WEDNESDAY 6 DEC 2017 2:56 PM


As the last few weeks of 2017 roll by, the world of communications is awash with end of year reports, comments on yearly trends and industry projections for 2018. For many agencies, this amounts to analysis of the tech or digital platforms impacting the communications landscape. For the London office of global social media agency We Are Social, however, its ‘people before platforms’ ethos sees its Think Forward 2018 trend report comment on the human-led side of innovation. What does We Are Social suggest will have the biggest impact on data across the following year? And why does the human brain still matter?

Six key motivations, identified by We Are Social as driving changes in politics, culture, media and technology, allow a nuanced and comprehensive approach to the report. This is while also examining the forces driving UK industry change, in communications and beyond. Detailed as certainty (the need for safety and control), connection (the need to interact with others), belonging (the need to feel part of the community), status (the need to have validation in society), progression (the need to grow, learn and develop) and conscience (the need to help others), the six motivations are based on the most basic of human interaction – essentially what drives technological innovation.

For Mobbie Nazir, chief strategy officer at We Are Social and co-author of Think Forward, the turbulence experienced in 2017 does not necessarily mean doom and gloom – where there is uncertainty, there is opportunity. “It’s been a year of contradiction,” says Nazir. “We’ve seen increasing diversity and inclusion as well as greater control and nationalism. Technology continues to evolve at an incredible pace while trust declines. On one hand, data can give us more insights to build this trust, but the process of gaining that data can also destroy it.”

And, says Nazir, the six key motivations provide impetus for brands, particularly those with a strong social or digital presence, to take steps towards rebuilding reputation and establishing a socioeconomic environment built on trust. “We’re at a critical moment in society, where we all need to start working together,” says Nazir. “In these conflicted times, it’s difficult for brands to navigate this path, but there’s an opportunity to nurture an environment in which trust can grow.”

Now in its third year, Think Forward 2017 occupies that oft-neglected space between thought and outcome. It recognises that brands should, and encourages brands to, embrace new ways of thinking and bridge the perceived gap between business and consumer – clarity, hyper-personalisation and participation are all cited as key values for which brands should strive.

Yet, says Nazir, this approach is nothing new. While no doubt important to current and future branding and communications, digital platforms are merely a catalyst through which the true customer experience can be examined. “Lots of trend reports talk about tech and innovation, but they miss the bigger opportunity for brands to tap into people's social needs and motivations,” he says.

“These needs are amplified through technology, but they have been around way before the likes of Facebook or Snapchat. They are what makes us human, and they are powerful drivers of human behaviour.”

To view the full report, click here.