Worldcom Public Relations Group, a global group of independently owned public relations counselling firms, shared five noteworthy insights on social-media trends,

revealing that the role of social media as a consumer engagement tool will continue to evolve in 2012 and listed trends that, according to them, will potentially change the way in which social media is incorporated into consumer-outreach campaigns.

Social media has dramatically altered the way that agencies and their clients approach consumer engagement campaigns and in most cases changed the way in which businesses can connect with their target audiences.

“Consumer PR, like all forms of public relations and marketing, is fundamentally changing as a direct result of social media and other disruptive online-communications channels,” said Will Ostedt, Chair of the Worldcom Consumer Practice Group and Vice President at The Pollack PR Marketing Group in Los Angeles. “Consumers are expecting to receive and acknowledge communication that is only relevant to them - anything else is ignored or disregarded. The future of consumer PR is to find ways to make messages relevant to consumers and to reach them using the right channels.” he added.

In general, the group predicted five emerging trends for this year, expected to dramatically affect all consumer engagement campaigns, including localized social media programs, consumer’s tendency to filter the noise, the fact that depth is becoming more important than breadth in consumer networks, the disruptive rise of mobile device usage, and the Twitter surge.

The five assumed trends this year that have to be taken into consideration:

  1. Location, Location, Location: Worldcom’s Consumer Practice Group is seeing a shift to more localized social media programs that are better able to target consumers and their unique values and cultural circumstances. These programs are not only aimed at engaging consumers and encouraging them to share their “brand love” with others, but also to animate them into spending money at their local retailer.
  2. Filtering the Noise: Consumers are learning how to maximize social media tools to fit their personal needs, first and foremost, by eliminating noise. A fundamental need to filter information, combined with emerging filtration systems such as Google+ in which the information one sees is increasingly determined by past behavior and/or personal desire, means organizations will have to continually find new ways to pervade permission-based news streams in order to be seen and heard. More importantly, organizations will need to make themselves and their content relevant to a more defined audience.
  3. Depth over Breadth: The onset of social media has sent most consumers scrambling to widen their social networks in an effort to secure the most friends and followers - with complete disregard of boundaries, privacy and relevancy to their interests and belief systems. In 2011, a noticeable shift occurred where the depth of consumer networks became more important than their breadth. As consumers increasingly try to satisfy their thirst for information that is relevant to their interests and lifestyle first, the Worldcom Consumer Practice Group sees consumers limiting their engagement to the people and brands that best connect with their personal lifestyle in the confines of niche social networks, customized specifically for their interests.
  4. Mobile is the New PC: The dramatic and disruptive rise of smartphones, tablets, eReaders and computerized mobile devices over the past two years has fundamentally changed how consumers interact. The result of this disruption is that modern consumers are always connected, interacting in real time, and vetting the relevance of bite-sized information on an on-going basis. Having said that, the group identified that due to this dramatically upward trend of mobile computing, brands and products will need to be connected at all times to be able to deliver real-time response and interaction to their consumers.
  5. Twitter Surge: The launch of Apple’s iOS 5 in 2011 was met with much fanfare as the new operating system’s “bells and whistles” delighted current Apple mobile users and served as the impetus for others to make the switch to devices running iOS 5. Buried in all of the “Cloud” talk, is the fact that iOS 5 provides consumers with direct Twitter integration. Having the social network woven into the fabric of mobile OS's should lead to a broadened acceptance of Twitter, as a part of everyday functionality, and increase users' activity on the service.

“As social media continues to evolve in 2012, communication pros have the best opportunity and the most relevant skill-set to guide organizations to build meaningful consumer engagement versus being purely content pushers,” added Dawn Doty, Co-chair of the Worldcom Consumer Practice Group and Vice President/Partner with Denver-based Linhart Public Relations. “At the beginning of the new year, we encourage all communication pros to continue muscling in on the discussions that matter within their organizations to maximize the channels that now allow this authentic consumer engagement.”

With more than 2,100 employees, and revenue of more than US$260 million, Worldcom partners collectively serve national, international and multinational clients seamlessly, whilst retaining the flexibility and client-service focus inherent in independent local agencies.

Since 1988, Worldcom has been offering on-demand access to in-depth communications expertise from within its 107 partner agencies in 91 markets and 46 countries, all professionals who understand the language, culture and customs of the geographic arenas in which they do business. (Source: Worldcom Public Relations Group)

By MediaBUZZ