A new era in social

Survive the Wave of Change

I went to the Ragan PR Daily Social Media Conference so you didn’t have to. If you’re thinking this was about which emoji best boosts engagement on Instagram, think again. This conference is more like a wake-up call — an enlightening, thought-provoking experience that opens your eyes to the future of digital communication. So, buckle up, because I’m here to unpack how this year’s conference blew through the typical social media noise and steered us straight into the heart of what’s really changing in our digital lives.

Embrace the Change (Because You Have No Other Choice)

Change isn't just coming; it’s already bulldozed through the walls and is making itself a coffee in your kitchen. Last year, we were all gabbing about the fancy new AI tools like ChatGPT and DALL-E that were supposed to revolutionize everything. Guess what? They did. And now, everyone’s freaking out about how to keep up.

The main takeaway from this year's conference? Change is relentless, and wearing your nostalgia goggles will only get you so far. You need to adapt fast. Sounds harsh, but it's the digital jungle out there — only the savviest survive.

Algorithms: The New Social Puppeteers

Remember when content was king? Well, now community wears the crown. Algorithms have shifted from promoting the most aggressive calls to action to fostering environments that prioritize positivity and meaningful interactions. What does this mean for you? If you’re still shouting into the void, hoping for a sale, you’re going to be very disappointed. In the wise words of Kristin Tormey, global director of social & digital engagement at Wendy's: “You need to make friends before you invite them to lunch.”

Your Brand Needs a Personality, Not Just a Logo

Tyler Paget and Mackenzie Perna, who once worked together at Red Bull, asked us: “If your brand were a person at a party, would you want to talk to it?” This year's mantra is about sounding less like a corporate robot and more like your audience's new best friend. The message is clear: engage in real conversations, offer value that benefits your followers (not just your bottom line), and capture interest quickly.

AI and the Art of Not Being a Tool

AI isn’t just some fancy tool in your arsenal — it's the new collaborator you didn’t know you needed. This isn't about using AI to spit out generic responses or content. It's about leveraging (and teaching) your AI to enhance your human creativity and intuition. Think of it as your data-savvy sidekick.

Get Real or Go Home

People don’t just want authenticity; they crave it. They want to feel like they’re interacting with real humans who understand their needs and can entertain them without always trying to sell something. Your content strategy should reflect this. Forget about making your brand the hero of every story — your customer is the star, and your job is to make them shine.

Digital Burnout: It’s Real and It’s Exhausting

Let's face it, the digital world can be as draining as it is exciting. The endless scroll, the constant barrage of content, and the pressure to be perpetually 'on' can lead to what I call 'inspiration fatigue.' You know the feeling — when everything online starts to look the same and nothing really satisfies. The conference buzzed with talks of managing this digital burnout. We discussed strategies like setting boundaries with our devices, worrying less about perfection, and remembering to engage with the world outside our screens. It's crucial to create content that resonates but also to disconnect regularly to recharge. After all, you can't draw water from an empty well.

Final Thought: Choose Wisely

This year’s conference hammered home one point above all: the choices you make in this fast-evolving digital landscape are more crucial than ever. Every platform, every post, every pixel counts. So choose wisely. Not every platform deserves your time, and not every trend needs your attention.

Remember, folks, this isn’t just about keeping up with the digital Joneses. It’s about making strategic choices that ensure your brand not only survives but thrives. So put down your phone occasionally, look around, and make sure you’re making decisions that resonate not just on a screen, but in the lives of the people you’re trying to reach.

Homework: 5 Actionable Items to Start Doing Right Now

In the whirlwind of digital evolution and endless possibilities, it’s easy to feel lost. Here are five actionable steps you can take right now to not just survive, but thrive in the ever-changing landscape of social media:

  1. Audit Your Digital Presence: Take a hard look at all your social media platforms. Which ones are actually giving you a return on your time and effort? Drop the dead weight. If a platform isn’t serving you or your audience, it’s just noise.
  2. Set Digital Boundaries: This isn’t just about reducing screen time; it’s about intentional screen time. Schedule specific times for checking social media, responding to comments, and posting content. Use the rest of your time to create or just live your life offline.
  3. Humanize Your Brand: Start crafting stories, not statements. Your audience wants to see the faces behind the brand, hear their voices, and listen to their stories. This makes your brand relatable and memorable.
  4. Leverage AI Wisely: Begin to think of AI as your creative partner. Use it to analyze data and gain insights, but also challenge it to enhance your creative outputs. Remember, AI is a tool to be directed, not a replacement for human creativity.
  5. Engage Rather Than Broadcast: Shift from a monologue to a dialogue. Social media is a two-way street; if you’re just broadcasting and not engaging with your audience, you’re missing the point. Start conversations, join discussions, and be a presence that adds value.

Logan Dehlin (duh-LEEN)

Videographer, Editor, Cat Daddy, and Content Creator at ruckus