Hamilton Zwane, content copywriter at Grey Africa, gives insight into how the South African youth are using social media, what’s changed in their usage during Covid-19, and what should be trending in the near future.

Hamilton Zwane, content copywriter at Grey Africa.

Three latest social media trends

Social media trends change quite regularly, but that is the nature of social, to constantly change things up, right? What comes to mind is the increase in content creators (especially among the youth). We’re living in times where, if your profile doesn’t say ‘content creator’, then what are you even doing on social media?

I also like a good story, and Instagram and Facebook Stories are not slowing down. They are becoming more interactive and engaging – Facebook Stories boast approximately 500 million users daily. 

Then there is video – we know that video content is king. There is a growing trend among South African brands to use TikTok to execute great video content. 

Brands appealing to a youth audience in the new normal

Brands need to create a content strategy with the consumer in mind. And, because the youth are quite savvy and often named ‘the creators’ themselves, customer-centric content is more appealing. In the same breath, advocating for user-generated content is also a great step.

In addition, it’s important that brands rethink which platform they spend most of their time on. We’ve often heard the phrase: less is more. I’m not saying that brands should only have a social media presence on one platform, but do an audit to see where your target market spends most of their time and go hard there. Let’s take, for instance, Nando’s on Twitter, Savanna Cider on Facebook and Twitter, and Chipotle on Twitter and TikTok. 

Facebook is the most used platform globally. Instagram, apart from being a vanity contest, is also great for creators, and Twitter is good because you hold all the power through that keypad on the cell phone in your hand. TikTok is booming.

Social media’s impact on brands during Covid-19 

Since the unprecedented lockdown efforts government made to try and manage the Covid-19 situation, social media has seen an increase in usage, and it has become an essential tool for people to connect. Yet although there has been an increase in online engagements, right now context is everything. The youth know which brands they look to for a particular takeout, whether it’s humour, or the way the brand lends a helping hand, or just being that smile-giver we all need right now. Context is everything. 

Examples of great social campaigns 

The best social media campaigns are the tactical ones or that received organic traction through a good #Hashtag. The Savanna Cider’s Virtual Comedy Bar is great because they are giving comedians a platform during the lockdown and hosting a virtual stand-up comedy show, and it works!

Burger King France is making fun of Maurizio Cattelan’s $120,000 banana, in a campaign called ‘careful what you swallow’, where they show the world’s most expensive fruit compared to one of their fries. It’s simple, but so clever. 

The future of social media and new trends after the pandemic 

The youth are looking for a brand they can relate to. So, instead of going online to consume branded content, they want to feel like they are part of a brand’s story.

For example, Chipotle on TikTok is establishing a real personality by showing their audience what happens behind the scenes in-store in a fun and humorous way. In essence: give the people what they want. Consumers will respond better when the content does not feel like it’s ‘branded push-messaging’.

There is a clear indication of smaller communities engaging with each other online. Take the #Over30 on TikTok, for example. I believe that South Africans are light-hearted, and we don’t necessarily take ourselves too seriously – we like having a laugh at our own expense and finding the humour and fun in most things. That’s why people’s social feeds are curated with niche interests.

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