The social media landscape is in a constant state of upgrade, requiring fast reflexes from marketers in the driver’s seat of a company’s social platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok. No sooner will you have mapped your route and buckled in than a new social lane emerges, or an unexpected “Detour” sign pops up. Seasoned digital marketers are comfortable driving campaigns through the unknown, ready on a moment’s notice to throw on a turn signal and explore a new path of opportunity.
Here are seven new or evolved social media features and trends that digital marketers should explore as part of their owned-media strategy. Some are in rollout mode—if your brand page doesn’t have certain functionality yet, keep an eye out.
1. Live, audio-only conversations.
LinkedIn Audio Events are an excellent thought-leadership opportunity, opening a conversation with your followers that can build new relationships and reinforce the connections you’ve worked hard to establish. These camera-free (even pajama-friendly, according to LinkedIn) events are purposefully informal and aim to make it easy to connect. Don’t overthink it or overlook the power of even a 15-minute chat with your brand’s network. Consider tapping this new format to conduct real-time interviews with your industry experts and outside partners, start conversations about events and trends impacting your business, draw attention to cultural moments, and celebrate milestones and achievements.
During the conversation, attendees can raise their hand and enter the chat to speak or use emojis to engage with you. Once you’ve set up an Audio Event, a one-time post will go out to your followers’ feeds to build awareness. For planners like me, it’s great that you can see which LinkedIn users RSVP’d. This gives you a chance to make sure your spokespeople are prepared to address anticipated questions and comments.
2. Newsletter improvements.
LinkedIn newsletters are getting some new functions and a little TLC from the platform. Now, newly created newsletters will have a prime placement position on your brand profile, making it that much easier for followers to find your content and subscribe. LinkedIn is also making that thoughtfully crafted newsletter content more findable, featuring it more prominently in search results. Make sure to customize SEO titles and descriptions so you’re optimizing how your content appears on search engines. And take advantage of clickable links, which can be added to your newsletter content to prompt the action you want to achieve, like website visits.
3. Brands can follow, too.
Whereas your administrator previously had to follow other brands through their personal account, now your brand page can follow other LinkedIn pages, too. This will allow you to curate a LinkedIn feed for your brand that includes important partners, associations and thought leaders, helping you more easily track trending conversations and jump into relevant threads with your brand’s collective expertise. For marketers that simultaneously manage multiple brand pages—even more challenging when they’re across varied industries—this is helpful in tracking and tapping into themes by client.
4. Prevalence of direct messages.
There’s a noted behavioral shift in how people use platforms like Instagram and Facebook, spending more time on the apps but less time creating content. Rather than posting updates, users are increasingly in content-discovery mode, and then leveraging the direct message (DM) function to share posts with select people in their personal network. As DMs become more prevalent, make sure your brand is pulling all levers to spark discovery, strengthen relationships and drive sales.
Here are a few ways to get started: First, make sure the content you post on your brand channel is “share-worthy” and searchable, leveraging keywords. Second, make sure you’re leveraging the DM function to connect with your customers and key stakeholders. For example, add a “Send Message” button to your profile, keep the messages well monitored and encourage your audience to message you to learn more when sharing company news. A well-managed DM function can reinforce the affection, relevance and trust factors that turn brands into fierce friends.
5. Real-length Reels in Stories.
Instagram is getting more generous about sharing the Reels you’ve poured your creative heart into crafting. Previously, Stories had a 15-second time limit, cutting off your Reels content in favor of the next slide. But now some Reels can play their full duration as a Story (up to one minute). While this still leaves a 90-second Reel cut short, it’s a nice boost for those important, dynamic storytelling videos.
6. New “Top 3” sticker.
I’m waiting to get my hands on this new Instagram feature that’s currently in rollout mode. It looks like a great opportunity for your brand to share top picks across a range of subjects—accounts, audio, tags, places and more. For destination-marketing organizations, for example, this will be a fun way to support multiple partners in a listicle format. Think “Top 3 Spas to Get Summer Ready,” “Top 3 Restaurants with a View,” “Top 3 Hotels Still Booking for the Holiday Weekend,” and so on.
7. New STEM feed for educational content.
Don’t trust everything you see on the internet, but TikTok is pulling in the experts for the launch of its new STEM feed. This dedicated space for exploring videos about science, technology, engineering and math is all about education, with content assessed by Common Sense Networks and vetted for reliability by Poynter. I think this is a fascinating new opportunity for marketers in the healthcare, technology and energy sectors to explore how they might use it to educate their audiences.