There was a hint of rebellion bubbling under at last week’s Social Media Week London. But despite Will Hayward of Dazed (above) kicking off the conference with a fabulous call to arms – wanting all of us to turn off our ‘content pipelines’ and start doing something more interesting instead, most sessions reverted to business as usual, focusing on brand-building tips and tactics.
Here are my top three takeaways from the week:
1. Short-form visual content is overtaking the written word: the most popular ‘word’ online in 2014 was the heart emoji (Twitter’s Tariq Slim). Twitter reported a massive rise in short-form content (Periscope, stop motion Vines and gifs). Jonathan Davies from Buzzfeed noted the same, citing animated Vines and gifs. Ed Couchman from Facebook has seen a huge rise in emoji, stickers and photos. By 2018, he says, 9/10 pieces of Facebook content will be video.
2. Social media is now mass market: or “There’s no-one left to sell to” (as one delegate was overheard muttering). Indeed. Engagement is down: people are liking less and lurking more (Will Francis, Harkable). People are suffering from “content shock”; ad blocking is on the rise, (Sarah Wood, Unruly). Content creators need to work harder and harder just to cut through. Niche audiences are easier because they’re already engaged.
3. Publish stuff, get learning back: this is a Buzzfeed mantra (Jonathan Davies). Content is constantly improved through feedback, and distribution is key. Experiment, do something different, seed content on as many different platforms in as many different formats as possible. And keep iterating. Buzzfeed focuses 50 per cent of resources on distribution, and has a whole team of people dedicated to experimentation. New year’s resolution for 2016: build experimentation into your content model.