With the New Year well and truly in our sights, it’s the perfect time to take a look at what’s in store for marketing and communications over the next 12 months.

In 2015 we have seen the integration of marketing and public relations, and the continued escalation of technology taking these disciplines online and mobile.

The significance of search engine optimisation (SEO) and having an online presence grows with this continual shift toward online and mobile accessibility.

The way we market to our stakeholders is progressing with content marketing pushing advertising and other traditional marketing practices aside, as we explored in this article.

With this in mind, there are five key communication and marketing trends that we predict for 2016

Shifting platforms

Since the rise of the World Wide Web, driving traffic to our websites in the hope of converting them to a lead or customer has been the ultimate goal of marketers. However, this is changing dramatically with the advancements in mobile technology and social media.

Marketers are looking at different platforms to reach their audiences directly – social media for instance (see below). The opportunity to sponsor great content is huge – no longer are we bound by the rules dictated by traditional advertising. Now we can foster meaningful relationships through engaging and interactive visual content which work on the platforms our audiences are already using.

Social media
Social media trends change daily but in 2016 it will converge into a one stop shop; search engine capabilities are under development and as is the introduction of buy/pay buttons.

By integrating the social impact of sites such as Facebook and Twitter with advanced search and payment capabilities, consumers will have access and exposure to more products and services.

Influencer marketing
Social media creates an outlet which keeps communications live every minute of every day. From this comes influencer marketing. Around one quarter of branded search comes from user-generated content, meaning that brand advocates and even employees have control of 25% of our client’s marketing.

Getting to know who is talking about your brand, on which platforms and then building relationships with them will certainly create results for your brand.

Virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) technology may be commonly associated with gaming, however in 2016 VR is going to revolutionise marketing and communications. This includes experiential methods of brand awareness, learning and development, employee engagement, health & safety, research and even sustainability storytelling.

Tech leaders such as Facebook, Google and Samsung have already jumped on the bandwagon and are setting out the perfect hardware climate to ensure interest in the technology evolves.

Hyper-local content

With the continual evolution of social media and online communication platforms it becomes increasingly important for communications professionals to develop customised content and campaigns to target their audiences.

The way communications professionals pitch stories and our methods of connecting with our audiences need to evolve to keep our clients relevant.

Going hyper-local allows us to not only target our audiences personally, it also allows us to keep track of the statistics and success of each campaign.