Top predictions for Social Media & PR in 2020

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Here we’re introducing, Rachel Johnson, our new senior consultant who has a specialism in social media. In her first post, Rachel shares her predictions for 2020.

Last year was huge for social media. You could say it peaked in terms of popularity and the news covered social media’s negative side with #wagathachristie, #antibullying messages, and many people preaching the benefits of a #digitaldetox. Despite this rhetoric, the stats still show continued growth. Particularly in the case of Instagram, where the older demographic is beginning to get involved. That being said, the way we use social media is changing every day and those who adapt to these changes will capitalise most in 2020.

Here are my top predictions for Social Media & PR in 2020…

  1. Engagement key as likes removed in UK on Instagram

The removal of likes has been slowly rolled out and has now hit the UK with a large portion of accounts no longer showing likes. This will hopefully improve the mental health of those using Instagram but how will it affect businesses? Instagram will be looking for accounts who engage on a deeper level and this means those who gain comments and DMs. Finding ways to create a stronger reaction from customers will be key here and another reminder that content needs to be both interesting and entertaining. Using stories is more important than ever with many now choosing to read stories over grid posts. This encourages brands to get a lot more personal with their customers and show the raw and less honed side of the business. There is also the view that this move will make it harder to gauge the effectiveness of campaigns and push more brands towards the use of advertising or influencer marketing.

  1. Influencer Marketing

Recent stats show that 49% of consumers depend on Influencer recommendations and 40% of those will purchase something after it’s been recommended. In a saturated market of advertising, consumers are affected by a more natural and informative style of marketing which can come from an influencer. Those influencers who appear genuine and promote brands which are associated with their values will be most successful. PR agencies and Social Media Managers will need to find creative ways to partner with influencers to offer a natural campaign which doesn’t appear forced despite the need for it to state that it is an #ad.

  1. Video & Voice control

Video is a powerful way to create a strong brand message. It also keeps people engaged for longer and 56% of internet users watch videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram each month. Broadcast style video is, however, reaching saturation point and consumers are expecting video to be used in a more social way such as live video hence the use of IGTV is on the rise. Voice technology will also begin to change the way people search online during 2020 and marketers will need to adapt to this.

  1. Iteration & flexible marketing and social media content strategy

With so many big changes happening, new trends are emerging all the time. It will be more necessary to iterate and modify social media campaigns on a regular basis. Marketing strategies which can be flexible to the changing needs of consumers will be most successful.

  1. Mobile over Desktop

Mobile is beginning to take over and marketing strategies will need to take this into account. Both websites and social media will need to be optimised for mobile as well as desktop. Using google analytics to see how your users are experiencing your content will be key to improving results.

  1. Local Content beats National

If Content is King then Local Content is now the aspiring Prince. Instagram is starting to implement location pages to make it easier to search locally. Better targeting will offer the user a more personalised experience and in turn increase engagement. National brands will need to find ways to integrate a local strategy into their existing group marketing strategy and ensure this comes through on social media also.

  1. Search Engine Optimisation

Despite massive growth, people still trust search engines more than they trust social media. Creating a social media strategy for search engines is a full proof way of catching an audience. It is more important than ever to use PR in a holistic way to both deepen content on your website and reach new customers on social media. When these are integrated effectively the impact is much higher and longer-lasting.

 

 

 

Snapchat: Tech titan or fleeting fad?

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We’ve all seen them – the countless animal-eared, sunglass-clad, hat-wearing selfies – taken using Snapchat. It’s a wildly popular social media platform, especially with today’s young people – it’s a fun, impromptu and fleeting way of communicating, with photos or videos only appearing for up to 10 seconds.

In the most eagerly anticipated tech IPO since Facebook in 2012, Snapchat went public last week – and its shares have been up and down since. In the light of this uncertainty, we wanted to take a look at Snapchat’s functions and values as a new social media phenomenon, and consider what it might be worth.

Unlike Facebook, which strives to create a record of its users’ lives, “Snapchat offers liberating impermanence”. And its figures show that this is a popular concept: Snapchat has revealed it generates over $400 million in annual sales and has 158 million people using its app on a daily basis.

Although this isn’t as many as Facebook, with about 1.2 billion checking their Facebook account daily, Snapchat claims their users are much more engaged than Facebook’s – two-thirds of them check the app every day – and the average daily user visits the app 18 times a day, spending an average of 25-30 minutes a day sending and watching snaps from friends, celebrities and advertising brands.

And there’s no doubt that the app is quickly evolving from a ‘chat’ platform that gave Snapchat its name. Over the years it has steadily increased advertising and added news. Last month, Snapchat launched its annual filters for UK brands, and last year began selling its Spectacles – eyeglasses that can take photos and record videos. So does this mean brands should be on Snapchat? Is it an effective channel to convey a business message?

