A NEW SOCIAL ORDER – podcast transcript

Jessica Kingman
Hello, everyone, and welcome to The Richards Group Digital Trends podcast. I’m your host and Digital Strategy Group head, Jessica Kingman, and in every episode, I’ll be diving into one of our 10 Digital Trends for 2020. And today, I’m talking with paid social planner, Aubri Elliot, on her trend, A New Social Order. Hi, Aubri.

Aubri Elliot
What’s up, Internet?

Jessica Kingman
Are you excited?

Aubri Elliot
I’m very excited.

Jessica Kingman
Good. Well, just talk to me a little bit about your trend of A New Social Order and why you believe that advertisers, clients, and brands should care.

Aubri Elliot
Yeah, so when we talk about a new social order, I think what we’re really talking about here is the way that people are interacting on social. So previously and I think what a lot of people, at least my age, know of social from when we first started is, posting publicly about your day-to-day experiences or broadcasting your opinions. And I think as we’ve grown a little bit more, become a little bit more educated as users, a younger generation that is more used to posting privately has come through. We’ve realized that publicly broadcasting those things is not necessarily how we want to interact on those social spaces with each other. And maybe it is just a little bit more of a closer community that we’re looking for. So I think now we kind of think of those broadcasting of those public opinions more so for our moms and dads and grandmas that are on Facebook. But as we move into this kind of new way of interacting with each other, brands really need to take notice because we are a part of that conversation. And as such, we want to fit the form and the function of that conversation to remain relevant. So as brands we need to stay in touch with how people are interacting on these social platforms. And as they move to a more private interaction, take notice of ways that your brand can show that you’re seeing that and show that you are seeing how people want to interact on those platforms. And because it is moving to that more private interaction, people are interacting much more with just their friends and their families. We need to think about those personalized interactions that we can make as brands and those personal relationships that we can create as brands on these platforms, again, to just show how we are really in touch with the platforms and in touch with how people are wanting to interact.

Jessica Kingman
I want to talk about some of the shifts that we’ve seen Facebook and obviously within that umbrella, Instagram as well, start making. First, I kind of want to focus on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and you noted this in your trend, he kicked off Facebook’s annual developer conference by stating that the future is private. Do you think that this is, you know, Mark Zuckerberg kind of taking a stance that he’s going to dismantle the news feed and Facebook as we know it, or do you see that as a more additive message and that Facebook is going to start shifting more resources into private communication?

Aubri Elliot
Yeah, yeah, I think that, you know, the news feed as we know it, Facebook as we know it, is not going to completely dismantle. Instagram, as we know it, is not going to completely dismantle. But I do think what it is, is a…it shows that they’re taking notice, right? They’re taking notice that people do want more control and that it is their job as the platforms to make our experience better. I think Facebook has always kind of talked about the user experience, first and foremost, whether people believe it or not from the side of advertising and having those things in. But I think that by stating that the future is private, it shows a little bit of their commitment toward ensuring with users that they do want to make these steps forward as far as keeping their data private, giving the user more control, ensuring that the user is a little bit more educated about the types of ways that they can control their data and how their life is being displayed out in the Internet. I think that, you know, Mark has obviously stated that they’ve made a couple of different updates from an advertising perspective as well as from a user perspective to show that they are trying to make steps toward that, so I really do think it’s kind of this idea of “hey, we’re trying to do better,” right? I think that it might not be the final steps and it might not be the only thing or the best thing, but at least it’s baby steps toward the bigger picture.

Jessica Kingman
I’m interested in where the shift from platforms and favoring these private interactions stem from. Do you think that it’s just a reaction to consumers’ outrage at the exploitation of the data that they’ve kind of put on those platforms, or do you think it’s something bigger than that?

Aubri Elliot
I think the shift comes from a few different places. I do think that people in some ways want to be more private naturally. But I also think that we do have this entire generation that has grown up with just private for sharing, in general. You know, they’re more used to the Snapchats and the messages that you can send privately back and forth. That’s kind of their first form of communication and what they’ve always grown on. And in that way, they kind of expect that from other platforms. And so when a platform doesn’t necessarily have that type of communication or only has it in a certain format, they’re going to shift toward that format first, just because they’re so used to it. I think that especially the younger generations are very aware of what social can do and how much you are truly broadcasting your life when you put out different messages on social. So I think that just because of the gain, the increase in knowledge about sharing and what can be a very public display of your life on social, and understanding that you do want to keep some of these things more private. And then having the platforms make some of these updates and formats and functionality to provide that privacy, I think those things coupled together really has pushed this shift forward. And kind of kept, is kind of going to propel it to, propel it on in the future because this generation has just grown up with it and almost expects it now.

Jessica Kingman
I’m interested in hearing kind of the conversation and your answers, you know, stories to me is kind of top of mind as a new format, as a new update, perhaps, especially within Instagram and Facebook. And I’m curious on your perspective on why we’ve seen such widespread success of the stories format.

