The Digital Communications Hype Cycle 2018

Which comms tech are hype or here?

digital communications hype cycle

Using the Hype Cycle model by analyst firm, Gartner, I’ve developed what I’ve called, The Digital Communications Hype Cycle.

It aims to showcase which technologies within communications are more hype than here and where each one is at on the adoption curve.

It includes both the emerging and established tech, tools and platforms in digital communications and their current place within the ecosystem.

Usage of communication technology is often cyclical. What works today may not work next year and vice versa. In other words, it’s in a constant state of flux.

The Digital Communications Hype Cycle has no affiliation with Gartner Inc and I don’t claim any connection to the firm. The hype cycle model has been used purely for illustration purposes.

Caveat: This is a hugely subjective area and rates of adoption differ depending on industry and company. I make no claims about its accuracy.

You can find the chart below and below that is my short commentary on each one. Any feedback, good and back, is appreciated.

digital communications hype cycle
Click for a larger size
  1. AI, AR and VR: The hype is building but they are technologies that are barely in use.
  2. Chatbots: Only now are we beginning to understand how they may help us communicate.
  3. Amazon Echo: Voice search is expected but there is still a way to go.
  4. Messenger and Whatsapp: Both owned by Facebook and collectively used by billions but in a business communications context their use is relatively unknown.
  5. Push Notifications: Every website you land on these days (including this one) uses them and for now they are new and novel but people will grow weary of them.
  6. Influencer Marketing: The hype around influencer marketing is huge but already we’re beginning to see signs of fakery of influence and ethical implications of how brands should work with content creators.
  7. Custom Audiences: One of the most accurate ways of targeting the correct people via advertisements but how long before users become tired of them?
  8. Live Video: Facebook is pushing it hard and notifies you every time one of your friends goes live. The problem is there are limited situations where live video is better than pre-recorded.
  9. Growth Hacking: “Growth hackers are the new marketers” some proclaim and while they do have tech and data skills that put most comms people to shame, most lack the experience of seasoned comms professionals.
  10. Social Video: A few years ago Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook will be mostly video in the future. Recent moves by the company suggest otherwise and while video is big, consumers still enjoy using other forms of communication like reading.
  11. Facebook Groups: Facebook is actively encouraging people to create their own communities using groups inside the platform. What happens when they begin to charge group owners to reach the community they’ve spent time and effort building? We’ve been here before with Facebook pages.
  12. Paid Social: Facebook ran out of ad inventory last year which only means one thing. Prices will rise so expect to pay more in the future.
  13. Instagram: The darling of social media since 2016 and the place to be if you want to be a social media influencer but for how long for? An influx of fake influencers and the worst social platform for young people and mental health issues. What could possibly go wrong?
  14. Ephemeral Content: One of the benefits of creating content for social media is it can be ‘evergreen’ meaning it can be used again and again. Creating content for Instagram Stories or Snapchat can take hours yet is gone within a day which leads to a questionable ROI.
  15. Community Management: People may be getting a little weary of ‘brand banter’ on Twitter and while customer service on social is vital for some companies can we say the same for community management?
  16. YouTube: The YouTube community is in disarray with A-lister creators getting into trouble for making controversial videos and other YouTubers, who were once making money from the site, getting demonetised. The long-term future’s bright for YouTube but there’s a short-term bumpy road ahead.
  17. Content Automation: Scaling content is hard and especially more so in an environment where people want more personalisation. Content automation is useful but it has its flaws and we’re beginning to see that.
  18. Podcasts: We’re in the second era of podcasting (the first one being in the mid-noughties) and everyone is creating them and therein lies the problem. There is an over-saturation of podcast shows and not enough listeners.
  19. Viral Content: ‘Going viral’ is harder in this post-clickbait era where the social networks prefer you to stay on their platforms rather than leave and go on someone else’s site.
  20. Snapchat: Ever since Instagram copied Snapchat’s features users have tanked. It’s a trend that looks set to continue and it’s still unclear whether Snapchat will survive in the long-term.
  21. Social Analytics: Reporting for the sake of reporting within companies that don’t have the capability to react quickly to the data is an ineffective way to use time.
  22. Influencer Relations: As (paid) influencer marketing is on the rise (earned) influencer relations will take a dip. Why? Because influencers will realise they can charge cold hard cash for their work.
  23. Facebook Pages: When organic reach has hit zero some page owners are questioning the value of their page. Expect less organisations of all kinds focussing on their Facebook page.
  24. Email Newsletter: The open rate on newsletters is atrocious and the click rate is even worse. There are too many emails flying around and not enough time to read them.
  25. Content Marketing: People are fatigued with content and admittedly some content marketers are questioning how much impact on the bottom line their work is having
  26. Google+: “Is that still going?”
  27. Politics in social: In light of recent events, people are fatigued with politics in their feeds and are completely tuning out. Expect those who want to engage in political debate do so in spaces and platforms where it’s more appropriate.
  28. Twitter: It’s had a battering in recent years but Twitter seems to be on the up with its first profitable quarter and new features like the 280 character limit which users seem to like.
  29. Dissemination of Factual News: Fake news has been all around us in recent months and whether you believe the President of the United States or not, our definition of what is fake and what isn’t is often based on our own preconceived beliefs.
  30. Native Advertising: Once considered the saviour of advertising until people realised that it’s not scalable. But when a brand can be part of the story it’s still a powerful way to advertise.
  31. SEO: SEO is a long-term play and has taken a back seat to the more sexy and immediate social media in recent years. That’s beginning to change however as communications professionals understand that good SEO can last for years unlike social which is fleeting.
  32. Webinars: Done to their death but now becoming genuinely useful as the technology develops and greater emphasis is placed on the content.
  33. ROI of Social: Once upon a time it was all about vanity metrics such as follower and fan counts. That’s changed with the focus solidly focussed on meeting business objectives, as it should be.
  34. LinkedIn: For most people, LinkedIn was nothing more than a glorified online resume. Now, however, it’s a powerful (and the only) B2B networking platform that can land you a new job and connect you with new clients and suppliers in a few clicks.
  35. Wires: Want to ensure your press release is sent to all the relevant online media? Use a wire.
  36. Corporate Blogging: In an era where social networks come and go, blogging has stood the test of time. If you’re starting a corporate blog today understand that it could still be around in ten years time. Can you say the same about any social network?
  37. Mobile: We live in a mobile-first world. Everything we do online should be considered from a mobile perspective first and foremost. More so in B2C but increasingly in B2B too.

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