I think time will tell. When Snapchat first become popular, the novelty of masking selfies and wacky filters was fun, new, and different from the sleek offerings of Instagram. And I do still think Snapchat can be fun…when I remember to use it. But it’s not indispensable to me – I skip the ads, I don’t use it for news. In fact, a recent survey claims that 69 percent of its respondents said they ‘always’ or often’ skip adds on Snapchat, and 61 percent said they didn’t follow any news organisations on the app. So it seems it’s neither a necessary tool for communication nor a reliable source for information, and paid-for brand adverts don’t seem to be worth it over 50% of the time.

The Sunday Times issued a warning before the app went public, listing six reasons why Snap’s float could flop, from growth not equalling profit to lack of proof from the app that it can actually make money. Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder, although its user figures are impressive, whether the whole concept of disappearing photos and videos is simply another digital fad.

I’m not saying there is no value in Snapchat for brands. Adidas or Amazon are good examples of brands using Snapchat effectively. They have used the app to help show their brand’s personal side and reach a young demographic in a way which engages them. Snapchat connects with audiences ‘in the moment’, in a unique and creative way. But it’s still very much new territory and we’ll have to wait to see long-term effect and measure success.

If you’re a brand thinking about how you can use Snapchat – whether you should be on it, how to use it, its advertising functions – my advice is to tread carefully. Think about your market, test the waters, and take it slow. You can always talk to a team of digitally-minded PRs (like us at Twelve) too…!

How to…bring simple graphic design in-house

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If you don’t know by now, visual, well-designed, curated content is in. Instagram usage has doubled in the last two years and is well on its way to overtaking Facebook as the most engaged AND popular network.[1] At the same time, both video and infographics have become powerful tools for brands looking to communicate more easily with their readers. Effective communication is undeniably becoming more about visual aspects than ever before.

Agency work is varied; while we at Twelve produce traditional PR, develop media relations, etc., more and more communication relies on visual elements – we also produce newsletters, posters, leaflets, social media adverts etc. Infographics often accompany important research-based press releases as a visual way of communicating the topline news. And with the importance of high quality graphics on the up, clients have high expectations that we need to match.

It makes sense then, that many creative PR agencies are thinking about how they can bring some elements of graphic design in-house. While we do use an external designer and printer for some jobs, sometimes we need to put together a quick, professional-looking creative ourselves.

And while taking a photo at an edgy angle and adding a snazzy filter may be anyone’s game, professional graphic designing is not. Here are some tips to get started on your own in-house design:

Canva

For beginners, free online software Canva is your new best friend. It’s super easy to use, intuitive and really made for creative assignments without the fancy, difficult to use features of a professional graphic design programme.

It has a range of background, font, layout and size options and templates, as well as various images, logos and shapes you can use for free. You can also upload your own images, so brand logos and specific imagery can be easily added to your design.

There are some elements you need to pay for, but here at Twelve we use the free account and it’s more than we need to design social media creatives and other simple visuals, like a blog graphic or an email header. There is also a free infographic template which is really useful for creating a simple infographic if you don’t have time (or budget!) for professional design work.

The eye for design 

Many say that some people just have an eye for design. While it may come more naturally to some, it is something you can learn by looking at or finding similar designs to what you are aiming to create. There are all sorts of resources online that you can use to find inspiration and use as a base for your design, whether you’re making a creative for a Facebook advert or your building a four-page newsletter. As you get more experience and more confident with the process of designing, you will start to trust your own nose more and be more creative.

For practical tips and to learn basic design principles, Canva itself has a really useful blog to help beginners get started: https://designschool.canva.com/

InDesign courses

After becoming more proficient using Canva, you’ll start to notice it can’t do all the things a professional graphic design programme can. This only really becomes a problem with more complicated design jobs, like a newsletter or leaflet for example (Canva is definitely still my go to for social media visuals and smaller jobs). But if you do want to bring these types of more complex graphic design jobs in-house, InDesign is the next step.

InDesign is a paid-for Adobe product, which is used by most professional graphic designers. This means it has a LOT of features so you can get the precision required for complicated graphic design jobs. This being said, if you are thinking of getting InDesign, I would recommend going on a course to get to grips with the programme, rather than trying to navigate it yourself like you can do on Canva. You can get some fantastic results from InDesign, but it is an complex programme to learn to use.

I won’t give a step-by-step guide to using InDesign, as this blog would become VERY long, but to really understand the programme and use it to its full potential, look into booking onto a beginners’ course (probably a 2-day course) and see how you get on.

graphic design in-house

Infographic designed on Canva

Visual PR?

The statistics to the left speak for themselves; visual communication is effective. In order to help brands and products to be heard through the noise across the proliferation of media channels, where visual aspects matter just as much, if not more, than words, design skills are something we need to look to understand as experts in communication, ensuring we keep up with trends and stay ahead of change.

 

 

 

[1] https://www.brandwatch.com/2016/05/37-instagram-stats-2016/