2011 wasn’t without its PR blunders from the BP oil spill to the Netflix brand debacle. Social media, more accurately termed social engagement, in 2011 had “stellar” examples on what NOT to do. Cases like Kenneth Cole’s tasteless “Cairo” tweet proved to work as a “wake-up-call” to the corporate/business world. Companies, large and small, have wised up to the risks of uncontrolled online activity and begun to take more proactive and strategic steps in properly implementing social media engagement. As a matter of fact, many companies have employees solely responsible for monitoring a firm’s online reputation.
The evolution of social engagement will affect all aspects of branding in 2012. Traditional PR tactics will be replaced with new and innovative strategies for engaging audiences. Affect, a PR and social media firm specializing in technology, has created a top-10 list of predictions/trends for PR and social media in 2012.
Death of the Email Pitch, Birth of the Twit Pitch – 2012 will see our reliance on email pitches dwindling in favor of social media connections with journalists. The popularity of social media has officially entered the traditional media relations lexicon. The short-form quality of social media engagement makes it a preferred place for journalists to receive pitches. Just think, no more rants about the benefits of a company’s exciting new product…just 140 characters to “love”! Brevity is the key concept here!
Google+ Business = Success – In 2012 businesses will leverage Google+ as a strategic platform for communicating with customers and prospects. Its more than 50 million users make Google+ a goldmine for extending a business’ reach, offering a valuable forum for customer relations and business development.
Social Media Gets Strategic – Jumping on the bandwagon! Many businesses in 2011 were all hot to hop on the latest social media trend. For 2012 expect more brands to take a strategic and well-planned approach to social media marketing. Mark my words, companies will begin to concentrate their efforts on the platforms that will offer them the greatest return on investment (ROI), rather than trying to “hop on every social media train”.
Gotta Have the Metrics, Baby – Despite signs of improvement in the economy, executives are still holding tight and being very conservative with company and departmental budgets. In order for the PR departments to squeeze the necessary dollars out of the “executive branch”, measurement will be even more critical in 2012. This year PR metrics will go beyond counting clips to identifying new ways of holding PR accountable for prospect conversion and revenue generation.
Crises Will Keep on Comin’ – “Weiner-gate” dominated the news for weeks in the spring of 2011 proving social media and social engagement can be a dangerous game for companies whose staff members aren’t trained on how to implement social media engagement properly. In 2012 social media crises will continue to come fast and furious…guaranteed, we are only human after all. Luckily, these crises tend to wither as quickly as they flare up, so don’t expect crises to have particularly long shelf-lives.
Brands Become Publishers – 2012 will mark a dramatic increase in businesses being publishers and disseminators of their own content. Through such media as a company blog or a corporate eNewsletter, firms will focus on creating the content and developing their own publishing vehicles to get their messages to market. These companies will bypass traditional media outlets and go directly to their target audiences by creating branded niche media properties…on the web or cable TV for instance. Oh and be advised, these businesses should be fully transparent about the fact that they are publishing their own content…when they actually do it.
CEOs Become Journalists – With publications like Forbes allowing CEOs to create their own pages, profiles and regularly contribute content, CEOs will begin to work in step with traditional news media to position themselves as “thought-leaders”. This new alternative is a win-win for media outlets and brands. This strategy makes CEO’s more accessible to media outlets, and vice versa.
Small is The New Big – In 2012 more company brands will put a premium on niche media that communicates and delivers directly to the target audiences. Juxtaposed to companies demanding its new product or service be featured on the local news, covered in your local major paper, or run a commercial on network television. The more efficient strategy is to focus on the small niche markets where your clients frequent.
Paying to “Get Social” – Unfortunately, 2012 will see social media go the way of advertising. Social media will no longer be strictly the “voice of the people”. Social media’s traditionally-organic content will give way to more “pay-for-play” opportunities. Regrettably, some entity has got to enter the fray and spoil the fun. Truth be told, social media platforms need to steadily increase revenue to keep pace with service demands, and users demands for improvement and additional applications.
Scandals, Sex and Celebs Still Sell – The truth is some things will never change. In the era of “clicks for cash“, media will still rely on sex, scandal or a famous face to sell stories. Journalists will try to find the most salacious angle for every story, so tread cautiously and be sure your spokesperson is media-trained.
Sandra Fathi, president and founder of Affect claims, “Brands will continue to forge new ground in 2012. It’s a thrilling time to be involved in our industry; there is unprecedented opportunity to connect directly with consumers across the globe.” Fathi adds, “While we don’t have a crystal ball, our team actively keeps its “fingers of the pulse” of the industry. We have already begun planning for the changes we expect to come in the next year and prepare our clients to get ahead of trends and maximize their returns.”