Future trends in digital and social communication

Seven Media - Future trends in digital and social communication
Author: Gregg Fray

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.