in tweets. They also introduced replay highlights – an automatically generated short trailer for every Periscope broadcast. Find out more here.
Do We Need To Be Doing Everything?
Unless you have an army of social media minions it’s not going to be feasibly possible to utilise every feature of every platform on every trip. (Speaking as a travel blogger here.) So here’s my basic overview of the benefits of each and what my personal preference is.
Instagram Stories – Although it’s not as fun and fancy as Snapchat with all its special filters this is a feature I would suggest most social media managers/bloggers can’t ignore. It’s a smart move from Insta as they saw that users were beginning to post less on the channel (you know, as it became uncool to post anything remotely messy and you were considered a loser if you had more than 25 pictures on your feed) so they’re encouraging people to use Insta again with an unfiltered option that doesn’t sit on your feed. For those of us who already have an audience on Instagram it makes a lot more sense to use this format to connect with the audience and show those unglossy behind-the-scenes bits here, rather than try to grow a new audience on Snapchat. (Which although is rumoured to change is currently pretty hard to do. Who even knows how Discover works?) Personally I’m up for experimenting here and will let the audience tell me what they want to see. And if they ain’t watching then I can stop bothering.
Facebook Live – So I’m a fan of this one too. Mainly because I have neither the time nor skills to shoot videos of my trips so if I can show the viewer my travels in real-time it’s a way of sharing content in a video format that’s both interactive and doesn’t need editing. As you probably know Facebook is really pushing video content (notice how all the news channels you follow are having to create video clips with subtitles for their stories?) so if you’re comfortable presenting video in this way I would also recommend experimenting. Another feature to play with is the new slideshow feature – you can upload up to 7 photos and FB turns them into a slideshow with music that autoplays in the feed. I’ve used this method a few times on business pages and it’s getting better reach than my photo galleries.
Snapchat Memories – I’m on the fence with this one. Whilst I like, in theory, the idea that the content can be saved and reshared on other channels, to be honest what I produce on Snapchat is best suited for Snapchat. I’m not sure my scribble and bitmoji covered images or videos in a vertical format work well on any other social media site. And whilst I initially embraced the idea of uploading content to Snapchat that wasn’t taken in real-time it feels a little counter-intuitive and also repetitive. In terms of travel blogging, whilst I’m experimenting with Instagram Stories, broadcasting on Facebook Live and live tweeting a trip there is little unique content left to be shared on Snapchat. That being said, at the moment Snapchat is where most of my non-blogging mates hang out so I see it as the one place I can just be a d*ck and not a blogger and so-called social media specialist. I’d like to keep Snapchat as the one place I don’t have a strategy. Let’s see!
Twitter/Periscope – I’m sorry Twitter but since Facebook Live and Snapchat came along I haven’t had time for Periscope. I like the updates you’ve made but fear it may be too little too late. I find Facebook Live far less glitchy than Periscope – is this just me?
Tips For Prioritizing
If you’re struggling to keep up with a gazillion social channels and all their new fandangled features I’d suggest working out where your priorities lie. A couple of things to take into consideration are:
- Where Is Your Target Audience? – I’d first start by looking at what platform your target audience are using. You can do this by considering the number of active users on each channel within your location and target demographic. (Some helpful figures for Australia are here.) Then I suggest digging into the insights of the individual platforms to see who makes up your current audience and how that measures up to the audience you’d like to reach. (Switch to an Instagram business account to see these stats.) Once you’ve worked out which are the right channels for your target audience you can then better prioritize how much time you spend on each.
- What Content Engages Your Audience? – I’d also suggest looking at what content your audience is engaging with. On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat you can drill down to the exact reach of individual posts. Watch what content reaches more of the right people before spending too much time on the wrong medium.
- What Are You Good At? – Also consider which platform you can feasibly produce quality and consistent content for. If you’re not good at presenting or your behind-the-scenes is boring then some of these new features will not be for you. There’s a lot to be said to sticking at what you’re good at. Play to your strengths and don’t stretch yourself too thin.
- Have Fun! – And finally, remember the good old days when all this social media malarkey was about being social and FUN?! I don’t know about you but I tend to produce better content for the platforms I enjoy using. I love spending time scrolling through Instagram for inspiration and then carefully editing and uploading a picture. This will still be a big part of what I do regardless of Instagram Stories because, guess what, I enjoy it! Remember to have fun peeps.
I hope this mini-essay has helped debunk a little some of the recent social media updates. I’d love to know your thoughts on the new features? Where will you be focusing your efforts?