The Social Influence

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The Social Influence

From chat rooms to TikTok

To build audiences and trust, first understand social media’s influence.

The first platforms for networking were created soon after the launch of the World Wide Web in 1990.  It began with bulletin boards and online chat rooms and, as more businesses began creating websites in the late 1990s, blog publishing platforms were launched. Early profile/networking sites included Friendster (2001), Linkedin (2002), Myspace (2003), Reddit (2005) and Twitter (2006). By 2008, Facebook eclipsed Myspace. Relative newcomers include Instagram and Pinterest (both 2010), Snapchat (2011) and TikTok (2016).

Millennials were the first generation to come of age with social media. GenX and Baby Boomers, perhaps initially skeptical, didn’t hesitate for long. In 2008, 10% of the US population was using social media. In 2020, that figure was 80%. Globally, 90% of people with access to the internet use social media, a total of 4.2 billion people (53.6% of the global population).

These statistics alone are fascinating but what is perhaps even more interesting is the influence these platforms have had on what we expect from all digital interactions. Because the platforms are simple to use and benefit from the creativity of billions of users, they have become the source of tremendous digital innovation. Visual and style trends started on social media have influenced website design and all digital advertising.

Visually rich and people-focused

It is not just that companies are advertising on social media. Social media has transformed the way all digital media looks, the way content is edited and how stories are told. Images – including photographs, videos, animations and graphics – were once considered optional for websites and blogs. As social media became image-rich, so did digital content. Large scale photographs that once took seconds to load on websites have become ubiquitous as have moving images – both video and animation.

Social media has also conditioned us to expect to see people. The individuals behind the company and the customers they serve. The casual nature of selfies and personal lifestyle documentation has influenced how corporate head shots are framed and increased the use of candid office and process shots in company profiles. More smiles, fewer ties, captions that list job titles and backgrounds but also personal interests and experiences. We seek the same human connection with the companies we do business with as we do with our ever-widening social networks. Thought-leadership and case studies are illustrated with infographics and photographs and video.

Storytelling in the digital age

Just as individuals have different ways of sharing personal stories based on our personality and interests, so do companies. There are myriad ways companies shape their digital image and participate in social platforms. The most successful have a point-of-view and consistent style that reflects their brand. Brand reflects culture, both individuals and companies. Your company’s digital presence is often the first and largest influence on how your customers, potential employees, partners and investors understand your mission, vision and values.

Each industry is different and each company within each industry is different. How your company tells its story and shapes its online image is critical for building brand awareness. It’s no longer enough to have a digital presence. Successful companies know that it is strategically important to invest in the intentional development of their brand, including how the company uses imagery, storytelling and social media.

Learning from fake news and social activism

The power of the internet is both amazing and scary. In the past five years, we have learned that social media can influence elections, ruin careers, and propagate conspiracies. It can also raise awareness, spark social action, and create true heroes. If there is one lesson to take away from what we have learned, it is to stay informed and act transparently and responsibly. To speak with intent, live your values and back up your claims with proof. This is true for individuals, corporations and governments.

In our work as brand strategists and designers, we test our work by asking a simple question. How will customers know what the brand stands for is true? Social media is a tool, how we use it and understand social media’s influence is power.

Conclusion

Understand and embrace social media’s influence, sharpen your brand and align your communications with your values.

 

data sources:
Statistica
The Evolution of Social Media: How Did It Begin, and Where Could It Go Next?
140+ Social Media Statistics that Matter to Marketers in 2021

 

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OTHER NEWS & INSIGHTS

03.11.22

Boston's Sherrill House contracts D&CO to create 2 new TV spots

02.22.22

Leading talent acquisition and development software provider HireRoad launches new D&CO designed brand

02.15.22

Rilas Technologies contracts D&CO for brand strategy and website design services