DigitalNews Today: December 2015

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Emerging Changes and Trends to Look Out for in 2016 – Celestine Achi

Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2015 No comments

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hate or love it, social media continues to evolve, disrupt and influence as a rapid rate. This rapid change has continued to create habits, influences perceptions and buying decisions and more importantly strongly shaping our emotions and relationships. To someone like me, social media has become an integral part of my work schedule and lifestyle.

As we navigate into the year 2016, it becomes imperative that we observe the impact, changes and emerging trends in the digital space, in particular the social media space.

To ensure for a proper and holistic review, we have compiled (from different digital media experts) a list of emerging trends and changes to look out for in 2016

Year to Sell on Social

With all the major social media player’s (Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook) putting Buy buttons onto their channels, it is safe to say that others such as Instagram etc will soon follow suit. This will make it much easier to buy products directly through social media channels. Furthermore, in-app innovation which is prioritizing online shopping will be the top of the tree for all those technologically minded shoppers. Watch out for this throughout 2016.

There will be a massive increase in enabling and tracking social selling as next year, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms will have a ‘buy’ button. Internet marketers know how to build online sales funnels. Traditional social media and content marketers don’t. You create the conversation, you create the opportunity for the sale, and you close the sale. There will be more selling on social media.

The Emergence and Rise of the Social Newsroom

The Internet and social media have revolutionised the way in which we consume media and news. News breaks instantly across the globe via platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, in the moment and as it happens. We are on the cusp of every breaking story, immersed in the emotion and scope of it before it’s even had the chance to hit a traditional journalistic newsroom.

When an uprising occurs in a country, from the Shiites uprising in the northern part of Nigeria to the Biafran agitation in the eastern part of Nigeria, we often get a real time and true account of what is happening before news channels can spin the content to suit their political and financial persuasions. Newspapers and magazines suffering from dwindling sales and subscriptions (and wisely future proofing) have scrapped a printed existence for online. Broadsheets have adapted to suit a technological audience with online newspapers for tablets and smartphones, all tailored to browser capabilities.

2016 will signal the start of social platforms shaping what the editorial web will look like. Already apps such as Snapchat Discover, Twitter Moments and Facebook Instant Articles have heralded a focus on the more innovative editorial features of social media platforms in 2015.

Pew Research Centre report has proven that social media users will more than ever begin to treat social media as the central news platform and source of knowledge on real time happening and/or events. In other words, they become a live streamed personalized journal. No need to watch the news, if you have a custom-made collection of information.

It entails many difficult questions about the future of journalisocial media and society itself; if each of us lives in the bubble of personalized news, we could be really misinformed and easy to manipulate, not to mention the lack of common ground or objective information we could all relate to.

The potential audience for your social media newsroom goes way beyond journalists; it includes everyone with a potentially influential social network. Embedding parts of your social networks in your newsrooms allows you to capture fan dialogue, drive the conversation to a targeted platform and obtain essential feedback concerning your company. Just adding social share buttons to your press releases does not make your newsroom social. 

Big Data – the next big thing

As Big Data continues to grow in prominence, everything gradually leans closer and closer to the virtual world, which has some excellent perks. Because of this, regular software tests and updates are diminished, creating a more natural and self-reliant system and making Big Data the next big thing to be embraced, and for good reason.

For instance, advanced analytics has a big role to play in Digital Consumer Engagement where understanding consumers’ preference is essential to pre-engaging them before they embark upon the path to buy. For example, a working mom purchasing back-to-school products for kids can also be targeted for modern office attire fitting her taste and affinity and her response to personalized campaigns can be tracked accurately. Tracking customer response adds significant value to accurate segmentation and improves accuracy of personalization which can be measured through ROI driven metrics.

With so much digital content and commerce happening in the online and mobile world, savvy retailers and brands can now identify trends in consumer preferences and market signals across the globe, so they can react faster with relevant product offerings.

