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2023 Trends Report: Digital communications

When addressing the topic of digital communications, it can be easy to forget that we are talking through and often to computers. Algorithms, chatbots, amplification, ads, those are all represented in this image in the style of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. A conversation with artificial intelligence in the broadest sense.

NATIONAL helps you build a strong strategy for the upcoming year. Here are the trends our digital communications experts see for 2023:

Digital technology in support of social acceptability

The pandemic has profoundly changed social acceptability practices by accelerating the transition and adoption of digital tools. In 2023, virtual meeting and webinar platforms will continue to play an important role in the consultation process.

These tools democratize social acceptability by removing barriers to entry and giving a voice to people or interest groups who may not have been involved in consultations.

The specialists who carry out these processes thereby have access to an additional structure that allows them to set the tone for the exchanges and can therefore consider the growing expectations of the population in terms of the environment, well-being, and social and economic development.

In addition to the creation of a microsite and social platforms, the use of specialized tools greatly contributes to the implementation and management of consultative processes. This standardizes the collection of questions, comments, and positions from different stakeholders.

Thanks to these new practices, combined with monitoring and social listening, it is possible to draw an even more accurate picture of the positions of the various stakeholders and the overall perception of the population.

Michel Lacroix, Director, Digital Communications and Vincent Gagnon, Senior Consultant, Integrated Solutions and Branding

The influence of TikTok will continue to rise

TikTok has officially become the most downloaded, highest revenue-generating non-game app in the world. In Canada, the platform has seen its audience skyrocket, projected to reach over 8M users by the end of 2022. Canadian organizations and public figures can no longer ignore the influence the social network has on the digital landscape.

What does that mean for organizations? With over 1 billion monthly active users, the virality of TikTok videos can make and destroy reputations, it can influence public opinion and dictate the success of a product. That also means one faux pas, and the whole world has eyes on you.

While small businesses can experience life changing growth from an influencer’s positive review, when it comes to negative feedback or false information, the power TikTok users hold when mobilized can have disastrous consequences, and even lead to closures.

Piece of advice? Always remember that everything you do and say has a chance to be dissected on TikTok by millions of users around the world.

Chloé Letellier, Senior Consultant, Digital and Integrated Communications

What will happen to Twitter?

Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter in October caused big brands and small organizations alike to consider their future engagement and advertising spend on the platform due to the volatility of changes brought on by his transition team. Between many high-profile employees resigning, misuse of Twitter Blue, and restoring suspended and banned accounts, Twitter and Elon Musk have seemingly found themselves in a position where trust in the platform has been broken.

If Musk wants to create a platform where brands have confidence in sharing their message or selling a product, there needs to be a convincing value proposition for advertisers with a strong emphasis on platform transparency to mitigate any future brand risks.

Organizations can make their own judgments, and Twitter should not be completely dismissed as a platform to engage your audience, but this tumultuous transition should serve as a reminder that it is crucial to have diverse and active digital strategies across a variety of channels. This will allow brands and organizations to easily shift resources and maintain an active online presence.

Jennifer Li, Director, Campaigns and Public Engagement and Amelia Chant, Senior Consultant

Influencer marketing trends to watch in Canada

The influencer marketing space continues to evolve—and become even more sophisticated. Many of the trends we surfaced last year rang true and remain important to consider but we’re continuing to see this space evolve.

We’re seeing even more brands choose to partner with the right voices who can speak most credibly to the content and that often means forgoing large followings for mid-sized, organic audiences. Authenticity and content creation capabilities are paramount while brands are choosing to pay to amplify content to get the reach they need.

More influencers are creating content on more platforms with a notable rise in TikToks, IG Reels, and YouTube Shorts which is expected to continue. Creators are also moving out of social media and into ad campaigns, website content, and are generally just more integrated throughout marketing channels.

This coming year we expect to see a lot more in terms of measurement. We know influencer content drives positive brand perceptions and now it’s time for measurement to prove it! For example, we’re putting the finishing touches on our first influencer brand lift study and are expecting to have the results back from that in the early new year.

Misty Meeks, Vice-President and Practice Lead, Strategy, Insights and Digital

Lessons in privacy coming to Canadian marketers

By now, anyone in marketing has heard about Europe’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). California has also been going about implementing their privacy act. While both have impacted the collection of marketing data in their regions, in Canada we’ve felt like this was only affecting others.

In September 2023 Quebec’s Loi 25 (formerly Bill 64) will start to have meaningful impact in Canada as Quebec-based companies will have to implement a privacy-by-default approach to business.

Google is sunsetting Universal Analytics in July 2023 and offering GA4 as a privacy-first approach to marketing insights. In 2024 Google will phase out third-party cookies in Chrome. Safari and Firefox already block them by default and iOS apps request active consent to “Allow this app to track your activity across other companies’ apps and websites.”

As citizens, we agree that privacy and data protection are important. As marketers, we’re now in for a jolt. In 2023, expect to hear these questions:

  • Does our website have a cookie consent tool?
  • Is an IP address personally identifiable information?
  • Who is our privacy officer?
  • Is GA4 compliant with our privacy policies?
  • What is a Privacy Impact Assessment?
  • Wait, what is a cookie?

Lee Stafford, Associate Vice-President, Web Strategy