Future trends in digital and social communication

Seven Media - Future trends in digital and social communication

The pace of change in the digital media industry over the past 10 years has been staggering. As we enter the next decade, what trends will shape a sector constantly evolving?

TikTok is already a global phenomenon with about 500 million active users worldwide. This year, the company opened its first Middle East-based office in Dubai and it’s only a matter of time before it takes off regionally.

Its main attraction is that you can easily produce content on your mobile phone that has the potential to reach millions of people through organic reach, as opposed to paid promotions and boosted posts. 

There is a massive opportunity in the region for brands to engage with a youthful audience on a fresh and exciting platform using content that is easily consumed and shared.

With yet another new face on the digital scene, it is important to consider the potentially negative impact of social media. The harmful psychological effects of social platforms have come under the spotlight recently 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 last year, a survey conducted by YouGov in the UAE and KSA 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.

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. This 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. 

As one of the best social media agencies in Dubai, we’re here to support you with your digital communications strategy and implementation.

Have we lost the art of storytelling?

Seven Media

The way things are going, we’re in danger of completely saturating the digital world with video content. 

Some 500 million hours of video is watched on YouTube each week and – according to a recent report by Hootsuite – more video content is uploaded online every 30 days than the major US TV networks have created in the last 30 years.

With so much noise being created – and so much time spent consuming thousands of hours of instantly forgettable moving images – it is time to remind ourselves that we appear to have forgotten the art of storytelling.

This is easily done when we consider that even the worst of advertisements, if executed properly through social media channels, can reach millions of customers around the globe.

Virtually anyone can make a video and upload it, but we seem to have forgotten to ask ourselves the basics: Does it convey a message? Does it have a purpose? And the number one question … is it any good?

If you do get it right, you’re in luck, as there are now more social media platforms than ever before – from the 1 billion people who watch YouTube to the 165million active monthly Facebook users based here in the MENA region. That’s a lot of people literally waiting to be served decent content. 

Video is definitely the right way to target your audience as it has a 95 per cent retention rate. When you compare this to the 21 per cent retention rate of print, it’s already evident that video can guarantee more emotion, influence and action than any other form of advertising media. 

In this fast-paced world where an entire conversations can be summarised into 145 character Tweets, customers are becoming adverse to the verbose and wordy. They want their comms to be attention grabbing and entertaining. 

It has been proven that customers are 27 per cent more likely to click on a video than a standard ad on a web page. It is video that appeals to our senses and makes us curious to find out more and once we do, we’re share 12 times more on social than text and images combined. 

So, it’s been proven that video is the most effective media, but the best tends to mean the most expensive, right? Wrong. If targeted effectively, the cost per view can result in being as low as AED 0.01 per view – and that’s views of exactly the sort of person you want to see it.

The beauty of social media is that there are demographic tools, so you can set the advertisements to arrive straight on the screen of your dream customer. You can eliminate the unsuitable age groups, gender and geographic region so you have the best chance of reaching exactly who you want and need for your product. You can even target people who are active fans of your competitors! 

The initial creation of video can also be tailored to your budget as well. Gone are the Mad Men-style agencies filled with suits creating million-dollar blockbuster adverts. Now, audiences want their advertising to be authentic and tell a story. Recently, Seven Studios was hired to do a behind-the-scenes style video, in conjunction with a big budget advertisement. The result? Our behind-the-scenes video received higher engagement, because it was more relatable and interesting for the consumer. 

In this region, there is a place that consumes more videos daily than anywhere else around the entire globe. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 98 per cent of KSA can be reached through video. Previously, this KSA audience seemed a distant dream to many brands, especially those outside of the Middle East, but thanks to video, this important market can now be fully engaged. 

So before you decide to make a video for your brand, organisation or movement, it’s important to speak to a company that is able to understand your story and create something relevant and meaningful. They will be able to advise how and where to target the video, what social media channels are most relevant and the most effective way to boost through spend. As an award-winning social media agency in Dubai, we can help.

Until then, please, just don’t create video for video’s sake. 

The power of video in PR

These days anyone can make a video. It can be produced and presented to an audience quickly, easily and with very little spend involved.

As the owner of video production company and owner of a PR company, that might seem like an odd thing to say. But it’s true.

There are, however, one or two important caveats to consider when examining this fact.

I was recently invited by PRCA MENA to speak about the role of video in today’s communications landscape and its use in social media and PR campaigns.

Rather than extol the virtues of moving images on a screen and their impact versus print or social media it was important to explain that, without a strong story at its core, most video content can easily end up being unfit for purpose.

