December 20, 2017 By Zak Mehan
For our last Download of the year, we thought it worth looking back at the most high-impact events and trends from 2017. You’ll notice many of these trends are interwoven – trends within trends if you will. To avoid getting all meta, we kept our thoughts limited to what has changed and will continue to change the way you do business. As ever, we hope you find them useful and encourage you to share with anyone in need of some light holiday reading.
Facebook, Twitter and Google, in particular, came under unprecedented scrutiny outside of the tech community this year for their role in the spread of “fake news” during the 2016 presidential election and other tumultuous events – Las Vegas or Sutherland Springs, to name a few. This prompted many to speculate on the potential for new regulations for advertising on the platforms, while the companies themselves have implemented changes to increase transparency. Often, with great power, comes great regulation.
With President Trump regularly taking to Twitter to attack the actions of various companies, communications teams and C-suites alike focused on developing action plans for the possibility of becoming his latest victim (our tips here). While crisis preparation has long been a key element of any communications plan, companies found themselves scrambling to equip themselves for a tweetstorm of their own. And a lasting effect from the president’s tweets is a deeper acceptance for lawmakers to go after companies using their reputation, not just regulation.
“Digital First” sounds like an old saying at this point, but 2017 was the year companies literally put digital first, with more ad dollars flowing to digital channels than TV for the first time ever. Significantly, almost 80% of this growth was driven just by Facebook and Google. Expect this trend to continue, likely leading to rising costs for social media marketing campaigns and even more innovative offerings from social media platforms.
Almost across the board, trust is down. Nationwide data breaches broke trust in companies. Brand safety issues and fluffed up metrics put companies at odds with agencies and new and old advertising platforms alike. Fake news and partisanship have eroded trust in the media and social media platforms in tandem. There are two key takeaways. First, learn from others’ mistakes and be prepared. Second, look out for major changes in reporting in all forms – from news stories to marketing metrics to corporate crises. The comms, they are a-changin’.
On and offline the media landscape saw some major shake-ups in 2017. Digital publications were bought out or slashed workforces. Bigger publishers were bought. Broadcasters are merging. Major content producers are trying to merge with huge data providers. Regulations (or the removal of) are about to change how content is distributed. Media credibility remains under attack from all social strata. In the U.S., partisan divides deepen. All of this will continue.
There is still room for inventive and educational content on social media, but the pipeline for shared outrage has also never been stronger. Users are rapid in finding a hashtag or phrase to follow or share, from using #MeToo to attack systemic sexual harassment and discrimination to knocking $3 billion off of a company’s market cap over an underwhelming video game. This kind of sharing, whether organic or coordinated by organizations has turned social channels into powerful weapons that have helped dethrone kings of industry and place people in the highest seats of power. We can only remind our clients and colleagues: prepare, prepare, prepare.
Facebook limits “engagement bait” to clean up the News Feed Axios
Refinery29 Lays Off 34 Staffers in Latest Sign of Digital-Media Malaise Variety
Bloomberg Media CEO Justin Smith: Publishers need to stop playing defense Digiday
Facebook tackles the question of whether social media is bad for us Engadget
Social-Media Stars Are Turning Heads—of Regulators WSJ
And now to combine two of the best parts of this holiday season…Star Wars and Christmas lights!