2017 has started off with a bang with dramatic weather events, an increasingly heated political climate going into election year, major international relations crises, equality movements, and continued concern about where our planet is headed. We have a lot to talk about – but is this reflected in the conversations we’re having on social media?
Zavy analysed thousands of social media conversations during the first half of 2017 to understand what Kiwis are actually talking about across our most used social platforms, and the results are fascinating.
Bearing in mind our disrupted world and global issues, it may be a surprise to hear that our social media conversations are dominated by banal, everyday topics. We love talking about public holidays, food, relationships, travel, and geographic locations.
We appear to be obsessed with people, places and holidays. These are the things that bring us together and create a sense of unity, so it’s no wonder they make up the majority of our conversations as the world we live in gets increasingly disrupted. It is actually reassuring to know that underlying the surface commotion, our basic human drivers and needs remain the same. We seek genuine connections, reasons to celebrate, and close relationships. As ever, emotions dominate our lives.
Love, gratitude, family, friendship, siblings and happiness are amongst our most frequent conversation topics, alongside holidays that we typically spend with our loved ones – Christmas, New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day. Human connections bring a level of fulfilment that is difficult to recreate. As technology becomes essential to how we live our daily lives, it can be difficult to hold onto these connections – we’ve seen a real conflict emerge as people attempt to navigate relationships and authentic interactions in the digital world. The prevalence of these topics in our conversations suggests that those fluffy, feel-good associations aren’t leaving Kiwi’s lives anytime soon.
While emotions and relationships make up the major chunk of our conversation, they aren’t the only things we talk about. Politics prevails to some extent. However, Kiwis don’t seem particularly concerned with what’s happening in our own patch – most of our political chatter is about Donald Trump. The fact that Trump’s presidential election is part of a larger audacious change movement has not passed us by. However, while the international media is driving conversations around transparency, anti-establishment politics, equality and sustainability, there is not much evidence of these deeper conversations emerging in New Zealand. It will be interesting to see how these conversations play out in our New Zealand’s parliamentary elections later in the year.
So what does all of this mean for marketers? When we think about the dominance of emotions and human connection in our social media conversation, it becomes clear that brands must tap into the human drivers that influence our behaviour. We know that emotions are the single biggest driver of behaviour – they influence every element of our cognitive processes, including our choices, decisions and associations. Brands are starting to get the hang of targeting emotions in more traditional media, but often social media strategies don’t have the same care applied. The challenge for organisations is to understand how they can use their social media presence to link their content with an emotional response. Organisations must move beyond measuring mentions, likes and followers and drill down into a scorecard of brand effectiveness on social. With analytical tools like Zavy we can monitor and evolve strategies to make sure the brand is hitting the mark with their content.
If we’re targeting emotions, authenticity becomes key. Social remains a channel that consumers resist seeing blatant advertising, especially if it is disguised as genuine content – if someone chooses to follow a brand page, they expect to see posts that are interesting and will add value to their lives. Social media marketing has moved beyond poorly disguised advertising content. For a brand, being able to communicate unique and engaging stories around craft, sustainability, and experiences – in an authentic way – is the key to becoming part of the conversation.
Zavy’s deep dive analysis shows that, despite recent world events and global uncertainty, New Zealanders’ conversations on social media remain mundane. And while the conversation is varied, what remains constant is the dominance of emotions and genuine human connection – and it is this that holds the greatest potential for brands looking to capitalise on social media.
David Bowes is CEO of social media analytics company Zavy.