Over the past 12 months a number of prominent trends have shaped the way companies reach customers and stakeholders, from the growth of live video to micro-influencers. And while these are set to remain powerful forces, in an ever-changing environment, brands will continue to chase ways to stay ahead and find new platforms to reach their audiences.
With pressure on newsrooms mounting and rising competition for coverage, the lure of paid over earned coverage is set to grow in 2018. But there are still numerous ways to stay relevant and stand out. As we approach the New Year, ensure you are up to speed with our top five trends set to shape the communications and PR sector over 2018.
New Methods of Measurement:
Any coverage can only be adjudged on what can be measured. While brands will continue to keep a close eye on quantitative impacts, expect more complex metrics to come to the fore in 2018. More qualitative measures are likely to take a greater priority, such as demographics and quality of engagement, and content itself will evolve accordingly. Perception analyses, new social media monitoring platforms, and deeper market research may uncover subtler, but potentially more pervasive, impacts. And with the tools of the trade changing, expect campaigns to adapt.
The Automation Game:
With speed of communication prioritised more than ever, automated communication tools are sure to play a key role in the world of PR over 2018. Mass notification tools, allowing companies to send out timely responses to stakeholders and customers, have still greatly untapped potential. There are numerous potential applications for automation in the sector, from producing press releases to live translation. Further examples include technology which sends automated personal notifications with directions and discounts to nearby hotels as soon as a flight is cancelled. With automation set to disrupt the communications industry in 2018, the challenge for organisations using fast-response communications is to ensure they understand what their audience want and are sending the right messages.
Publishing non-promotional content might not drive leads, but can create perceptions of an approachable, trustworthy brand or create conversations with potential clients. Effective content campaigns can also educate team members and build bridges within organisations. It is these, less tangible rather than traditional, markers of success in content and thought leadership campaigns, which are likely to rise in prominence in 2018.
The Evolution of Influencers:
Despite the buzz and wildfire growth, influencer marketing is not at all new, and, in many cases, not even that influential. In particular, clearly monetized influencer marketing campaigns is likely to be refined over the coming year. Brands may become more selective in their choice of influencers and the process may opt for long-term partnerships and lengthy connections. The potential of the influencers has long been out in the open, but it is brands who can create more refined campaigns, rather than chasing easy engagements at the cost of disenfranchising the public, that may succeed in 2018. To get this right, brands need be well aware of their followers’ preferences and current perceptions in order to craft effective influencer campaigns.
While traditional social media channels can all be tracked to the nth degree, these only comprise a small slice of the pie when it comes to engagement. For most brands, the primary channel of sharing and communication is dark social – text, email, and other private messaging platforms. By some estimates, as much as 87% of outbound sharing in conducted through dark social, which, until recently, has been near impossible to track.
Adapted sharing methods and new software platforms can help shine some light on dark social, giving companies new information on their content. Uncovering this blind-spot should spur brands to create truly share-worthy content – ideas that are eye-catching and unique in order to be worthy of public sharing – and they are now more able to track their success.
Author: Samantha Bartel – Managing Partner for Middle East and North Africa at Instinctif.