Relevance boils down to a brand’s ability to connect with consumers. It’s a reflection of how closely they’ve been paying attention to their concerns, how genuine their relationship is and how they’ve been embracing culture. For all kinds of brands, being familiar with what their audience cares about and the values they hold dear is one of the greatest determinants of success.
On occasion, people’s particular interests grow into communities, and these communities evolve into subcultures. These subcultures come with beliefs, codes and languages that challenge the status quo and stoke the fire of societal change. But how do brands participate in this cultural transformation, and how can they authentically engage with them to resonate with society?
In the second edition of Social Bites, a series of quick explorations on various social media themes, the Social Innovation Lab delves into subcultures and how they can be woven into brands’ overall social marketing strategy. You can find the issue of Social bites here, along with some of our key findings below.
While subcultures tend to begin in niche communities, they are quickly bleeding into the mainstream in society’s constant pursuit of novelty. The younger generation in particular is very welcoming of new ways of being, as they are more open to new identities and values that can help shape their own.
Subcultures often break into the mainstream by permeating fashion, aesthetics and entertainment. Drag culture is a great example of this. With ideals of diversity and inclusivity, its values transcended marginalization and paved the way for a new era of fluid identities and entertainment—think RuPaul’s Drag Race and innovative beauty tutorials. In connecting with those subcultures, brands need to look at the values and ideals that come with it, as they offer a glimpse of shifts in societal values and cultural concerns. The goal is not to appropriate these subcultures; it’s supporting their ideals with authenticity.
Powering Communities in Social Media
Today, subcultures are born in social media and powered by it. Reddit, TikTok, Instagram and Tumblr play a fundamental role in community building, as they provide the digital spaces for people to connect with others. On these platforms, a subculture may even merge with another and form hybrid communities—a phenomenon prompted by the accelerated trends of the hyper-connected digital world and the app algorithms that connect the two with the same audience.
For brands, this serves as a guide on how communities are built and how novelty leads to excitement. While weaving these learnings into their cultural strategy, it’s important to remember that it’s not about trying to predict what subcultures will emerge; rather, it’s about cultivating them by being an active participant in today’s cultural scene.
Achieving Social Cultural Insertion
To become a valuable player in social culture, brands need to acutely read their audience. The rise of a subculture on social media can be fast, so there’s no time to waste in becoming fluent in upcoming trends. The latest Social Bites report includes information on how brands can identify the rituals, habits and overall feel of a subculture to build a stronger cultural strategy that authentically supports those at the bleeding edge of culture. In this era of hyper-connectivity, brands can expect countless benefits from adapting fast to the evolving culture, as long as they approach their audience with transparency and purpose.
Looking for more social media insights? Tune into our weekly Social Innovation Lab podcast to hear from the brightest minds in social and learn how to create winning social media campaigns. Check out the latest episodes of the Social Innovation Lab podcast.
Make our digital heart beat faster
Get our newsletter with inspiration on the latest trends, projects and much more.