Top ten digital trends in 2014

Digital has been transforming the PR industry for the last few years, but the trend for 2014 will be more about adoption than innovation. This is according to the latest Digital Trends Report 2014 produced by agencies Hotwire and 33 Digital. This report, in its fifth year, documents how the online and digital world is affecting PR and its clients.

Discussing the latest findings, Peter Sigrist, editor of the report, says: “This year we expect our clients to be impacted less by innovative new service launches, and more by the opportunities presented by those that already exist.” Sigrist says there are three reasons to come to this conclusion: first, the pace of new service adoption is now being overtaken by consolidation of existing services; second, digital budgets have grown; and third, as digital becomes more mainstream, services are less dominated by small pioneering groups.

Ten key digital trends for 2014

1. Niche social networks – networks such as Strava for cyclists, StyledOn for fashionistas, Jelly for knowledge-sharing and Current for business people have emerged. Social media management for clients will have to examine the relevant industry-specific networks as well as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

2. Data for the moment – the infamous Oreo Superbowl tweet has gone down in social media history, but in 2014 reacting to audiences and other data immediately will become commonplace; the trick will be in the combination of data and creativity.

3. Digitisation of retail – shoppers are no longer limited to the digital versions of bricks and mortar stores or online ecommerce behemoths. Instead content providers will become virtual storefronts, where producers sell directly to consumers.

4. Death of anonymity – in the wake of the NSA revelations, brands will strive to regain trust in privacy. For communicators, this means ensuring transparency, accountability and instilling confidence in use of data.

5. Pre-emptive computing – Google Now already predicts what information you need at any given time, and this level of pre-emptive computing will come into its own.

6. Social media in school – instead of shunning social media, schools will start to use it to their advantage, with platforms like Edmodo and Skype in the classroom specifically designed to improve education.

7. Digital artisans – as the public have fallen in love with aged effects from Instagram, sketching on iPads and USB typewriters, this penchant for the vintage will have a knock-on effect for companies as brands strive to create the same feel for homely authenticity.

8. From customers to community – customer services and social media have been coming together for years, this will be the year that customer services loses its reputation for starched-collar-stuffiness and community managers gain the authority of the organisation.

9. Big media is back – business models for the media are shifting, but the biggest opportunity is the change in expectations for the media consumer: We’re all big media now.

10. Measurement – it will become essential to properly provide ROI on communications activities, and the breadth of digital tools available mean that measurement will become commonplace across communications strategies.

In conclusion, Sigrist says: “Last year we highlighted the rise of big data, digital health, and social business. This year, the trends are focused on digital maturity rather than the emergence of new technology. For anyone in communications, 2014 will be a world where privacy will be built into services, artificial intelligence will take over from human advisors, digital artisans will take centre stage and companies will be able to serve each and every customer individually thanks to the adoption of social business principles. It’s going to be an exciting year.”


Each year, specialist teams from Hotwire and 33 Digital examine the concepts, applications, and mindsets that they predict will change communications. Click here to see the latest report.

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