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Digital forecasts for 2022: Marketing & Technology



The last two turbulent years has seen endless unpredicted circumstances, on a global scale. Unforeseen spikes in housing prices, plagues of mice, mass CEO resignations and the unbelievable US capitol riots are just a handful of gob smacking news headlines that most experts didn’t see coming. With 2022 only just upon us, it’s safe to say that most are hesitant to predict anything for the year ahead.

But before we waste too many late nights pondering what on earth this year could bring us, and whether anything is a safe bet, why not consider some safe predictions based on reactions we’ve seen from the year behind us? Surely that’s a safer bet…


For the many business owners and professionals wondering what changes will affect your business, customers, interactions or day-to-day for the 2022, this one’s for you. Let’s dive into what experts have to say, and our round up of the top 4 forecasts for 2022 across marketing and technology…


Index


Digital Marketing Predictions


Technology and Software predictions

Summary



Digital Marketing Predictions


Privacy (finally) matters

Thanks to a greater awareness of user data and recent documentaries like "The social dilemma" and "The great hack", there are global demands for better privacy and data handling, and it's seeing big changes in international consumer laws. This in turn, is changing how search engines and social media platforms are handling our privacy. You can expect to see changes in regulations around user-provided content, both for fact-checking and privacy. It means that finally, consumer data is no longer being leveraged and monetised without our permission. Each of us will have more say on where our data is being used across search engines, social platforms and applications. Some say, with the end of the cookie near, consumers will start to get paid by publishers in order to gather consumer data. How about that?

Bear in mind that this in many ways, will have a nock-on effect for most digital marketing efforts both on a small and large scale, as it will affect how audience information will be used and targeted. You can expect to see even basic campaigns such as Instagram's "boosted" post ads changing soon. Digital marketing revenues will still continue to grow, but be braced for new challenges and changes due to these evolving privacy concerns, and prepared to find new ways to understand your target audience. All-in-all this is a big win for our consumers (that's also us!) as finally our privacy and data will be handled better.


A new mental health focus

In the same way that calls for action have been made for consumer privacy, so too has our mental well-being. In the past, it seemed that most agendas behind social media was to keep visitors scrolling, without any regard on how the content would effect us.

During the last few years and a heightened amount of social media use (as most of us were stuck at home) alongside awareness of its affects on our mental health, many are demanding social media platforms to do more. And it seems they are. Facebook have announced several changes coming to their platform to help prevent negative social media use such as better management of hate-speech, bullying and misinformation, with new reforms focused on supporting mental well-being and sense of community. A great example would be one of their new “comment moderation” tools, helping users to automatically delete negative or profane comments and also (finally) live support features.

This also means better handling of online information such as news and politics, which is set to be monitored more closely to improve accuracy and prevent disinformation.


Platforms such as Tiktok are using experts to trial new ways to help their users mental health by tackling algorithms and “recommended pages”. They're aiming to avoid reinforcing viewpoints and content that, when repeated could be bad for a person's wellbeing.

They’re also testing ways to allow users to feel more comfortable using the platform, giving Tiktok users opportunities to select certain topics or hashtags to avoid in their main "For You" feed.


Video content is King

“If you’re not marketing with video you’re going to fall behind.” – Jess Lavoie, User Experience Developer.


If there’s one forecast we can firmly put our foot on for 2022, it’s on the mass focus for video content. Why? Because it’s been growing upwards in demands and ROI for years already.

A study showed back in 2018 that 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support (HubSpot, 2018), and last year, 89% of marketers said that video content gives them a good return, up from 78% in 2018.

Look at any of your favourite social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook right now, and it will show you this has been recognised and adapted to, with both platforms' new algorithms putting forward videos over images in feeds, and instagram boosting “reel” videos in their explore pages. The continuing boom of Tiktok further confirms this.


Authenticity is the only way

The word “brand” is often used these days as a term for a person's identity as much as a businesses, so it’s no surprise that with the lines of “brand” and “person” becoming so intertwined (or blurred), audiences are craving more than ever to see real, authentic personality in businesses online.

In line with this increased demand, the trend of using authenticity as a marketing strategy is set to grow even more. Projecting your brand “personality” across your social media can determine the content you share (pictures, videos, paid campaigns), your written voice (think captions, comments, even web content), and even how you interact as a business online.

This is a positive in many ways for small businesses finding it difficult to draw funds for marketing managers and expensive content makers. The expectation for “top notch” quality videos and eloquently written, professional posts aren’t necessarily drawing the attention of audiences as much as raw, relatable content and copy that offers real connection with consumers. Think less filters and perfectly edited content, more live videos and ways to interact online such as Polls.


