By Sarah Wilson (Group Business Director – Media)
As 2019 comes to a close, there is no doubt that most of us are feeling tired and mentally drained – ready for some sunshine, R&R and time to disconnect. It’s not surprising that we yearn for this feeling of disconnection when you look at society today: overloaded with news, videos, messages and content. According to a recent global media report, on average, this year we spent 70% of our waking hours consuming information, checking our phones approximately 150 times per day, and spending more than 76 days on our devices.
This uber-connected and ultra-consuming world has led to a society which has become more reliant on our smartphones, but also one where “offline time” is becoming a new form of luxury, affording moments of self-indulgence that are increasingly intentional and purposeful.
A recent UK study showed that behaviours related to technology and media consumption are increasingly moderated across channels, with more intentional behaviors influencing both how much and what people were consuming. Over half of the respondents were said to be making more conscious and deliberate choices about the media channels they interact with, and 40% stated they had established routines and positive boundaries to ensure they disconnect regularly from their devices. The strength of this movement was further supported by respondents when asked about social media, with over half of people interviewed agreeing that they would be happy if social media had never been invented – a sentiment reported by respondents of all ages and backgrounds.
This strong negative sentiment towards social media has resulted in some significant changes to peoples’ online behaviours. 44% of people agreed they now spend less time on social media than they did 12 months ago, attributing this change to how social media made them feel emotionally. Other common behaviours involved people unfollowing accounts that no longer made them feel happy, posting less personal content and posting less in general, which were all adopted by many respondents.
So, what is driving this?
1. People are more informed
Following the introduction of new digital policies, such as GDPR, technology and data have slowly been demystified. People are feeling more informed, and are making more confident choices around their media consumption.
2. Tech companies are taking more responsibility
Both in terms of how they operate and how they impact our everyday lives, many tech companies are designing tools that enable people to better manage their relationship with technology – such as Apple’s recent ScreenTime release, which allows users to monitor how much time they are spending on their devices.
What will this mean for brands as we head into 2020?
– With people making more intentional choices around their media habits, it’s important for brands to know when not to disturb your customers, and instead think about how your brand can be respectful of switch-off moments.
– Don’t overwhelm people with irrelevant volume. With media choices becoming more selective, brand communications need to feel authentic and relevant.
– Be thoughtful about how you appear in different channels, particularly social media. Does the message have a purpose? Is it a positive and/or healthy message? Or is it portraying perfection?
– Be transparent about products and services; make information freely and easily available so that people are empowered to make more conscious and thoughtful choices.