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UNDERSTAND IT
UNDERSTAND IT

It wasn’t so long ago that social and digital were being held accountable for the death of traditional media behaviours. On-demand streaming would pave the way for a world without synchronised viewing, while social would democratise commentary around major media moments, putting an end to cultural gatekeeping.


But these old media tropes haven’t become redundant: they’ve just been reimagined (and in some cases, replatformed). Fortnite’s wildly successful events programme is evidence that broadcast entertainment is as compelling as ever, while live events in TikTok and on Twitch continue to draw audiences of millions.


Meanwhile, people are increasingly engaging with social entertainment over other formats: a study commissioned by TikTok claims that since downloading the app, 35% of users say they’ve watched less TV and streaming services. As a result, made-for-social formats are starting to emerge: while Scattered is a made-for-TikTok series hailing from Australia, French Netflix show Lama’scarade is an IGTV series (4x 4-minute episodes), for which followers voted on characters and narratives via Stories.


More now than ever, social is the first screen, home to a whole new type of social-first media consumption.


While the consensus is that the infrastructure, process and behaviour that are required to formally learn or train online are not quite ready, there’s a sense that informal learning in the feed can equip us with practical tools we’re not always able to get from conventional education systems. Out of the ashes of the pandemic, people have experienced small wins in everyday life that are pushing a new kind of in-feed education.


While the consensus is that the infrastructure, process and behaviour that are required to formally learn or train online are not quite ready, there’s a sense that informal learning in the feed can equip us with practical tools we’re not always able to get from conventional education systems. Out of the ashes of the pandemic, people have experienced small wins in everyday life that are pushing a new kind of in-feed education.


This isn’t just about social-first formats, though: it’s about how social is influencing traditional media. Social commentary has long been important: it’s how the term ‘second screening’ was born. But the commentators – and the platforms they’re on – have more influence than ever.


On the one hand, they’re now dictating what people watch: it’s doubtful Squid Game would have become Netflix’s biggest success to date without the inescapable meme cycle that’s shrouded it. But the creators around these moments are increasingly being invited into traditional media moments from the offset. When people watched Anna Wintour arrive at the 2021 MET Gala, many rejected E! Entertainment’s usual commentary in favour of the Instagram Stories of famed memer @sainthoax.

This is a more democratic form of entertainment, where what people watch and who gets to commentate on it are elected by likes and follows.

%

of TikTok users say they’ve watched less TV and streaming services since downloading the app

(TikTok, 2021)

PRIME TIME PLATFORMS
WHAT’S DRIVING IT?
WHAT’S DRIVING IT?
YouTuber Ziwe now has her own late night variety show on Showtime.
IN CULTURE
Social creativity on mainstream platforms. The ubiquity of social stars – from the D’Amelios to Sarah Cooper to Ziwe – has hammered home the power of social to influence traditional media and drive it forwards.
The most popular social app is a video app
The most popular social app is a video app
ON PLATFORMS
Video-first. Of course, social video has been here for a while. But the mainstreaming of TikTok and Twitch has pulled social video to the fore, while live content has made unmissable social content more commonplace
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THE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE

THE BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE

LANDMARK ENTERTAINMENT MOMENTS ARE HAPPENING IN-FEED

From The Weeknd’s live performance in TikTok to Elon Musk’s room limit-breaking Clubhouse event, unmissable high profile events are happening in the spaces we scroll through on a daily basis. Roblox, for instance, recently launched listening parties for artists to debut albums to fans as part of an in-platform event.


US musician I’m Poppy debuted her latest album ‘Flux’ in Roblox.

SOCIAL COMMENTARY IS TAKING CENTRE STAGE
Social commentary is taking centre stage. In July 2021, Black creators on TikTok went on strike, refusing to create a dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s ‘Thot Shit’. The strike – which was called in response to censorship of Black creators – was to raise awareness of the impact Black creators have on TikTok’s culture and success. But when no viral dance was created as a result, it also shone a light on the prevalence and importance of TikTok dancing in driving a new track’s success.
@wildnkrazykid

#blacktictok #wildnkrazykid #blacktiktokcommunity #blacktiktokstrike

♬ Who Want Smoke? - Nardo Wick
Black TikTokers recently went on strike, highlighting the significance of dance trends, and the importance of crediting creators fairly.

SOCIALLY-LED STORYTELLING
Immersive, socially-led storytelling formats are being sprung from gaming channels. On platforms like Twitch and YouTube, there’s a growing trend towards watching multiplayer ‘roleplay servers’. The most famous is the Dream SMP, which is a Minecraft server. Think of it as a virtual soap opera: here, 34 famous YouTulivestreamingbers all role play as characters in an epic and multi-layered story that viewers can watch from any one of their perspectives.
YouTube calls out the Dream SMP as ‘an epic for the modern era’.
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USE IT

USE IT
We’re seeing a shift from social as a supplement to mass media to social as a vehicle for mass media engagement. Social platforms have become entertainment hubs in their own right, and communities are the ones holding the mic.
Love Island isn’t recognising the power of its commentators.
Brands should collaborate with commentators for clout. Love Island has recently come under fire for not working closely enough with its commentators on Black British Twitter. The show increasingly plays second fiddle to the Twitter commentary – while the show’s ratings continue to slow, Twitter engagement is soaring – but it isn’t giving its key amplifiers a platform, and as a result, it’s hurting the brand.
On Marbella Vice – a virtual soap opera played out in Grand Theft Auto, which streams on Twitch – Colonel Sanders drives a white stretch hummer.
Brands can show up in social-first entertainment spaces. On Marbella Vice – one of Spain’s most famous multiplayer roleplay servers, hosted on Grand Theft Auto V and populated by a number of famous Spanish footballers and influencers – KFC Spain landed Colonel Sanders a supporting role.