WHAT IF ELON MUSK BUYS TWITTER?
In a game of real-life Monopoly, Tesla CEO and world’s richest man Elon Musk has made a bid to buy Twitter for $43 billion (and of course tweeted it). In a statement to Twitter’s board of directors, Musk wrote: “I invested in Twitter as I believe in its potential to be the platform for free speech around the globe, and I believe free speech is a societal imperative for a functioning democracy. However, since making my investment I now realize the company will neither thrive nor serve this societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company.” It seems that Twitter HQ aren’t happy to play house with Musk however, and responded to his offer by invoking a ‘poison pill’ defence, while simultaneously looking for alternative buyers. Musk, an avid tweeter regales his 82.5 million followers daily with his own personal brand of memes.
The scary implications of this move are obvious - not least if he changes the platform’s name. Twitter has a history of problems with trolling, allowing for anonymity and not acting fast enough to react to hate speech, creating an unsafe online environment. Singer Chloe Bailey spoke about leaving the channel to preserve her mental health -“[It's] literally comments just all in your face the whole time.” With Musk’s transformative vision to embrace free space, the platform could go right back to being a breeding ground for hatred and online trolls.
GET TO KNOW WHAT A VIRTUAL’FLUENCER IS
Digital avatars and computerised characters are making the metaverse home, bringing the trend of the ‘Virtual Influencer’ (VI) to a new level. Pioneering the trend is ‘Lil Miquela’, a 19 year old Brazilian/American model with an instagram following of 3.1 million. Last year Prada introduced their virtual muse Candy to celebrate the launch of a perfume. Ayayi is China’s first meta-human who (just over a day after posting her first note on Xiaohongshu) got 1.99 million impressions, 20,000 likes, and gained 10,000 new followers. It’s a lot of work though to be a virtual ’fluencer - Ayayi posted on her social, asking her followers “Did you think virtual people don’t need to work?”. She must be doing something right, collaborating with the likes of L’Oreal, Givenchy and Porshe. In an effort to normalise these virtual avatars, social media giant Meta is integrating more VR elements into their platforms - introducing 3D avatar creation on Facebook and Messenger, enabled for use in Instagram Stories and DMs for users in the US, Canada and Mexico.
PROTECT THE SOCIAL MEDIA INTERN
With smartphone cameras and photoshop alternatives, it seems anybody can create high quality content these days. However bringing a brand tone to life in a salient, distinctive way is another thing altogether - enter the “social media intern” phenomenon. Some high profile brands have adopted this style for reactive content. They allude to their account being taken over by a rogue social media intern and running amuck with sometimes chaotic content.
“This discourse is exhausting. It’s 2022, social media is a MASSIVE, necessary part of most brands’ marketing strategy, and this constant narrative that it’s all ‘run by interns’ is a constant contributing factor to the poor treatment of SMMs everywhere” Francesca via twitter
However, it is not right for every brand and many have called it out as disrespecting the often intense role those working on brand social media accounts experience. Some brands have become subject to trolling online over trying to be painfully “hip.” During crisis communications, audiences can immediately jump onto presuming the worst of social media managers and issues that are often way beyond the ‘social media intern’s’ control - “I wasn’t really making the decisions [about what books to publish], but I was acting as the buffer between the outraged public and the company.” via Jennifer Pan.
LIVE-STREAMING SHOPPING ON TIKTOK
Social commerce is poised to enhance the shopping experience in 2022 and beyond, with a forecasted $1.2 trillion in sales by 2025. In-stream commerce is a key trend with platforms like Douyin right now, with the number of eCommerce live broadcast users exceeding 384 million in China alone. TikTok is no stranger to this - TikTokers are 1.5x more likely to immediately go out and buy something they discovered on the platform compared to other platforms' (#TikTokmademebuyit). TikTok describe their focus on e-commerce and social shopping as an infinite loop, “with no start or end point, and it empowers brands to establish more meaningful relationships with consumers that result in communities of brand loyalists, repeat purchases, and greater spending.”
TikTok shoppers describe their purchase choices on the platform are less about function and more about “lifting spirits”. For a lot of people it’s the buzz of buying something random - “TikTok made me buy a tongue scraper & I love it lol” via Twitter. Beauty ecomm platform Lookfantastic launched their monthly #tiktokmademebuyit subscription box, giving subscribers a curated and on trend product selection based on TikTok beauty trends. For e-commerce in the TikTok platform itself, new in-app functionalities will be introduced to make it even easier to add to basket, like simplified live-stream purchasing via one-click buying buttons, additional landing page components for live broadcasts and physical location components to drive off-platform purchases. That doesn’t remove the impact of engaging in unconscious consumption and what that means for the future.
“ppl on tiktok are like “stop doing shopping hauls! they’re bad for the environment!” and then run and mass purchase things that went viral on tiktok” Gaby via Twitter
Stay close to platform updates - Platforms change and evolve daily (sometimes by the hour!) and savvy brands pay close attention to the platform ecosystem - helping to predict how communication behaviours may evolve. For example Whatsapp just announced its new in-app reactions function and a focus on community groups. As new VR options evolve, Meta have recognised their ethical obligation to guide users of what is and isn’t real while also offering advertisers a clear directive of how to market in the virtual world, developing an ‘ethical framework’ to help brands.
Own your tone - Successful brand comms are rooted in a distinct tone that is reflective of their genuine, lived values. With strong tonality and consistency as a brand, it is possible to really build salience and a credible connection with the community around the brand, like Absolut Vodka. "Absolut Vodka is celebrated worldwide for creative collaboration with vision and openness for all, that translates into all aspects of our universe, especially across social media. As part of our Clubbing Council launch in Ireland, our social media content integrated our brand values while celebrating creativity through culture in a new way, opening up our brand to new audiences. The content was thumb-stopping and the message was consistently inspirational and an open call to participate." Jane Goldrick, Brand Manager Absolut Vodka.
Connect the (digital) dots - Consumers expect seamlessness, even moreso as these interconnected shopping experiences become the norm. With platforms like TikTok testing their version of in-live-stream commerce with key accounts like Walmart (& other retailers), brands should continue to optimise their digital journeys for real integration. Beyond social shopping, a smooth brand experience is a win for engagement - learning from Lucozade’s recent “Get Sharp” challenge and following the golden rule of ‘don’t make ads, make TikToks’, the brand saw incredible success with over 44 million views.
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The Youth Lab is the insights and trends division at Thinkhouse, the youth marketing agency.
For more insights, connect with The Youth Lab at firstname.lastname@example.org
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