The future of shopping is social
As much as I hate to say it, gone are the good old days of mall-ratting around with your friends on a Saturday with an Orange Julius in one hand and an Auntie Anne’s pretzel in the other. Instead of strolling, the kids are scrolling, which means social media is the new preferred method for making purchases.
Today’s teens are also less likely to drive or own a car than in decades past, meaning that they don’t bat an eye at using Doordash or UberEats to order in at all hours of the day or night. Ben and Jerrys on-demand? This is the stuff of dreams.
While our favorite social apps are still great for sharing funny cat videos and keeping tabs on your high school friends’ vacations, they’ve also transformed into digital malls for merchants to sell their wares. You can now click, swipe, and shop till you drop without ever leaving the app. And with personalized recommendations and targeted ads, social media algorithms know what you want before you even do. Scary and helpful—the perfect combo?
According to Statista, social media now accounts for one in every three digital media plan dollars, up from 25% just four years ago. So what does this mean for brands? For one, the walls between search, social, programmatic, commerce, and video activations need to be broken down in order to offer customers quality experiences, inclusivity, and stellar customer service.
Enter shoppable features. Platforms like TikTok and Snapchat are making it easier for consumers to shop directly from the app, embedding carts in short videos, live streams, and brand profile pages. Snapchat has also transformed shopping with augmented reality, allowing customers to visualize and experience products before buying them.
Ultimately, this is a huge win for brands because it leads to higher conversions, fewer returns, and a bigger window of discovery for users to interact with new products. Snapchat even reported that users who experience a shoppable AR Lens are 2.4x more likely to purchase than those who do not. Not too shabby.
And let’s not forget the role of video. Social-first approaches like Live Shopping and personalized product recommendations provide shareable content, increasing time spent on platforms. Brands now have the opportunity to create video assets that align with different stages of the purchase funnel to meet customer needs. If only Don Draper could see us now.
At the end of the day, social media is all about meeting people where they already are. It’s about contributing to a story that’s already unfolding in the palm of everyone’s hand as they’re waiting in line at the grocery store or decompressing after a long day at work. IMO, brands that embrace social media as another portal for sharing human stories and experiences won’t just win at shopping, they’ll win at everything else, too.
In the meantime, BRB, I’ve got some “shopping” to do on the Chipotle app. Fingers crossed they’ll add a “try before you buy” feature sometime in the near future.
Netflix botches ‘Love is Blind’ live reunion
Netflix’s foray into the world of live programming hit a huge snag last Sunday night as millions of viewers tuning into the “Love is Blind” reunion were left hanging for more than an hour while the streaming giant scrambled with technical difficulties.
As the minutes ticked by, live commentary on the fiasco predictably streamed in from all angles, with Bravo (home of “The Real Housewives” franchise) taking the opportunity to tweet, “We would never keep you waiting for a reunion.” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in comically with, “Someone call Lucia the seamstress to fix this,” referring to the tailor who saved the day for Brett, a groom that needed a full pant alteration at the 11th hour on the show.
The live event was eventually aired after a long delay, with Netflix apologetically promising a taped version of the episode for the following day as a peace offering for viewers still experiencing difficulties.
Coming off the heels of the successful airing of Chris Rock’s live special last month, the “Love is Blind” fumble highlights the sheer volume of technical challenges and growing pains that are still being ironed out. After all, streaming live events through individual apps and devices in contrast to traditional television broadcasting isn’t for the faint of heart. (Take Hulu’s patchy attempt to livestream the Super Bowl or Peacock’s underwhelming coverage of the summer Olympics. Double yikes.)
The push for live streaming supremacy comes as Netfllix continues to struggle with subscriber numbers and to produce original content that competes with the likes of rising star platforms like Disney and Thursday Night Football hosts, Amazon Prime Video.
If Netflix can manage to crack the code for reliable live programming outside of the sports world, it just might be it’s saving grace.
NPR breaks up with Twitter
In this week’s Twitter drama, National Public Radio (NPR) made a Swiftian exit from Elon Musk’s controversially acquired platform saying, essentially, ‘We are never ever getting back together’.
The move came after Twitter labeled the outlet a “government-funded media entity,” which NPR contends is grossly misleading given that it functions as an independent non-profit and receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The label also sends the wrong impression about NPR’s independence and objectivity, putting them in the same ring as Chinese and Russian state sanctioned media, which isn’t exactly a good look.
NPR is the first news organization to bid farewell to Twitter, putting a halt to updates on all 52 of its official feeds. Meanwhile, a two week grace period has been set internally to iron out future social media strategy. NPR’s employees and reporters have been given the freedom to stay on the platform or call it quits depending on their own personal and professional convictions.
So far, PBS and the BBC have also been reckoning with similar designations from Twitter. Others have voiced concern over the safety of journalists working for these outlets, as the perception of state-funded media could garner negative attention or even violence.
As the shake-up at Twitter continues under Musk’s management, it’ll be interesting to see what brands stay and leave the platform and how those shifts will impact the way audiences engage. NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series on YouTube, for example, has 10 times the following of its Twitter account. And, although NPRs main account has 1 million more followers on Twitter than Facebook, click-throughs and engagement from articles are much more responsive on the Meta-run platform.
Dropping Twitter might not be the long-term blow that some fear in terms of ROI, but it’ll definitely translate to a shift in social strategy that has the potential to trickle down into other industries.
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