Socialcation: Learning to Vacation and Share Better (and maybe make brand campaigns better)
Vacation! A time for recharging batteries, new adventures, and telling everyone how you’re recharging batteries and going on adventures. But what’s the best way to personally use social channels – and what can observed behaviors and choices tell us about what people really want, not just from us personally, but even from their beloved followed brands?
I’ve experimented with various ways of cataloguing trips before, both for personal reasons of remembering as well as trying out new and different ways of storytelling. (This has included early forbearers to geolocation like Brightkite, Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.) Most of the time what I’ve tried to do is pair the want to share at end-of-element intervals (basically, “as you go”) with larger, “album” style sharing. I should note in all cases I’m NOT talking about live-streaming or constant posting. I realize some people might be into this, but I’m talking life-casting light and I refuse to interrupt my experience or the need for actual downtime. More than anything what I’m referring to here is balancing a way to talk about our trip while we’re on it as well as creating an archive for revisiting the trip easily (what’s good for showing off isn’t always great for memory-archiving).
With all that in mind, on this trip I set two firm rules for myself: 1) I would pick an app, Instagram, to post more daily (and MAYBE multiple times a day, a couple at best); 2) I would post a larger anthology of photos every two days, or every two major activities on Facebook in the same album. These rules did a few things for me: for family wanting to follow the grandaughter’s adventures it allowed me to say, “For day to day, watch us on Instagram,” but also let me regulate and set the expectation that I was not going be posting every hour; it let me more naturally build the complete album of our adventures on Facebook – which can be tricky because if I wait until the end of the trip I find I don’t post as many photos, which I regret in later months or years when I’m browsing and revisiting the album. This also means I’m not competing with myself on Facebook with my every-couple-days’ posts the way I would if I was using that platform for constant posting. Lastly, it just doesn’t annoy everyone as much, doing anthology postings there. I deliberately did NOT use Facebook Stories, largely because I find them a bit pushy into people’s experiences and I wanted the Facebook version of our trip to be a clean, infrequent but meaty update – not a staccato, rapid-fire series of posts.
Now, it may sound like I’m overthinking all of this, but it’s actually just a light consideration at the front end that helps make it a pleasant, noninvasive experience for everyone involved both now and how my content impacts us in the future – and actually says volumes about how we consume content and can provide lessons for brand pages. It meant I had to have some self-control in not sharing some things, such as a few photos after our hike to Devil’s Bridge. It was awesome, but posting a glut of photos after every cool thing is not the best use of the channel, viewer’s time, or the channel itself. I wish many brands I love had such self-control themselves. It IS about less is more, but I did share those photos on Instagram, a more apt and more appropriate app for that kind of impulse.
Tactically, one also has to consider what you’re fundamentally allowed to do with various apps – on mobile, desktop, etc. Some restrictions are deliberate (consider that I can’t easily write a blog like this one on LinkedIn as an “article” – they want you to visit the desktop site for that), while others are more to funnel use in a certain way. Instagram has beefed up its desktop abilities, but it’s still basically meant to be a mobile-only app. Facebook has improved its mobile photo experience (notably allowing even a general post to tuck associated photos into a specific album), and while for this trip I posted via mobile, I’d visit the desktop album to craft specific photo captions for posterity.
Grouping anthology posts into every two days worked wonderfully in also not creating too many touch points that I received notifications or comments from. It created a tighter, more impactful garden that needed less tending (or more beneficially, the expectation of tending). This also worked well for audiences spread out over various time zones, who could view and interact with larger album entries at their own pace every 48 hours or so, rather than a spam-barrage that may get lost in feeds and create competition among your own content, even if you were feeding into a single album. Last but not least, it means returning to forums to share tips or thank those who provided them to you can result in sharing specific links to Instagram posts for a single event (which Instagram URL’s are great for), or showcasing your larger album.
All in all the experience worked well and showcases how brands can use the same kind of behavioral thinking in planning coverage of their own campaigns, events, and more. A little thoughtfulness and consideration of your audience and your needs can go a long way in creating smarter, more impactful content that attracts rather than repels.
– Dean Browell, PhD
EVP and Co-Founder