As a former journalist, I understand the power of a story, how it can carry a message to a wide audience and elicit a response. People are hard-wired to remember stories – our belief systems are based around stories; they unite us, inspire us, create movements, influence behavior and build cultures.

Stories are at the heart of everything. They are used to cement power and start revolutions.

The principals of what makes a great story apply to any format, be it written or video. A story must engage, inform, entertain, and relate to its audience.

Because of the way people consume video content nowadays, these principals are even more important.

There’s endless data out there to show what type of videos are watched by certain kinds of people, at a particular time of day and in specific countries.

But the underlying fact is unless you’re producing a quality product, all you’re doing is adding to the hundreds of thousands of hours of forgettable content that already exists.

If your story is strong enough, it will achieve the greatest results. It will get your message across and it will meet the needs of your client.

For your message to have the desired impact, you need to ‘humanize’ it. People’s interest will always be piqued by other people – by what they are doing and feeling and how they are acting.

No one wants to be TOLD how a brand or movement is relevant to them, they want to be SHOWN in an engaging, informative, entertaining and relatable way.

From a PR perspective, the market for great video content continues to grow and grow.

People often talk about the shrinking media landscape, but it is expanding with new online platforms appearing all the time – and video gives you incredible access to these new publishing opportunities.

As traditional media outlets come to terms with reduced editorial and broadcast budgets, they are eager to use supplied video content that meets their standards. Be this bespoke social media or web content, B-roll for events or on-camera interviews, it is all in demand.

There are tangible results to this – a great story in partnership with great media relations can deliver a powerful message.

However, video, like print before it, is also a slave to people’s reduced attention spans. With viewers willing to spend less time watching a video, the content needs to not only be strong but also tailored to the platform that best engages with your desired audience.

How it’s presented has a huge impact on how it is received.

From using the correct format for the platform, editing size and running time for social media, to something as simple as adding subtitles, this all plays a role in how your message is consumed.

At its very essence, making effective video content is straightforward.

Create the strongest possible idea. Decide on the process and agree on the desired result. Be original and cut through the clutter. Catch people’s attention and tell a truly great story. 

If all these ingredients are present, you’ll have the recipe for success.

Watch Gregg’s presentation to the PRCA at: https://vimeo.com/342918793

PR at 30,000 feet

PR at 30,000 feet
By Gregg Fray, Co-Owner

People often talk about ‘work-life balance’. The notion of working hard from 9-5 then switching off completely is appealing in theory, but – as a hands-on owner of the region’s biggest independent PR agency and a busy video production studio – in practice it’s all but impossible.

In order to service clients, manage 85 staff and keep producing cutting-edge media content in a 24/7 news environment, I’ve opted for the alternative approach of ‘work-life integration’. So I’m writing this somewhere in the sky over Iraq on a flight to the UK I boarded at 7am at Dubai Airport.

I find it much easier to accept that my work is an intrinsic part of my waking hours, no matter where in the world I am. Through my iPhone – pretty much my single tool of the trade – I’m able to stay connected, make decisions, review content and execute on the fly. I only have an out of office auto reply on my emails to make clear I’m not in the UAE for meetings; for calls, What’s App messages, emails and social media I’m pretty much always available.

People argue it’s not healthy to never switch off, but I find it’s comforting to know I’m always on top of things … or better still, a few steps ahead.

Working on a plane allows head space to think with no other distractions (in the last couple of hours I’ve been through a PR strategy, contributed to a new business proposal, given feedback on two pieces of video content and started writing a speech I’ll be delivering at an event two weeks from now), but even upon landing I’ll be responsive.

Those who know me will know I travel a lot for business and family reasons. And by always being connected, my mind is settled in the knowledge that I don’t have work piling up behind me while I travel. Of course, it helps to enjoy your work if you employ this lifestyle choice. It also helps to have great department heads and staff you trust to deliver.

But luckily for me, being at the helm of Seven Media and Seven Studios is something I’m more than happy to build in to my routine even when I’m not in the office.

Abu Dhabi’s famous landmarks light up red for the Special Olympics 50th anniversary

Seven Media - Abu Dhabi's famous landmark lights up red

This is a project very close to our hearts and we are so proud to see Abu Dhabi’s major landmarks such as Emirates Palace, Sheikh Zayed Bridge and Capital Gate come together with 225 landmarks worldwide lit up red to mark the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.

The event also marked the ‘inclusion evolution’, a mission led by the Special Olympics to end discrimination against People of Determination with intellectual disabilities and to create inclusive communities worldwide.

The Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi is one of our most prestigious integrated PR Abu Dhabi clients.