In the span of 26 years, social media has transformed from a simple communication tool to a powerful marketing platform. From the early days of Six Degrees to the rise of TikTok and the introduction of Threads, brands have had to adapt to this constantly changing landscape. And as a result, so has the role of social media managers.
From content creation to community management, the responsibilities of social teams have expanded significantly. And with the popularity of video, it’s clear that entertainment is critical in your social media content strategy.
As a brand, it’s important for you to adapt to this shift and engage your audience in a more authentic and personal way.
In this article, you’ll learn how social media entertainment grew and ways you can approach it for your brand to increase your loyal customer base while staying relevant.
We also share excerpts from Sprout’s Webinar Masterclass series, where Rachel Karten, social media consultant and creator of the Link in Bio newsletter, shared her thoughts on creating clever content that resonates with your audiences.
What spawned the era of social entertainment?
Social media used to be a way to communicate directly with your community and the algorithm barely had any influence over your feeds.
So if you followed a brand on social media, you would see their posts on your feed regardless of any optimization. Today, every post is influenced by factors like format, creativity, hashtags, how people engage with it and the ever-changing algorithm. Plus, everyone is competing for attention.
As a result, social media has become just as important for building brand awareness as fostering community, and it requires authentic storytelling and curating a unique voice to stand out. It’s also become a source of entertainment, which audiences are craving more than ever.
Let’s break down how this evolution in social media entertainment came about.
The pandemic made lo-fi content a necessity
With most people locked in their homes during the pandemic, the average time US users spent on social media in 2020 climbed to 65 minutes daily—a significant jump from the previous year. This rapid increase forced marketers to ditch traditional practices and get creative with their ideas.
Enter lo-fi (low fidelity) and personality-driven content. With audiences craving authenticity and more human interaction, polished content was no longer enough. Brands like Oreo were some of the first to adopt lo-fi content and enviable creativity.
Real people and real faces are what audiences wanted while being quarantined. And brands responded with their employees and even CEOs posting stories and shooting Reels right from their phones.
Audience preferences for storytelling in marketing
More time at home and on their phones also meant audiences were wanting for more entertainment. A strong storyline, well-developed characters, conflicts and resolution are foundational elements of a compelling story. And social media content is no different. Audiences seek entertainment and you can have their undivided attention on social media, provided you beat your competitors who are vying for the same attention. You can do this with content that is eye-catching, unique and relatable.
The pandemic and earlier global changes like the rise of smartphones and even the Hollywood writer’s strike way back in 2007 that spurred today’s reality shows, changed the way audiences consume content. They’re still looking for the same elements any good story has but without the feeling that it’s contrived and fake. It’s a sign of the times.
Plus, with the Internet becoming more accessible, you can’t get away with unsubstantiated claims. As Rachel pointed out in the Masterclass, people’s tolerance for BS is at an all-time low.
The most successful brands leaned into this evolution in content consumption, adapting their strategies to tell stories that resonate with their audience.
For example, this YouTube video from Google uses storytelling to subtly highlight its features while also comparing them with a competitor in the friendliest manner.
The “TikTok effect”
Entertainment’s place in social media was solidified when TikTok arrived on the scene. TikTok initially entered the market as a social media entertainment platform and has quickly secured its position in every brand’s social media marketing strategy.
TikTok was truly a people’s app, empowering regular people to create and post authentic, short-form video content on any subject. The app’s ranking algorithms further leveled the playing field, enabling videos to appear on feeds based purely on the level of engagement it got such as views, likes and shares, giving rise to TikTok trends or “challenges”.
TikTok campaigns like the #ChipotleLidFlip challenge and the #GuacDance challenge resulted in over 250K video submissions and 430M plays in just six days. After the #GuacDance challenge, Chipotle reported over $800K sales of their guacamole on National Guacamole Day.
With its short-video format and clever positioning, TikTok took the world by storm, replacing YouTube as the most-watched app in 2021, and Netflix as the most downloaded app in 2022.
And it influenced consumer preferences as well. The 2022 Sprout Social Index ™ found that audiences prefer social content driven by brand personality. Plus, 34% prefer videos that are authentic and less produced.
3 ways to create more entertaining social content
Social media teams are effectively in-house content creators, which means you need to know the latest trends and align them with your brand values. All while ensuring you entertain your audience.
But as Rachel noted, “It’s really important you understand that social is now entertainment first.”
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to social media entertainment. This freedom gives you the chance to experiment with different content types and formats. But there are some hallmarks that can help brands adapt their voice to be entertaining.
