2014 trends for public relations, marketing and social media

CONTRIBUTING COLUMNISTDecember 30, 2013 

Ann Marie van den Hurk is an award-winning, accredited public relations professional and principal of Mind the Gap Public Relations.

As 2014 nears, what trends in communicatioins do business owners need to be aware to reach their customers more effectively?

Here are a few of the trends that are clearly developing. I suggest incorporating them into your marketing strategies.

Attention economy: People see more than 34 billions bits of information every day, according to a report by the University of California, San Diego. The figure equals reading two books a day. We are moving to the attention economy where people's attention is treated as a scarce commodity.

Because there's a lot of information to process, more and more people are starting to tune out. Maggie Leifer McGary, a digital content strategist based in Washington D.C., believes there's too much content on too many platforms. She says that images/video will continue to gain as a preferred content source for users.

Businesses will have to work smarter, truly understanding their products and audiences within the attention economy. Jennifer Stauss Windrum, founder of the social business, Sock Monkeys Against Cancer, echoes McCary's thoughts and adds that organizations need to make their messages visual and shareable in our highly "Pinterest-ized" social-media world.

Mobile: Mobile is making the list for a second year and for a good reason. It continues to dominate as a business must. People are moving away from desktops to smart phones and tablets in greater numbers. Mobile is important to your marketing.

According to research published by The Pew Internet & American Life Project, more than 90 percent of Americans own cellphones and 57 percent of all Americans go online using their mobile phone. With smart phones now outnumbering their less intelligent ancestors and cell providers offering a multitude of data plans, the mobile revolution has arrived.

Organizations need to move from just mobile optimization of their digital properties to responsive and adaptive designs, which are designs that fluidly change and respond to fit any screen or device size. Geoff Livingston, founder of Tenacity5 Media said that thanks to diverse mobile media properties, business can now deploy customized campaigns to attract customers on the go.

Kami Watson Huyse, CEO of Zoetica, agreed, adding that customers expect real time information based on location and relevance. This will require organizations to think more in terms of one-to-one personalization. Mobile can provide this to them.

Predictive tools: We are moving away from simple analytic tools that only give the basic information. Tools are become more predictive, which means various techniques from statistics, modeling, machine learning and data mining can analyze historical and current information to make predictions.

Lani Rosales, Chief Operating Officer at AGBeat where business meets web, said the era of simple tools no longer excites people and the world is looking to discover what to do with all of their data, so predictive technologies will gain traction in 2014. She said that all of the current tools we are using cannot only play better together, but also produce more meaningful results.

The trends of the attention economy, mobile, and predictive tools feed into a positive customer experience. Customer service should always be a cornerstone for public-facing organizations. Social media is becoming a more subtle extension of things where some brands understand it is a slog of real business, says Howie Goldfarb, CEO of Blue Star Strategic Marketing. Organizations need to continue to improve customer service and communications on social channels.

The new year will be about effectively understanding, then reaching, your customers. And, reaching them where they are, not where you want them to be, with information in a format they want. And, providing them with the best customer service on all communication channels.

Here's to a great 2014!

Ann Marie van den Hurk is an award-winning, accredited public relations professional and principal of Mind the Gap Public Relations. She proudly called Lexington home but now lives in North Carolina. Email her at ann@mindthegappr.com, or follow her on Twitter at @amvandenhurk.

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