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It's Time to Be Real: Social Media is Changing

Written by: Alison Reed



According to Hootsuite, social media has been around for over 25 years. Since its birth, social media has evolved rapidly. Platforms like Facebook rose to popularity in the early 2000s, then in the span of 10 years, were deemed “irrelevant” by younger generations. 


The new era of social media has emphasized the importance of community over likes. Initially, receiving likes and comments on content was everything to users. However, users are shifting to a place where they desire the feeling of community through their social media platforms instead of engagement. 


To connect users rather than create a strategic popularity contest, multiple new social media apps have emerged in the last few years. 


BeReal 

BeReal is a platform that highlights being genuine on social media. 


With a notification that is randomly set off every day, users are prompted to take a picture of what they are doing in real-time using their front and back cameras within two minutes. If a user posts after the two minutes allotted, their friends are notified that they posted late. 

The timeliness of BeReal pushes users to take pictures of their lives at that moment. They can’t edit or photoshop their images. As the name suggests, the app encourages users to “be real,” decreasing the need to premeditate or edit what is genuine. 


I have personally noticed that the excitement surrounding the app has decreased, but many users (me included) still use BeReal daily. 


The biggest thing that public relations practitioners should take away from BeReal is the audience’s desire for authentic content. I know that I, like many users, have learned the tricks behind social media, so the real way for a brand to stand out is to be genuine and not play any games in its messaging. 


Lapse 

The newest social media platform, which is still in its beta phase, is Lapse. 

There are two ways that users can gain access to the app’s features. Anybody can simply download the app, but they are required to send five invitation links to people who are not yet using Lapse. However, a user who receives an invitation must only send three invites to create their account. Either way, every person who wants to use the app, must send out multiple invitations to their network. 


By creating an invitation-based platform, Lapse has truly illustrated the desire for digital connectivity, even if it excludes certain users. Exclusivity can be very successful in increasing the desire surrounding a brand. Christie Taylor, media consultant, wrote a thought piece on this tactic and stated, “By selectively releasing content, products, or services to a limited audience, you create a sense of scarcity and urgency. This drives up demand and generates buzz around your brand.” 


The invitation-based process shows practitioners the power of community and exclusivity in messaging. This lesson can be applied in various approaches, but it shows us the new ways users are learning to connect to each other in the digital age. 

Upon completing registration, users have access to a camera that serves as a digital film camera. The photos are then “developed” and made available at a random time. Once the photos are processed, they are edited to look like they have been taken with a film camera. Users are given the opportunity to choose to share their photos with friends after the photos are ready. 


Lapse gives users a feeling of nostalgia, while also focusing on the community aspect of social media, instead of the analytics of posting. 

The app shows how audiences are nostalgic for things they didn’t even live through. Sure, younger audiences have almost always had the choice of our smartphones over film cameras, but the (now) rare feeling of non-instant gratification is refreshing and reminds us to live in the moment. 


Using Lapse took me some convincing, to be honest. I wasn’t sure if I wanted just another app to keep track of. However, I have since become obsessed with Lapse. It helps me see the beauty of little moments and everyday life. 


Audiences want to live in the moment, not see a staged version before or after the event. Practitioners should take note of this idea and strive for more in-the-moment, candid messaging. 


The new era 

There’s no doubt about it, understanding and keeping up with social media can be challenging. 

Overall, people have gotten used to social media and the culture surrounding it. Users want something that feels new and contributes to a feeling of community, especially since connectivity has become so rare in our digital age. 

Although many brands are unable to have a presence on apps like Lapse or BeReal, it is important to keep up with the newest developments in social media and audience desires.  

Various resources are available to help you stay up to date with social media campaigns. I highly recommend keeping up with the Platform MagazineHootsuite and Sprout Social blogs.  

   

 

 

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