Not too long ago, I attended a series of excellent lectures focusing on the history and theory of media. The professor would often start by asking who had picked up a newspaper that day. Much to his surprise, only a few students would raise their hands.  Was this a sign of their obliviousness or a clear indication of a tectonic shift in how news was consumed?

Each era has its own particular instances that define the changing face of information, media and communication. The town crier gave way to the printing press which in turn was overtaken by the telegraph in the 19th century with radio and television in turn dominating the media landscape for much of the last century.  

Fast-forward to 2016, we find ourselves in new territory: the struggle to fax a press release has been replaced with the new challenge of summarising stories in 140 characters. Technological breakthroughs have transformed the dynamics of media consumption as well as consumer behaviour and business innovation. More than ever we are reading and watching content on our mobile devices (eMarketer’s UK Media Consumption research 2016). We don’t wait to be fed news at a specific time as dictated by a broadcasting company, or read a newspaper for our daily dose each morning.  Instead, stories break on social media as they occur or a push notification alerts us to breaking news on our smartphone. Whether it’s the NASDAQ hitting 5,000, a fund manager’s departure or even a journalist announcing she’s moving on to another publication, a @tweet or LinkedIn update is highly likely to be where we learn of it first. 

At a time when these trends are reshaping the media and communications industries, it is not surprising that organisations across all sectors, including financial services, have placed increased importance on formulating strategies for using social media. As far as the financial industry is concerned, this represents a significant step forward.  The regulatory complexity governing the industry and a traditional cultural mindset which is reluctant to embrace change has meant that until recently it has lagged behind other sectors in creating digitally friendly content such as videos, infographics or blogs. (Accenture- Communications Surveillance, 2015).  However, as an old quote says, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” New digital infrastructure enables financial services companies to foster relationships, communicate through video and engage in dialogue beyond their product offering in a way they have never done before.  And with an increased emphasis on transparency, this is clearly in step with the direction the regulator would like financial services moving.  

Anticipating trends can be a gamble, but there are a few major events bound to overshadow the news agenda in the next six months, including the #AutumnStatement2016, the #U.S.Election2016 and further developments with #Brexit. Rather than being left out of the buzz around the biggest stories, organizations have a chance to play a key role in analysing the impact of these events on their industry and people’s lives. Let’s Tweet again!