Social-savvy creators know how to talk to their online audiences in an authentic, engaging way. As major social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook introduce one-to-many messaging tools like broadcast channels and “click to message” ads, creators are taking advantage of these features as a way to build stronger relationships with their followers. Can brands follow in their footsteps?
Digital media marketing expert Lia Haberman is well-versed in the way today’s consumers connect with each other, as well as creators and brands. Lia uses her impact as a teacher, brand advisor, and online thought leader to educate the marketing community on innovative strategies and social media platform news.
Emplifi chatted with Lia about the rise of private communities, how creators are already leveraging them, and how brands should approach these growing spaces.
We’d love to get to know you! Tell me a bit about yourself, your background in marketing/social, and your current role.
I consider myself a futurist who likes to look at a mix of data and anecdotal evidence to predict where online audiences are going, and how brands and creators are going to reach them. My career has depended on being one step ahead of technology and culture. I chose the web over print, social media over traditional storytelling, and influencers over business-as-usual marketing. I continue to evolve and pivot as I go.
From 9 to 5, I’m a consultant for enterprise companies helping them with integrated marketing strategies to make sure they’re innovating at the highest level. I also teach influencer marketing and social media marketing at UCLA Extension. During my spare time, I write a newsletter called ICYMI to help social media marketers, entrepreneurial creators, and anyone whose business depends on making sense of platform updates and social trends.
Many major social platforms have introduced one-to-many private messaging features, like Instagram’s Broadcast Channels. Why do you think this is, and what is your opinion on this shift?
Broadcast channels are an extension of the brand-safe shift we saw on YouTube a few years ago. Platforms don’t want to provide a space for misinformation and disinformation, and their biggest clients (brands) aren’t interested in policing questionable or inappropriate responses to their social posts. Being able to release your carefully crafted message in a controlled environment can be incredibly appealing for brands.
The issue is, social media was established on the foundation of a two-way dialogue. App users expect to be able to engage in conversation. It’s part of the basic principles of social media: connection, communication, and self-expression. From a brand perspective, broadcast channels seem incredibly appealing in being able to control the message and the environment, but it may be too late to go back to a one-to-many model. The average person online is unlikely to opt in for a promotional stream of brand messages.
It seems like creators are the first to successfully adopt features like this. How have you noticed private messaging impacting the creator economy?
Creators are ideally suited for broadcast channels because they’re uniquely positioned to create the type of content people want to see. We know content from creator partnerships performs better than business-as-usual content, which is why so many brands are leveraging creators to produce raw, unpolished content that delivers strong entertainment value for their owned and operated channels.
Audiences want to hear from and connect with other people just like them, so they’re more receptive to a relatable creator sharing personalized updates on a broadcast channel than they are to a brand’s messaging.
How do you think brands can use private communities and take tips from creators to build affinity and ultimately drive revenue?
Brands must embrace an audience-first mentality. Right now, that skews toward entertainment-focused content. Historically, brand messaging interrupted the content audiences wanted to watch, with traditional ads. Now, there’s a disruptive opportunity for brands to create the programming people actively tune in to watch. Rather than merely sponsoring content, leverage the power of storytelling and your brand’s audience insights to craft series and specials that resonate with your audience. This strategic approach resonates on your public social channels or in your private communities, but they have to deliver value to the audience.
What trends do you expect to see in 2024 around social media, regarding the growing role of messaging and beyond?
Marketers are going to be very busy chasing communities across platforms and delivery formats, from social networks to broadcast channels, texts, and DMs. AI will likely play a valuable role in making this messaging-at-scale strategy manageable. Even so, is it sustainable or desirable? It’s human nature to connect and converse with others.
It’ll be interesting to watch what new technologies are able to emerge and create virtual town squares that bring us all back together for a collective experience. It’s reminiscent of what we used to have on social media and even before that with appointment television, where everyone you knew was tuned in and watching at the same time and then gathering around the office water cooler to discuss.