2016 will be the year social storytelling shifts from “me” to “we”, where one-off posts focused on me, me, me, will give way to people using social media and technology to not just link their stories but collaborate in sharing the story of our lives and society in real-time.
We saw hints of this last year in the aftermath of the attacks in Paris as millions of people around the world posted videos of themselves expressing grief, shock, outrage, and hope. In the first 24 hours following the attacks, Instagram reported more than 70 million people using the service to share their support and prayers.
What this illustrates is that we wanted these interactions to be part of the larger social story, and the mainstream media covered it that way. There were stories in The New York Times and on CNN.com that did not just report on the impact of social media but leveraged videos and photos posted to social media to support their own coverage.
The shift from me to we and the our demands to be part of the narrative will have a dramatic effect on publishers. Historically, the news media has been “just about the facts”, and their function was to aggregate and report those facts. But now consumers are now asking publishers to bring them not just the facts but the social story. Show me what others, like me, have to say, how they feel and what they’re doing about an issue. This is social video transcending “my” story and “my” view and transitioning to “our” story and “our” view.
This is a race for social discovery and relevance, and the winners will be those who can effectively and efficiently optimize engagement and monetization. I’ve put together a list of the five key ingredients every publisher or brand marketer must have in their arsenal to succeed as Internet society continues to evolve from me to we in 2016:
1. Discovery: “We” are a new age Internet society that discovers and curates content better, faster, and cheaper than any single organization, agency, publisher, or TV network. With content growing exponentially, the critical success factor is sourcing and sharing (syndicating) timely, relevant, and valued stories. But to truly achieve speed-to-value, “community curation” must go beyond link sharing. Extend your lens beyond what’s trending and leverage dynamic feedback loops to test and validate “next best” content in real time to remove the guesswork. Reddit used community voting to become the front page of the Internet. Since search is being replaced by social, the new winners of the space race for relevance will need to masterfully combine machine learning (AI) to digest the massive trove of data spinning off what we are saying and doing to improve how we discover content. The winners will always be optimizing engagement and monetization.
2. Personalization: Personalization today is lame. What’s popular is different than what’s personal. The community is not me. When I press play, make sure you put text, photos, or videos based on what you know about me (from semi-anonymous to my entire known network). Modernize your editorial, media buys, native ads, and sponsored stories — upgrade text-only articles, comments, ratings and reviews, photo galleries, and static we-all-say-the-same-thing video playlists. Surprise and delight me with “we” — e.g., don’t tell me my favorite movie of 2016 made more money, engage me with a Star Wars playlist of fan videos from around the world sharing their love for the movie franchise.
3. Collaboration: Tap into today’s connected consumers’ desire to participate in more fun, interactive, and collaborative TV commercials (Coca Cola), campaigns, contests, and events. Weave “me” into the tapestry of “we”; mashup original premium content with more authentic user-generated content. Radical inclusion is a reality. Satisfy our craving for connection and authenticity. New calls to action are required to go beyond a hashtag to join the conversation and instead facilitate mass collaboration. Everyone can play a part: fans, social influencers, content creators, curators, producers, advertisers, brands, reporters, partners, publishers, and maybe even your mom. We are more likely to play and share when we make a cameo to star in a constellation (sum of the parts).
4. Consolidation: Change the channel from broadcasting one-to-many to many-to-many, leading to many-to-one. Control and moderate the new narrative by aggregating and integrating the activity across today’s siloed and disconnected ecosystem of competing devices, browsers, apps, websites and social platforms. Best-in-class technologies like SpredFast exist to help connect the dots and build bridges. More leading social platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, and Facebook (Instagram) are opening their APIs to extend the reach of their content hand and are now awaiting your participation. We need a more connected and collaborative ecosystem to effectively evolve from me to we.
5. <Dynamic>: “We” is not static but dynamic. The best stories have no beginning or end and instead continue to get better over time. This list may be finite when this article is published, but through “me” to “we” the list can grow and the story can live on. Help me make this story better to enrich the experience for everyone. Have an idea, suggestion, or solution? Drop a comment on this page suggesting a new rule for social storytelling or upload a video to social media using hashtag #me2we and be part of the story. Let’s share our gifts for good and create in a more meaningful social story for global society.
Barry Stamos is CEO and cofounder of Videoo.