1. Every year, video is increasing in importance as a medium and every year it’s becoming increasingly difficult to do it properly. Repeatedly and from various sources, we were told that video’s resurgence over the past few years means that in 2014 a lot can be gained from well executed video content and campaigns. This doesn’t just include short clips on Vine and Instagram, (where brands are beginning to figure out the value they can add,) but also long-form video and YouTube.
2. The industry is preparing itself for the disruption caused by tech in the coming years. It might have been that everyone was still buzzing about the iPhone 6 and its NFC capabilities, the iWatch, or maybe even the presence of several individuals rocking the Google Glass look… but more than any other event we’ve been to, there was discussion, (and perhaps a little bit of fear,) surrounding the potential technology disruptions of the coming years and how they will impact social media use. Funnily enough, though there were lots of people telling us these technologies would have an impact, there were very few who could articulate what that impact was going to be. In other news, we managed to have a play with Oculus Rift, a technology that may not only disrupt social media, but also have a say in how and what people share in future. We can’t deny it though — it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
3. Africa as a market for brands is going to be increasingly opened up in the next few years as the likes of Facebook and Google continue their pioneering work to connect the continent with smartphones. Daring brands interested in accessing that market should be sitting up, taking note and beginning to figure out their game plan. When they do, they should bear in mind the following:
- Don’t think of Africa as one homogenous market — it is 5 separate markets (East, West, North, South, Central.)
- There is a serious advanced technology paradox, with some communities soon to have access to drones, but not to running water…
- African countries feature some of the youngest populations in the world who will soon have a huge amount of buying power.
- Mobile isn’t the ‘first screen’. On most occasions, it’s the only screen.
- Africans are optimistic and aspirational — it’s cool to show off a brand / logo.
- Transit times are a huge opportunity — people commute long hours on old transport systems but with smartphones.
4. Private is the new social. Apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat have been on our radars for a few years, but only in 2014 have they become entrenched in people’s sharing behaviour enough to tempt brands across the board to trial them. You might have heard about Channel 4's test with WhatsApp or Durex’s tests on WeChat in China, but there is much wider interest (and more importantly, intent,) in exploring these platforms.
5. Be it command centres, on-call creative teams or a mobile-accesible content pool… after two years of panic about how to ‘do reactive’ on social, brands are beginning to figure out their own ways of working in an always-on world. The problem is, now everyone can do it, it’s becoming exponentially harder to rise above the noise.
6. The industry is reacting to stories like the Drum piece (above) by stating even more intent on trying to solve the “what is the ROI of social media” question. Efforts like IPA Social Works are admirable in trying to lead the way, but the industry has only just agreed that it’s a necessity. Unless we can innovate faster, a solution to actually measure ROI is still a few years off. But as they say at AA, admitting you have a problem is the first step…
7. People are still fixated on ‘social media’ meaning ‘short social campaigns for big brands with big budgets’. We’re totally biased on this of course, but the idea that the only campaigns worth discussing either have to be Red Bull or Oreo is getting a little tiring. There are thousands of small and medium-sized businesses investing modestly in social media globally and achieving mega-results, but they don’t get discussed. We loved it when Lars Silberbauer from Lego spoke about their i-am-George campaign. Budget: $100. More examples like this one, please.
8. Society is finally figuring out what social media is and isn’t. It isn’t technology or a set of apps — it’s PEOPLE. And that understanding should be influencing every decision and idea that people come up with. Whether it’s the knowledge now that the golden rule to ‘going viral’ is tapping into emotion (and PR), or the behavioural psychology propounded by Rory Sutherland. It doesn’t matter the angle you’re approaching it from — and there are hundreds of possibilities — if you understand people, you have the knowledge you need to unlock social for your business.
9. The new-wave digital media companies like Buzzfeed and Upworthy are going through every lesson the traditional media have been through over the past century, but hundreds of times faster. They’re discovering the value of headline-writing, of visual aids and audiences, but faster (and better?) than in the past… Prepare yourselves for a disruptive 2015 in the media space.
10. More than ever before, the industry is realising that a ‘presence’ is no longer enough on social (like it has been in the past). So much is the noise now on social media, (due to so many businesses out there trying to harness it,) that you need to be innovating, creating and constantly on — always striving to be one (if not more,) step(s) ahead of the curve.