CHANGE COMMS: 9 bullet points you need to know about the changing media landscape (part 1) 

Back in 2013, the BBC’s former tech correspondent was invited to make predictions for the future as he had been on the money 40 years previously.

When asked about predictions for the next four decades that the pace of change would never be as slow as it was then.

I’ve thought of that comment often this year, as we emerged from lockdown into Westminster meltdown and the forecast of the worst recession in a hundred years. 

Public sector communicators need to be constantly learning and evolving.

You’re in luck. I read hundreds of blog sports and report every month so you don’t have to so I can make future comms easier.  

Nine bullet points and what to make of them 

Facebook makes a big change to its algorithm

“Our discovery engine work allows us to recommend all types of content beyond Reels as well, including photos, text, links, communities, short and long-form videos, and more. Second is that we can mix this content alongside posts from your family and friends, which can’t be generated by AI alone.” (Meta earnings call, October 2022)

This is huge. I need to translate its hugeness. Up until this year, Meta’s algorithm has been powered by connections. So, friends, families and accounts followed have been the driver. TikTok changed all that. They put interests first. It’s been a resounding hit with its audience. So much so that Meta have copied the idea with what they call their Discovery Engine. It’s basically a change for the algorithm to put things you may like in front of me rather than what my mate David Fradley has been up to this week.  

You lost control of the conversation a long time ago   

“On Twitter, just 3 per cent of conversations about a brand come from the brand’s own account. There is little influence over what people are saying about them.” (Brandwatch State of Social, October 2022).

A few years ago, the late Robert Philips published the iconoclastic ‘Trust Me: PR is Dead’. Industry voices were stung into outrage at the title. Not one took issue with the salient points he made in the book. One of the points is that we can no longer manage the message. We have lost control of it.  

Audiences are fragmenting

“Given the audience fragmentation, brands are now turning to smaller social media platforms and sites where they have a better shot at capturing the audience.” (Brandwatch State of Social, October 2022).

This captures a trend that has been accelerating for several years. We have moved away from the Town Square. We moved away because wankers with loudspeakers insisted on abusing anyone with an opinion. We have moved into smaller safer spaces. We have swapped serendipity for safety. 

TV is heading to be a minority past time

“TV’s golden age may be nearing the beginning of its end. Deloitte Global predicts that, in the United Kingdom, 2022 will be the final year that traditional television from broadcasters, whether live, time-shifted, or on demand, collectively makes up more than 50% of video viewing on all screens. We expect traditional TV broadcasters’ share of viewing hours among UK consumers, which was 73 per cent as recently as 2017, to fall to 53 per cent in 2022 and then to 49 per cent in 2023.” (Deloitte Insight, TMT Predictions, 2022).

I’m going to make the point again that how we consume video – as in moving images – is changing. In the UK of anywhere in the world they are changing fastest.

Music works

“As well as making content on TikTok more relatable, music also generates longer watch times on average and makes people less likely to skip content. It also impacts mood, making people feel more positive. Research show that instrumental music generates the strongest brand recall, while R&B, pop and rap are most related with brand likeability.” (TikTok Whats Next).

Music has become a key tool for communications. For TikTok there’s a huge library of sounds. For Reels there’s also a huge library and if anything, the Reels music list is more in tune with my own personal tastes than TikTok. Beatles? On Reels there is.

It’s still video, people

“Video continues to gain popularity, becoming the most engaging content format online, and Meta is the latest platform to launch a new Reel feature.” (Brandwatch State of Social, October 2022).

Look, I’ve been saying this for years but Brandwatch’s study concurs with this. The tech in your hand means you can watch as well as shoot video. The more time you spend watching video the more time you spend on the platform. So, of course video is going to make sense.

Reels is making progress

“There are now more than 140 billion Reels plays across Facebook and Instagram each day. That’s a 50% increase from six months ago.” (Meta earnings call, October 2022)

To say Meta have been pushing Reels strongly is something of an understatement. They’ve been going at it like the clappers. The numbers in this Meta announcement are that a corner has been turned by the platform. However, I’m still not quite convinced they’ve captured the creative fun of TikTok.  

Elections are still at risk

“At the Election Integrity Partnership, we have identified 10 factors that help determine a rumor’s potential to gain traction: uncertainty/ambiguity, diminished trust in media and authoritative sources of information, significance/impact, familiarity/repetition, compellingness of evidence, emotional appeal, novelty, participatory potential, origins and amplification in the social network and Inauthentic amplification or manipulation.” (Stanford Internet Observatory and the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public. What makes an election rumour go viral? Look at these 10 factors. October, 2022)

Election interference is well mapped and well researched. Some things have taken place to prevent it but not nearly enough to be confident that democracy will survive to see the second half of the 21st century. It’s very easy as an individual to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the task. 

Facebook groups are evolving

“We’re adding more options for people to connect over shared interests, including Reels in Facebook Groups and updates to your Group profile.” (Meta, Introducing New Features to Facebook Groups. October 2022) 

New tools for Facebook groups indicate the value that Meta places on groups. Oh, and they’re allowing Reels. Did I mention that they’re quite keen on Reels? And that video is a thing?

Thanks for reading.

To get more fully up to speed on comms basics I deliver ESSENTIAL COMMS SKILLS BOOSTER training.

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