As I sat at my undergraduate graduation this past weekend, I saw hundreds of my peers taking photos, Instagramming, Snapchatting, and posting photos to other social media sites. A quick glance through my various social media timelines confirmed my suspicion. Their actions were not simply to capture memories but to share a change in their social status with the digital world.
For Millennials, the act of posting photos to social media is a chance for instant gratification. Quantified by likes and comments, memories have evolved far from the old shoebox in which my parents used to store 4×6 photo prints. With so much thought devoted to the caption and composition of each photo uploaded to social media, it is easy to understand why little thought is given to the future of said content.
Similar to the migration of downloaded music to streaming (this reference definitely labels me as a Millennial because I said “downloaded music”, and not CD’s), social media usage trends are bound to change with the demands of future generations. What will happen to all of the memories that my peers deposited on Facebook? Will they be lost forever when platform use declines? Will an entrepreneur charge to migrate and reformat digital content?
While I do not have immediate answers to the questions I posed above, I do foresee a major challenge for brands that invest heavily in their digital brand across the most popular social media platforms. Simply posting branded content and investing heavily in digital brand management is not enough as culture rapidly advances into an uncertain digital abyss. Millennials are known for varying heavily in preferences depending on the day and social climate.
Gen Y’s behavior is driven by an innate desire to stay in the know and on top of current trends. Shouldn’t brands and digital content producers do the same? It is important for brands to choose their digital investments wisely in the coming years as what is popular today may not be in six months.
It would be a shame for thousands of dollars of branded and curated digital content housed on social media platforms to be lost because of a brand’s inability to keep up with consumer trends and preferences. I’d suggest that brands and individuals refrain from investing all of their money and memories so heavily into just one or two social media platforms. It’s hard to tell a consistent story when the content that contributed greatly to the company’s advertising economies of scale is inaccessible or rarely viewed on an extinct platform.
For all of you social media and brand managers out there, heed this message: monitor your consumers’ media consumption habits and platforms, and be prepared to migrate curated and branded content from platform to platform. Afterall, it’s called brand management, not brand sit back and watch!
Garrett Meccariello is an aspiring brand strategist and researcher based out of NYC. In his free time he can be found building the next great brand, exploring the city, and eating a lot of cured meat and cheese.