Just 10 years ago when we set up the business in the UAE, the direction of the PR industry was starting to shift.
Facebook was evolving into a tool for corporate communication; bloggers were gaining prominence as storytellers; and the mobile phone was already the most effective way of reaching audiences.
Crafting a story worthy of newspaper coverage and establishing relationships with journalists was no longer enough.
We were seeing the emergence of integrated campaigns that combined digital and traditional media. Now, on the cusp of a new decade, we once again look ahead to future trends in arguably the fastest evolving sector of all.
With yet another new face on the digital scene, Tik Tok and its popularity with under 24-year olds, it is important to consider the potentially negative impact of social media.
The harmful psychological effects of social platforms have come under the spotlight, and the industry is facing pressure to demonstrate they can protect users’ well-being.
In 2020, we expect to see social channels making mental health a key strategy. Simply removing the “Likes” function isn’t enough. It is essential to invest in promoting support groups, removing malicious content, and stamping out online bullying.
The power of the digital influencer to promote brands and carry messages via social media has been one of the most remarkable trends in media marketing over the past few years. But times are changing.
Earlier this year, a survey conducted in the UAE and Saudi Arabia revealed that 79 per cent of those questioned have unfollowed a social media influencer for drowning their timeline in promotional content. Research by HypeAuditor found that 31 per cent of UAE social media influencers purchase followers, while 20 per cent use “tricks” to artificially boost their online profile.
Brands will continue to invest billions of dollars on influencer marketing, but will increasingly target legitimate storytellers who share authentic content with a specific audience. Those perceived as mere extensions of the corporate machine will fall by the wayside.
In recent years, we have seen the use of algorithms influencing the content we see. In the PR industry specifically, there has been a push for “content calendars” of pre-written, pre-approved posts scheduled for release on specific dates. But as an audience, we increasingly expect a personalised two-way conversation.
Video is king
I expect a big move back towards creative storytelling over the next decade, with video at its heart. Video already has 12 times more shares on social media than text and images combined. Next year, we expect 82 per cent of internet traffic to be video-based.
Platforms and tools exist to make sharing video content easier than ever. But too often content is published for content’s sake. Only videos that tell an engaging, relevant story has the power to be truly memorable and create a lasting impression among its audience.
Gregg Fray is Co-owner of Seven Media.