Analytics and Forecasting

10 Digital-Social Media (DSM) Trends for 2020

10 Jan 2020  

I recently joined The Conference Board’s (TCB) Marketing and Communications Center as a Senior Fellow. I’ve been able to meet many interesting people, to create and execute my first research study, and to get involved in some of their programming.

chrystal ballOne of the fun things we’re asked to do is provide a list of predictions for the coming year. Being my self a scenario-based planner, I try whenever possible to steer clear of offering “predictions” as such. I am, though, a big proponent of knowing what things to keep an eye on, so that you can monitor them systematically as they develop. If DSM is an important part of your strategy, here are some of the trends that I recommend be on your radar for this coming year. I’ve grouped these into three categories: governance, privacy and data ownership, and technology. (I have not weighted them here in terms of importance.)

Governance Trends

  • Continuing calls for greater accountability for the social media industry. Possible regulation in US and greater regulation in EU.
  • Continuing escalation of digital/social media issues from operational to company policy (C-suite and board) to public policy. Possible next stop: international treaties and agreements.
  • Possible US anti-trust actions against largest players – re multi-platform ownership.
  • Possible revisiting of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 — specifically, Section 230, the “we’re a platform, not a publisher” clause with its attendant First Amendment issues.
  • “Fake news” laws – already underway in Singapore and China, these warnings requirements or outright bans could catch on globally.

Privacy and Data Ownership Trends

  • Pressures for greater transparency and user control over data. Examples: the right to be forgotten; the issue of paying users for their data.
  • Ongoing tension: need for user privacy vs. need for emergency access to user accounts — e.g., end-to-end encryption issue with Facebook.

Technology Trends

  • Disinformation becomes rampant in the public sphere (2020 US elections), and enters the private sphere — deep fakes, “cheap fakes,” and other technologies.
  • Greater deployment of AI to stop things like live-streaming of New Zealand massacre and deep fakes. But the industry continues in catch-up mode as AI has (once again) proven to be over-hyped.
  • Re-examination of “likes-driven” culture re cyber-bullying, suicides of high-internet-profile celebrities.

Other TCB folks had other good ideas you should know about, too. You can see a video of our webinar for TCB here [LINK TO COME.]

Wishing you the best for the New Year!  I’ve been working hard to finish my new book, and am eager to share details with you here soon.


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