Predictions For 2017? Who Knows?

Issue 19

2016, huh? That was weird. Given all the shocks it brought with it, it makes these forecasting pieces all the more tricky. I'm most definitely going to avoid any political predictions and stick to events in the media landscape. So keep this one back, show it to me in December and laugh at how misguided I really was.

As the last 12 months have shown us, predicting anything in the future is pretty tough. The best we can all do is remain agile and alert and be flexible enough to be responsive to whatever is thrown at us. So what should we try and prepare for in 2017? Here’s my five things in media:

Something to happen with Twitter

Twitter’s stuck rigidly to what it knows, but far too rigidly and it feels in desperate need of something new to happen with it. Attempts to pump new life into passed by without much fanfare in 2016 (Moments, anyone?) and a large number feel they actually ditched its most creative and exciting tool in Vine.

While Facebook and Instagram consistently adapt themselves to fit new trends, Twitter’s core usage benefits have remained steadfast. As a result, numbers aren’t growing at the rate they should and potential buyers in Disney, Google and Salesforce gave it a wide berth. This could be the year that they’re bought at a knockdown price, or it introduces something radically different to make it relevant again. The fact that the new President of the Free World will keep it in the headlines with his comments on the platform wont actually help its cause.

More paywalls

I got into a little discussion with a couple of former national newspaper editors at the back end of last year on how news should monetise itself. National news is available from far too many alternative free sources so it’s a tough job for all at the traditional news outlets. Expect The Times to follow the suit of its stablemate at the Sun and drop its paywall in 2017. The new online numbers the red-top is attracting are just far too appealing to keep The Times lagging behind.

However, don’t be surprised if other more niche titles, offering specialist insight, industry-specific topics and box office columnists, spot the chance to prosper behind paid-for entry. One of those editors above predicted that a very big outlet could deliberately become more niche and start charging its educated, left-wing readership for its online product.

Welcome to dark social

Sounds murky and illicit, right? It’s really not. It’s simply a collective description for the non-public conversations that are taking place, like those on private messaging apps, such as WhatsApp. Worryingly for brands, you cannot watch, measure or infiltrate conversations that might be happening around your brand in these because of their encrypted nature. Expect many more brands to try to exert some control of these conversations. As an example, I subscribe to three very good brands using WhatsApp to send updates and news to their customers. I imagine I’ll let many more in throughout 2017. We tried it with a client in 2016, but for a couple of reasons, it didn’t quite work. We’ll crack that nut this year.

Brands go Live

Facebook’s live platform was tremendously well received last year and that will become an enormously popular and powerful tool in generating engagement and loyalty. Of course you can plan what you’re going to do while live (please don’t just switch it on during your Monday morning meeting and expect fireworks online), but the very nature of it means there’s an element of unpredictable danger and excitement to the content being produced. That’s very, very appealing to the punter.

Back to the truth

Lies, lies and more lies dominated the media landscape of 2016. The leavers’ £350m for the NHS that never was, The Donald’s numerous promises that he’s now stepping away from, Facebook’s issues with proliferating fake news into our feeds.

So why don’t we just start peddling lies about our services or products because the truth doesn’t matter in your relentless pursuit of successful outcomes, right? Well, if you want to try that, you’re more than welcome. The truth is too easy to find now, so be prepared for the storm that comes your way if you start trying to deceive, hoodwink or patronise your customers. Honesty and authenticity remains as powerful as ever. Keep that in mind this year.

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