Changing the way we communicate

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend Omnicom and Google’s Future of Entrepreneurialism event where I learnt, amongst a whole host of other things, that the top four messaging services are predicted to have more users than the top four social media sites by next year.  Indeed, WhatsApp alone now has over 800m users, 70% of who use the service daily and we currently share 700m pictures and videos on Snapchat every day.  The way we communicate with each other is fundamentally changing and, along with this, so are the opportunities for brands to enter into conversations with us.

Consistently leading the pack are younger age groups and OMD UK Insight recently spoke to over 300 18-24s to understand more how they find out about three of their key passions; music, sport and socialising.  What we found was fascinating.

Young people are incredibly adept at flexing all of the tools they have at their fingertips, using the right platform for the right job.  They use 2-3 sources to find out about sport, and a massive 6-7 to find out about music.  And they change their choices depending on what they’re into.  For example, music discovery is driven by YouTube, whilst sport is followed using the more real-time Facebook and Twitter.  But don’t underestimate the influence of their real life social networks.  Friends and family are used to find out about music and sports by around half of this group.

Interestingly, websites have taken a back seat to these other mediums and are used by only around one in five to find out about sport and one in ten to find out about music.  And when they do turn to these, they use media brands such as the BBC or Sky for sports or the NME for music.

Arranging a night out is now a military manoeuver for 18-24s.  They use up to five different ways to get friends together, with messaging apps being the most popular, followed by SMS.  For this group, organising using email is passé, with seven in ten claiming never to use these methods, opting for more instant channels instead, where they can track who’s read what.

It is likely that these channels will follow the lead of WeChat and Line in Asia, becoming increasingly open to other activities beyond messaging, providing gaming, shopping and other content.  This will open up these currently private spaces to brands and services.

We’re moving from a culture of push-based content to a flexible, self-discovered world where control and flexibility is central.  Brands need to make this move with their audiences, accompanying them on the journey and creating emotional shortcuts which mean that they are salient and easily available when they’re needed.


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