It’s 2018 trend prediction season! Yes, it’s that time of year when we see roughly 4,632 social media trend posts on the internet.
Only 95% of them are complete garbage.
That’s because they harp on trends that are painfully obvious. Organic social media is dead! 2018 is the year video explodes! Or, Twitter will die in the year ahead.
In fact, if you look at a lot of the trend posts, they almost seem to be cut-and-paste. So, this time of year, I usually try to take a more pragmatic approach to the trend prediction post idea and come up with a handful of trends I think will truly impact our work in the year ahead.
Below is a prezo I gave to the Florida PR Association a couple weeks ago that hits on that exact concept. Take a spin through it and let me know if you agree with my trend predictions for 2018.
Now THAT’S a headline, right? Sure, it might seem a little bombastic.
But, it’s actually rooted in a number of facts. And that’s exactly what I want to talk about today.
You see, it seems to me we’re at a bit of a crossroads. On one hand, I see a lot of people still working in an environment similar to 2001. Mainstream media still dominated the landscape. Smart phones weren’t even a thing yet. And Facebook wasn’t even a thought in Zuck’s mind.
On the other hand, I see a lot of other people working in the new paradigm. Where audience reach seems to be more fragmented by the day. Where no platform or media dominates. And where adoption of new approaches and technologies is the norm.
But make no mistake about it, these are two separate realities. And they’re miles apart.
And, it’s mostly predicated on the belief, and expectation, quite frankly, that the mainstream media will always be numero uno in the PR/marketing game.
Sure, mainstream media still have huge reach today. The New York Times still matters. People still watch NBC News (although fewer than did 10 years ago).
But, look how much has changed in 10 years (keep in mind, in 2007, the iPhone was invented).
How much will change in the NEXT 10 years?
A whole lot, methinks.
In fact, my prediction: 50% of all media relations jobs will be eliminated in 10 years.
Consider the facts:
- FACT: Mainstream media reach continues to wane.
- SUPPORT: A Pew Research Center study claims that total weekday circulation for U.S. daily newspapers (print and digital) fell 8% in 2016–the 28th consecutive year of declines.
- FACT: Local media continues to struggle as well.
- SUPPORT: Viewership for early morning (down 12%), evening (down 19%) and late night news broadcasts (down 31%) have all fell since 2007.
- FACT: Millennials have a more negative view of mainstream media.
- SUPPORT: Just 27 percent of millennials say mainstream media has a positive impact on them, down from 40 percent just 7 years ago.
- FACT: The way in which Millennials consume news is increasingly fragmented
- SUPPORT: According to a study by the American Press Institute, 88% of millennials get news from Facebook each day, but 83% get news from YouTube and 50% get it from Instagram as well.
So, mainstream media reach continues to suffer, local news is still diving, and millennials think less of news than they did just seven years ago and consume their news is MUCH different ways than most of us do/have.
Translation: Media relations will not be the cornerstone of comms and PR departments like it once was–in some organizations, this is already changing.
And while it might not be a “fact”, here’s one more important point to consider: In the current state, Boomers and Gen Xers serve in leadership positions (for the most part) within large agencies and large companies. They are the ones dictating terms. Budgets. Direction. Strategy.
What kind of media did those people grow up with? What kind of media are they most comfortable with?
You guessed it. NBC News. New York Times. The 10 pm local news.
Now think 10 years forward. The very youngest Boomers will be 61–the oldest will be 79 years old. The youngest Gen Xers will be 47–the oldest 62. This means, most of these folks will be moving into retirement, or taking a step back at the very least.
Meanwhile, Millennials will be moving into decision-making roles. They’ll be in the prime of their careers–ages 30-46.
What does this mean? It means Millennials will approach things a LOT differently than their Xer and Boomer counterparts. And, I’m not sure media relations will play the primary role with them that it does with the Boomers and Xers. It’s just not what they grew up with, or what they experienced. And, I can’t even begin to imagine how the yet-to-be-named generation (my kids–ages 0-13 now) will be consuming media in 10 years.
Make no mistake: Leadership is a big reason why many companies and agencies continue to pursue media relations as a discipline. And that’s fine…for now. But 10 years from now? I think we’ll see half the media relations jobs we see now.
So, what’s the result of the market losing 50% of these jobs? I think you’ll see more content-focused positions–in fact, you’re already seeing that. You’ll see more jobs where media relations is just one piece of the job (and a smaller one, at that). You’ll see more generalist roles vs. media-specific roles.
To be clear, I’m not saying media relations is dying, or is dead. Far from it. But, I do think the day and age of jobs solely dedicated to it is coming to an end–quickly. All signals point that way for now.
My daughter is nine (soon to be 10). And, apparently, age 9 is now the socially acceptable time to ask for (and in many cases, receive) a phone.
In fact, it’s happening earlier than age 9, believe it or not. Some of her friends had phones TWO YEARS AGO (yep–second grade folks). For all I know, some kids might have had phones when they were in kindergarten!
