Today is world Social Media Day. Originally set up in 2010 as a way to recognise and celebrate the best of user generated content on the web, today, social media is the heart of global communication. It makes us laugh, cry, scream, shout and cringe. But what is not in any doubt is the way in which it is unparalleled in its ability to bring together and influence groups of otherwise disconnected people.
Here are a few examples that have recently struck a chord with us in the office.
- #ArtistsforGrenfell – While the recent tragedy that hit Grenfell Tower has angered and moved many of us, it also highlighted the power of social media to unify people in a way never before possible. Away from the accident, the hashtag to drive awareness and donations for the charity single, has been a welcome source of attention and publicity to raise money for those affected. It provides a vessel for people to ‘do their bit’ and, much like the recent concert for the Manchester bombing victims and the cleanup following the riots some years ago, is able to harness the masses into an unstoppable movement for good. Brands can learn that people engage with what they care, and are truly passionate, about.
- #dogsatpollingstations – At the other end of the spectrum, one of the surprising trending moments to come from the election (and, there were a few) was this hashtag – no explanation needed. It took what could be a seminal moment in British political history and gave it a light hearted and irreverent view. The note to brands here here being that, sometimes what works on social isn’t what you think at all. Sometimes, people just want to smile and a distraction from what is going on.
- #HarryPotter20 – Recently Harry Potter (the books, not the character), turned 20 and saw people from Piers Morgan to Doug The Pug (@itsdougthepug) dressing up as our favourite wizard. This highlighted the ability of social to transcend ages, races and places. The fact is, nostalgia brings people together – whether it be music, cartoons or films of a certain decade, old technology or just faces from the past and brands should bear in mind that it is always a reliable way to get genuine fan engagement.
- The heatwave – This post isn’t solely for hashtags either. Meme’s have become a hugely popular source of humour, which Buzzfeed can claim a degree of credit for. The recent heatwave led to some brilliant examples (Google, heatwave meme, UK). This format has enabled everybody, even those with limited technology skills, to be a comedian. Some people’s posts make national news for what is essentially writing a few words over a picture. Brands like Gucci, Norwegian Airlines and Nickelodeon are all pretty good too – it’s about being simple and quick to react.
- Love Island – No post looking at the latest trends on social media day would be complete without a reference to our tanned, toned and titillating friends on ITVs Love Island. It seems to have captured the attention of the nation. What can brands learn? Don’t schedule posts for 9pm when it’s on.