According to industry insiders, publishers and marketers’ predictions, 2015 is going to be an interesting year for social media, with the overall trend being the continued integration of all aspects of digital media, consumer data and user behavior.
Here are the top five trends we think will impact everyone:
1. Mobile-ready will become the universal norm
If you were born anytime between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, then you fit snugly in what demographers call the Millennial Generation. And if you belong to this generation, then you are most likely reading this article on either your smartphone or tablet. Although millennials are often maligned by their older counterparts for being prolonged nesters and shunning traditional work schedules, both of which are absurd and grossly innaccurate characterizations, the millennials are in fact setting the tone for digital media consumption.
Based on the habits of millennials, and according to OVUM, a London based specialist in global coverage of IT, one billion people will be using their mobile devices as the preferred method of accessing the internet. Consumers increasingly demand access to company websites that are optimized for mobile, with a focus on a user experience that seamlessly blends sophistication with ease. Success in establishing and maintaining brand loyalty is increasingly dependent on how well a company can develop a relationship with their consumers via social media and mobile.
This trend is already presenting a serious challenge to many companies who have been reluctant to create mobile-friendly websites. And websites that are merely “responsive” to smartphone screen sizes will no longer cut the mustard. Even phablet-sized screens require websites that are specifically designed to meet their dimensions. Most of us can certainly attest to the frustration to be had with a website that offers a clumsy layout, tiny font, and an experience that forces users to pinch and zoom dozens of times before finally clicking on those hard-to -find icons and tabs.
2. The future of advertising is “pretargeting”
Online adverting is getting better at not only targeting users, but also anticipating the purchasing habits of consumers based on the analysis and collection of a user’s digital footprint. Yes, everything you do online is recorded, tracked, analyzed and sold. In fact, this trend of predictive advertising is becoming so pervasive that advertisers have designated the term “pretargeting” to define this phenomenon.
Pretargeting, however, requires the collection and analysis of a significant amount of data to predict consumer preferences. In 2015, Big Data will only get bigger as companies increasingly feel the pressure to maximize profits via digital media. As Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communications officer, says, “Big data are extremely important because they help us to predict a trend before it actually happens.”
Of course, predictive marketing and the growth of Big Data have many detractors. Governments and citizens need to work together to find better ways of negotiating the use, sale, and disclosure of their private digital data. These are high stakes issues, and so far the answers have been meek at best.
3. Consumers as marketers
It used to be that the creation of professional-looking content was the sole purview of media specialists. Unless you were a seasoned filmmaker, television producer, or musician, the distribution and consumption of your artistic hobbies was relegated to the reluctant generosity of immediate family and friends.
Now, with a whole host of apps, tools and technology like GoPro and Hyperlapse, consumers are able create content that can provide visceral experiences that are often just as sophisticated as those created by professionals. In 2015, consumer-generated content will continue to be shared and distributed across all social media platforms that will far outnumbered their professionally-created counterparts.
As a result, marketing firms, agencies and publishers will have to help companies find ways to discover, use and distribute consumer-generated content to showcase a company’s products and brand identity.
4. The Internet of Things (IoT) and wearables
Products, devices, and services have a life of their own thanks to IoT and wearables. More of everything we use is connected to the internet, providing businesses and consumers access to mountains of data. From glass apps on the shop floor, smart watches and smart TVs to surveillance equipment, home appliances, and automobiles, consumers are getting used to everything being connected to the internet. This is also impacting companies in the way they manage themselves and negotiate their relationship with consumers. According to SayDaily, “Businesses are reshaping their processes and ramping up everything from improved supply chain management to efficiency on the hospital or manufacturing floor with smart, connected devices and employees.”
The more data companies have access to, the more efficient programs will have to become in helping users meaningfully interpret and manage all this information.
5. The introduction of advanced analytics in digital media
2015 will see the adoption of data-driven strategies by smart media companies. Instead of just accessing ‘Big Data’, firms and companies will be focused on integrating data into everyday business, marketing, and development decisions. There will also be a big growth in the effective conversion of data into actionable insights, with the ultimate goal of helping drive sales growth.