Technology and Software predictions



AI for business use continues to grow

When most think of "AI" they imagine futuristic films and in turn, freak out a little. But before you start imagining predictions of robots managing supermarkets, remember that you've most likely, unconsciously interacted with a form of AI in the last few months. Most AI today is being utilised for online chatbots, often with large websites such as airlines, and this is what is set to continue developing. AI will continue to be used more in the “Narrow Artificial Intelligence” realm, where AI agents will assist humans in a particular (Narrow) field, mostly online. Expect to see more Narrow AI adoption in non-critical use cases e.g., Call Centre, chatbots, IT, and areas where AI agents will assist common inquiries. This in turn, will free up customer service representatives for more difficult or involved inquiries.


Remote work and cloud use continues

"In 2022,” says Kathryn Smithson, CMO of Adly, “we will see more adoption of hybrid cloud (use) because it provides tremendous agility for growing and supporting remote personnel, allowing businesses to pivot as business demands evolve and change in an uncertain world.”


We can all agree that with continued Covid19 variants popping up like daisies that offices aren't planning to request full time attendance anytime soon. Although there are calls for hybrid options, with some studies proving that in-person office work can improve business adjectives and mental well-being, many businesses have already adjusted to remote work, and seen a great increase in profits, with less need for on the ground staff.


The 2021 Legal Trends Report found that law firms that adopted cloud based technology early in 2020 (online payments, client portals, and client intake and CRM software) went on to see 6% year-over-year growth, as well as almost 40% more revenue per lawyer compared to firms not using these technologies. This is one of many industry examples where utilising cloud technology has helped businesses, customers and support.


Virtual reality is actually happening

It kind of already is. An example is the many e-commerce businesses investing big on AR (augmented reality) to help customers "try" remotely before they buy. Think of trying sunglasses on using a webcam, or envisioning a piece of furniture in your house. It's already happening.

It's probably high time as well that we all address the word "Metaverse"- as it will be thrown around a lot more. The term refers to a collectively used virtual space, where people interact with each other in an augmented reality. Facebook has already changed their name to Meta, and has made it clear that in the coming years, they will be focusing on virtual reality.

In the same way that snapchat dog filters have been adopted widely now, 10 years ago people wouldn't have believed, understood - nor wanted to try a face filter that could dramatically change the look of their face, but here we are. Experts are saying that virtual reality and the Metaverse will continue to grow and develop as and while everyday people gain a better understanding.

Considering that tech giants such as Apple are rumoured to be releasing their own AR/VR headsets in late 2022, we could all be adopting virtual reality sooner than we think.


Online hackers are growing, but so is Cloud security

"Cybercrime", which is everything from online theft to data hacking and identity stealing, is up 600% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it's set to grow. Many businesses from startups to large corporations have been subject to unforeseen hacks over the last two years as they've had to adapt so quickly to managing their business more online. Most of these victims in small to medium business sizes have come to terms with the need for Cyber Security but haven't had access to implement it properly due to a lack of resources.

But there's good news ahead. The last year has seen great investments in public cloud vendors, in turn, making Cyber Security more affordable, and accessible. If you're a Startup or mid-size company, this year will see much easier ways to implement highly secure apps without much effort - which you should, considering how much a breach could affect your business, and how likely it is.


Summary


So, with a little more clarity on what is most likely coming for 2022, how are we feeling? A little nervous? That's understandable. With most of us facing a plethora of challenges in 2021 it's no surprise that we're stepping into the new year with some jitters.

To end things in a positive light, one of the biggest changes we're seeing to come from the last couple of years has been the global acknowledgement of mental health and wellbeing. With work and social media taking the biggest toll on most peoples lives, it’s great to see a swift transition and changes set to help us all.

Social media and online platforms are increasing regulation, set to offer less fake news, monitored and controlled hate speech (less drama and confusion! yay!) with a focus on wellbeing in social media and screen time. There will be a continued discussion of the influence social media has on our mental well-being and attention will bring new players to the game focused on “time well spent.” That means more thoughtful processes being put into everything on our screens.

Work places are seeing huge changes and the employer mentality is changing more abruptly than history has seen, with many job advertisements offering reduced hours, work from home options and all around more flexibility. A focus on mental health in dynamic ways such as "check-in" chats, in house psychs and mental health days are also increasing. For working women, internal workplace childcare facilities are (finally) being discussed. A focus on equality within wages and roles is moving slowly but the conversation has been started.


One thing we can take home with us is that thanks to the challenges the globe has seen, positive change is on the horizon and fingers crossed for 2022, people will have the opportunity to take more time to appreciate and enjoy life.

Our advice? Take the changes as they come. We've all learned to adapt and float along with so much change around us, so mentally preparing yourself to continue with uncertainty and change will certainly help. In the meantime? We recommend you start saving your pennies for a VR headset - no doubt the next gadget most of us will be looking to invest in by the end of the year!








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