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YouTube Publishes New Guide to Rising Aesthetic Trends, and How to Understand Niche Interests

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Do you understand the rising interest in ‘Cottagecore’, or the growth of ‘Bardcore’ subcultures online?

Even if you’ve heard of these niches, you likely don’t have a full understanding of what they mean, and the context from which they’ve emerged, which is where YouTube’s latest culture and trends report comes in. In collaboration with visual storytelling studio Polygraph, YouTube has created a new, interactive report into aesthetic trends, and how YouTubers, specifically, engage with such content.

As explained by YouTube:

“While identity-seeking is one of the core pursuits of any youth culture, for Gen Z, identity is a journey, not a destination. This generation has grown up creating their identities for online spaces, where identity is transient by design. YouTube is an ideal platform for people to learn how to adopt and adapt aesthetics they’re interested in.”

The report outlines six key aesthetic trends, including the aforementioned Cottagecore and Bardcore, along with ‘Dark Academia’, ‘Dreamcore’, ‘Royaltycore’ and ‘Y2K’.

YouTube Aesthetics report

Each trend also includes links to relevant YouTube clips, along with a brief explanation of the trend.

For example:

Y2K is an aesthetic based on the look of the late 1990s and early 2000s, a time where the internet was clunky and raw, but most of all, could be turned off. The post-millennium look has many iterations that range from boy-band fangirl inspired looks to Paris Hilton-era Juicy tracksuits.”

I did not know this – and for those too old to still be in the loop on the latest trends, like myself, it could be a good way to catch up on some of these rising interests, and get a better understanding of where they’ve come from.

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The report also includes an overview of the growth of aesthetic guides on YouTube, which provide insight into how to engage with each trend.

YouTube Aesthetics report

While there’s also more specific insight into the relative elements of interest in each trend, based on the video clips aligned with the genre.

YouTube Aesthetics report

As noted, it could be a helpful way to improve your own personal understanding of these rising interest areas, while for brands, it might also be useful as a research tool in understanding where different audience types are engaging, and the types of content they’re responding to.

If you were looking to align with the Cottagecore trend, for example, with flowing dresses and lace, you could use this guide to get a more in-depth understanding of that interest, before diving in (and potentially misstepping).

It’s interesting, either way, and it may have specific value, dependent on your aims.

You can check out YouTube’s “Rise of Aesthetics” interactive report here.

Socialmediatoday.com

SOCIAL

Does Posting Memes on Social Help to Increase Traffic to Your Website? [Study]

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Does Posting Memes on Social Help to Increase Traffic to Your Website? [Study]

Does posting memes help to increase traffic to your website?

This is a key question, which really relates to all kinds of engaging social media posts – because while these types of trending updates very clearly garner Likes and comments, do they actually benefit the stats that really matter to your business?

I mean, Likes and followers are great, but what you need is conversions, relative to what that means for your business. For SMT, we’re working to get as many people to read our posts as possible, and as you’ve likely noticed, we’ve recently been trying out memes as a way to boost engagement, and see what that gets us in this respect.

So what have we found? Here’s a quick overview of the initial results of our meme experiment.

First, a quick bit of background…

We’re always looking to try new things, and test out the latest trends and processes, and not just because it might help us generate more traffic and build community, but also, because that’s what we write about. If we’re going to write about it, we need to know and understand it as much as possible, in order to ensure that what we’re communicating is correct, and makes sense for our audience.

In this respect, we’re always testing new approaches, apps, tools, etc.

In terms of posting, last year, we tried out polls on Twitter and LinkedIn, and question posts on Facebook, to see if they would help drive more engagement. And they definitely did – these types of audience-prompting updates garnered a heap of Likes and comments. But when we cross-checked this against Google Analytics tracking, we didn’t see a big uptick in sessions or users visiting the site.

That’s not to say that these aren’t valuable, but they weren’t shifting the needle in any significant way on our key metrics. At the same time, too many polls can get annoying. In our experience, they’re an interesting tool to use, in moderation, but not a massive driver of our ultimate aims.

