Disclaimer! Online state of affairs & Online consumer trends
Every year I write the online state of affairs and online consumer trends to get a grip on an ever-volatile market: the online consumer. So you and me. However, trend articles are plagued by opportunism, inconsistencies and simply copying behavior. For the readers who want real interpretation, here a disclaimer with an explanation of the approach and way of thinking.
I am not a trend watcher.
And that is not meant to capitalize on the trend of trend watchers to call themselves a trend watcher and still charge € 4000 for an hour's talk. I am not went to trendwatch school or apprenticed to a trend guru. And yet I write trends and everyone thinks that's great. That is right reason for me to make some explanation. Because even if it's about the future, you should at least be critical of the composer.
Enter at your own risk
Trends are tricky.
These are lists that we would like to check to keep up as a reader. As an article they offer the writer some respect (“Look! A trend watcher! ”) and especially website traffic. The editors would like to see this kind of guest contribution. But in terms of content, they are typically not tested strongly. Because that takes time and therefore money that is simply no longer there. The financial compensation for journalists has been falling for some years and there is a lot more pressure on the editors. No one will ask me to write a 100% searched trend article at a normal hourly rate. Far from it, witness the 13 (!) Eurocent per word at De Persgroep (AD, De Volkskrant, Trouw).
And because today's readers are more interested in a cat on a skateboard than in-depth articles about pension accrual, then you get more from one than the other. An article such as the five AI trends of 2020 scores better than The online state of affairs. Moreover, as a trend writer you are seldom or never approached about the accuracy of your predictions. So it's easy to score.
By definition, everything is subjective.
Even if you only write 100% objective articles about, for example - how polarizing - American politics, the selection of subjects is still subjective. Also with a distribution of 50/50 among the Democrats and Republicans, because which side do you highlight about an event? As a writer you have certain ideas that express yourself in a certain signature with which you again attract a certain target group. Writers and editors are therefore in my opinion biased.
Investigations contradict each other.
Example from the Online State of Affairs:
The CBS states that 90,3% of the Dutch in 2018 had a smartphone or mobile. The Global Digital Report 2018 by HootSuite and WeAreSocial reports 97% (slide 205). An investigative journalist would compare the investigation method, the sample size and the applied methodology. I don't have that time. In this case I just choose CBS directly, because that is a Dutch, non-commercial study. But the CBS is again incomplete. How much time we Dutch are online every day and what we do exactly, only gives that Global Digital Report survey. So I get it anyway, because I think that insight is very important. I choose the source for each fact, but I therefore provide the link for reference.
Pay attention to time, place and person
Everything is context.
One development is, for example, the decline in the average number of daily Facebook users. What follows is a boring story about facts that you don't really care for:
Facebook itself reported that in his second quarter for 2018, for Europe. But does not mention anything about the Netherlands. We have it for that Social Media Research by Newcom, but only those before 2018 (will be released normally at the end of January (addition: was released on time, see my article: Bye Facebook). The decrease among young people up to the age of 20 is mainly reported there. Furthermore: 10.8 million facebook users, 7.6 million daily facebook users. No comparison with 2017. Do we pick it up ourselves (here, restore already offline), then we read 10.5 million facebook users and 7.5 million daily users. So no drop. But where did we read that fewer Dutch people facebook?
To illustrate a random article from the AD by Niels Klaasen on 11/17/18: The Dutch are walking away from Facebook: trust is declining. The headline gives a different picture than the cited facts: second quarter Facebook, 7.5 million users ... and a new Newcom survey among 1175 users, the Newcom Trust Monitor 2018. Confidence is falling, but no figures about actual use yet. Only: "In the poll, more than a quarter of the respondents indicated that they have started to use Facebook less or much less in the past six months, compared to 9 percent who started using it more". Nice warm-up for the upcoming Social Media Monitor 2019, but it says nothing about the number of users or the number of daily users. You can Facebook less, but still check your timeline daily. The conclusion that all Dutch people Facebook less in terms of number of users and number of daily users is (now) not yet substantiated. But of course it does better. That's why I got one myself Telecom research to the number of Facebook app installations. Only that is an expensive-paid investigation for which I therefore get facts from another publication (also AD.nl), not from the actual research. Hassle, huh?
The signs are not clear
What is a trend anyway?
A trend is a "estimated direction of a certain development" In the current communication age where a simple tweet can result in hundreds of media messages full of explanation, responses and background, everything can really be labeled as a trend.
However, there is one distinction in trends:
- Mega trends describe social evolution and last around 10 to 30 years, such as digitization or globalization.
- Max trends last 5 to 10 years and describe medium-sized trends, such as solar panels for example, which is now coming under pressure due to criticism of the climate agreement.
- Micro trends are the shortest trends that come and go, often focused on a product, service or lifestyle. You often don't even see them. Crocs or dubsmash for example.
Hyves came and went as a micro trend, falls under the maxi trend of social media and that again falls under the megatrend of digitization. An article about online marketing trends that AI, chatbots and Micro Moments names as the trends of 2020, however, makes no distinction. While I think AI is a real megatrend (Giga!) And Micro Moments is another marketing term devised by Google. However, if you are going to explain this interpretation and context, you will soon lose the reader's attention. And if you only write about mega and maxi trends, your trends actually do not change much every year. However, the focus on micro trends is dangerous, as Hans Rosling argues in this video. He states that when you only use the news to understand the world, you overlook the major trends.
Based on a true story
Enough reasons to never read a trend article again.
Better a substantive book, right? My approach is therefore to build a storyline. A story has a beginning, middle and end. It has fascinated us humans for many thousands of years. And it has a moral. I therefore called the online consumer trends 2018 the Year of the Wolf, and 2019 the year of the Counter movement Standardization. I outline a situation, substantiate that extensively with facts and conclude with a conclusion. I also do that with the Online state of affairs. It is up to the reader to be fascinated by the approach and to be convinced by the facts provided.
I continuously collect articles, news articles, surveys, columns and press releases. In doing so, I pay attention to the reported facts and their source, the interpretation of the medium and how this coincides with current trends. This is actually the de Haystack method. Around October I do this more extensively and I ask different people in my area about their observations. Another generation or background often gives a surprising perspective. I start writing during the Christmas holidays. And no, fortunately that does not feel like work, because it is a lot of work.
Why all that trouble?
I'm not a journalist.
I started writing from my positions as an e-business consultant, head of marketing & communication and content marketer. With a business and commercial approach, because that chimney must smoke. For me as an entrepreneur now, turning sales is much more important than finding out facts.
Free product means that you are the product yourself.
Facebook and Google offer free services because they make money from you. This is also the case with the free insights that you gain from my many hours of work. I am building the Bloeise company name and my own name as a B2B ghostwriter. One new customer is worth all that.
I can do this for you too.
I now also continue the annual consumer trends on Emerce and Frankwatching. More range, more criticism, so this disclaimer. With this I also show what I can do for your company: to write down a sharp story that makes sense and with which you focus the attention of thousands of readers on your subject.