Five Social Networks Sponsors Should be Aware Of
7 minute read
- Recently, mainstream social networks have seen less engagement as people opt for other emerging social networks
- Social media provides sponsors with a valuable asset that can be leveraged to engage with key demographics
- New social media platforms designed around anonymity or shopping have seen increasing popularity and should be on the radar of corporate sponsors
The social networking landscape is evolving. Recent research has revealed that less and less people are engaging with one another via Facebook. While many millennials have abandoned established social networks like Facebook and Twitter in search of more personal, less parent-occupied channels like Instagram and Snapchat, others have looked towards other emerging networks. These emerging social networks allow brands many advantages - including the opportunity to engage with a new user-base, as well as a platform to test new promotional campaigns.
Many brands have leveraged social media to enhance their sponsorship marketing by leveraging influencers with large followings, activating through social media contests and promotions, as well as sharing and amplifying custom content around their sponsorship. As a result, MKTG explores new and emerging social networks for brands and sponsors to watch.
Social Networks to Watch
A combination of Facebook and Twitter, Weibo boasts over 600 million registered users (almost twice the population of the United States), and 120 million daily active users. So why haven’t most North American marketers heard of Weibo? This is because the social network is primarily aimed at the Chinese market, where censorship laws prohibit Chinese consumers from participating in traditional social networks. Like Twitter and Facebook, Weibo is leveraged by large social media influencers. In fact, during a recent trip to China, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau turned to Weibo in order to connect and engage with Chinese audiences. In addition to features common among Facebook and Twitter, Weibo includes a payment option, positioning the social network as a “one-stop shop” among social media consumers. In 2013, Coca-Cola used Weibo Payment to promote its customized bottle campaign. By the fourth day of the campaign, an average of 300 bottles/min were sold. While majority of brands focus their digital media spend on ads and promotions for Facebook and Twitter, Weibo offers a major opportunity for brands to connect with a large Chinese consumer-base. As leagues like the NBA look to host preseasons games in China, sponsors should be aware of the most relevant domestic platform to communicate their international activations.
Derived from the phrase Want, Need, Love, Wanelo is a shopping and social platform featuring millions of products ranging from household names like Urban Outfitters, and Abercrombie & Fitch to handmade products. Wanelo allows users to see what friends have “favourited”, and add those items to their wishlist. Although Wanelo prides itself on being 100% advertising free, retail brands can customize their Wanelo store page through “stories” - an editorial feature which allows retailers to combine up to 9 products along with text and hyperlinks to tell a narrative. Brands like Urban Outfitters have leveraged Wanelo’s stories feature to build looks, announce sales and host contests. Since Wanelo “stories” can be easily shared across other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, Urban Outfitters’ Wanelo page has grown to over 3.2 million followers on Wanelo (compared to 2.1 million followers on Facebook). With over 30 million products and 11 million registered users, brands (especially in the retail and consumer-packaged goods category) should consider Wanelo as they develop their marketing tactics moving forward. As the platform continues to grow, there may also be opportunities for brands outside of the retail space – for example sponsors of a Fashion Week - to communicate to Wanelo’s targeted audience.
Exceptionally popular among students and campuses, Whisper allows users to share thoughts and posts anonymously in meme-like block letters over stock photography. With over 30 million monthly active users, Whisper is intended to be a medium where users could share their innermost feelings with other users in a safe environment. As an app popular among millennials, brands like MTV and FX have leveraged the app through sponsored questions which appear prominently in the users feed, or through a variety of branded backgrounds which users can select from. Although popular among millennials, anonymous apps like Whisper may occupy a risky space for brands. As more and more platforms move towards adapting an anonymous social media model, there is a growing concern about the ethics and morals of anonymous social networking. Apps like Whisper, Yik Yak, and Secret offer authentic human interactions and as the number of people using these platforms multiplies, unintended uses like cyber-bullying have increased. Fortunately, to combat this, Whisper has put anti-bullying measures in place. For example, posts which include individual names are banned on the platform. In addition, the developers of Whisper have set up a non-profit called Your Voice, which offers resources for people dealing with anxiety, stress, and bullying. This also creates an opportunity for brands to help facilitate a “no judgement zone” among young consumers. Last year, as an extension of their Super Bowl #MakeItHappy campaign, Coke asked Whisper users to suggest ways to end cyber –bullying. The campaign garnered 1,500 likes and 950 shares in only a few hours, but more importantly, was able to create a dialogue among young consumers.
Hyper is a photo-sharing platform that leverages hashtags and geotags to allow likeminded users in the same area to share similar interests. Similar to Reddit, Hyper includes a voting system, allowing users to up-vote pictures which are shared. Instead of focusing on following individual users, Hyper allows users to subscribe to their favorite hashtags – ensuring they are always looking at photos which are relevant to them. Unlike Instagram and popular photo-sharing apps, Hyper users aren’t limited to posting content from their camera rolls, as users can also search and post photos from the internet within the app. As a new app, few brands have made the jump to Hyper. However, as communication among millennials becomes more image-based, captivating visuals will likely continue to grow into serious brand building efforts. Like Instagram, organizations can create a Hyper account to share videos and images which highlight their brand. Since Hyper encourages users to gather around topics of interest using hashtags and geotags, content is filtered only to consumers who are interested in their product or subject matter. Adding to this, Hyper boasts a highly-engaged user-base - with users opening the app up to five times per day, and posts being viewed 800,000 times each week during the beta period alone.
Although still in beta, Shouty allows users to follow their interests - rather than just friends. Shouty organizes user-uploaded content into four categories (sports, fashion, music, & lifestyle) and filters content to match the user’s personal preference. As a result, users not only get to immerse themselves in the atmosphere of events, destinations, and brands they enjoy without physically experiencing them, but also the opportunity to follow the lives of the people, brands, and teams who influence them the most. This would allow sponsors to share photos and videos from sponsored activations and events to a larger geographic audience – amplifying their reach to a larger and hyper-relevant consumer audience. As a new social network, it is unclear how successful or popular Shouty will grow to become. However, as a platform that enables brands to connect with an engaged group of consumers in an authentic manner, brands would be smart to keep a close eye on this app.
While established social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have seen tremendous success over the last decade, new platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have emerged as mainstream platforms. Ultimately, brands and sponsors need to move where consumers will be, so being proactive and knowledgeable of emerging platforms is important.
However, it is important for sponsors to recognize that not all emerging platforms are suitable for every brand. Strategy and brand fit is essential when communicating through an emerging social network. The social networks identified are highly visual and consist of a young user-base, lending themselves to sponsors that are suited for visual mediums and looking to reach millennials. As relatively undefined marketing territories, emerging social media networks should complement existing sponsorship activations – rather than be viewed as stand-alone marketing efforts.