Put aside that fact for a moment–today,I want to talk a little about the app those 5-18-year-old girls and boys are using so much (more girls than boys): Musical.ly.
Yes, Musical.ly–not Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook is the app of choice among these young people. If you have a son or daughter between the ages of 7-13 you undoubtedly know what I’m talking about.
And if you don’t, maybe these stats will help paint the picture. Musically (launched in 2014) now has:
- 200 million registered users
- 40 million active users
- 12 million videos uploaded per day
Now, those stats pale in comparison to platforms like Snapchat (301 monthly active users), Instagram Stories (200 million monthly active users) and even Twitter (313 million active monthly users). But, we’re talking about a platform that was just introduced three years ago. And, it’s targeting a younger audience set that is just now getting phones (remember those seven-year-olds!).
And, it’s a platform that’s growing leaps and bounds. It had just 80 million DAUs in Sept. 2016. By the end of 2016, that number was at 130 million. And, now I’ve heard Muiscal.ly has 200 million registered users. Forbes recently reported registered users tripled in the last year.
The platform trends decidedly young. Mostly grade school, middle school and high school girls. That will have to trend a bit older is Musical.ly is going to take things to the next level.
For now, that’s still a powerful audience. Because those 10-18-year-old girls are the next generation of consumers.
So, why hasn’t Musically been working with more brands on activations?
Well, turns out, they have–in spots.
Brands like Coke and most of Hollywood (notably, a Guardians of the Galaxy integration that sounded pretty cool) have tested the Musical.ly waters. But, full-blown advertising options aren’t in cards just yet.
So, the majority of brands don’t have great options–even if they wanted to pursue it.
But given the growth curve shown above, this is one of the few social apps NOT named Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or LinkedIn you should be keeping an eye on.
Here’s another interesting angle to this whole Musical.ly thing: the impact it is having (and will continue to have) on this next generation of video creators.
Here’s why that’s particularly interesting to a 45-year-old like me. Like many Gen Xers, I grew up with a rotary phone, a boombox and Atari 2600.
Meanwhile, Gen Z will be the first generation to grow up entirely with: wi-fi virtually everywhere, a phone with them at all times (after the age of 7, apparently), and video editing tools at their fingertips.
For these kids, Musical.ly is the ultimate training ground for video creation and editing. And it’s happening every. single. day.
Contrast that with people my generation (and even a bit younger). We need to take classes to learn how to create and edit video (need proof–just look at your local PRSA, IABC or AMA programming).
Gen Z is learning how to do these kinds of things when they’re 9 years old.
My daughter is a living, breathing example. She’s creating videos (featuring her–separate topic for a different day) with real production value. I’ve been shocked at the ideas she comes up with. She’s learning “transitions” (essentially, editing in Musical.ly language). She’s learning how to frame a video up. And, she’s learning what garners attention in the video world online (even though she does have a private account–but, she is watching what others are doing and noticing what’s popular and what isn’t).
It’s absolutely fascinating (and a little terrifying, as a parent, at least) to watch.
Like I said, Musical.ly is definitely an app that should be on your radar–for a few different reasons.
Last weekend I was at The Dells with my kids (no laughing please–I grew up going to the Dells and have a strong affinity for the Upper Midwest’s Redneck Capital!).
As part of that adventure, we hit the Wisconsin Ducks. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, check this out.
Our tour guide was a lovely 19-year-old woman who was going to school in Minnesota. She cracked jokes. She was great with the kids (my son got to drive the Duck!). She was affable. She was a perfect tour guide.
Except for one thing.
She started every other sentence with “you guys.”
Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s so pervasive on YouTube, even a search of “you guys” pulls up THIS:
If you’ve watched any “influencer” on YouTube or Instagram, you absolutely know what I’m talking about because they start virtually EVERY sentence with these two words.
That’s the question. And, I think there’s a lot more there to unpack than you might think.
For starters, “you guys” is largely used on social platforms like YouTube and Instagram because of its more informal nature. And let’s be honest, language on social platforms has gotten a lot more informal than this. Punctuation, grammar … it almost feels optional at this point. So, “you guys” is a phrase that’s hardly at the top of the list when it comes to things to get worked up about on the internet. I understand that.
But, I also think there’s some laziness at play here, too. To me, “you guys” feels an awful lot like “um.” People are using it as a crutch. They’re using it because they’re lazy. Instead of using “you guys” every other sentence, work on tightening up your presentation style. I know the influencers of the world would probably say this kind of language is helping them connect with fans. And to that, I guess I would say, you can still connect with fans while being a little more effective presenter.
And, you could also make the argument that this phrase may be killing the future of public speaking.
You have an entire generation of kids now that are watching these influencers and people on YouTube, Snapchat and Instagram and admiring pretty much everything about them. From the products they use and adopt to what they do to the language they use. Hey, I have a 9-year-old and 12-year-old–I’ve seen it first-hand!
