Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Social media trends for communicators: My PRSA-NCC Social Media Week talk

From HBR's How People Really Use Mobile
This morning, I'm on a Social Media Week panel on social media communications trends for communicators at PRSA's National Capital Chapter here in Washington, DC. Since this overflow crowd is likely to include everything from newbies to seasoned social strategists, we'll be starting with questions from the audience. Even so, I have a few solid trends to share here, with links so you can share in the insights and use them later. My take on 2013's social trends for communicators looks like this:
  1. Visual: It always was the strongest trend in social media and that only gets bigger in 2013. Most of our online content is visual in some way, whether it's video on YouTube, Twitter's short Vine videos or Facebook; video chat with groups on Google+ Hangouts; or photographs on Pinterest, Instagram or SnapChat. The trend expands with infographics, charts, and slides online. Even quotes are getting graphic treatment, and we spend so much time on YouTube that it's the second-biggest search engine after sister site Google. The appeal of visual hit home last year with the rise of Pinterest, which was valued most recently at $2.5 billion and became the fastest-growing social network, rising to third behind Twitter and Facebook. The proportion of social users on Pinterest comes very close to that of Twitter, so don't write it off just yet, even if you're not yet sure how to use it. 
  2. Mobile: If you've got a 4G smartphone, you're among those with expanded chances to watch video on the fly, a big reason for the continued strength of visual and video platforms. But don't let the bells and whistles distract you. This Harvard Business Review gets at how we're using mobile, and that's where communicators should put their focus in 2013. Notice this in the chart at right: 46 percent of our interactions were dubbed "me time," pure entertainment, relaxation, or fun. Next comes social, then shopping, and only then productivity. Keep that in mind when you're reaching out to mobile audiences. Also worth recalling: For some demographics, a mobile device is the primary computer; households without a desktop may have even more power and capability in the residents' pockets.
  3. Personable: That fun thing? It's a strong reason why you should go get a personality for your social media presence, if you don't have one already. If we like you and feel like we know you, we'll trust you and check in more frequently. Be like General Electric, which is styling Thomas Edison into a geeky Ryan Gosling in its "Hey Girl" board, or NPR's radio valentines, both playful examples from Pinterest. Your personable approach doesn't need to be funny, but it does need to get real and connect with readers in a relaxed, informal and informed way.
  4. Focused: Even thought leader Chris Brogan's said it out loud: We're tired of social media for social media's sake. Seth Godin says you should forget mass markets and work the edges, the niches, the small, focused spaces. And you're not helping your brand or cause if your presence on social networks is lagging or outright abandoned. So make 2013 the year you focus. I'd rather see you use one network well and thoroughly, where your audience is already active, than see you scattershot and ineffective. One way to work smarter but not harder is to find social tools that multitask: SlideShare cooperates well with your blog, Facebook and Pinterest, and is itself a great traffic driver. Pinterest lets you post photos, video, slides and text, and you can link to anything with an image, including sale items. And IFTTT (short for If This Then That) is a Swiss Army knife that helps you automate posting, filing and alerts.
  5. Integrated: From an operational standpoint, the biggest roadblock I see to social media as an effective communications tool is still the tendency to see it as something you add on to your to-do list, rather than a tool that integrates with and changes your communications efforts. So in 2013, consider using blog posts in lieu of press releases--what I call the press release diet--both to save time and effort and get better results from reporters and search engines. You can see all my press release diet posts here, with data, case studies and how-to information to get you started. Use private social options, from private Facebook groups to private Pinterest boards or private Evernote notebooks to preview materials for reporters in advance of release. Let your board, donors, advisers or customers take over a Twitter feed or Facebook page or video channel in a mashup of insider perspective, volunteer energy, consumer feedback and public outreach. Use a tool like to collect data and qualitative progress on a dashboard that can replace your brochures, annual reports or whitepapers. Find some clever ideas for using Pinterest for a word-of-mouth campaign, pledge drive, "traveling" museum exhibit, blog promotion and more.
I work with government agencies, companies, nonprofits and universities to create social media strategies and pilot projects in social media that meet their communications needs and fit into their workflow. I've helped groups get oriented to social media, and facilitate planning retreats where your entire team can work on strategy, get some training, and come up with ideas that fit your goals. Can I help you take advantage of these social trends in 2013? Email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz. And if you're looking to refresh or mature your blog, go here to sign up for the waiting list for a forthcoming workshop, Refreshing Your Blog, coming up this spring.

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  1. Hi Denise!

    Thank you for sharing your PRSA presentation. I learned so much from your talk today at the Social Media Week DC event. My biggest takeaways were Visual, Mobile and Integrated. I will incorporate into my branding and communication strategies.

    Keep shining!

    Happy #DigitalSisterhood Wednesday!


    Ananda Leeke
    Digital Sisterhood Network

    PS: Your speaking approach rocked. I liked how you and Anthony opened the session with questions. I will use it in my upcoming talk at BlogHer in July!

  2. Thanks, Ananda! I will look for you at BlogHer, and I'm glad to get this feedback about today's very lively session.


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