Following on from part one, our digital and comms experts continue to share their top predictions from 2019.
User-generated content will increase and evolve
Studies shows that consumers trust user-generated content 50% more than content pushed by brands. Alongside this, technologies such as augmented reality (AR), mixed or virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way consumers interact and engage with brands.
In an era of prosumers, we expect brands to develop new ways of involving their communities to meet their expectations. Whilst previously constrained to social media, user generated content is expected to populate more and more dimensions of the communication tools spectrum.
By 2022, according to Gartner, 70% of enterprises will be experimenting with immersive technologies for consumer and enterprise use, and 25% will have deployed them to production. The French start-up Elise Technologies is good example of implementation of those technologies in physical displays. This AI powered advertisement signage allows users to publish instantaneously their comments to a specific advertising campaign by using the recommended hashtags or keywords. Throughout 2019, we expect to see more brands take advantage of emerging technology to take UGC to the next level.
Video will take on a strategic role
In a world where 80% of all internet traffic is expected to come from video in 2019, it’s hard to press pause on the importance of video content. From news reports to product reviews, DIY instructions to viral clips, videos are becoming increasingly important in our everyday lives.
The ability to watch is now expected. In fact 54% of consumers want to see more video content from brands and businesses. So, what does this mean for brands in 2019? Well, before the director’s chair gets dusted off, it’s important to ensure that video is used strategically and not just a stand-alone tactic. A one off video which is scattered across social platforms occasionally just isn’t enough for today’s consumer.
Those who are already producing the right content will increasingly recognise video as an integral part of the customer journey, and those who aren’t using videos will need to get the camera out or be left behind.
We also expect to see brands paying closer attention to the analytics behind the scenes as measurability improves. Whilst there’s still some confusion around how views are measured on platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, demand for precision will drive forward improvements and encourage marketers to improve their video analytics skills. Ultimately, this will help brands make the most of the demand for video content.
Podcast popularity will increase
A medium that has been relatively untouched in the UK, podcasts continue to go from strength to strength in the US, with recent figures from Nielsen finding that one in five US adults listen to podcasts every week. Here in the UK, Ofcom reported earlier this year that almost 6 million adults in the UK are listening to a podcast at least once a week, double the number of listeners five years ago.
To add to this, nearly half (45%) of all smart speaker owners in the US listen to podcasts and audio books regularly. Although this number isn’t as high in the UK, with more than one in 10 homes containing smart speakers, as this market grows we expect podcast listening figures to do the same.
With the increasing number of podcast listeners in the UK, one area that isn’t as well served as in other markets is business podcasts. Adding podcasting to your strategy, be it appearing on podcasts or running your own, not only means more content and a new medium to engage with, it has the potential to add a further strength and relevance to your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts.
Brand polarisation will dominate
When Nike decided to make Colin Kaepernick the front for their campaign, there was the expected uproar on social media, including videos of people burning their favourite swoosh-laden products. But, with a 31% YOY sales increase after the ad launched, this intentionally polarised campaign worked in their favour.
This campaign moved beyond “brand with purpose” and into a far more aggressive space that challenges people to make a choice: are you with us or against us?
With wider and broader discussion about socio-political issues it makes sense for some brands to enter these discussions to build awareness and relevance. It’s not a new phenomenon, but it’s a trend that’s set to continue. There’s almost an expectation from the wider public for organisations to partake.
However, taking advantage of this trend can be difficult – especially for B2B brands that, more often than not, can be seen as too concerned with playing it safe.
Ultimately, it isn’t enough to jump on a cultural bandwagon, blindly participating in the big conversations or trying to make social commentary a key feature of your campaign. Success comes when it is done with boldness of conviction, a clear point of view, and relevance to your business and your customers. Otherwise, it’s better just to say nothing.
Bespoke illustrations will be brought to life
After years of stale stock-imagery, the influx of bespoke illustration is revitalising how the web looks. From minimal and hand-drawn to photo-collage and 3D isometric, we’re seeing a world of marvellously creative and diverse work.
Absorbing current trends from branding and UI design such as minimalism, complex gradients, bright colours and abstraction, illustrations are more easily tailored to a website’s brand-tone and UI than the more traditional photographic approach. This results in not only a more personal and streamlined brand experience, but also one that is more playful and interesting.
As well as being memorable and bespoke, illustrations are also great at communicating messages in a concise way that doesn’t feel forced (say goodbye to cheesy stock images of people smiling at screens).
As more large names push the envelope with this approach (see Slack, Dropbox etc.), expect to see more traditionally conservative organisations embracing illustrations as a way to broaden their appeal.
On top of this, technological advances in the coming year will see more of these illustrations coming to life through advanced animations and interactions. Already, we are seeing the boundaries of what’s possible on the web being continually pushed.