I recently talked about Instagram Stories vs. Snapchat Stories and what that means - or doesn't mean - for small businesses on social. What I didn't get into discussing is the underlying importance of what these social media changes and trends mean for how small businesses use social media as a marketing platform, and how that relates to over-arching strategies.
We Need to Talk About the Teens
Where the teenagers go, we follow.
Think about it: Facebook got too crowded and popular (and old - AKA their parents joined) so they left at an astonishing rate of up to a million a year. Eventually, we followed them to Instagram, where they're still quite prevalent. Then they went to Snapchat - 13-25 year olds now make up the core of Snapchat's 150 million strong userbase.
Teens are already looking for the next best thing and it's being noticed, even by Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook founder keep a close eye on generational consumer behavior, which is reflected in Facebook's purchase decisions. Last year, Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook's no longer the cool place to be - so it's a very good thing that he had the foresight to buy-up Instagram when he did.
But here's why this is important: as social marketers, as small businesses, as retailers, as strategists, as bloggers, teen trends can act as something of a lighthouse in the ocean that is social media - follow the light of the teens and it will enable you to anticipate and plan for the next big platforms so that you can get out ahead of your competitors.
If social media marketing is where a lot of your budget is going (as it should be) then you need to watch the social behavior of teens and prepare accordingly. Businesses, blogs, strategists live and die by their intuitive understanding of trends and the fearlessness with which they prepare for and dive into change, and how well they can push innovation.
Simply put, teens are often the bellwether of social media platforms and businesses are going to continue to market on social media, so the importance of this relationship becomes quite obvious.
We Need to Watch The Teens
Keeping an eye on teenage social behavior is a good way of buying yourself more time before fully committing to a new platform. With this time you'll be able able to strategize, plan, produce a backlog of content, plan, watch major brand behavior and plan some more. This way when you do join you'll have an edge over your competitors by being able to dive in and capture the audience early, instead of wading.
Alternatively, if you're not too worried about competitors, you'll buy yourself more time and be more informed, which is never a bad thing.
Now go plan and make your social dive, and always keep a weather eye on the horizon for that lighthouse.