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No Brainer Round Table: What’s in store for our industry in 2020?

This week at No Brainer, as we waved goodbye to 2019, we got together to reflect on what was another ground-breaking year for our industry.

Over the last twelve months, there’s been plenty of jaw-dropping moments that have kept us scrolling, reading and tweeting our way through our news feeds.

And over the last decade, the way we all consume our news, use social and buy products and services has changed dramatically too.

But what’s in store this year? Here are some of our predictions…

Changing media and news consumption

The face of the media landscape has evolved and fragmented beyond recognition in the last ten years, and given rise to ‘fake news’. But is the time coming to challenge this?

Our Director Gary said: “In terms of tackling fake news, things are already heading in that direction with channels such as Twitter banning certain ads and others aiming to cease the rise. But I’d expect to see many others follow suit, with more being done to crack down on it.”

Account Manager, Hannah agrees, saying: “Consumer trust in journalism is still continuing to fall (according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer) and the rise of misinformative content on social has only added to this. In the 20s I think it will be more important than ever for journalists and PRs to rely on valuable, trustworthy relationships.”

Account Manager, Emily added: “We’ve seen such a big increase in paid-for content across a lot of news channels, but there’s no replacement for a great organic story that genuinely resonates with an audience. Positive relationships with journalists are now more important than ever, and a journalist who has a strong relationship with an agency like ours needs to be able to trust us to discover these stories and ensure they are relevant and well-written – it can often be gold dust for them.”

Account Director, Michelle also introduces the idea of an increase in data-led PR as a result of this shift in journalism. She states: “Much more of our time is spent focusing on high quality PR activity that delivers results, rather than driving out loads of stories to fill column inches. Great PR which is driven by data and analytics and includes SEO-based keywords, drives traffic to websites and generates customer leads is helping brands to quantify the value PR is having.”

Social media

“Social will continue to be the platform that shapes our world.” Emily says. “The recent UK election campaign is the perfect example of how, as a society, we have an increasing appreciation of how much social media can really influence opinions. During the campaigns, we were exposed to a lot of quick-witted and trend-worthy content including videos and infographics which played a huge part in forming political opinions. This will only continue to rise, particularly amongst young people, who aren’t afraid to make sure their voices are heard through social”.

Account Executive, Helen added “It isn’t enough to just churn out content anymore, though.  I think it’s about really considering your audience and ensuring that they remain engaged and loyal to your brand. Brands need to concentrate their focus on building up more of a community with their followers and audience in order to keep them interested.”

With the competition for getting your voice heard more fierce than ever, a focus on community marketing will only increase to serve consumer’s demand for authentic and engaging content. Account Director, Lauren agrees with Helen; “It’s not just about posting social content and sitting back and hoping for engagement anymore. It’s about encouraging and cultivating user-generated content with multi-way interactions between brands and their customers. By creating a true community, your customers will act as evangelists for your brand and will engage in conversations between themselves rather than you having to lead all the content.”

She continues: “It also means that these customers become more receptive to your content, which to an extent bypasses some of the need to pay for increased engagement – which as we’ve already seen is becoming increasingly expensive as more players enter the arena push up the price.”

Account Manager, Anna turned the attention to the rise of podcasts. The abundance of podcasts means there’s an audience for everyone, somewhere; but the key is to find the right fit. “The shift from video to podcasts has been huge over the last 12 months. They’re becoming hugely popular for companies to appear on, or even host.

“Podcasts allow for brands to get their message across in an authentic non-salesy way, and I think that’s a huge reason as to why more and more companies are showing an interest. Brands also have the option to sponsor podcasts, which is something we’re seeing becoming increasingly popular. Being associated with content and topics that are relevant to their audiences increases awareness and brand resonance.”

With competition for news feed space becoming increasingly stiff, users are exposed to more content than ever. This moved the topic on to mental health in social media with Gary predicting that 2020 will bring more onus on social channels when it comes to mental health.

A topic that’s been hot in the news for the last 12 months, Gary states that “with the impact that social media can have on people – young people in particular – I’d hope to see this become a priority for big social sites. Instagram testing hidden Likes is a step in the right direction but finding ways to crack the effects that social media has on mental health should be something they start to pay a lot more attention to.”

Influencers

2019 saw another fantastic year for content creators and online influencers. Hannah predicts that more and more brands will start to the see the value in influencer partnerships. “2019 saw a huge increase in brands investing in content creators, but the next decade will definitely bring new, creative ways for companies to sponsor content, as competition to work with the country’s best content creators continues to rise.”

Emily adds: “With consumers becoming savvy to sponsored ads and paid-for brand partnerships, it’s so important that collaborations have a clear link and there is a genuine brand fit.

“And as influencers start to appreciate how valuable they are to brands, granting creative freedom is something that brands will have to prioritise if they’re looking for a successful collaboration. As the industry grows, we’ll definitely start to see social channels become more savvy to the opportunities this bring, with talks of new platforms that link brands to influencers already on the rise.”

Lauren added to the influencer predictions, saying: “With the popularity of influencer marketing surging, this brings more increased payment terms – meaning a need for increased budgets from brands. I definitely think there is also an untapped resource in ‘employee influencers’ too”

“Using your employees means that you’ve already got a niche and captive network that is bought into your brand and is likely to know your products or services inside out. This also means they’ll be able to give positive reviews and recommendations to their social friends and followers. Employees represent their brand day in, day out, and if incentivised properly, could become your best brand advocates!”

*****

2020 is definitely set to bring a host of new opportunities for brands looking to get their message heard and as we kick-start a new decade, we’re sure there’ll be a host of new trends, apps and channels making waves across our industry, but that’s why we love what we do.

For us, it’s so important to embrace and keep up to date with the fast-emerging changes coming into play as our world evolves – and we’re excited to be a part of it!

Let us know your thoughts on this year’s predictions over on our social channels.

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