Is there such a thing as a social media playground?

Yes, there is. There are also other structures, protocols, and habits in life that guide and limit us subconsciously.

The playground I’m referring to is the dedicated area set aside by the authorities in which children are given a set number of structures to climb, sit in, swing on, etc.

However, while it’s great to have playgrounds, something I noticed at a recent netball break up opened my eyes to the limiting nature of these frameworks.

Do you know where they’re playing now?

I ran the barbecue for a school netball break up last term, held at Thorndon Park.

We were right next to a magnificent, modern playground.

But instead of my girls playing within the spongy-floored arena, they created their own play areas among the waterways and the river plants.

And the stories they returned with! Some I wished I hadn’t heard, like getting bogged in the marshy edge of the wetland and stumbling into some unexpected gatherings of insects and other creatures.

Then it struck me. How much of what social media agencies churn out for their clients equates to little more than swinging on a swing or spinning on a roundabout?

Take photo/video, add caption and hashtags. Publish. Rinse. Repeat.

I’ve watched businesses hire agencies that just turn on the tap of the usual combination of the usual images and Hallmark captions, and then hope that if you pepper the social channels with enough content, eventually it will make someone sneeze.

They are just playing on the standard playground equipment.

And yet, we all know that the greatest engagement often arises from the surprising, the candid, and the unexpected.

I believe in all our marketing communication endeavours, we should start playing at the edges of the playground or even move into a totally different space altogether.

This doesn’t mean we do that just because we can, nor does it mean we can’t play in the playground some of the time.

There’s adventure, surprise, and engagement awaiting beyond the social media playground

What I mean is, if we have thought deeply about why we’re creating a presence in social media, and if we’ve applied some creative thinking to our strategy and content creation, we are going to be better placed to surprise and delight our audiences and get talked about.

How many perfectly manicured Instagram photos of delicately plated food have you talked about with friends? Probably none.

How many stage managed shots of people smiling with a glass of wine on Facebook have you brought up at a dinner party? None.

But I can tell you that from the social media sharing for my podcast, The Adelaide Show, the items that get the best reach and engagement are those where the unexpected happens.

In our Caravan episode, our preview video featured me being completely unable to reverse a caravan until (with some trick photography) I ease it into place perfectly. This spoke directly to our audience for that week; people who caravan or who want to caravan.

As a side note, video is still outperforming static posts on Facebook, while Instagram is still a safe harbour for photos. As another side note, your social media does not need to dominate the news cycle, it just needs to capture the attention of YOUR target market.

So, all I am asking you to do is to lift your gaze and survey the wide world of experience out there where meaningful interaction with your audience might take place in refreshing ways.

And if you succeed in creating your own social media playground, you’ll never have to queue and wait your turn; you’ll own it!