WEDNESDAY 14 FEB 2018 12:46 PM


Trust is everything in the 2018 digital landscape. With over 3 bn people using social media every month and an average person spending over six hours online missteps online are noticed immediately and en masse. Where Millennials were once perceived as the only demographics using social media for brand research, even 20% of 55 to 64 year olds are looking to social platforms for service information.

Everyone is watching brands online, keeping them accountable for everything they put into digital spaces.. The Digital in 2018 report by We Are Social and Hootsuite details where this is happening and how to respond to it.

The financial stakes for brands moving forward could not be higher. Last year, $1.5 tn was spent on consumer goods online. In a move to capitalise on the growing social presences of users, especially in audio-visual spaces (YouTube saw a 70% increase in viewers year-on-year, for example), brands need to mind that the profits that can come from their digital presences are not entitled to them.

Rather than be the sole gatekeepers for business communication, savvy brands are learning how to break their traditional value chains and allow consumers to not just be a part of the conversation but also shape it. In an era of ‘fake news,’ We Are Social and Hootsuite emphasise that brands must be transparent to grow and maintain their audiences, even if that means speaking about their missteps. Third parties and suppliers aren’t satisfied with an ‘I’m sorry you feel that way/found out about that’ approach to criticism and are increasingly demanding that companies publicly change their practices when confronted. Likewise, user engagements offer brands the opportunity to grow and pivot while building loyalty and community. Rolling with this digital feedback is an increasingly standard part of a healthy communications plan.

Even when acknowledging the importance of honesty and accountability however, brands need to be prepared for engagement in all their written and audio-visual communications, including when they’re being represented by AI. The over 100 m people using ‘Groups’ on Facebook may be reachable using AI, but when building connections using AI companies need to be careful not to abuse their user data and become overly familiar with customers so that they ‘deliver relevance in a seamless, non-intrusive way.’ This ethic needs to extend into all produced video, audio and written content as well as all live communications going forward.

To maintain the trust of their audiences, brands need to make multimedia and cross-departmental communications plans going forward. This means that siloing off the responsibility for communications to one department is going to become increasingly difficult. Legal, IT, marketing, communications, PR and all executives need to be aware of not just where to be on digital platforms but how to be if they are going to leverage the growing digital interactive world of 2018.