2 months ago
If social media was a human, right now they would be an adolescent with raging hormones running through their system - and 2019 sure showed this teen to be in peak puberty. From a series of serious data privacy issues to growing mental health concerns and brand safety scandals, the digital and social media landscape has been hit with negative media headlines, growing regulatory demands and reputational uncertainty in recent years.
But like the growth trajectory of any first child that by default sets the tone and shapes new standards, at times by breaking the rules, we as companies and communities have come through the crux of this chaos with a newfound level of digital literacy and collective consideration. As a result, we are starting to see a significant shift in how tech companies think about, as well as act upon, their role in privacy protection and societal welfare more broadly, but also how consumers consider what they consume or share and where.
As we approach 2020’s second quarter, there’s a clear shift taking place as maturity and meaning become leading themes that take shape in the form of various trends and behaviours. Here are the top three digital and social trends across communications, from Red Havas’ annual Red Sky Predictions report, that we see taking centre stage in 2020 and beyond:
1. Data doing good
As data privacy protection and regulation become adopted mainstream methods rather than unanswered online issues - marketers across the board are beginning to seek out ways to in which secure data can be given a greater purpose.
And we have heaps of it on hand, as we globally generate over 2 quintillion (that’s 18 zeroes) bytes of data every single day. So why wouldn’t we leverage this powerful currency’s value for greater good? For instance, leftover gigs can be donated to markets and communities in need of more mobile access; shopping data from grocery loyalty cards can be used to give researchers a peek at our diets to form hypotheses for medical research; smart-thermostat data can provide new ideas for practical energy conservation practices; and cellphone use data can show patterns of mobility, isolation, physical activity and sleep that researchers can use for the betterment of personal and societal health.
When done safely and knowingly, most consumers are all for it: One University of Bristol survey found that over half of people would be happy to share their personal data as long as it’s in service to society.
2. App-arenting matures
As kids become socially and digitally active more and earlier than ever, parents raising today’s next generation face the growing challenge of not just understanding but having involvement in their offshoot’s online activities. And while securing your newborn an Instagram handle has become the new normal, the lines are blurred when it comes to the level of control children have over their own assets as they become old enough to make their own choices online.
In turn, parents greatly lack education and oversight across younger platforms such as Snapchat and TikTok. They are not without weapons in the battle though - as access to a more mature suite of tools is increasing, with child-proof functions both built into popular phone and tablet operating systems and available as third-party apps with a growing array of smart features. These tools give parents almost unlimited control over how their kids communicate online, what they view and when and for how long they use their phones.
When it comes to protecting our children and helping them develop healthy online habits, the firmest focus will be on teenagers, many of whom dodge privacy matters by creating fake or secondary profiles to escape their watchful parents. Over the next few years, expect family house rules to merge with teenagers’ social and digital lives, as new tools and channel features empower parents to take a more active stance and help young people develop healthier online habits.
3. Vanity metrics vanish.
Last year, the 'like' button turned 10. Incidentally, last year was also the year the 'like' button started to shift out of sight across Instagram in a number of global markets. This year, the quality and performance of content will begin to become much more valuable to brands than the quantity in the form of vanity metrics such as 'likes' that lack intent and meaning. In the meantime, apps like TikTok that don’t base a users’ relevance on a friend or follower system will continue to balloon in popularity and reimagine the metrics that matter. And those more meaningful measures of success that span things such as sentiment scores, key message penetration, share of voice and social dwell time will take over where flimsy vanity metrics left off.
When brands simplify their marketing and measurement through metrics and benchmarks that are tied directly to the business’ objectives, they will be better able to measure not just the count but also the context of their communications efforts.
In the next decade, we look forward to seeing social and digital media growing out of its awkward phase and into a fully functioning adult. It’s given brands and consumers time to evolve our understanding of the ways that social and digital can best be put to use to enrich marketing efforts, our lives and even society overall.
Davitha Ghiassi is EVP of social media and integration at Red Havas