Thursday, December 31st, 2015 | 8 min read
Social media marketers must’ve been good this year, because they just received the best holiday present ever: beautifully-packaged trend reports from the biggest social networks on the Internet.
Okay, so it’s not the new iPad Pro you’ve been asking for, but hear me out.
With these reports, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, and LinkedIn are hand-feeding us categories of content that its users rally around. This means that these reviews can help marketers better understand how people use these sites in order to focus their strategies in the year ahead.
So, what types of stories do users engage with most on each social network? Let’s take a look.
Facebook kicked off its 2015 roundup by curating the most talked-about news topics of the year. The list is sobering, especially when seen as a summary of global events from 2015. Eight of the top 10 stories dealt with heartbreaking events, such as the Greek debt crisis, the attack on Charlie Hedbo in Paris, and the Charleston shooting.
This is interesting, given Buffer’s finding that “Facebook users become less engaged when content on their feed becomes more negative.”
These stories may have been disheartening, but Facebook users found hope and inspiration through their posts. The morning after the November 13 Paris attacks, Jean Jullien published an illustration on Facebook captioned with three simple words: “Peace for Paris”. Soon after, the post had been shared over 22,000 times. Facebook also helped users show support for Paris with a photo filter of the French flag, which was said to have been used by millions of people.
Similarly, after gay marriage was legalized in the US this summer, Facebook launched a rainbow photo filter, inviting users to celebrate pride. According to CNN, the filter tool was used by 26 million people in just three days.
Twitter grew around the world in 2015; that global scale is reflected in its top stories. Seeing some overlap with Facebook, these stories included #PrayForParis, #BlackLivesMatter, #LoveWins, and #RefugeesWelcome. Unlike Facebook, however, Twitter also highlighted conversations about other internationally recognized events, including national elections across the globe, the Women’s World Cup, and #PlutoFlyBy.
Twitter’s top trends in music, TV, news, politics, and sports also feature events in various languages from different countries. For instance, Egyptian sporting club Al Ahly SC holds the number one trending hashtag in sports. And South Korean music television program, “The Show,” is the fourth top trending item in TV. These findings solidify Twitter’s position as the go-to network for breaking news from around the world.
As a social network, Tumblr is set apart by its largely creative, pop culture-literate, and witty user base. It’s the place people go to post things they wouldn’t post elsewhere, explore niche categories, and express themselves through imagery. For instance, in Tumblr’s “Year in Review” you can find lists of the top fan art, web comics, and anime & manga. You can also sift through the most reblogged ships (when people support a relationship—real or fictional), cosplay, K-Pop, and reality stars. And if you want comedy, Tumblr published a three-part series of top funny posts.
Tumblr is the only network to directly point out the work brands are doing on its platform, perhaps as a push to get more companies to join the micro-blogging site. For instance, a highlight of the top fashion brands includes Chanel, whose Makeup Call blog is filled with interactive musical and downloadable graphics. Meanwhile, the top sponsored posts feature everything from Nike’s empowering video and Converse’s trippy GIF to JCPenny’s feel-good quotes and Walmart’s mouth-watering recipes.
Tumblr is also the only platform whose “Year in Review” report is sponsored by a brand: Microsoft. The Microsoft Inspired By blog is impressive in its own right, with inspiring stories of how people are using technology to make a difference.
Here’s a bright spot in some of the sad-news darkness: Instagram’s most-used hashtag of 2015 was #Love. And who is all of that love for? Female pop stars, of course. Instagram’s top 10 posts of 2015 is exclusively taken over by them. In fact, Taylor Swift nabbed half of the spots, with the rest going to Beyoncé and the Jenners (which, by the way, would make a great band name if you could avoid the inevitable copyright suits.)
Evidently, if your audience has any crossover with Taylor’s, Instagram should be a cornerstone of your marketing strategy.
LinkedIn did things a bit differently. Instead of pulling top news stories, the site ranked its top 10 writers across eight distinct categories: technology, finance, entrepreneurship, media, education, healthcare, marketing, and leadership. The roundup also highlights the top 10 Influencers of its 500-person Influencer program.
By only focusing on writers, LinkedIn is positioning itself as a platform for content and thought leadership. In other words, it’s setting aside its identity as a professional networking platform and showcasing its potential to be a media hub.
What Burning Out Taught Me About Prioritizing My Work,” has over 160,000 views. And Kasireddy’s post, “Why I left the best job in the world,” has over 150,000 views.
To succeed on LInkedIn in 2016, marketers should similarly prioritize strong storytelling and messaging over blatant product promotion. And, if possible, they should get executives on board with publishing their own pieces.
Any marketer worth her salt will make a concerted effort to stay up on the hottest social trends of the year. These trends can be extremely valuable for understanding which types of content gain traction on each platform.
In other words, not all social networks are created equal. Each offers different content formats and attracts distinct audiences, resulting in unique user experiences.
So, with customized, curated roundups from each one, what more could a marketer ask for?
Now, I’m not saying while your friends are counting down to the new year, you should be sinking your teeth into these reports. But I wouldn’t blame you if you were. Have you seen Tumblr’s top Hotline Bling posts? They’re a deep dive into some true Internet weirdness.
About the Author: Amanda Walgrove writes about content marketing, social media, and online entertainment. She has written for Advertising Week, The Huffington Post, Tablet Magazine, and The Content Strategist, among others.