Digital Content

Towards a Digitised Future in Communications: How Social Platforms are Driving Higher Engagement and Viewership for Digital Content

With each passing day, digital content continues to be an integral part of a 360-degree marketing strategy for nearly every big brand across the globe

Undoubtedly, the perfect recipe for successful marketing is a combination of social media and digital content. By the year 2020, the number of smartphones is predicted to reach 6.2 billion globally, and the number of social media users will increase simultaneously to compliment these figures. It is, therefore, natural for all forms of digital content to gain importance in the coming future as well.

Given the ubiquity of mobile devices in our lives, and the fact that it is an extremely dynamic medium in itself, the mobile phone will likely be at the centre of all future innovations. Therefore, all content, be it digital or non-digital (broadcast), is now being customised, packaged and presented to audiences in a mobile-friendly manner in order to reach maximum number of consumers, particularly, the younger generation.

Increasing focus on mobile video and social media in marketing

With each passing day, online content continues to be an integral part of a 360-degree marketing strategy for nearly every big brand across the globe. The lines between traditional and digital advertising are thus blurring.

Market research company Global WebIndex conducted a study of 178,421 global internet users in over 40 markets in the age group of 16-64 years. It uncovered that around 28 per cent of users use some form of social network while researching products online, a number that is rising steadily each year. According to the company, nearly half of the internet users follow brands they like, or brands they are looking to buy, on social media. Online searches and reviews on social media are amongst the most popular medium for consumers looking for brand recall, recognition and purchase. However, by 2020, this trend will seemingly tilt towards the use of social video, coupled with visual search, for product discovery.

Merely scrolling through the Facebook feeds will provide a sense of how video is increasingly dominating digital interactions among consumers, and between brands and consumers. Just consider these figures:

  • Facebook records 500 million video views per day.
  • Over 5 billion video clips are watched on YouTube every day.
  • Nearly 82 per cent of Twitter users watch video content on the platform.
  • Daily, there are around 3+ billion images, and 10+ billion video views across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat.

During 2017 and 2018, live video content gained traction across various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Tapping into the millennials and Gen-Z generation shows an inclination towards mobile videos, and what is called the ‘fear of missing out (FOMO)’ syndrome. At one time, live videos became a potent tool to reach out to large audiences to garner high-level of engagement in real time. This is especially useful for bigger brands, with an already sizeable following on social platforms, to gain greater traction than any other medium, for instance, through posts or advertisements that can easily be missed by social media users.

Live videos are engaging as they enable one-to-one interaction between the video and the viewer. Another factor behind the growing popularity of live videos is the immediate response it elicits – particularly for mobile, which is the preferred device amongst most users. Instant push notifications at the commencement of live broadcasts on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, where users are almost always logged on through their smartphones, attracts the maximum number of viewership, and prompts immediate social media conversations via comments and reactions. Brands and channels hosting live videos can leverage video metrics to analyse the level of engagement, and determine ways to enhance interactions and future engagement.

Expected trends in digital content in the future

Digital content, and specifically visual content, is already taking over digital marketing in innovative ways, enabling brands and consumers to connect in a manner that was not possible before. From one-way communication in the past, to more dynamic and responsive interactions in the present age, marketing and advertising has come a long way with digital media. Digital is indisputably the future of content. From ads to full-length feature films, digital is becoming the preferred choice for content creators, brands and celebrities to reach their audience across geographies and age groups.

Considering this new paradigm of communication, discussed below are some of the key trends that will demand the attention of content creators and brands and see more investments.

  • Big data will underpin the digital experience as it offers ways to identify opportunities to engage audiences across multiple channels for an exceptional experience. Omni-channel is the new norm, and big data helps aggregate and analyse how communication across various channels have performed. This can help digital content creators and publishers design seamless and personalised experiences across mobile platforms and offline channels.
  • Better storytelling on digital media will ensure audience engagement. When communicating with a niche audience or even wider segment of consumers, knowing what they care about and touching them through well-crafted stories helps increase engagement. Thus, higher investments in experiential and interactive platforms will be a major trend that will enable those who want to communicate with larger audiences, connect with them emotionally, and create a more lasting place in their minds and lives.
  • Content aimed to drive large-scale social change will gain traction. Viewers are recognising that power brands are effecting positive social change and influencing public opinion and behaviour. Brands have realised this in the last few years, and are proactively taking a stance on important social issues in the mainstream media, while driving campaigns to bring in social change. Meaningful content with a strong message for the public will then be a driving force for the creation and promotion of digital content in the near future by all brands, influencers, celebrities, etc.

The future, therefore, has interesting things in store when it comes to digital and social media. High-quality and short-form visual/video content will play a major role in digital communications in the coming years, as brands come to realise the benefits of mobile platforms and mobile access, such as simplicity and user-centricity. Moreover, the interactive nature of digital social communication is also encouraging consumers to interact more with brands and influencers active in the media. Trend marketers will now look to create personalised, seamless, and gamified experiences for their audience.

By Mr. Prem Behl, Chairman and Managing Director of Exhibitions India Group  

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