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Posted on Wed 7th Jan, 2015 in: Industry Comment, Influence, Public Relations, Social Media by Christian Dente

The digital world never stands still, which is why it's so incredibly important for brands to be aware of the latest online trends so they can stay ahead of the curve to create and curate content for their audiences before they even know they want it. So what's going to be hot in 2015? Well, you'll be happy to know that we've taken a look in the Aberfield crystal ball and selected a few of our favourite trends that we think will brands will need to focus on this year: 1. Video Content Content and video marketing will continue to go from strength to strength in 2015. Why? Quite simply, because it works. Brands roughly have a six second window to captivate their audience and video content grabs their attention with both hands, keeping consumers engaged for longer periods of time. The stats speak for themselves too: video marketing grew 59% in the UK during the first half of 2014 alone, which proves there is an insatiable appetite for video content on social media. At the current rate of video content marketing growth, Cisco expects a staggering 80% of all consumer internet traffic will be consuming video by 2018. We're not just talking about #ThugLife animals or Walderstone Raider viral videos, so expect to see lots of branded video content in 2015. Anticipate the quality of the videos to rise significantly too, as brands will continue to provide more valuable content combined with a strong brand story telling arc, looking to connect with audiences via emotion and humour. 2. Dual Screen From X-Factor to Broadchurch, or The Walking Dead to Game of Thrones, us Brits love to tweet about what we watch on the small screen. Simple. Heck, even during Monday night's FA Cup match between Liverpool and AFC Wimbledon, there were a whopping 39,000 tweets related to the League 2 team's striker Ade Akinfenwa alone. The stats say that 61% of us Brits now 'dual-screen' while we're watching TV and 77% of us are influenced by what we see on TV on social media. Given this, the opportunities for brands to piggyback on what's happening on TV and start to own these conversations to interact with consumers when they're online and engaged become compelling. So expect to see more brands create content around key TV premieres, offering exclusive content by creating reactive, valuable content relative to the TV programme in question. Think delicious home-baked recipes during Great British Bake Off. By doing this brands can speak to a new, switched-on audience hungry for specifically related content, therefore growing their existing social community, driving their social equity. 3. Mobile Growth With a huge growth in the use of smartphones and tablets, 2014 was the year that these gadgets became people's no.1 device to use the internet and social media. 2014 also saw a radical movement in how people consume social media (see video content above), and how they interact with brands online. This was down to a few things, but the digital revolution was caused mainly because of improved internet connectivity. That's right, the high quality rapid speed internet connection and wide-spread access to fibre optic broadband, as well as 4G, allowed us to be online 24/7 and consume whatever we want. From watching HD video on the go or banking on the bus, the opportunities are endless. Now combine this with the growth of sliver surfer smartphone users who are now using smart tech on the go and at home to help complete daily tasks, the increased growth on the mobile platform has completely influenced consumer behaviour and in turn how brands interact with their audiences online. According to Fury 86% of time spent on mobile is on apps, so expect to see lots more apps released in 2015, with brands focusing on simplifying their existing apps - splitting specific sections of their services into different single purpose apps to ease the consumers' journey. 4. Social Buying The rise of online retail and, as mentioned above, the increase in mobile usage means that people can buy anything anywhere. So it makes sense that with all this brand awareness on social media, the social networks should make it as easy as possible for your audience to buy your products at the click of a button, instead of merely promoting your ecommerce site. In fact, it's a wonder why this kind of service hasn't been implemented already. We've already seen Facebook and Twitter experiment with direct purchase buttons in the USA by testing the 'buy' buttons, allowing users to make purchases with just a click via a social 'buy now' post. This service would eliminate one of the biggest problems that merchants face on social media ('how do we get customers to click-through to our website') by offering a simple solution without the user having to leave the page they're on. Expect e-commerce and social media incorporations to develop in 2015 when the 'buy' button rolls out on Facebook and Twitter. This gives retailers an incredible opportunity to react to real-time media to sell products, offering exclusive discounts or short term deals on products that are relative to what people are consuming when they're dual screening. Combine that with an exclusive follower discount then consumers may well be inclined to act quickly and seal the deal. Expect this button to completely change the digital landscape in 2015. 5. Customer service will be a growth area for social media. Social media is becoming the first port of call for disgruntled consumers to vent their frustrations with brands, forgoing waiting for hours on hold to customer services and instead taking to Twitter in hopes of a fast response and a solution to their problems. We expect this to continue to grow in 2015 and more brands will invest in resources to provide a timely and efficient customer service on Twitter. This means that your audience will soon expect a dedicated customer services handle that will be able to grant customers direct access to help and keep your marketing efforts remain undiluted.  

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