Digital technology and new corporate communications formats are constantly evolving, enhancing our lives, businesses and user experiences.
But with so many forms of technology and content delivery, finding the best platforms and deliverables to invest in can be a challenge.
A recently released report titled Futurology: The future of digital communications, revealed some of the fastest growing trends in digital communications.
The report looks at “the devices, channels and influencers shaping, and reshaping, the digital landscape for corporate and B2B communicators”. (Futurology, p.5)
It claims the adoption of new technology, including new content and communications formats, will be imperative in order to gain a firm foothold in the industry and continue to engage and inspire investors and stakeholders into the future.
While there are many proven methods for engaging investors, here are the three key digital drivers that your company should be considering.
Devices Increasingly Wearable and Washable
Investors need convenience, functionality and depth of information.
Mobile is still king, but many mobile-web experiences are far from optimised.
As Interactive Investor, Managing Director, Susan Werkner presented on The Sky News Marketing Matters, Technology Show, interactive websites are more critical than ever to “ensure you are communicating effectively with your audience“.
The Futurology Report found that some audiences are ‘multi-screening’, using different devices for different tasks (Futurology, p.12) so streamlined experiences are a must, as this is what consumers have come to expect. (Futurology, p.10)
Making annual reports interesting, interactive and multi-functional means that investor insights and analytics are more likely to be read, and shared, among key audiences and their networks.
This is also in line with the Futurology report findings that “brands need to consider methods of communication beyond display on traditional screens”. (Futurology: the future of digital communications, p.13)
Automated to Activist Investors
Mobile phones, which have now surpassed PC usage, keep us all connected, and social media platforms are allowing companies and brands to engage a more wide-reaching audience than ever before, including the Millennials that have grown up with social media, and Facebook, as their first port of call. Targeting your business audience on Facebook has never been as effective including the Millennials that are the fastest growing investor segment, especially for EFT’s.
Likewise, creating your own digital channels is possible through online features such as custom designed microsites with a strategic investor focus, LinkedIn campaigns, podcasts, e-newsletters, facebook campaigns and other email capture and list-building techniques, interactive annual reports, utilising AI with interactive functions are just a few.
Malcolm Gladwell in a recent YouTube talk on the BBC, shares well researched and insightful observations in his latest book, Talking with Strangers, on how little we really know and understand others i.e. strangers. Gone are the days when shareholders were easily pigeonholed into retail and institutional.
In the context of the increasing rise of new groups of stakeholders – from automated to activist, it becomes compelling reading. Keeping this in mind – companies will have to really think clearly about how to communicate across each channel in order to influence these varied and “strange” stakeholders.
Video Streaming & Voice Activation
Facebook Live videos are viewed for three times longer than non-live content.
Live video streaming is another channel “encouraging brands to give a fresh, authentic experience that audiences value”, with Facebook Live videos viewed for three times longer than non-live content. (Futurology, p.25) And the quality and variety of video content is set to expand with the 360-degree camera market expected to grow by 34 per cent between 2016 and 2020. (Futurology, p.24)
Not only are non-text content channels becoming more appealing to audiences, they are also more widely accessible.
People process information in a variety of different ways. However, podcasts, photography and videos are engaging and capable of reaching people anywhere, any time, in a manner which is appealing to a large majority of audiences.
Similarly, voice activation is equally accessible, so it is no surprise it is predicted to “become the next major channel alongside web, social and apps”. (Futurology, p.22)
Virtual personal assistants (VPAs) are taking off, with about 24.5 million voice-first devices expected to ship this year”. (Futurology, p.24) One example of this is Amazon’s Alexa, which already has about 7 million users worldwide. This VPA can play music on voice command, read emails, reply to questions or interact with other smart objects. (Futurology, p.31)
Voice-related search is predicted to reach 30 per cent of all online searches by 2020, with ‘long tail’ search terms essential, as opposed to the short, keyword search engine optimisation (SEO) currently in use. (Futurology, p.12)
The following voice activation and usage stats indicate how mainstream it will become:
1. 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020, per comScore.
2. About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020, per Gartner.
3. 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017, and that number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.
With 41% of voice activated owners feeling like they are talking to a friend, it may be that your next Gen Z CEO will be an AI speaking friend and advisory to their stakeholders!
AI and its Rising Influence
Increasingly AI will infiltrate all industries and has already done so in many tangible ways. Newcrest Mining has started using AI to help reduce mining accidents and make their sites more efficient. As has BHP and many other Australian mining companies following the manufacturing’s lead in integrating AI into their operational decision making.
Digital Transformation presents C-Suite executives with new challenges and is having a huge impact, just read the New York Times best seller The Three Box Solution to see how you can integrate it into the corporate thinking. The future digital business models require new skills and processes. The classic finance, operational and communication models have changed and are moving quickly beyond traditional functions to a more strategic role. The same can be said for the IRO’s role as they must embrace technology and be across all aspects of the business, communicating the organisations adoption of innovation and strategy with increased insight and understanding of the future direction of the entire company.
How quickly they adapt to this evolving role is not only critical for a successful career path, but also for the success and competitiveness of the companies they work for. Particularly important will be how opportunities enabled by digital transformation initiatives such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and virtually limitless computing power in the cloud will impact the future of these organisations.
Influencer marketing is an increasingly important part of the marketing mix and will continue to grow, and not just for consumers.
Influencers are generally individuals or organisations with a large public following relevant to your field, however this term can refer to a range of factors that are driving and changing digital PR.
For instance, micro-influencers are a big part of brand referrals and lead generation. This refers to individuals with a large number of trusted and loyal followers, who use platforms ranging from Tik Tok, Snapchat and YouTube, to Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
The Futurology report states that influencer marketing “is an increasingly important part of the marketing mix and will continue to grow”. (Futurology, p.48)
Corporate communicators are part of this mix, having “long understood the reputational upside of positive third-party commentary”. (Futurology, p.48) Identifying and partnering with influencers, even investor influencers, with a high profile in a relevant field can have a profound effect on introducing new followers, stakeholders and investors to your company.
Their platform are then used as a gateway to your own channels, including data sets, investor social media, or digital communications. Through analysing these sets of information, patterns and trends soon emerge. (Futurology, p.38)
This information can be used to provide direct and targeted messaging customised to individuals and groups. (Futurology, p.15) The big data business analytics market is estimated to grow from $130 billion in 2016 to over $200 billion by 2020, with the banking industry expected to be a big driver of this increase in spending. (Futurology, p.36)
Digital communication technology is a powerful tool, but ultimately, storytelling and the digital means by which you choose to deliver that message, remains just as important as ever.
The latest report by The Australian Academy of Science on Preparing for Australia’s Digital Future, 2019, is interesting reading for better understanding Australia ‘s readiness readiness for the digital future, and how that will impact company strategy.
It is expected that businesses will continue to focus on communicating their stories and key messages as effectively as they can “as a point of differentiation”. (Futurology, p.55)
But, regardless, the future is increasingly digital; from interactive (customised voice activated) Annual Reports to only virtual augmented reality AGM’s and bit-coin share trading. So no matter how IR professionals choose to distribute their core messaging, the report predicts “engaging digital content will become a more important weapon in the marketer’s arsenal.” And this needs to be expertly and strategically delivered across increasingly digital channels. (Futurology, p.58)