“No one uses Facebook anymore.”
Almost every one in their mid-20s (and older) has heard this troubling phrase from a teenager or—even worse—a child. “That cannot possibly be true,” you might reassure yourself as you desperately Google “Facebook Statistics” on your phone. The numbers do seem to back you up—Facebook is still the largest social network in the world, with 2.9 billion users.
So yes, massive amounts of people still use this social platform, but less and less of these are Gen Z. In fact, more than a third of US teenagers think that Facebook is “for old people.”
That means while well-known platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter still technically dominate the world in terms of sheer numbers, younger generations are increasingly moving towards newer social media networks that fall outside of the typical “adult” purview. For video content marketers, this poses a unique challenge: How do you harness platforms to connect with your audience when you no longer intuitively understand what that platform is all about?
Together, let’s explore six up-and-coming social media platforms that every content marketer should become familiar with, and break down how they might be useful for connecting with young audience all around the world.
Of all the platforms featured on this list, TikTok is far and away the most popular. Similar in some ways to the gone-too-soon app Vine, TikTok empowers its users to create and share short-form video content. The app was founded in 2016 by Chinese company ByteDance and quickly rose to popularity, especially among younger users. TikTok currently has over 1 billion active users, of which 41.7% are between the ages of 18 and 24. So, if you’re a brand that wants to tap into the buying power of younger generations like Gen Z, integrating TikTok into your video marketing plan is a must.
Younger generations are notoriously difficult to reach with traditional advertising, but TikTok offers a unique opportunity to connect with this demographic. TikTok ads are incredibly effective, thanks to the platform’s native video format and its focus on creative content.
While its advertising features are still in the newer stages compared to the robust features of more senior platforms, smart marketers are getting a leg up on their competition by experimenting with the fullscreen video ad format along with fun capabilities like hashtag challenges, 3D/AR technology, stickers, and more. You can also create your own branded channel for users to follow, or collaborate with well-known TikTok influencers to spread brand awareness.
Originally launched as a GIF creator app in 2012, Kuaishou currently has 578 million active users and is taking the Chinese media industry by storm. It allows users to share short videos just like TikTok, and has quickly become its biggest competitor. But that’s not all. Kuaishou also offers a wide range of other features, such as livestreaming, filters, and editing tools. As a result, the platform has become increasingly popular with users who are looking for more than just short videos.
For e-commerce brands especially, Kuaishou can be an extremely valuable platform. Thanks to a number of integrations, it’s one of the easiest platforms to use for driving sales. In fact, some of the biggest e-commerce brands in China, such as Alibaba and JD.com, have already made Kuaishou a key part of their marketing strategy.
Kuaishou offers a robust selection of paid advertising solutions to its partnered brands. These include display ads, newsfeed ads, and discover ads, all of which can be in the form of short video clips or banners. These can be used to direct traffic to account profiles, specific videos or live-streams, games, external websites, and e-commerce stores. We’ll have to wait and see if Kuaishou takes off elsewhere in the world, but if you’re looking for a way to reach Chinese consumers, this platform is definitely worth checking out. With its unique mix of social media and e-commerce features, it’s a powerful platform that can help you achieve your business goals.
Launched in August of 2020, Reels is Instagram’s answer to the short-form video boom. But it’s far from just another copycat app. Given that it’s tightly integrated into Instagram, users can easily share videos with their existing followers—which eliminates the hassle of building a following from scratch, as is the case with standalone apps like TikTok. What’s more, Facebook (which purchased Instagram in back in 2012), also has Reels integration, opening up marketers to an even wider existing user base.
But what are the Reels features marketers should be leveraging most to stand out? For one, its 90-second format is great for telling engaging, bit-sized stories that can captivate an audience. This makes it an ideal platform for launching new products, telling brand stories, and driving customer engagement.
Then there’s the creative tools. From filters and AR effects to music and editing tools, Reels offers a wealth of ways to make your content pop. You’ll notice that Instagram is currently prioritizing Reels content on users’ feeds, representing a shift in the way users interact with the platform and content in general. So, if you’re already a Instagram marketer, you’ll need to be nimble and adapt Reels into your strategy to stay ahead of the curve.
Posting gets profitable with Steemit, the world’s #1 cryptocurrency-adjacent social network. Like popular aggregation site Reddit, Steemit users have the opportunity to share content, comment, and upvote other people’s posts. But rather than just be rewarded with clout and personal pride, the most successful posters on Steemit can earn “Steem” coin. For companies looking to target crypto-savvy customers (or anybody with a serious interest in tech) a platform like Steemit is the ideal balance of work and play.
With over one million users currently signed up, Steemit is expected to keep growing its sizable following as more people look to cryptocurrency as the future of commerce. The key with this social platform is value. On other social media platforms, you can post just about anything on behalf of your brand, but since there is a monetary component to Steemit, users are more selective with what content they upvote. No, you will not scale revenue just from sharing—but if you share valuable content and engage with users, your efforts should start to pay dividends.
Livestreaming platform Twitch has a new competitor with Caffeine, which offers nearly identical features. As with Twitch, Caffeine users can broadcast both themselves and whatever content they are playing or viewing on their screens to audiences around the world. What sets it apart from their massively-popular rival is its overall ease-of-use (no outside software required) and integration with platforms like Twitter and Facebook—plus it was created by ex-Apple designers.
Companies with an interest in hopping aboard the Caffeine bandwagon should start identifying its major influencers as soon as possible for potential sponsorship deals, or create their own branded stream where they can sell digital items directly to followers.
The founders of Vero describe their platform as “more social, less media.” On the surface, it appears very similar to a lot of other mainstream social media platforms, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram. Vero users can share videos, make posts, recommend content, and like and comment on whatever they see. Unlike those other platforms, it promises to remain a 100% ad-free digital environment with zero data-mining. It also features a strictly chronological feed, as opposed to its rivals, which are driven by frequently frustrating algorithms.
But if there is no advertising, why bother mentioning it here? Vero is most interesting to video content marketers as a totally singular case study for future customers. What does it say about the platform’s growing user base (currently 4.5 million strong) that they would seek out an “alternative” to traditional social media? And how many people are willing to pay for the chance not to be advertised to?
While few of these platforms threaten to out-and-out replace standbys like Facebook and Instagram, their presence is important to brands for a number of reasons. Like Vero, all of them are valuable not just for what they are, but for the ideals that they represent. Through these social media platforms, we are able to take a glimpse at both the future of video content marketing and of all digital communication. Pay close attention, and your brand can stay ahead of the curve for years to come.
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