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Media, Social Media, Marketing & Technology Predictions for 2015 

For nearly 15 years, Birnbach Communications has issued annual predictions.

Here are our predictions for 2015:

  • Wearable tech will be big in 2015. The availability of the Apple Watch, sometime early in 2015, will, of course, be heralded as creating/validating the market for wearable tech. With the exception of fitness devices, however, wearable technology is still at the oxymoron stage: either it works as fashion or technology or neither but not both. Due to a lack of apps that let you do something  meaningful, most wearable tech – including jewelry and clothing that incorporate flash drives and chargers – will be limited to early adopters much like 3D printers and 4K TVs.
  • Expect sensory overload. The real story will be the Internet of Things (IoT). With built-in sensors, Wi-Fi- and Bluetooth-enabled smart devices can communicate easily with each other. Within two years, interconnected devices (like those from Nest) will help you be more productive around the house – once you’ve learned how to get them to connect to each other via an app on your phone.
  • Watch for the monetization and maturation of social media. Snapchat has quickly found a way to monetize its platform, and will continue to grow among teens. Social media channels will continue to evolve and find reasons to entice users to come back to the site or app again and again. Pinterest is becoming more of a sales lead generator for B2C businesses.
  • More will cut the cord in 2015. The media will continue to cover cord cutting of cable services. The irony is that to be able to stream video from the Internet, you still need Internet access, which is still provided by cable providers. The other story will be about people unplugging from the Internet because more are realizing that being constantly connected only makes them more stressed and less happy.
  • The importance of a college education will continue to generate media interest. The media will continue to look at whether a college education is worth the student debt loads as well as what kind of education we should provide our students. In an age of instant access to facts, memorizing certain facts may not be as helpful as actually understanding the underlying issues around history, science, literature, etc. and may not be indicators of future career success.
  • Content management remains king. Companies need to continue to promote themselves as thought leaders through social media, blogs, videos, bylined articles, infographics and more. This content needs to be produced and updated on a regular basis; you can’t post a blog in January, and think you’re done for the year. Even smaller, niche B2Bs are realizing they need to publish more. You can’t rely on a press release from last March to show you’re still active. Establishing a content or editorial calendar can help companies take a more systematic approach to the content they publish.
  • After a couple of more-or-less stable years, 2015 will be a rough year for print media. Publishers are finally accepting that they can’t charge as much for online ads and subscriptions as they once could get from print. So expect more buyouts and layoffs at print media. This will push print media to adapt their brand of journalism to include more “listicles” (articles that are primarily lists – like, um, this one) and more native advertising. (How you feel about it depends on whether you call it “native advertising” or “clickbait.”) Marketers need to consider adjusting their content to map to how print is adjusting its online content.
  • There’s always going to be a new site generating lots of buzz, but those may not be the ones to reach your customers. Yo, an app that allows you to only say “Yo” to your friends, generated a lot of buzz in 2014 but even if your customers use it, Yo may not be the best app to engage with them. Some brands are finding success on Snapchat but it will be difficult to generate traction if you’re continually jumping to a new app or social media site. Instead, look at your customers and make sure you have a strong sense of the social media sites they actually use. In other words, you need to consider saying no to Yo.
  • Wearable tech will allow new ways for marketers to interact with consumers. Beyond smart watches, smart clothing and the Internet of Things will provide new platforms for branding and customer engagement. Based on new kinds of sensors and apps, your smartphone knows much more about you than your spouse or doctor could ever know. And that data is being aggregated by the phone company and its marketing partners to offer content that’s more targeted and useful – and that can be a bit creepy.
  • The temptation for marketers is to be everywhere all the time – but more Americans will try to disconnect, if only for a few hours or the weekend. This tech sabbatical isn’t about cutting the cord on cable service to save money. It’s about realizing that being constantly connected makes us more stressed and less happy. This will get more intrusive when we get low on milk and our soon-to-be networked refrigerators start offering up “You Might Also Like” suggestions of other foods to buy. Marketers may be more successful if they show they respect consumers’ boundaries, including privacy, such as by making it much easier to opt-out from email lists.

Birnbach Communications’ annual predictions helps the agency's clients work more effectively with reporters, analysts, bloggers, prospects and customers on social networking sites. The complete list is being rolled out on the agency’s blog, PRBackTalk:

We think that the Internet of Things and wearable tech opens, yet again, a discussion about privacy since new vendors will have access to private information via built-in sensors. Marketers are going to continue to push thought leadership and many will consider native advertising.

Tell us what you think. Did we get it right? Are we way off base? Drop us a note at birnbach [at]

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