Broadcasting updates on social media is certainly not going away, but the past year has brought on a new wave of interacting using social platforms. Location-sharing, live streaming, messaging and even VR have created new ways for people to connect. New technology means more ways to share. More ways to share means more opportunities for brands.
This tech has shifted the potential role social can play for consumers. Instead of being about seeing what others are up to, it enables shared experiences.
Shared Experiences by Location
Snapchat unveiled Snap Map which lets users share their locations with each other. Users can also see Snaps of events taking place at various locations and add their Snaps to location-based Stories. Instagram’s followed suit with the launch of Stories Search, which allows users to see what is going on at particular locations or what people are sharing about various topics. The crowd-sourcing of content by location is being enabled by these platforms.
People who don’t know each other and have never meant are using a combination of location data and content sharing to add to a shared experience taking place at a specific location IRL. People who aren’t there in-person can share in those experiences by seeing what others are doing, saying and sharing.
Shared Experiences through Content
Live video has become almost an expectation across platforms, but the live experience of watching content together isn’t… yet. Tumblr launched an app called Cabana to allow its users to watch videos and group chat with friends. Not to be outdone, YouTube recently made its app Uptime available to all. Uptime lets users watch YouTube videos and converse with friends simultaneously. You don’t have to be in the same room staring at the same screen to share a communal watching experience with others.
Shared Experiences Through Interaction
When it was determined that its lunch in live video streaming had been eaten by Facebook, the team at Meerkat went another direction and launched the app Houseparty, which it calls a “synchronous social network.” Users open the app and immediately start broadcasting to their friends, and up to seven of them can join the stream and essentially hang out. It’s not broadcasting an update. It’s about broadcasting to start a conversation.
Houseparty’s gained traction among teens. In fact, that traction is so serious, Facebook’s launching a competitive product called Bonfire.
This “synchronous” broadcasting isn’t limited to these apps. Facebook’s experimenting by creating shared experiences with friends in VR with its Spaces platform. Spaces allows friends to interact in a virtual reality environment. It’s still early days, but it’s far beyond the broadcasting of updates we see today.
Create Shared Experiences
Marketers too often look at the social space and ask one of two questions: What can we broadcast to social feeds that will be seen? or What can our audience broadcast on our behalf? Neither question is incorrect, but they scratch the surface of where the social web is today. Users are seeking out experiences they can share with each other. Maybe a question to ask is… How can we be a conduit for those shared experiences?