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These are the key trends that will shape the communications landscape in 2024

These are the key trends that will shape the communications landscape in 2024

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Trends come and go fairly quickly but brands should take note of the rise in artificial intelligence (AI), as a growing de-growth mindset if they want to stay ahead of the crowd in this year’ competitive landscape.

While there is little doubt that AI is set to become a ubiquitous feature in our daily lives, organisations that do not support and include employees on the AI journey are likely to come under the microscope and be named and shamed.

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This means that AI could become a key reputational issue in 2024 and that internal communications and employee engagement should be the strategic starting point for corporate AI strategies, according to communications agency Grayling’s trend report titled, ‘Creating Advantage 2024’. The report offers insight into key trends that brands can act on to their advantage.

Delving deeper into the study’s AI trends, amidst job uncertainties with rising AI adoption, poor communication about AI can foster unease among employees about the purpose and implications of AI which may potentially erode trust in leadership and harm the overall work culture. To circumvent this issue, brands must leverage training and upskilling to transform uncertainty into empowerment while also complementing an employee’s work to encourage stronger customer satisfaction.

Are brands listening to consumers?

Moving on, as new platforms, formats and tools proliferate in the digital realm, brands may be keen to allow new technology to do the heavy lifting at the expense of original, insight-based ideas that truly resonate and move people.

In fact, a report from consumer research company GWI found that time spent on social media has reached a ceiling, highlighting that brands need to shift away from an over-reliance on digital communications and activations lest they suffer from a monotony of brand activations.

“A recent report from Canvas8 said that consumers want stability and grounding in their lives this year and they advised that brands and businesses help deliver this,” said Theresa Santos, associate digital director, Grayling UK.

“This reinforces our approach to delivering big picture thinking that resonates with people’s lived experience in a consolidated set of platforms rather than trying to do lots of things, in lots of places, lots of the time,’ she further explained.

Danny Tan, managing director at Grayling Singapore added that less is more in marketing.

Instead of pushing to be part of consumers' lives in a matter that is intrusive, brand should think deeply about how they can speak simply in a world that is increasingly saturated with content, said Tan when MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reached out.

Just because advancements in advertising technology have enabled brands to continuously push to be a part of consumers’ lives in a manner that is ever more intrusive, more omnipresent, or more visible, doesn’t mean they should.

"Some of the brand campaigns we have seen at the start of the year have reinforced the fact that clarity is one of the most underrated qualities of an effective communications campaign," he added. 

Along with examining a brand’s audience insights, the creative brief should be centred around help and hope in 2024 as consumers seek stability and brand resonance. Brands should dig into their social strategy to rationalise which platforms they use, and which deliver the highest ROI to carry out detailed audience research, measurement and testing to inform new creative thinking.

Another trend among consumers that has surfaced is that of de-growth which advocates against mass consumption and encourages owning the “less is more” mindset. This also comes in the wake of 2023’s de-influencing social media trend where influencers discouraged followers from buying overpriced or ineffective products.

As consumption patterns shift to favour brands that make good on their promises to people and the planet to be truly sustainable, brands should consider designing campaigns, communications and activations to help people reduce their consumption footprints.

A de-growth mindset is not only limited to a specific age group. As Gen Alpha children are able to influence the purchasing habits of their parents through pester power, organisations cannot afford to delay their sustainability commitments in 2024.

Developments to act on

Brands should also take note of how its consumers are watching content on social media platforms as they review their social strategy. In fact, TikTok recently reported that users spend over half of their time watching videos over a minute long, resulting in more guidance to creators to create longer form content from TikTok.

For brands, longer videos will allow longer advertisements to be more acceptable to users which may translate to increased revenue.

Interestingly, employee-centric and employee-generated content is a powerful and cost-effective way for businesses to enhance brand reputation and drive business growth. Arguably, placing people at the centre of a company’s employee communications has always been important, but in an AI and automation world, it’s even more crucial.

By focusing on faces instead of logos, companies can tap into a wealth of fresh, authentic, and human content that is far more compelling, said Grayling. In fact, messages shared by employees have 561 per cent more reach than the same messages shared on a company’s channels.

On the other hand, brands should also start targeting non-human audiences such as predictive AI behind algorithms if they want their messages to show up in front of users. As predictive AI decides what to show to users, to appeal to these sophisticated machines, brands must tailor their messages using tactics that include keyword curation and back-end tagging.

While change is almost always difficult, uncomfortable and scary, leaders cannot afford to ignore the impact that Generative AI will have, said Tan. He added that leaders can take simple steps to ready their organisation to implement generative AI. 

This may look like having an honest evaluation of the organisation, identifying key stakeholders and engaging in open discussions about the benefits and challenges associated with integrating AI into operations.

Simultaneously, leaders can also invest in robust infrastructure that supports the implementation of generative AI technologies, continued Tan. This may involve upgrading existing systems, integrating new tools, and ensuring cybersecurity measures are in place to safeguard sensitive data.

"Consider pilot projects that test the waters and demonstrate tangible benefits. Encourage a feedback loop to learn from these initial experiences and refine your approach accordingly," said Tan.

"Communicate transparently with your team, addressing concerns and emphasizing the positive impact AI can have on productivity, efficiency, and innovation so that they go along for the journey," he added.

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