When we think about the future, most of us can say it is unpredictable. A year ago, who could have predicted [see Prowly’s predictions here] that in 2016 we would be witnessing major changes taking place on the worldwide political scene which would have great impact on everyone’s life? Actually though, if we think about politics, we can also predict some communications trends which will take the world by storm next year. Let’s focus on the following 4 factors shaping the marketing world at the moment:
Treating your audience as your best friends
Traditional brand communication involving mailing press releases to target media and waiting for their mercy to publish at least one of them is at the decline stage. People tend to pay much more attention to highly emotional, carefully crafted and personal messages which they can relate to, rather than to corporate facts and statistics-packed information. The same is expected from the media. They value real, personal stories with high emotional impact. If you can engage your readers or viewers and at the same time push them to some kind of action, there is a win-win situation both for the media and your brand. And both will be remembered. In 2017, we have noticed an emerging trend of real-time marketing which brands use to invoke interaction with their audiences and trigger social response.
Let’s look at brands such as Starbucks, which is a great example of a socially responsible company reacting to President Trump’s immigration ban by pledging to employ 10,000 refugees over the next five years. The last years have also shown that social influencers are very important when planning a communication campaign. Their opinions and relationships are usually well established within their community groups, with such a societal penetration that they can have massive impact on both brand perception and adoption. Next year, in my opinion, will change the way we tailor our communication strategies. From product or brand-oriented to customer-oriented, with your audience at heart. And with simplified stories that are going to be very emotional and much better segmented. They will be based on core values like love, friendship and sense of belonging, and include values appealing to the groups of adversaries or ethnic minorities, rapidly emerging at times of political turbulence.
Emerging visual trends
Last year we experienced a real revolution in visual communication. Since Facebook has introduced its “live” option, the video visual options are developed almost on every social platform. You can live stream on YouTube, Instagram, Periscope and Snapchat. This trend will continue to grow in 2017. In such a fast-paced environment in which we’re living, videos are the quickest way to connect and interact with your audience. But when it comes to videos, there are some limitations which most of the brands take into account when crafting their communication strategies. They are real, authentic, and almost anything can happen during live streaming. Brands may lose control over them, and that could potentially affect brand perception.
However, authentic storytelling is what most brands are going for [Click here to find out how to do it in a most comprehensive way]. So, in the not too distant future, live streaming might become as common as posting threads on Facebook or Twitter. Inasmuch as visual communication is on the rise in 2017, we will probably also see the further development of augmented reality products like the Pokemon Go app, Samsung Gear VR, humanoids such as the ones from Ex Machina, or AI software. And of course we are witnessing the popularization of 3D printing, which somehow might affect our ways of communicating as well. When it comes to images, they will probably be more realistic, rather than just greatly composed stock images which, according to top marketers, are in decline. We will probably observe the further development of free-to-use simple graphic design tools like Canva, or animation software like Powtoons which allows to create visually attractive content even for beginners.
Using big data and neuroscience to tailor brand communication strategies
We are all aware of big data engines which measure our audience’s patterns, demographics, trends, associations. Basically, anything that is related to human behavior. Using big data in tailoring communication strategies came to light due to the fact that Mr. Trump won the presidential elections in the USA, but certainly it is used more commonly, outside the political world. Increased accessibility of quantitative social trace data gives us the opportunity to better understand our target audiences and react to their preferences appropriately. In 2017, probably every brand will benefit from having access to some detailed insights, what can result in better understanding of your target audience and being able to actively respond to their preferences, needs and wants.
On the other hand, big data engines are designed and analyzed by systems operating on principals sourced by neuroscientists. Understanding how people respond to certain stimuli is very important when crafting brand communication strategy, as is paying more attention to brain functions and reactions. These are the challenges for us, communication strategists, for the next year—to combine multiple disciplines, from psychology, history and business knowledge, to biology and neurophysics.
Co-creation and gamification
It is worth to highlight these two emerging trends which have been gaining popularity in the recent years. Both of them refer to active interaction with your target audience. For years we have been thinking how to get the readers and viewers to take action, to react to our messages. As proven by scientists, the most engaging content you can create is actually asking people interested in your product to co-create the best possible version of the desired item.
Co-creation works even in the B2B world. The Internet of Things is a great example of internetworking physical devices, cars, buildings, electronics, and software, where companies collaborate to achieve the modern infrastructure of smart cities. FMCG brands also actively search for ideas within societies. There are car brands, coffee shops, cosmetic and fashion brands investing in co-creating communication strategies, which allows them to gain a lot of interest, insights, engagement and as a result great ROI. I can easily predict that co-creation will take its toll next year.
Although almost everyone has heard about gamification, this trend seems to be still at the early adopters stage. The application of point scoring, competing with the others and applying rules is relatively new in communication strategy and it is still viewed as an experiential field. However, I have a feeling that in 2017 we will see more gamification elements like challenges, goal trackers or rewards for taking action than ever before.