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2018: the year of chatbots and virtual assistants

  Photo: Kevin Bhagat // Unsplash (CC)

Photo: Kevin Bhagat // Unsplash (CC)

Marc Pidelaserra
Face recognition and the analysis of personal data will revolutionize the relationships between citizens, companies and social media

The announcement of changes to the Facebook algorithm and the anticipated arrival of WhatsApp Business will revolutionize social media in 2018. However, beyond these services, chatbots and virtual assistants could become a reality that changes the interaction between companies and their customers. Professor Slvia Sivera, from the UOC’s University Master’s Degree in Social Media: Management and Strategy, has provided a list detecting and analysing this year’s trends in social communication.


  1. From “I know who you are” to “I know what you are like” (literally)

Face and voice recognition (using technologies such as Amazon Echo or Google Home) will make it possible to go one step further in the personalization of content. Internet-connected devices will not only have personal data but will also know what we want and how we want it, based on our requests and routines. What is more, in 2018 it is anticipated that most smartphones will contain sensors that guarantee more precise and secure face recognition that previous terminals. Something which will surely be of great interest to the major brands.

  1. Robots will be at our service

There are studies that state that in Facebook Messenger alone there are more than one hundred thousand active monthly bots. And Gartner is forecasting that in 2018 30% of the conversations we have online will take place using such IT systems, the result of artificial intelligence, which is capable of maintaining conversations using natural language via messaging channels. Their applications are infinite: from becoming a museum guide to an efficient personal shopper in fashion stores.

  1. Not without my mobile

A study by the Boston Consulting Group reveals that consumers are unwilling to give up their mobile phones, even at the expense of some traditional needs: 3 out of 10 people would prefer to stop seeing their friends, a third of Americans would prefer to give up sex for a year, and 45% said they would postpone their holidays. Consequently, 2018 will see an even greater expansion of all types of content adapted to mobile phones and tablets.

  1. Facebook will prioritize personal interaction

A few days ago, Mark Zuckerberg announced that its algorithm will prioritize the personal publications of friends over those of brands and the media. He continues to deny that it is a means of dissemination or communication, following the accusations of its lack of control over fake news and Russian intervention in electoral campaigns resulting from the Instant Articles format. In spite of this, brands and the media are the main audience and source of income of the company. Therefore, we will have to see whether the media continues to receive the same traffic on Facebook, albeit with a considerable loss of control and falling coverage.

  1. WhatsApp expands its business

The WhatsApp application is present on virtually all smartphones. The WhatsApp Business service for companies will be the company's most-anticipated novelty. Trials were begun in Spain a few months ago and are expected to be consolidated in the coming months. Companies will be able to manage a 24/7 alert and notification channel (like KLM) or place orders (as Don Ofertn already offers). In addition, WhatsApp is planning to conduct trials on money transfers between users, as the embryo of a future functionality for wiring money.

  1. Data and data content, increasingly bigger

According to a survey commissioned by IAB Spain on one hundred and fifteen participants at Festival Inspirational 2017, the digital sphere that will witness the biggest boom in 2018 will be data. This will involve making decisions in real time, taking advantage of the value of having updated data. It remains to be seen how they will calculate the so-called dark traffic, traffic which originates from WhatsApp between individual users, for example, and which web analysts are still unable to “capture”.

  1. Video as a dominant format

Being able to create videos and link them to the brands' content strategies is still indispensable for reaching targeted audiences. In particular, this format is still favoured in the algorithms organized by social feeds. According to a study by The Creative Group, 28% of advertising and marketing executives surveyed believe that video will dominate social media marketing in 2018. And particular attention will need to be paid to six-second segments. The production of live videos is also expected to rise, given that the experience acquired in streaming broadcasts reduces the suspicion of possible mistakes.

  1. Immediacy as an increasingly important value

Those born after the final decade of last century, the so-called “generation Z”, are comfortable using platforms where the content is ephemeral. According to trade journalist Lauren Johnson, Instagram Stories and Snapchat will continue to dominate and will also contribute extra added value (filters, originality, interaction, etc).

  1. QR codes are back

Like animated GIF files in 2017, these two-dimensional barcodes are also expected to make a comeback. Google has added QR scanner to its keyboard, as they help improve the interaction between users and the shopping experience. So we should not be surprised if we see it on Facebook or other platforms.

  1. Influencers will keep on influencing

For marketing experts, these digital opinion leaders have now become a recurring feature and are no longer disruptors in trends lists.  According to Forbes, the photographic social network Instagram leads the pack in terms of influencers, and this year this is predicted to have an increased presence on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. In any case, new tools will emerge to detect and manage the most efficient influencers, such as Tapinfluence.

  1. The 70-20-10 rule

Andrew Keller, Global Creative Director of Facebook Frame Studio, has made several declarations stating that the company intends to concentrate 70% of its efforts on mobile-first short-form videos, 20% on interactive segments and 10% on innovative content. Therefore, it is clear that what we know as engagement, or the commitment companies expect from their fans, will be replaced by the coverage of publications.

  1. Publish less, publish better

The rate of publication of the world’s leading blogs has fallen in recent years because community managers have observed that it is more efficient to publish less, but in a more exhaustive manner. Along these lines, the journalist Eduardo Venegas says that blogs need innovative content, to capture people's attention and to create informative content.



Photograph of Slvia Sivera Bello

Slvia Sivera Bello

Expert in: Advertising; creativity; viral advertising; viral marketing; creativity in advertising; advertising and ICT; copywriting; advertising language; alternative advertising.

Knowledge area: Communication and advertising.

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