2019 digital trends

7 Digital Trends to Watch in 2019

Along with everything else, our digital world is changing at an unprecedented rate. Robots are replacing people, our fridge can talk to our doorbell, fintechs are usurping banks. Facebook is rocking, Apple aren’t telling us how many phones they are[n’t] selling anymore. Amazon is everything and everything is Amazon. Today’s Tik Tok is tomorrow’s Vine. Tomorrow’s Evan Spiegel is next week’s Tom from MySpace. Remember Bitcoin?

Here are 7 Digital Trends we think you might want to keep an eye on over the next 12 months and beyond…

1.ANTI-SOCIAL SOCIAL

anticocial

In the past year alone, Facebook Group membership is up 40 percent, with 1.4 billion people using groups every month. Of those, 200 million people belong to so-called “meaningful Groups,” considered a vital part of users’ daily lives” Facebook / Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite.

Cambridge Analytica and data protection, a backlash against the tech behemoths, Russian election meddling, re-targetters knocking on your bedroom door, a behavioural shift away from public sharing, Snapchat and ephemeral content… amidst a general lack of trust social is becoming “anti-social”.

Whilst Facebook’s overall usage declines and its growth stagnates, its groups are booming. The privacy and “walled garden” within which like-minded people can discuss their interests, passions, or commonalities (think neighbourhood and workplace groups) are both a throwback to the heyday of forums and chatrooms and a vision of the anti-social social media of the future.

This creates challenges for brands who rely on sharing and dissemination, but also offers opportunities to get highly relevant, targeted content in front of the right audiences.

2.DIGITAL WELLBEING

digital welbeing 

Wellbeing is a huge global trend. There are clamours to include it on the school curriculum. Physical, mental, emotional, financial… and digital.

There are increasing concerns about digital/social’s impact on peoples’ mental health and around children being glued to their devices – scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll….

Facebook/Instagram, Apple, and Google have all introduced digital wellbeing controls which can variously monitor, alert and flag excessive consumption whether screen time, app usage, or notification checking.

One day we may look back at the 2010s and barely believe that people spent hours glued to tiny screens, zombified by brightly coloured candies, looping 3-second videos, and over-saturated selfies. If you watch a concert through a screen, are you really watching it at all?

digital wellbeing

Will 2019 see a more intense backlash against mobile phones, against social media, against 24/7 connectivity? Calm and Headspace, two wildly popular mobile apps, are using digital positively, to encourage wellbeing. Perhaps we’ll see a shift towards more positive uses of eyes on screen in 2019.

3.MESSAGING

  • 61% of people have messaged a business in the last month
  • 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business they can message directly
  • More than 1 in 2 people consider business messaging the modern way to communicate

These stats come directly from Facebook. But they would say that, wouldn’t they, as they try and push Facebook Messenger.

  • Website conversion rates can increase by up to 82% if you include a chatbot on your website
  • Open rates can double if you message people at the right time
  • Messaging allows you to cut customer response times in half

These stats come directly from Intercom, providers of on-site chat modules. But they would say that, wouldn’t they…

Despite the bias of these sources, it’s indisputable that messaging is becoming the interface of choice across the digital landscape. It’s personal, one-to-one and, referencing back to the “anti-social social” trend, private.

Whether a bespoke platform or Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat, or even an SMS renaissance, messaging is increasingly central to communication, dissemination and promotion strategies. We see that continuing into 2019 and beyond.

4.THE VOICE

Which links nicely into the rise of voice and voice technology. Amazon ships 67 new voice-enabled devices every minute. According to Comscore (and included in every article about voice ever), by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches.

Like messaging it’s a one-to-one engagement with a brand or service, a conversation. It’s real and human, and allows people to interact like never before, without (literally) even lifting a finger.

“48% of voice activated speaker owners would like to receive personalised tips and info from brands and 38% would like to receive customer service support”.

That’s according to Google (biased sources anyone?). Not only is the audience growing, it’s receptive.

The surface has barely been scratched and we see voice-activated tech playing an ever-bigger role in our day to day lives from controlling the devices in our kitchen to driving our cars (until they become autonomous of course). Maybe it won’t peak in 2019, but the future and potential are exciting.

 5.PEAK INFLUENCER

Brands have woken up to the questionable ROI “influencers” can offer. There is already a paradigm shift towards long-term and genuine relationships with relevant influencers who have a real affinity to the brand in question, rather than one-off or burst content.

It’s a movement towards advocacy over influence, towards activating and leveraging people who are genuine fans of your products and/or services rather than paying for promotional content.

Influencers who post about different, sometimes competing products every other day are being called out, with trust again central. Their “reach” is now a secondary metric behind the real resonance they have with the target audience.

We see this continuing, with influencer outreach campaigns being supplanted by community building and advocacy programs focussed on stimulating real positive sentiment and word of mouth. Of course celebs can still launch a thousand sales, but change is coming…

6.IMMERSIVE TECH

Sometime in 2014 video content went mainstream. Then it forked and split, went to another level with hyper-lapses, stop-motion, 360, super slo-mo, and all the other things you see from “adventurous” brands on Instagram.

Now we’re at the crest of another wave, that of fully immersive, experiential video content. Virtual reality. Creative technology. Oculus, Daydream, Vive. VR and AR have been threatening to go mainstream for a while now (Blippar’s travails have starkly illustrated how supply exceeds demand for the latter) but 2019 could see a tipping point with, particularly on the VR side, affordable consumer tech allowing the medium to reach the masses.

You can chat to our in-house creative studio and VR specialists Pebble Studios about how VR can be central to your content strategy in 2019.

7.DIGITAL DEMYSTIFICATION

digital demistification

Digital is complicated. HTML, CSS, PPC, SEM, SEO, CRO, CPC, MPU, CPM, ROI… are just a handful of the acronyms. Google is an infinite behemoth of data, touch-points, strategies, ad types and backends. Snapchat is unnavigable for the uninitiated. Websites are simultaneously becoming more complex yet somehow simpler, which is confusing in itself. Then there’s native advertising, affiliates, programmatic, influencers… the list is endless.

But despite all that, stakeholders are increasingly “digitally savvy”.

This generation’s millennial entrepreneurs are digital natives, grew up with MSN Messenger (at least the older ones), were at the vanguard of Facebook’s omnipresence, can build a WordPress site and set up a PPC campaign. They understand the landscape and how digital can drive business performance (so do we – get in touch). Digital agencies no longer operate under a shroud of mystery and clients are demanding ever-more transparency and zoning in on ROI.

Gen-Z will take “digital nativeness” to another level. They can use iPhones before they can talk. The concept of digital specialists will cease to exist: everyone will be one. Digital will no longer be a discipline: it will be everything.

SUMMARY

Unquestionably, change – digital and otherwise – will continue apace in 2019. We don’t know exactly what will happen (nor does anyone else, don’t believe the hype-men) but it’s certainly worth keeping an eye on the seven we’ve identified. Along with AI and robotics, real-time tech, automated design, the internet of things, 3D printing, visual search, big data, globalisation, tech-enabled cities… what a time to be alive. Speaking of which, ever heard of eterni.me?

Matt Rowe

Matt Rowe

Matt is an innovation and future-focused digital/social expert. He’s delivered award-winning strategic and creative work for numerous global brands across the UK, Europe, the US, APAC, and IMEA.

Strategy Consultant , Big Rock

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