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2022 Trends Report: Digital communications

Organizations had to quickly implement new technological tools to allow employees to communicate virtually over the past two years. In 2022, the time has come to perfect these techniques and address the complexity and joys of the hybrid model while bridging the gap between the real and virtual worlds.

On top of this challenge, organizations must also consider the multitude of platforms and channels to add to their media strategy to reach each audience. In addition, they must find ways to effectively and appropriately process the growing amount of available data, which is not always easy to grasp.

Here are the trends our digital communications experts see for 2022:

The future will be “hybrid”

The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to advance workforce communications well into the future, going completely virtual almost overnight. As hybrid models become more common, platforms like Zoom and Teams will continue to play key roles.

The next challenge will be making these hybrid meetings engaging, so that colleagues who are not in the office feel just as included as those who are. Tools and tactics developed for remote work could be repurposed to give everyone an equal chance to contribute.

Going forward, there’s no reason to expect people who enjoyed attending events virtually to stop, since the technology will only improve. As work from home transitions to hybrid, every meeting is an opportunity to experiment with different ways to give attendees the best experience possible, which will improve productivity as well as morale. In addition, we’ll no doubt see a rise in virtual experiences at live events too.

Adam Schwartz, manager, Strategy, Insights and Digital – NATIONAL Toronto and Vincent Gagnon, senior consultant, Integrated Solutions and Brand Positioning – NATIONAL Montreal

Media diversification will be more important than ever

The only constant in life is change, and this is no truer than in the digital landscape. Social media platforms are ever evolving—demographics shift, features get added or removed and world events impact platform policies.

Each platform offers unique opportunities to reach the right people, with the right message, at the right time.

Does your business offer solutions to other businesses? You may be interested to know 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members are decision makers in their organization.

Are you looking for more earned media? Increasingly, under-resourced news outlets are using Twitter to find their next story. Twitter is the preferred social network for news consumption, with 71 percent of users reporting they get their news on the site.

Do you have the perfect product for a certain audience? 91 percent of Instagram users say they use the platform to follow a specific interest. Be efficient with your ad dollars by targeting only those who you know are interested.

In 2022, platform diversification is going to be the key to making sure your campaign dollars are well spent.

Jason Craik, director, Digital and Integrated Communications – NATIONAL Vancouver

The ways we access information will continue to multiply

QR codes, chatbots, voice commands, wearable tech, the Internet of Things: consumers are no longer consuming digital content in the same way. Companies must now adapt to this reality by limiting the number of clicks and actions required before consumers can access the content they are looking for.

The entire user experience needs to be rethought, and this requires a new information structure. The questions to ask are: What questions might users ask about this? What are the most commonly used terms and expressions? This impacts both content creation strategy and search engine optimization (SEO) practices.

You also need to find ways to interact with visitors who use voice commands such as Siri, Alexa or the Google Assistant, since these increasingly popular technological tools generate qualified traffic with a specific purchase or information-seeking intent.

Michel Lacroix, director, Digital Communications, and Rosanne Bourque, senior consultant, Integrated Solutions and Brand Positioning – NATIONAL Montreal

Business leaders are drowning in data

Data has now found its way into the decision-making processes of countless industries, and communication is no exception. The analysis and contextualization of social and traditional media data sets can help drive a marketing strategy, a crisis response, and everything in between. But it’s safe to say we’re at a point where everyone is drowning in data.

The industry has recently evolved towards an insights-driven approach. We’ve found an increasing number of clients who are fluent in understanding and actioning data but lack the time they need to dive into it. More organizations now want to find out what information truly matters for their day-to-day operations.

We’ve developed tools and service offerings specifically geared towards telling the story behind the data. When it comes to performance metrics, short-term metrics like impressions, reach, clicks and even daily conversions are becoming less of a focus while long-term measurement strategies looking at brand health, customer and employee engagement and the full marketing funnel are gaining traction.

Misty Meeks, vice-president and practice lead, Strategy, Insights and Digital – NATIONAL Toronto and Andrew Blanchette, director, Social Intelligence – NATIONAL Atlantic

Consumers still want to buy local

There’s no limit to products and services consumers can access and as a result, they expect products and services to specifically address their needs. Advertising and marketing must adapt accordingly.

In 2022, consumers will be looking for more personalized products and services and they will want to find them close to home. Over the course of the pandemic, buy local has become a rallying cry and a show of community solidarity. Local products are more easily accessible, they meet local needs and—at a time when breaks in the supply chain are creating scarcity—they're available.

What does this mean in terms of strategy? Go local. Consider segmenting newsletter subscribers by location or creating separate pages based on the location of your social media followers to customize your message. Geotargeted campaigns will allow you to connect with consumers near you. Don’t overlook how your target audience travels, where they go, for how long, and then engage them in the places they already visit.

Michel Lacroix, director, Digital Communications, and Rosanne Bourque, senior consultant, Integrated Solutions and Brand Positioning – NATIONAL Montreal

More from our 2022 Trends Report

——— Developed by: Leads: Misty Meeks (NATIONAL Toronto), Jason Craik (NATIONAL Vancouver) Collaborators: Andrew Blanchette (NATIONAL Atlantic), Michel Lacroix, Rosanne Bourque, Vincent Gagnon (NATIONAL Montreal), Adam Schwartz (NATIONAL Toronto), Trevor Clarke (NATIONAL Vancouver)