Entertainment, Community and Social Media

Entertainment, Community and Social Media

I’ve been reading A LOT lately about how the role of social media has changed. Where it used to be a free place to gather community, that’s apparently not the right approach anymore. The correct approach lies somewhere in the entertainment sphere, according to so many blog posts. Long live entertainment and death to community.

While parts of that are true, those parts have been happening for years and years.

Remember gamification? Do you think storytelling is not entertaining?

Entertainment in different forms as been the forefront of most social media strategies for a long time. The only thing that has changed is that there are more tools to work with and the entertainment is becoming more complex because of those tools.

And community is also still a part of all of this as well, but it has changed in a more profound way. The days of blasting at them and hoping for interactions are long gone in favor of something more meaningful. Something closer to one-on-one connection. And definitely something that puts their needs in a starring role.

But thankfully, this can all fit together. You can provide entertainment and still gather community. So let’s take a look at a couple of examples and see how this works.

“The cow is wearing a cape.”

Even though I don’t post often, I’m a Threads addict. It’s not quite old Twitter, but it’s close enough that it gives me some of those same warm and fuzzy feelings.

One of my favorite parts of it is the unhinged Beyond Meat account. It’s entertaining because it is the exact opposite of what you’d expect from a brand trying to get you to buy their product. At this point, the names of the products are a part of a joke, as the mythical social media manager slips clunky mentions of them into posts from time to time.

What this account is getting right more than anything is knowing their audience. The first people on Threads were social media managers, who were trying to figure out what exactly it was and what their brands should be posting there. Beyond Meat saw this and created content specifically for this audience. That just makes my heart pitter patter.

But the thing is that they created such a great character for this audience that we all started seeing them as our antihero, posting things we wish we could have with a tone we wish we could use. Brands are falling over themselves to copy this style and it’s not nearly as successful. Mostly because the first is usually the only one that gets the strategy behind it and that’s certainly true in this case.

And wouldn’t you know, it works for community building as well. There are particular bits of content that are definitely jokes that go to the heart of frustrations so many social media managers experience. I’ve been known to forward the heck out of these to those who also work in the field. At first, the response to these forwards was, “Is this really happening?” Then it went to, “God I love when you share these.” And finally, “Yes, Betsy, I followed them awhile ago. You can stop sending these every hour.”

They have effectively turned me into a brand ambassador who is community building for them from my already established community simply by creating entertaining content with a bigger than life persona attached to it. It’s a new kind of community building, but it’s even more effective than previous iterations of the activity. I would defend that little cow with a cape just because it has created such great content that I can share with my communities, and I know many others who would as well.

“I could do that.”

This next example needs to be prefaced with the fact that I am a person with very little artistic talent when it comes to painting, but my partner is a super talented illustrator so I have access to a ridiculous amount of art supplies for someone who has no idea how to use them.

Enter Andrea Nelson.

I follow her religiously and keep thinking, “I could do that.” There is just something about her encouraging words and simple style that keeps me thinking I’m better at art than I actually am. I’m a very cheap person, and this is the closest I’ve ever come to supporting someone’s Patreon. And I keep staring at her classes. The entertainment (and possibly delusion) she supplies is very, very enticing.

Why has she turned my very cheap head?

In videos that are less than a minute, she teaches me how to create things that look impressive. In fact, I’ve done two of her projects with my daughter and they’re actually pieces of art that we’re very proud of. I was so proud that I took pictures and told my mom friends that they needed to do the same thing.

Whereas Beyond Meat created a persona, Andrea is just herself and leans heavily into that. It’s a personality that really resonates with a whole generation of people who were regularly told they weren’t good enough. Andrea is gentle parenting us in the way we are trying to gentle parent our children (except whole lot more successfully). We are getting what we wish we had as children. What we do and who we are is good enough in this world. That is satisfying on a whole other level.

And as we internalize these feelings and create things, we want to share these feelings with our communities. And our pride makes us want to show them what we’re creating. It’s honestly beautiful and something a more traditional brand could definitely do as well. Once again, the community building is in the one-to-one connection she creates by making us feel seen. And fans then tap into their already existing communities to spread that feeling, so they look like a hero. It’s a win-win for brands and fans.

Don’t believe anyone who says community is dead in social media. The entrance to it may be more in the realm of one-to-one, but it’s still there, just transformed. Understanding your audience and giving them what they need to look like a star in their own communities is so simple and yet still so effective. Don’t lose this part of social media in pursuit of cheap entertainment that doesn’t necessarily further your brand objectives. Go for the long-term success of marrying your entertainment with community.

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