Trends in Communication

The quality of a certain product or service means nothing unless it is properly unveiled to the public. Keeping the updates of a certain brand or its competitive advantage within the realm of companies alone jeopardizes this brand’s positioning and share in the market. Bad communication would have a disastrous impact on the perception of this brand by consumers. Hence, there are current communication trends that brands have to follow to properly reveal the intended image to the target audience.

1. Real time content creation and scarcity of time:

The notion of time has gained more importance in the world of business as the competitive cycles kept getting ever fiercer, with complexity on the rise. When talking about scarcity of resources in economics, time has become an integral resource in addition to land, labor, and capital.

The elimination of activities and strategies that waste a client’s time has the potential to become a competitive advantage. Real time and relevant consumption of updated content meet the customers’ expectations. Snapchat and the communication dynamic it creates is a representative example.

2. User generated content (UGC):

User generated content (UGC) has become an important communication and marketing activity. Customers and other stakeholders are participating heavily in some of the brand-building activities. Customers trust peer recommendations more than a company’s sales messaging; hence, companies are adding features on their websites to facilitate users sharing comments or running competitions to engage audiences.

3. Brands are developing a sense of citizenship:

Companies are assuming a role in brand activism on issues related to sustainability, especially in matters related to environmental and social factors. 2015 was a significant year in terms of advancing the global sustainable development agenda following the launch of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement.

4. Brands are developing a personable approach:

Corporate communicators are loosening up a bit and showing their more authentic and realistic side. Live social media chats with company leaders help in showing a more personable approach to communications.

It is not weird to check into a certain restaurant or mall and get greeted by the brand itself afterward or have your name mentioned by the brand in a reply to a comment you have written about the extent of satisfaction after a dining experience or using a certain product.

5. A shift from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to Customer Managed Relationships (CMR):

According to Markus Kramer of brandsaffairs.com, CRM has become a cold, dry and rigid (transactional) science. He adds that for good practice on how relationshipmarketing works well with a very consistent and high degree of integrity and a real humanistic approach to the “relationship” aspects, one ought to take a look at the high-end luxury sector. Brands such as Aston Martin or Patek Philippe are mastering the process of genuinely bonding with customers. So are Apple and Harley-Davidson.

Marketers are asked to re-think relationship marketing. CRM is becoming a model of the past, CMR (Customer Managed Relationships) is the new paradigm. Brands must rework their segmentation models and the way they interact and communicate with their customers accordingly; they need to start the journey with the customers and not the other way around.

6. Purpose, real values and humanizing: Branding inside out:

According to Ernst and Young, appearance alone is superficial and will increasingly be recognized as such. Purpose driven brands are becoming increasingly able to demonstrate higher returns, more loyalty, and repeated business. Brands are embracing the concept of CSR and even looking beyond it. So both the outside and the inside of brands will need to be meaningful and led by shared and aligned purposes. Forward-thinking brands that add meaning to their customers’ lives will occupy more space in their consumers’ minds. Millennials and Gen Z cohorts find this approach of doing business more meaningful. Developing user-friendly interfaces has become even more important starting 2016. This can be referred to as humanizing.

Humanizing is about smarter cities, reducing complexity, innovation, and technological tools adapted to humans rather than the other way around. On the brand and product side, Apple and Bang & Olufsen are among the leaders of the humanization agenda. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for simple, beautiful, and reliable products. Brands, according to Kramer, should keep on improving what they have innovated until it is also fully humanized.

Communication: Hillary Clinton in Action

This present case study intends to focus on Hillary Clinton as one sample of how social media is being utilized to communicate on a large scale in our world today. It aims to show how the Clinton campaign perceives itself and how views its rivals when it comes to social media, regardless of whether this self-perception has always been echoed in the views of the target audience.

 The rivalry between the Republicans and Democrats in the race for the American presidency has been manifesting itself in the virtual and the real worlds alike.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both rely on social media to appeal to American voters while promoting themselves and offending one another in a very well-established social media strategy.

Jenna Lowenstein, digital director for the Clinton campaign, works with a team of more than 100 content creators and social media strategists. The campaign closely follows the debates, appearances, and political stances of Clinton, as well as her counterarguments to the very controversial Trump.

The heated tweets between the two sides reached their peak when Hillary tweeted, asking Trump to “[d]elete your account.” At the time of this writing (July 2016), the tweet had gained 636,000 likes and 482,000 retweets. Her tweet, which was seen around the world, was only one of the most viral examples of her newly adopted aggressive strategy to take the 2016 fight directly to Donald Trump on his favorite social media platform. Lowenstein says the tweet reflects the efforts of a talented staff of writers who love the art of riffing—and know how to cultivate a voice on the Internet.

The social media efforts of Hillary’s campaign aim to bring forth donations, volunteers, and voter turnout. In July 2016, the campaign launched a Spanish-language website and Twitter account, a Facebook Live of staffers reading the case names of more than 5,500 lawsuits associated with Trump, a Snapchat filter trolling the Republican National Convention, and a social media tool called “Trump Yourself” that allows users to overlay Trump’s most controversial statements on their Facebook profile photos.

Even the “Trump Yourself” tool—a smart way to produce user-generated content with an oppositional message—captured demographic data and email addresses. In a few weeks, TrumpYourself.org had been viewed 1.2 million times by 800,000 unique visitors, half of whom imported their photos to the website.

 “What we’re seeing is a shift toward political attention being driven by social sharing processes. I think the Clinton campaign is very clearly aware of these new dynamics and has worked very hard to be on many different platforms,” says Daniel Kreiss, associate professor in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

When content is not directly written or assigned by Clinton, Lowenstein’s team channels her personality by focusing on their candidate’s values, sense of humor, and communication style, which is direct and to the point.

“There are two ways to get compelling content out on social media,” Clinton’s campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson said in an interview. “One is to be over the top, insulting, and saying outrageous things—otherwise known as the Trump strategy. And one is to be fair, accurate, targeted, and informative. That’s very much what we’re doing.”

In any case, these two viral campaigns leave the world with two critical questions. Does media generated by campaigns come at the expense of traditional media outlets? Does the candidate who wins on Twitter and other social media platforms win in reality? The results would definitely be an indicator of the extent to which the real and the virtual have become intertwined!