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Yet, at the same time, our social traffic, like all platforms, tends to have ups and downs – and in a down period this year, we decided to try something new to freshen up the feed and give our audience something else to engage with, and maybe lighten the mood a little at the same time.

Enter memes

The inspiration in this instance came from SEMRush, who’ve also tested out memes as a means to boost engagement, and build community.

SEMRush’s experience saw them significantly increase their social engagement by posting timely, on-trend, niche memes. So we thought we’d give it a try, to see if that helps drive more interest in our articles.

The first step, of course, is creating relevant, engaging memes. Which is not always easy. Many of our memes never made it out of test phase, with some clearly failing when viewed in the templates.

Some that we’ve posted also haven’t connected in the way that we’d hoped.

But this is the game – if you’re going to post memes, you’re going to have hits and duds, and you just have to live with it. I imagine it’s the same as a comedian, some of the jokes work, some don’t. But ideally, more of them get a laugh than not.

Which, luckily, our memes have.

On average, the memes that we’ve posted are generating around 135 Likes on Facebook, which has helped them generate significantly more reach than our average post, while they’re also performing strong on both Twitter and LinkedIn.

And they’re fun. The way I view them is like the comic section of the traditional newspaper, a light-hearted moment between the news updates and informational elements.

The increased engagement obviously has some benefits in boosting algorithmic reach (if people engage with one of your posts, the algorithm is more likely to show them more), as well as building community around the SMT brand. But the key question is – ‘do they actually get more people clicking through to the site?’

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Results

In our case, when comparing our overall social media performance against the previous 3 months before we started posting memes, we’ve seen a 12% increase in sessions from social, and a 16% increase in users.

That’s not a massive shift, but when you’re working with the ebbs and flows of referral traffic, as well as changes in analytics due to shifting data regulations, any increase is positive, and a double-digit jump is definitely worth the effort.

This is only around a month of data, so it’s not definitive, and there are also other factors to consider that could influence the results. But the numbers, thus far, suggest that it is worth sticking with – and as noted, it’s fun too, adding a little more relatability to our presence, as opposed just the latest news.

A few other notes:

  • Some commenters are going to take your memes literally, no matter it is that you post. There’ll always be a couple of comments like ‘well, actually, the reality is that…’ Yes. We know. These are not meant to be literal, they’re a moment of light-heartedness in amongst our regular, marketing strategy-focused news updates.
  • We’ve found that more general memes work better than trending ones. A couple of memes where we’ve tried to tap into news events, like the changes to Twitter verification, haven’t done as well as jokes about more common social media marketing experiences. This also, of course, relates to the memes themselves, and whether they’re actually funny, but in several examples, trending topics haven’t been as big a hit.
  • Every meme is a bit of a risk. You’re trying to find commonalities with your audience, and some things that you might think are common might not resonate. You need to know your niche, and know your community, which takes some experimentation – and a lot of research (I’ve been writing about social media trends for eight years)
  • One guy on LinkedIn keeps saying that he’s envious that we’re able to get these memes approved by management. For those that don’t know, SMT is an editorial team of two (2) people. Approval, in this sense, isn’t exactly a barrier.
  • Does it take a long time to come up with them? Not really. We usually do them in batches or around 10 at a time, then schedule them out on different days/times across FB, Twitter and LinkedIn. We can make 10 or so in, maybe, a couple of hours, once every week and a half or so. Not a major commitment.
  • We’re currently scheduling around one meme a day on each platform, again, taking that newspaper comic approach. Maybe we miss a day here and there, but that’s the general aim, as something to keep that engagement flowing, and keep the entertainment value up.
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Look, it’s not necessarily a walk in the park to keep coming up with funny memes – and it may be that we run out of ideas at some stage and suddenly it becomes a lot more difficult. It’s also not for everyone. Coming up with a (relatively) clever joke that fits a meme template doesn’t always come easy, and there are days when you just don’t have it, no matter how hard you stare at the screen.

But for a minor time commitment, it does seem, at least at this stage, like this may be a good way to help engage your audience, which can also drive direct traffic benefits.

We’ll post another overview of our meme experience three months in.

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