Aubri Elliot
There’s many reasons as to why stories has become more popular. I don’t think that there is one exact piece that has pushed it forward more than the next, but I do think that there’s several pieces, one being that there is a generation that has just grown up with this type of communication and really grown up with the stories format as their main communication, especially those who kind of started as native Snapchat users. So there is a generation piece that this younger generation is kind of pushing the stories format because they are so used to communicating in that way. I also think there’s a piece of it, that it’s ephemeral, right? It’s a little bit more exclusive. People enjoy the fact that it’s only up for 24 hours, and as such, people are making sure that they view those, their friends’ stories because they know that it’s not going to be up forever. So I think that there’s a piece of that that makes it a little bit mysterious, it’s ephemeral, it’s fun. And so I think as such people want to use it more, there’s, you know, more filter options or stickers and things that you can put on it that makes it a little bit more fun and personal. But again, from an interactions perspective, stories is a little bit more a place that’s safer. People can be a little bit more of themselves because they’re not getting those comments that will publicly be out there forever. They’re getting comments that are direct messages to them, and therefore they can field those on their own or choose not to see them, and because of that it makes people a little bit happier. So I think there’s quite a mix of things that makes stories this place that people enjoy being in and enjoy viewing, and enjoy posting content to and why I think that we’ll continue to see the stories format really rise as more and more people use it.

Jessica Kingman
Do you mind talking a little bit about some of the updates that Facebook has made both from an advertiser and user side to, you know, be able to create more privacy on both ends of that spectrum.

Aubri Elliot
Sure. So there have been a couple updates from a targeting – especially from a targeting – perspective for advertisers on what kind of data that we can use to target as well as what data is readily available for us to target. From a user perspective, there are some updates where it makes it a little bit more apparent as to how advertisers are able to target you and also how you can control what they are able to use. So, I think, in an overall sense, you know, they’re constantly making these updates. I think, even from a sharing perspective, right? Instagram has close friends now that you share your stories to vs. just kind of broadcasting those stories out to everyone. So it does, in that way, give you a lot of options as a user. And I think what one of the biggest things about this is that as advertisers we’re very, very aware of the types of data that we can use to target people. And I think that we sometimes get really lost in the idea that to other people, that seems a little bit weird. I think it’s something that we’re so close to all the time that it’s just something that’s so inherent and normal to us. And really, for others, it’s not that normal. So I think as users, we do really need to educate ourselves on what types of data are being used to target us, what preferences we really do have, and not only what those data pieces are, but how does that affect our experience? Because, again, I think it all really goes back to that user experience. I think that the updates that they have made as far as sharing and things that you can share with certain people vs. not, again, that’s a user experience update. But from a targeting perspective, I don’t think that the platforms have done a really good job of educating people how the data that we are using to target them makes their user experience better or should make their user experience better if we’re doing our jobs correctly. And by that, it’s almost putting a lot of fear into people as to what types of data people are using and how it actually works. So I think there is a bit more transparency by those updates that they have made. But the story behind it is a little bit lost on users. So I would hope that becomes a little bit more clear to them, or there’s ways that they can better educate themselves on that.

Jessica Kingman
So as kind of our paid social planner in the room, I mean, how are you using that personal data to, you know, better enhance the user experience of those who may be using Facebook, Instagram, insert social platform here?

Aubri Elliot
Sure. So, from a targeting perspective, you know, all of that data again, and this is going to be a little bit self-promoting. But all of that data is anonymized. And so, you know, we can’t necessarily say who is who exactly, right? That makes it a little bit less scary for the user, hopefully, but from a targeting perspective in the way that we use that data to make their experiences better, hopefully, we are targeting people in the right way. So, one, they’re getting the correct messages, but also that they’re getting the correct messages at the right time and in the right way. So when we say things like that, we’re usually talking about, you’re not getting an ad for the boots that you already purchased two days ago. I think, for our clients specifically, the journey is a big piece of that targeting. So not only from the type of data that we use, but also from the type of data that we use to keep people from being targeted with certain ads. I think it all kind of goes together in a journey, and if we don’t think about it that way, if we only think about it from the exact message and the exact people that we’re trying to hit, I think we kind of lose the idea of where people are within their journey with our brands. So, from a targeting perspective and the types of data that we use, yes, we are using things like email lists and loyalty lists that we get from our clients and things like that. But it’s all to make sure that we are targeting those right users and that we are ensuring that we’ve seen you. Like, I think that the biggest thing that brands sometimes lose out on is that they don’t think about, they don’t think about how educated the user actually is on why they might be seeing some ads. So, again, going back to kind of your last question: As this education grows with users, I think that we as advertisers, it’s our responsibility and our job to show, yes, we know that we’ve seen you and now we’re going to move you to that next part of the journey, or we’re going to drop you out of that pool. You’re either someone who’s engaged or not engaged, and the fact that we can tell that now is something that gives us a lot of power. But it also gives us a lot of responsibility to provide that value back to you as a user and ensure that your experience is moving on positively. So I think that having that data is a huge responsibility on us because at this point, it’s our responsibility. It’s almost standard, as it should be for us to make sure that we show the user that, yes, we understand where you are in the journey with us and will ensure to target you the right way and give you the right message for that.

