As a communicator you might already know what strategies work best with your clients, where your strengths lie, and where you need to channel your energy.

But you’re probably also keeping your ear to the ground and gauging what developments are impacting your sector. Staying on top of your game and ahead of others is crucial in a field that is both crowded and competitive.

Here are a few trends that will shape communications in 2017.

Visual communications

We live in a world of information overload, where it is hard to have an impact and be heard. More than ever, it’s important to craft communications in ways that will resonate with our audiences. And sometimes, an image or video can travel much further than an article or a blog.

In 2017, you’ll want to harness the potential of visual messaging by building it into your brand, marketing and communications strategies. A well-chosen image can resonate with audiences for a long time after it’s been delivered. If it is part of your brand, it can help imprint your name on people’s minds.

Video is also growing as a visual storytelling tool. It is dynamic, immediate, helps tell stories and there is also the benefit of making users feel like you’re delivering something in real-time. It makes them feel closer and more connected.

Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter?

Social media is here to stay. It has become an integral and inevitable part of marketing and communications.

Social media is a powerful tool for businesses, and particularly useful for small businesses with limited marketing budgets. Yet many small firms in New Zealand still don't know how to use it effectively, despite the fact that most Kiwis are active on social media. For example, there are over two million New Zealanders active every day on Facebook alone. It makes sense to invest in tools that allow us to advertise our brand and services at low cost, and to disseminate our news widely.

Consider what social media tool works best for you and your business. Which channels are most popular and most effective? The challenge of social media is that it keeps evolving. It pays to know what the trends are. Multiple reports this year have for example noted a big rise in Snapchat’s popularity, and not just with teens. The company has said it expects growth of nearly 14 per cent in 2017.

Mobile

A 2015 report on a survey of Kiwis’ use of smartphones and other mobile communication devices published by New Zealand Research showed that 70 percent of Kiwis own or have access to a smartphone (up from 48 percent in 2013).  Meanwhile, the daily use of all other types of devices is trending downwards, and smartphones are fast becoming our most popular device.

What does this mean for the communications business? That mobile is now a priority with most of the digital content we develop. Most people access information from their phones. It makes sense to deliver our news, information and messages via mobile.

Message over medium

Knowing how to maximise the benefits of technology is an integral part of all good communications. But let’s not forget that we are dealing with people, not robots. Being tech savvy is not about dehumanising the services and products you deliver, but rather seeing where it can help enhance that unique, personal approach you provide for clients.

In 2017, good communications will be about developing and delivering more tailored and individualised communications, and using technology to provide better service.

The medium matters, but it isn’t worth much without a strong message. Ultimately, what makes your organisation stand out will be the words you choose to tell your story, and the stories of others. The technology is there to help you do that.

Comment