July Industry Trends Report

With summer now in full swing, Proof Strategies would like to keep everyone up-to-date on what’s trending in the communications and marketing industry. This month, we discuss Instagram updates, how to reach the Gen Z audience and the benefits of social listening.  

To Like or Not To Like? 

Instagram expanded its self-imposed removal of the “likes” counts from public viewing to new locations including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand to test its effect on platform performance. This change allows the page owner to see who liked a post but hides the number from their followers, replacing it with a generic “Liked by…” expression instead. 

Instagram explained in a tweet that this change in user experience is to “… focus on the photos and videos you share, not how many likes they get.” The move also comes in part in response to a long-standing push from mental health advocates who have expressed that Instagram is the worst social media application for one’s mental health, especially for young adults. Social Native Founder, David Shadpour weighed in, explaining that, “One of the number one reasons why users don’t post more now is because every single time you post you’re being heavily judged by this ‘like’ metric on the quality of your post.” This change will hopefully lead to an increase in overall platform engagement as people feel freer to post what they like and engage with their followers more organically. 

While this is a tremendous and positive step forward in terms of promoting well-being online, it throws a monkey wrench into measures for success around influencer marketing. Instagram “likes” are one of the most important metrics brands look to when deciding to work with an online creator. Without “likes,” it feels as though the entire influencer marketing process has to be reevaluated for what “success” looks like. Instagram has not yet released information on whether this change actually discourages people from liking posts altogether. There is still more to be learned from this platform update, but the challenge will be how to balance what brands want to achieve and provide what people need. 

Generation Z: The New Wave

It’s no secret that Generation Z is every brand’s new target audience. While this cohort consists of everyone born from 1997 to present, companies are specifically targeting 16-21 year-olds because they already represent $44 billion in spending power. According to the Global Web Index’s 2019 Audience Report, Gen Z will represent 40% of all U.S. consumers by 2020. As a result, marketers are now actively seeking them as consumers.

And because the characteristics of Gen Z are unique, marketers need to create a new playbook. For example, Generation Z did not have a time before the internet, making them more tech-savvy than previous generations. With an insatiable appetite for information that is readily available, mobile-first and attention-grabbing are critical in the first few seconds of viewing a post for this audience.

Proof Strategies’ three main takeaways: 

Embrace a Social-First Strategy: Brands must do more to actively engage Gen Z consumers online. Simply maintaining a social presence is only half the journey; the Gen Z audience expects customized posts tailored to them representing their interests and values. Gen Z also grew up in a more diverse, inclusive era, which is why they expect to see this represented in advertising.

Walk the walk: Brands taking stands is critical to reaching Gen Z’ers, whose moral compass guides their value for human equality, family, individuality, personal success, financial security, and authenticity. These values drive their purchasing and brand loyalty decisions. While this may seem daunting to marketers, the bottom line is knowing and living your brand values will build legitimacy and trust. If you can prove that you’re making an impact, then you’ve got them! 

Be authentic & transparent: Since Gen Z does not respond to classic marketing ploys, brands need to read as authentic and prove that they are not trying to manipulate consumers. They prefer a seamless experience, which is why the ad should appear on their newsfeed as though it was someone’s post from his or her network, instead of a promotional ad. 

All in all, Gen Z is here! Check out some more strategies that will help you embrace them.

If You’re Not Listening You’re Not Winning

Social listening has become a huge asset to the growth of a company. NetBase, a leader in social analytics, estimated that there will be 2.9 billion social media users around the globe by 2020. Their upcoming Global Social Media Analytics Report shared that companies are willing to spend $25,000 to $100,000 on social media analytics tools. This is due to the steady increase in the volume of users who spend time on social networks. 

As a result, social listening is globally adopted as a must-do for marketing professionals. These tools offer a fool-proof growth plan that will allow you to engage and retain followers i.e. grow your platform. Devoting more budget to these tools will provide an opportunity to engage in and determine the sentiment around conversations about your brand, therefore closing blindspots in your marketing strategy⁠ due to lack of consumer insight.  

Since the demand for social listening tools is so high, innovators are constantly seeking new ways to elevate the social listening experience. With that in mind, it is important to stay up-to-date on the newest social media listening and analytics tools; 

The Proof Strategies team uses:

  • Synthesio: Track real-time conversations around the world with dashboards and data coverage.
  • Sprout Social: Monitor cross-channel analytics to quickly compare results across multiple networks at once. 
  • HotJar: Understand what your users want, care about and do on your site by visually representing their clicks, taps and scrolling behavior – which are the strongest indicators of visitor motivation and desire.
  • SEMrush: Analyze SEO reports that will help find and fix on-site issues and boost SEO-optimization.

You can find more interesting tools here.     

GET PROOF™

That’s a wrap for this month! Don’t forget to check in next month for another update on all things PR and communications. Also, make sure to follow the new Proof Strategies’ Instagram @getproofusa for an inside look at our office and culture!



Shykeia Spinks

Fellow
Shykeia’s curiosity and adventurous mindset has crafted her into diligent communications professional. She recently graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations. In her spare time, you can catch her re-watching her favorite television series.

Sonia Del Rivo

Fellow
Sonia is a California native who earned her B.S. in Decision Science from Carnegie Mellon University. Her love for communications is rooted in bridging the gap behind the hard data of human decision making and marketing. When not in the office, she loves scoping out new products at Trader Joes, going to concerts, and taking Instagram photos. 



About Proof Strategies

With 275+ awards for client work and industry leadership, the independently owned Proof family of companies (Proof Strategies, Inc., Proof, Inc., Proof Experiences, Inc.) has over 165 staff members in offices in Toronto, Montréal, Ottawa, Vancouver and Washington, D.C., and annual fee income of $30 million. As a brand steward to some of North America’s most respected and well-known companies, the firm’s strategic approach is guided by data-driven research, deep subject expertise, smart creative and meticulous measurement. A corporate leader in the age of climate change, Proof Strategies, Inc. has been carbon neutral since 2008.



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