Jessica Kingman
So you mentioned the journey and advertisers hopefully bringing consumers along or meeting consumers where they are on the journey. Can you talk to us a little bit more about what you mean when you say the journey and what you kind of mean when you talk about targeting and reaching somebody at the right stage of their journey?

Aubri Elliot
I think as brands, you have these different touchpoints with users, these different places. So you might be talking to someone for the first time, they have no idea who your brand is, they’ve never heard of you. You might be talking to a user that has engaged with your brand, whether it be on your site, whether it be on your Facebook page or Instagram page, but they haven’t necessarily maybe seen all of your products, know all about your brand, need a little bit more education. And then you also have those users who are probably very well-acquainted with your brand and are really looking maybe in the consideration phase of their journey with you, and they might be really just kind of needing that final push to make that final action, whatever that might be – whether it be to buy, whether it be to submit a form, whatever that final conversion or action that you’re looking for is. And so these different touchpoints are along the journey, and you can meet people at those different parts of the journey based on how you are targeting those users. And so when we talk about the messaging and making sure that we’re hitting people at the right time at the right moment, that’s what we’re talking about. We are talking about understanding that as people move along the journey, and as we have the ability to target those people along the journey, we need to be sending them the right message, we need to be thinking about ways to make it more personal, more human. Because again, going back to the idea that people are becoming more private and less public, those interactions that they’re having on a day-to-day basis are much more personal than what they’ve been doing in the past, and they almost expect that kind of human aspect into it. So as an advertiser, if you aren’t connecting that message with the right targeting and with the right part of your journey, if those connections are missed, then it becomes again really robotic, really, really automated, and almost losing that human aspect in the piece of storytelling and being a part of a journey with a user between a brand and creating that real relationship.

Jessica Kingman
So, in some ways, you and I could both be in-market for refrigerator, but depending, let’s say, that you kind of are ready to buy and I’m just starting out, we could just be seeing entirely different ads from advertisers, right?

Aubri Elliot
Right. And so we could be seeing hopefully, we are seeing – right? – hopefully, we are seeing different messages, hopefully. If I’m the one, that I’m not necessarily ready to buy, that I’m just starting out, I’m getting a message that teaches me a little bit more why I should love this brand, what makes this brand pop. If you’re ready to buy, hopefully you’re seeing the exact make and model of what you’ve been looking at online, and that’s just that final push that you needed. But if we’re doing our jobs correctly and if we’re providing value to the user, that is the kind of experience that we want to provide. I think anything else is almost just a miss from brands because we do have that type of technology. And we do have that data available to us at this point.

Jessica Kingman
Do you think that those expectations, especially if we think about private communication, of receiving the right message at the right time, do you think that those expectations from consumers are heightened in this new era of private communication?

Aubri Elliot
Definitely, definitely. I think that in this new way of communicating in this new style, that we are communicating with each other more privately, that that’s not necessarily to say that brands are excluded from that, that advertising is excluded from that, because, again, as we continue to have more private conversations or skewed toward more private conversation before public conversations on social, I think that interaction will make that same skew with brands. And as such, we will expect more personalized and more exact messaging as users. As we gain that knowledge of targeting, as we gain that knowledge of data, all of these things kind of play in tandem of the user becoming kind of a smarter user of social. We are a part of this ecosystem and we are part of this community, and people have now, by following us on social media, by following our brands, or being targeted by our brands, and allowing that targeting by our brands, they have almost invited us into their conversations, and as such, we should provide that value back as brands.

Jessica Kingman
So kind of, just, my last couple of questions for you. How do you fundamentally believe that brands should shift their thinking on how to approach social as this more privacy and private communication comes to bear?

Aubri Elliot
Overall, I think that brands, especially larger brands, can really take a couple hints or notes from some of their smaller, local counterparts. So think your local coffee shop, think your local retail store, these places are not necessarily posting or maybe creating content in the same exact way as larger brands – it’s a little bit less stylized, maybe, or it’s a little bit less product focus. And that’s not to say that there’s not a place where product ads do provide a lot of value to the user. I get retail ads all the time. And I always want to see them. But I think that, overall, brands really need to start thinking about authenticity and personality and who they are. I think as brands start to shift their mindset about how do they communicate more personally to users, they’ll start to really think about how their content and how their communication can look more personalized and can look a little bit less maybe stylized or less product-focused and still get the right messaging across.

Jessica Kingman
So I’m interested if the way that we measure success on social media and the age of consumer empowerment and privacy changes at all?

Aubri Elliot
I think that, in some cases, there is a look at return on ad spend. There is a look at general sales direction and how sales are being impacted when social is flighted on vs. when social is dark. I think that as far as the way we think about engagement on social, and potentially the brands that are looking at things like comments, likes, and shares, things that do tend to be a little bit more public, and as people move away from those types of actions, you might start to see the way that we measure engagement on social a little bit different than how we’ve thought of it in the past in wanting to drive those comments.

Jessica Kingman
To read more about Aubri’s trend, The New Social Order, as well as other trends that we predict will make an impact in the advertising landscape in 2020, please go to trends.richards.com.

 

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