2020 changed the way we did just about everything — including socializing. Social distancing became a familiar part of our lives leaving a void for personalized communication we used to have in-person.

Although Facebook still reigns as the social media king, but the latest social media trends show that emerging smaller platforms are worth paying attention to.

If your role specializes in social media, audience growth, or online engagement — or if your company targets the early-adopters in Gen-Z or millennial age groups — you’ll want to be on the lookout for platforms that could gain momentum later on.

Why? Watching the growth of young, promising social channels will help you determine which are worth joining and which aren’t worth your time. And, if you do end up joining a hot new social channel early on, you may have more time to pick up on what promotional content works there. This will put you ahead of competitors that launch their accounts later and might struggle to come up with creative post ideas.

These are some platforms have all gained a large user base, interest from investors, or news buzz in recent months.

TIKTOK

Number of users: 1 billion monthly active users 

 

With more than 2.6 billion global downloads, TikTok is now more popular in app stores than Facebook, Instagram, and other prominent social media platforms. Like similar video platforms, it has been primarily adopted by users under 30 years old.

 

Once you make a video, the app also allows you to optimize it by adding hashtags that can make it easier to find via search. One way in which hashtags have been embraced on TikTok is through its « Challenges » tab. This area of the platform prompts you to propose a challenge with a themed hashtag. When you post a video that responds to a challenge, you can include the corresponding hashtag so those following the challenge can see your videos.

 

Aside from being fun and entertaining, the app is leaking into brand territory. It presents an opportunity for brands to perhaps show off a more light-hearted with the musicality also adding a different dimension.

At the moment, fashion, publishing and entertainment companies are starting to play with TikTok. As the platform grows, we might see it expand to other industries that are able to get creative and visual with their marketing tactics.

While you might not want to focus all of your social media resources on TikTok just yet, it’s a great time to familiarize yourself with the app and start experimenting with a few fun videos. You could also try to brainstorm a few challenges or video ideas that could align well with your brand and the platform’s young audience. If you see any brands that are in a similar space as you, follow them for some added inspiration.

Clubhouse

Number of users: in excess of 1 million

 

It’s not quite a podcast, but a more personal way to share information with your audience who can talk back to you in real-time. You might be wondering “What actually happens in Clubhouse?” And the truth is, a little bit of everything. Topics like starting a business from top VCs, relationship discussions hosted by celebrities, and even comedy clubs by up-and-coming comedians all find their way in front of live audiences.

 

Investors are lining up to support the development and expansion of the audio-only phenomenon, even without a presence on Google Play Store. It is only available in beta on devices that support iOS at the moment.

Part of the sudden uproar about this new social media network stems from the way it contradicts every other social platform available today. It’s invite-only — the antithesis of how we’ve come to understand and leverage social media. The developers of the app say they want to get Clubhouse just right before releasing it to the public, but users already part of the in-group act as the gatekeepers to thousands of conversations happening daily. If you don’t know someone willing to give you one of their three invitations, you’ll have to join the waitlist until Clubhouse is officially released.

How can Clubhouse work for marketers and brands? That’s yet to be determined, but professionals are experimenting right now. The race to crack the code on Clubhouse is a fast one as content creators are building their audiences quickly in hopes of securing monetisation when they become available.

If you’ve received an invitation to Clubhouse, but aren’t sure how to use it, consider hosting an informal focus group, starting a conversation about a high-traffic blog article or social media post your company has published, or contributing to a conversation already hosted by a thought leader in your industry.

Houseparty

Number of users: 20 million

Houseparty is a group-video messaging app that allows video chats that can host eight users at a time. To make things more fun for everyone in the chat, you can use video filters, stickers and other fun effects while a live conversation is in session.

 

While the app itself has been around for a few years, it has gone through a few evolutions and recently gained large bumps in interest and users. The app first started as Meerkat but rebranded itself to Houseparty and revamped its features. Since then, Houseparty has climbed app store charts and risen from 1 million to 50 million users in 2020.

Although the app does offer ad space, marketers of the future might use it in other creative ways. For example, a small makeup company might sponsor a « houseparty » where an influencer can answer beauty questions and show attendees how to use one of their new beauty products.

Although it might sound promising, still keep in mind that this app has a number of big-name competitors, including Snapchat and Zoom.

This app might also take added time and creativity. If you don’t have time to host a houseparty or can’t think of one that would effectively market your product, you might want to prioritize other platforms first.

Redditt

Number of users: 430 million

 

Although it is generally known as a social media site, the way it works is pretty different to other social networks like Facebook and Instagram.

 

Reddit is a massive forum with a heavy focus on its communities. Reposts are also generally not accepted by its users.  These differences are what makes Reddit a pretty unique social network that requires a different marketing strategy altogether. Getting the basics of Reddit and its user base right is key.

 

Reddit saw a massive boost in 2019 with the number of monthly active users increasing 30% year on year to 430 million.  Its monthly view counts experienced a 53% jump. The impressive jump in Reddit user stats can be attributes to the revamp in 2018 which the company says led to an increase in time spent and engagement on both its website and app.

 

In 2017, Reddit rolled out its very own native video feature to allow users to upload to their videos onto the platform instead of posting links to third party sites like YouTube.  This feature has exploded in popularity and Reddit users are now watching a whopping 1.4 billion native videos on the platform every month.

 

When you’re determining which platforms are worth watching or experimenting on, ask yourself a few questions first…

  • What are its active user numbers? Big numbers could mean that the platform is gaining momentum and that you have even more chances to engage with a large pool of users.
  • Are publications or thought leaders talking about it? If a platform doesn’t specify exact numbers, but a lot of people, prominent figures, or news publications are discussing it — it might be promising.
  • Do older platforms have a similar tool and a bigger user base? If an older platform does the same thing, people might hesitate to adopt a newer platform. For example, marketers primarily use Stories on Instagram as opposed to Snapchat. Although Snapchat pioneered the story, the Instagram interface and experience is something that a lot more people know, understand, and trust.
  • Will my audiences understand how to use the platform? Will my audiences understand how to use the platform? It might be challenging to get a less tech-savvy person to join Snapchat or TikTok, but they might love a platform like Facebook or Twitter because the interfaces might be easier to understand. Pick platforms that your audience can easily use and enjoy.
  • Will audiences even be interested in the platform? Will audiences even be interested in the platform? While a tech novice might not enjoy TikTok, a teenager might get bored on a platform like Facebook. In fact, younger people prefer visual apps like TikTok and Instagram. While you want to pay attention to the level of adaptability, you also should pay attention to how your audience wants to consume media.
  • What type of content or post could we use to promote our brand on the platform? You should always make a plan of action when considering or launching a social platform. If you can’t come up with any interesting ways to market your specific product on a niche platform, you might want to hold off on making an account. On the other hand, experimenting with different posting strategies could allow your brand to look creative and cool to the platform’s audience.