Here are three ways you can lean into entertainment with your social content:
1. Lead with personality
Every brand has a distinct personality that sets it apart from competitors. Figure out your strengths and weaknesses, and carve out a niche for yourself. To do this, you need to:
Go beyond having a strong voice and tone
Tone and voice are crucial to every brand personality, but in a constantly changing social landscape where brands are competing for consumers’ attention, it’s necessary to go beyond the traditional route.
Take, for example, budget airline, Ryanair. With its self-deprecating humor and witty responses, the brand has become synonymous with disruptive social media marketing. Their content isn’t just another marketing asset, it engages their customers and builds a sense of community where audiences share a laugh and their adventures on the airline on social.
Put a face to your brand, and rely on creators as needed
Instead of collaborating with creators occasionally, think of them as an extension of your social team.
As Rachel shared, “I think one way to think about creators and influencers is sponsored posts, but another way is how can we bring them onto our channels and use their comedic timing and their personality on our channels.”
If your influencer budget is limited, motivate your co-workers to share some behind-the-scenes content or encourage your customers to create content with your products. It’s also a great solution if you or your social media team isn’t comfortable being on camera.
Old Navy encourages its customers to use their hashtag #OldNavyStyle on social media to share videos or photos with their products. This strategy has lead to an increase of more than 500,000 posts on Instagram and TikTok videos getting over 15.5k likes.
2. Be real
No, we’re not talking about the social platform called “Be real”—we mean be authentic.
With social media becoming so ubiquitous and audiences becoming increasingly savvy to marketing and sales tactics, brands can no longer rely on superficial content. Consumers are looking for honesty and authenticity with content that provides value and is relatable.
To strike the right authenticity chord, you need to:
Embrace lo-fi, stop showing up perfect
Not only is it cost-effective but also shows the human side of your brand while delivering higher ROI with smaller budgets. Shoot unpolished videos or capture product images from your phone and hit publish.
Fenty Beauty, with over 2.4M followers on TikTok, embraces the platform’s lo-fi content style, letting their community and products speak to the value of the brand.
Serving y’all fiyaaa unboxing content by the one & only ✨Muva @Rihanna 🤩☀️ Get into the viral #FentySummatime collection that’s been selling out fast! 😮💨⤵️ #FENTYBEAUTY site exclusive Summatime Water Bottle #POUTSICLE Hydrating Lip Stains in ‘Gem and I’ + ‘Fuchsia Wife’ #MATCHSTIX Color-Adaptive Cheek + Lip Stick in ‘Strawberry Pop’ #FENTYICON Lipstick in ‘Miss Candy Venom’, ‘Tropic Doll’ & ‘Nosy Rosy’ Snatch up these limited edition Summer gewds while you can, bestie boos!! ❤️🔥
Humanize your brand
Make your content feel like a person, not a brand. For example, BTS video from your office, factory, kitchen, etc.
“Think of creative ways to make your content feel more like a person, like a peer’s content, and not like there’s some brand kind of talking down to your audience.”
At Sprout, we often recruit employees from various teams to star in our social videos to show the people behind the brand.
3. Optimize for shareability
Social media algorithms are focusing more on discoverability, helping supply endless entertainment with creators and brands you may not follow yet. Relevancy and relatability drive people to share content.
To create such content:
Tap into specific communities
Speak directly to your audience by posting content that connects your brand to their values.
Take this Tweet from Uber Eats, as an example. They celebrated Father’s Day by sharing some jokes on their feed and subtly encouraging users to order something special for their dad. They highlighted the importance of spending quality time with loved ones while appreciating the role fathers play in our lives.
Tap into “universal truths” for your audience
People relate to universal truths the most, making them feel seen and it builds a sense of belonging. It can be content that breaks stereotypes, talks about shared experiences or just is fun.
Tap into community building with social media entertainment
Social media is an opportunity to build meaningful relationships with your customers. Harness the power of social media entertainment to connect with your audience on a deeper level and build a sense of community that fosters brand loyalty.
And with tools like Sprout that assist in developing engaging captions for social posts and capturing customer trends from social listening, opportunities to transform your brand strategy for maximum impact are limitless.
Watch the Masterclass webinar with Rachael Karten to learn more about creating meaningful content that entertains and engages your audiences in a real, authentic way.
Frequently asked questions
1. How does social media impact entertainment?
Social media has changed how audiences consume content by becoming entertainment platforms. It’s no longer just about connecting with family and friends. Short-form video platforms like TikTok and traditional social networks like Facebook and Instagram have opened up new doors by optimizing their algorithms for discovery and engagement and creating an endless scroll of entertaining content.
2. How has social media changed entertainment marketing?
Social media has lead to a rising boom in content creators developing user-generated content that is entertaining, authentic and monetized. These influencers have become just as influential as celebrities and enabled brands to optimize marketing budgets to reach wider audiences and build deeper connections with customers.