Remember when a cat playing a piano or a dress of debatable color wooed the Internet? In the not-so-distant past, going viral or just reaching a big audience simply took doing something cutesy and funny. Those days of innocence seem to be fading into the sunset and social media users are changing the rules once again.
The new trend is towards more serious, longer-format content taking the lead in links and shares. But how can we turn our backs on the carefree joy of a nerd playing with a fake Star Wars lightsaber?
Recent research that analyzed the “liking” and “sharing” of over 1 million social media articles indicates a variety of reasons online engagement is so much more difficult to consummate.
The top reason for the social media disengagement include:
1) Social media user burnout. With so much material being uploaded online every minute (Snapchat alone averages 527,000 photos added per minute), people are becoming immune to all the noise vying for their attention.
2) Individuals sharing have experienced a dramatic decline in the last two years. In fact, 50% of Facebook posts have two or less likes, shares or comments. People are becoming much more selective with what they share with their friends and fear becoming a nuisance if they post too much fluff.
3) The present environment of fake news and clickbait makes people hesitant to share anything they’re not 100% sure is real and relevant.
While these shifts in user behavior may seem like the death knoll for viral Star War cats in dresses playing pianos, it isn’t the end of engaging users.
The new winners in the sharing, linking and liking battlegrounds are providing users with useful information with a noticeable uptick in the over 1000 words category.
Information from trusted sources and high quality writing, videos and other mediums offer social media users the confidence to share within their network without the risk of negative blowback.
Naturally, some amusing memes and clever low-budget videos will occasionally reach the pinnacle of true viral-ality. But for businesses hoping to benefit from meaningful engagement, investing in quality online materials seems to be today’s new path to maximizing online social media investments.
In other words, users are looking for a much bigger commitment from you before they say “yes” to getting engaged.