The Age of the Individual

I had an interesting conversation with my son recently about online video. He’s a skater and works with a film crew that creates content for the skateboard company and a wheel manufacturer in the US who sponsor his competitive international travel. Specifically, I was questioning why he was not uploading a particular clip to Youtube, rather choosing to host it on the companies Facebook Page and Instragram. Initially I was acting like “the teacher” spouting off things about audience development, SEO, tagged content, in favour of Youtube, and an “in the moment only – then lost in the feed” and possibly more limited audience for organic discovery on Facebook and Instagram, not to mention the strong likelihood that those platforms will require payment in the future for video to realize any kind of significant reach.

But I quickly became the student as he started to justify his thoughts, noting that Youtube is so advertising driven now, that the likelihood of related organic content, such as their video, showing up as suggested viewing is now very slim. He also noted how Facebook favours content within their own platform rather than linked to external platforms. But most significantly, he felt that you could nurture a niche community much more on Facebook and Instagram with the suggested content viewers receive and the ability to watch multiple videos within the company page and channel once there, not to mention the multiplied targeted sharing of the video within the platform. He also observed that content on Youtube needs now to be “professionally filmed and edited” in his opinion, just to show up. He felt everything is so polished there now, often with longer films, many times with more theatrical storyline structure. He felt that “in the moment” or short “snackable” fun and entertaining content fits the Facebook and Instagram ecosystem more than Youtube now. In his opinion, brands looked too much like they were “selling stuff” on Youtube, whereas on Facebook or Instagram, it still seemed more authentic.

The video he was working on was brilliantly produced, but it was “snackable.” It was short, fun and shareable, something that would fuel the stoke of a young guy for the products he is riding.

Besides offering a mind shifting moment for me, what really struck was how this strategy was so well aligned with the movement to “the age of the individual” online.

Let me explain…

In a recent Hootsuite global broadcast about the “Future of Social” there was a lot of forecasting around how consumers will interact online, and the term coined to sum it all up was, “The age of the individual.”

Thought leaders observe we are shifting from broad broadcasting and mass audiences online being favoured, to more intimate connections with niche groups becoming the way to stand out. And the natural evolution from a niche group is to focus on the individual. One could argue this was likely a natural evolution as online and social media matured.

(Image credit: Hootsuite, the Future of Social Media)

We are headed for the “age of the individual.” Here’s what you need to know:

The future of Customer Experience:

  • Customer lead, rather than brand lead, meaning creating environments where consumers reach out or inquire will be favoured over brands pushing out content
  • Interactions delivered with messaging apps and the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to inform customized interactions will be favoured

The future of Content:

  • Content which is customized and customer lead, not generic will resonate
  • Content for contents sake will be less effective
  • Heavy emphasis on authenticity
  • Personalized, but able to scale will be important

The future of Advertising:

  • There will be a movement from public to private spaces.
  • Advertising will be much more one on one interactions.
  • For example, think less broadcasted Youtube and more customized content by interaction (text, images, video) on Facebook Messenger in response to a customer inquiry. Advertising will need to interact with the right audience at the right time.
  • Value driven and consent-based content will be key. As advertising becomes more individual and 1:1 channel based, you need to be interacting on a much more intimate level then when publicly advertising. This will require a change in language and channel approach.

The future of Data:

  • Social media has enabled an immense amount of data to be compiled on consumers. But the future will be in understanding the EQ in the data in addition to the IQ. In other words, understanding the emotional connection and triggers, beyond just demographic, geographic and behavioural factors will be important.

After listening to the Hootsuite webinar, I found myself reflecting on my son’s conversation. What he was advocating was EXACTLY in line with what the trends were pointing to. But it had required a shift of thinking on my part to understand it. It was all about being customer focused for a niche or individual audience. And then being on a platform that enabled direct messaging and interaction (Facebook messenger) should the customer take the lead and make a one on one inquiry.

The only thing certain is change. The online world demands that we keep up with change while developing strategies to adjust our efforts, ideally in advance. How might you take advantage of this coming trend? What changes will you need to make in your marketing efforts? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment below, or connect with me


Mary Charleson

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