Social Media Week Austin 2019: T3’s Hot Takes

by Miró Cassetta and Elise Vinnik

Miró Cassetta, T3 Social Media Strategist, and Elise Vinnik, T3 Senior Social Media Strategist, attended Social Media Week Austin. They sat down to talk about the must-knows from the conference.

Miró Cassetta: What are some of the biggest themes you saw this year dominating the conversation at Social Media Week?

Elise Vinnik: Well, it’s safe to say that Millennials have had their time. We started that conversation what feels like forever ago, and we’re finally moving toward exploring the same curiosities we had about Millennials for Gen Z.

MC: Right, because the older part of Gen Z is finally coming of age. They’re no longer people’s kids that you try to influencethey’re their own keepers. And with that comes the power of shopping.

EV: Exactly. Young people aren’t just “young people” and they don’t necessarily have all the same habits, so we’re hesitant to generalize them. But Gen Z does have some big differentiating points from Millenials that we’ll get into today. The most important thing is that you need to talk to your audience directly.

MC: And that’s one of the things I appreciated about Social Media Week Austin. We went to a panel that actually had members of Gen Z leading the discussion. That was really refreshing because as a Millennial, I’ve had to live through a decade of articles about how Millennials have ruined this or changed that, even though it was clear the author had never consulted a Millennial. It was great to actually hear from the source.

Let’s get one big question out of the way: Snapchat. Not so hot with Gen Z. #hotdognotsohot.

Although a few of the panelists admitted to still using it, they said it’s a friend-first platform. These Gen Zers are not using the platform in the way that Snap and advertisers want them to. They’re using it for 1:1 communication like Snapstreaks, not necessarily the Discover tab.

MC: Another interesting thing we heard is that most of all the panelists agreed that group chats are a big thing. This could be in Snapchat, IG DMs, or really any platform. For a lot of Gen Zers, that’s how the discovery of new products and new trends truly happens. One panelist gave an example of being in a group with the “cool girls” at her high school; that was the first place they went to talk about the new makeup they tried or the new band they were loving.

Group chats are more personal. It’s still social media in that it’s widely broadcasted, but instead of blasting it out to hundreds or thousands of people, it might be twenty-five to fifty people.

EV: Absolutely. There’s a certain level of intimacy that people use Snapchat for that’s making its way into other platforms like Instagram. Speaking of Instagram, I feel like we heard a lot about Instagram Stories, which is the social media darling of 2019.

MC: And 2018, and 2017…

EV: Hahaha, yes! We’ve reached a point of mass adoption now with Instagram Stories where, as a brand, there’s an expectation that you’re creating content specifically for that medium.

We heard a ton of stats about Stories, but a big note was that you need to be active to gain a following on stories. Being active, by a lot of other platform standards, means posting two to three times a week, even a day. That isn’t necessarily best practice on Instagram stories. We’re looking for around ~10 stories a day and consistently sticking to that number to truly gain traction.

MC: We went to a great panel by Meredith Gonsalves, Global Manager, Digital & Social Media Strategy and Adjunct Professor at St. Edward’s University, and she had a lot of great insights about IG Stories. Most of us know this but Gonsalves reminded us all that your Instagram feed is the OUTCOME, and your IG Story is the HOW COME (the behind the scenes).

Another thing that blew my mind is Gonsalves’ point about comments on Instagram. Think about your personal Instagram: when do you get the most DMs? Not from your posts in-feed, but in response to your Stories. Instagram encourages you to do that with the quick response option: whether a viewer is sending an emoji or responding to your foodie pics with “OMG that looks amazing ?”

HELLO, ENGAGEMENT! Brands: don’t forget about those DMs; respond! DMs are a way to get people to participate, whether it’s publicly visible or not. Respond, respond, respond. I can’t say it enough. That’s how you build relationships.

EV: That’s a great segue into another trend we saw. IG Stories as a vehicle for 1:1 engagement. One-to-one engagements aren’t just coming back (we even moderated a panel on it), they’re taking on a new life, both through stories and through influencer relationships.

While we’re at it, let’s tie this all back together with Gen Z. Gen Z smells bullshit a mile away with influencers who (and we all know them) are here to peddle products. Now that influencer relationships with brands and consumers are becoming more intimate, we expect a 1:1 dialogue to exist. Users want to know who [influencers] are as people rather than just brands. The brand is what draws people in but the human being behind the brand is what keeps them around. Here’s a big consideration for marketers: we talk about scale a whole lot, but we can’t forget that those 1:1 conversations are still an important piece of the puzzle.

MC: I completely agree. Here’s what we heard from Senior Director of Brand, David Fossas’ research at WP Engine.

One Gen Zer we heard from was Brennan Agranoff, a 19-year-old entrepreneur who started a successful sock company. To paraphrase Agranoff, “Beyond creating your content and sharing your brand stories, you can be authentic with your community by actually living it. It can’t just be lip service. Follow through with what you’re saying. You have to have those morals and roots.”

“Authenticity” has been a marketing buzzword for years. But it’s important now more than ever. On the example spectrum, we’ve got the extreme miss of Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad and Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad on the successful side.

EV: It can be hard to verbally pinpoint what makes something authentic and what’s just jumping on a trend, but consumers know in their gut when it’s in earnest.

Any closing thoughts?

MC: Yes, I do want to talk about some more Instagram tips from Meredith Gonsalves. Here’s something she said that resonated strongly, especially on the brand side:

Come up with a few ideas of what shots you want to get and what you want to say so that you can still be capturing it live but you have a planned story arc that is engaging.

Okay, two more key points and then I promise I’ll stop.

The first is experience over consumption. Everyone knows that IG Stories is great for behind-the-scenes content, so make sure your audience feels like they’re living through the experience with you rather than just tapping through pretty pictures.

The second is embedding posts, which I think not enough brands do. Some really savvy bloggers and influencers do that.

EV: Mmmhmm, I hardly ever see it with brands. And I was thinking the same thing; it’s a very underutilized function as far as brand content goes.

MC: Because that’s one of the only ways on IG to get people to click through. If they’re looking at your stories, embed a post you want to get more visibility. Put a “tap here” GIF on it. Who knows, that could lead the user down a rabbit hole of looking at your feed.

EV: ?Opportunity ?

Well, that’s it, folks. Those are our hot takes on Social Media Week Austin. Be sure to follow T3 on Twitter for future musings and revelations.

Miró Cassetta
Elise Vinnik

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