The Wearable Revolution will be Social

According to Zahara Jade, Wearables have been making headlines in 2015 with the most recent predictions estimating that the market will triple in size over the next five years. This year saw the launch of the much anticipated Apple Watch and rumours abound that Google Glass will make a comeback next year. The internet of things will impact all industries but social is particularly well placed to take advantage of this data explosion.

In 2016 there will be even more wearable tech available, at reasonable prices, that tech-savvy consumers will have a difficult time keeping their hands off these advanced new toys. Whether it’s an Apple Watch, a new highly anticipated version of Google Glass, fitness wearable tech, or something else, expect wearables to play an increasingly larger role in social media and content market strategies in 2016. Social media will be at our fingertips, and people will be more connected than ever. Gemio, a wearable bracelet being delivered to market in spring, 2016, aims to connect tweens and teens both in person by locating other friends wearing the tech, and on the related social app.

Social media become search engines

As social media keeps on taking over more and more space and as online reviews begins to shape the shopping process and influence buying decisions, social media will begin to play an alternative role of search engines, especially for customers looking for a product.

Instead of reading brand’s leaflet or website, we prefer to watch real person using it and talking about her experience, because we perceive such content as more reliable. The trend of strengthening bonds between shopping and social media will also grow with more and more platforms introducing “Buy” button. 

Real Time Social media Updates and Live-streaming

We’ve seen the rise of live streaming on social with platforms like Periscope coming to the fore, Facebook hitting the 1 billion mark for users in one day and even Google making changes to its search to reflect the importance of social posts. In 2016, there will be a continued increase in live-streaming. With social media platforms such as Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook, all having live-streaming features, its the new method of communicating vs written word and still photo.

Social shopping is an area that has been slowing growing, and is now even more prevalent. With the ability to shop from Instagram pictures, Houzz tagged photos, Pinterest, it is now a conversion point for retailers to look to achieve additional product orders in a brand new channel.

It has become extremely evident that live updates will continue to dominate the social media market in 2016. Social media is already at a point where live updates are becoming commonplace with some more-so than others. This social media evolution has been largely driven by new live video broadcasting applications such as Twitter owned Periscope, Meerkat and many more. What this now does is allow you to capture a moment and share it immediately with your friends rather than having to record a video, and then posting it later, which will limit the engagement it will get. Furthermore, other leading social media platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat are beginning to cotton onto this trend. This may help to signal a new era in social media next year.

According to some experts the obsession with live-streaming/video will continue in 2016, especially as popular apps add new features. 2016 will undoubtedly be the make-or-break year for mobile live-streaming, as Meerkat and Periscope seek mainstream consumer use cases.

Safety, Security & Increased Data Privacy Issues

According to experts, it has been projected that due to the nature of the world that we live in, social networks will place an emphasis on safety and security in 2016. In the Paris attacks, Facebook activated a safety check feature that allowed Facebook users to convey to their networks that they were safe. As the frequency of mass-shootings and terrorist activity continues to escalate, it has been predicted that the Big Three Networks will develop permanent safety check features that reside on user profiles at all times.

In addition, throughout 2015, there were a whole host of privacy concerns which were summed up by the recent scandal around Ashley Madison. What this has done is make users data more vulnerable than before and any new social media platform will not only have to keep their promise to protect customer data but will also have to prove it. This is likely to continue to be a continuing social media trend throughout 2016.

Focus on Social Listening

The insights gained from social media listening can often be just as valuable as the revenue generated from social media and certainly more valuable than a flippant ‘like’ from a passive follower.

Social customer care

Brands that are still refusing to use social for customer care will really start to look foolish in 2016.

Those who have been laying the foundations of getting social customer service/experience right, including Direct Line and many other service organisations, will reap the benefits – but only as long as they continue to improve servicing by working on internal blockers to the very best possible customer experiences.

I’d love to believe that 2016 is the year that entrepreneurs, digital experts, agencies, brands and organisations will focus on the customer, the customer experience and core principles of trust, value and transparency.
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