As always, marketers are battling to keep up with all the changes driven by international, technological and economic upheaval. But here are six trends for marketers that caught my eye: 

1.     Monitor UGC (User Generated Content)

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) indicated that organisations MUST monitor comments, posts, videos and any other user generated content that may be posted on their Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media platform to ensure that advertising rules (and defamation laws) are not breached. And remember to ensure that there are clear terms and conditions for competitions and that the appropriate intellectual property rights and permissions have been obtained for photographs and other images.

2.     Growth of video

CISCO predicts that by 2017 video will account for almost 70% of all consumer internet traffic – primarily because of the storytelling and emotional response. Experts suggest we look to how news organisations integrate video with other content. There’s a move away from directly promotional video towards branded content with interaction supported by click to buy links, feedback quizzes and fully interactive video. Content remains king though.

3.     Creativity needs downtime

While the pressure is still there for us all to do more with less, some are bucking the trend and pointing out the dangers of having no time left to think. There are reports that Silicon Valley tech giants are introducing mindfulness rooms – so people can slow down to enhance creativity. Google apparently has a deliberately long lunch queue so that staff interact more.  In 2010 IBM did a global study of the most important leadership quality for the future and the answer was unanimous: creativity. Another YouGov study found only 16% people get their best ideas at work.

4.     Social conscience for businesses?

Innovative Benefit Corporations (or B companies) legislation have been incorporated into Delaware State law. It gives business leaders new freedoms to make decisions in the best interests of society as well as the company’s profits and shareholders. John Elkington commented that this is an important step towards reducing short termism. 

5.     Crowdsourcing

Crowdfunding (four types – donation, reward, lending and equity) is growing and important for business finance but crowdsourcing (coined by Jeff Howe in Wired in 2006) is increasingly important to get large groups to contribute to content. I wondered whether we might see developments here in professional services – how about crowdsourcing your dispute rather than using the legal system?

6.     Big data skills gap

Reports indicate that only 10-15% of businesses are taking advantage of the big data available to them but those that do outperform the competition by 20%. Specialist software and data scientists are expected to grow from £9.3 billion in 2013 to £28.9 billion by 2019 – a 211% growth. In a study of 157 UK marketers, 62% said that their marketing role evolved as a consequence of big data but just 30% felt they possessed the skills to use it.