2016 proved to be one of the most eventful years for PR in recent history. The average social media user gained the ability to live broadcast videos of themselves to friends and followers across multiple platforms. Pokemon Go shook up the mobile gaming market and straddled the lines between entertainment and reality. The prominence of fake news, the creepy clown scares, and exploding smartphones created additional interesting and engaging narratives. Let’s also not forget the unending onslaught of controversies that occurred during the Presidential Election.
Fortunately, there’s a new year to look forward to, and hopefully a majority of 2016’s more unsavory moments can stay in the past. What is next for PR in 2017? Members of the Springboard team each took a few minutes to predict what the near future holds for PR and marketing in the New Year:
Michael: Live Video will be the New Pathway to Creating Social Media Influencers
If the latter half of 2016 has taught us anything about social media, it’s that live video is the new game-changer. Your friends, celebrities, public figures, and brands all have the opportunity to “go live” on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube where they can interact with commenters in real time.
I’m predicting that certain types of videos that once existed predominantly in pre-recorded formats will find renewed popularity in the form of live videos. Influencers will be “going live” for product unboxings, reviews, Q&A sessions, and many other content styles. While existing influencers should have an easy time transitioning to a heavier focus on live broadcasting, there will be a handful of new ones that build their initial following off of their live-native content. This will usher in the next generation of new influencers that will be setting trends and having their hands in determining market directions for 2017.
Caroline: Interactive Content Will Drive User Engagement
Creating interactive content allows you to actively engage with audiences one-on-one. Instead of passively skimming an article, users are more likely to absorb information in which they participate in. Surveys, polls, quizzes, video responses and message boards give users the opportunity to comment, share, and get involved with a particular cause or topic instantly.
In today’s digital world, you only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention. Social media users tend to gravitate towards an intriguing Call to Action (CTA) leading them to interactive content. A Call to Action invokes an immediate response, and users are more likely to stop, interact, and fully process your post when they feel like their opinions are needed and valued. Compelling interactive content complete with a persuasive CTA will continue to drive user engagement in 2017.
Ariel: Mobile-First Will be a Must
Over the past year, it has become even more clear that consumers are interacting with content in different ways and on a wider range of devices than ever before. Perhaps the most apparent trend is the increasing dominance of smartphones – almost three-quarters of U.S. adults report owning smartphones but numbers are surely higher. Much more than mobile phones, today’s technologically robust smartphones have begun to replace desktops, laptops and even tablets as primary devices for browsing, shopping, and viewing content.
As such, brands will need to make it their mission to accommodate this trend by making mobile a number one priority. Brands’ attempts at mobile-friendly strategies thus far are a good start. However, as consumers continue to ditch their other devices, user-friendly, responsive, and highly-interactive websites and other content that leverage the unique capabilities of smartphones will be key to reaching audiences in 2017 and beyond.
Domenick: Marketers Will Become the Educators
Right now, we’re seeing the lines blur between fake news, native ads, and sponsored content. Who can you trust to learn the truth about politics, business, fitness and nutrition, or anything else in between? As content development becomes more sophisticated, even the most media literate individuals will be challenged to decipher reality from fiction.
In 2017, marketers will have a unique opportunity to develop content that educates, reminds, informs and even persuades audiences. However, they must align the content with the needs of customers and create clever pieces that tell a story, entertain, and even contradict the status quo. There will be an increased need for responsibly produced information and marketers will be able to capitalize on new developments through creative campaigns.