My kids actually attempted to create their own mock vlog on our summer road trip this year in the back seat. The first two words out of their mouths to start the vlog: You guessed it–“You guys.”
So yeah, younger people are picking up on the more informal tone and phrases these “influencers” and people on the social web are using. And, it’s part of a larger trend around the erosion of punctuation, grammar and other more formal communications structures. I don’t think these structures are going away anytime soon–but they’re certainly taking some big body blows right now.
And, I think that’s a big threat to the public speaking world.
Think about all the jobs that require you to be a competent (if not above-average) public speaker:
- Government officials
I mean, you could argue public speaking is a skill set anyone should have in any profession. So yeah, public speaking is important in the real world. And I’m just a little worried informal phrases like “you guys” are helping spur the erosion of it.
I know there are far more issues more worthy of my outrage. I get this is pretty small in the grand scheme of things.
But, give it 5-7 years. Let’s see how the next generation of public speakers fares.
I think that will be fascinating to watch.
Maybe it’s my psych minor. And maybe it’s my innate interest in human behavior. Any way you slice it, I’ve always fancied myself an amateur psychologist (extremely amateur, to be clear).
And, there’s no more interesting place to watch that human behavior play out than the internet on a day-to-day basis.
Over the last 9-12 months, it’s been particularly interesting as we’ve witnessed a number of seismic shifts in our industry. Video has exploded across the social web. The “story” feature has invaded almost all social networks. And Twitter, as a platform, continues to circle the drain.
The primary drivers behind each of those shifts? Human behavior. Plain and simple.
So, I thought today, we’d take a closer look at five big social media shifts we’ve seen in the last year and the psychology behind them. Remember, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one of the internet:
Trend: Video exploding across the social web
The psychology behind it: CISCO research claims online videos will account for more than 80% of all consumer internet traffic by 2020. We know that video is just crushing on the web. But, why? It’s all part of a bigger shift in lifestyle and behavior. 15-20 years ago, people would go home, plop down in front of the TV and watch. Today, people are busier than ever before. And, they have these little mobile TV sets in their hands. So, they can easily fit smaller bits and pieces of video viewing into their day–in line at Starbucks, in the car, while they wait for the movie to begin at the theater. The behavior change is wrapped around the way we’re living our lives–which is increasingly “on the go.”
Trend: The rise of Insta-stories
The psychology behind it: Two factors here. One, people are obsessed with behind-the-scenes looks at people’s lives. Where garden-variety Instagram pics are more manicured and, many times, posed. Insta-Stories are decidedly not. They’re off-the-cuff. They’re spontaneous. And they’re far more real. And that’s what people like about them. Second, there’s definitely an “above the fold” behavior at play here. To review your Instagram pics, you have to thumb through hundreds (in many cases) of pics each day. Meanwhile, your Insta-Stories are right there at the top of your screen–every time. Which is easier to access? Many times, human behavior is very predictable.
Trend: The non-adoption of Facebook stories
The psychology behind it: Where Insta-Stories have flourished, Facebook Stories have really struggled to take off. And, in my view, the behaviors behind this are quite simple: A lack of time and brain space. People can only do so much in any given day. They can only interact on so many social platforms. Many limit their social participation to Facebook. Others, choose Instagram. Yet others, Twitter. Some people can dabble in a couple, maybe even three at a time. But I would venture to say the vast majority of people probably limit their daily interactions to 1-2 social platform at most. Read: I only have so much time and brain space for this. And, because they were first (well, second to Snapchat), Insta-Stories snapped up that time and brain space. Facebook is now playing catch up. And, it’s going to be tough to get people to change, and/or make more time.
Trend: The LinkedIn backlash
The psychology behind it: I don’t know how many times I’ve seen the following post, or some derivation of it, on LinkedIn in the last year: “This isn’t Facebook. Save your personal updates for that platform, please.” Increasingly, people are getting frustrated with LinkedIn. Too much spam. Too many sales people. Too much pitching. Too much garbage in people’s feeds that belongs elsewhere. The psychology here, again, is simple: People like to label and compartmentalize things. Facebook is for personal sharing. LinkedIn is for professional sharing.
Trend: Twitter and it’s impending demise
The psychology behind it: Let’s face it: Most people want to hang out with the “cool kids.” For years, that “cool kid” was Twitter. From about 2007-2012, I’d say, Twitter was definitely that cool kid. And seemingly everyone wanted to spend time with him. But, the last few years, that coolness has faded. Fast. Nowadays, the only people I see using Twitter on a regular basis are: 1) Celebs/athletes, 2) Media, 3) POTUS, 4) Trolls. With that kind of environment, is it any wonder the masses left Twitter? The cool kids left, and the masses followed (mostly to Facebook and Instagram).
Note: Photo courtesy of Ross Burton via Creative Commons license.