Top FIVE Social PR Predictions 2013 from the Social Seers at Toronto PR Agency @SO_pr

Do you hear the buzzzz?! Yes, January is the season when social pundits, prophets and seers weigh-in with predictions on the hot new trends that will sweep our social marketing universe in the year ahead.

Ever the trend spotter, our Toronto Social PR team at Strategic Objectives – IABC Toronto PR Agency of the year 2012, 2011, 2009, and winner of more than 150 awards and commendations from Canada, the United Nations and the world is pleased to step up to the plate with our very own Top FIVE Social PR Predictions for 2013.

Around this time last year, peeps in the know predicted that 2012 would be the Year of the Mobile; and that prediction definitely came true! Between the Apple/Samsung patent wars, the release of the iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy SIII and the new Windows 8 mobile operating system, 2012 saw a mega-surge in mobile action. In fact, global smartphone penetration has grown faster than any other consumer technology in history, according to PC Magazine.  Looking forward, we predict that 2013 will be the Year of the Useful Mobile App.

1. Fast, Filtered Photography

Instagram is now the world’s most popular photo-sharing mobile application. In September 2012, Marketing Land (with research from ComScore) revealed that Instagram’s average daily mobile visitors increased 724%, from 886,000 to 7.3 million, in just six months! This number shows no signs of slowing down if Hurricane Sandy is any indication. More than 800,000 #Sandy photos were uploaded during the super storm according to Information Week.

The ease and simple joys of photo sharing – taking a photo, adding a filter, highlighting some focus – will become mainstream in 2013 as more and more brands see opportunities to engage with targeted consumers by jumping on new platforms.

Brands and users should take caution. Instagram is in hot water due to the December 18th changes to its Terms of Service which state that it would own and be able to sell users’ photos without any compensation to the user. Many, including National Geographic, said they would stop using Instagram and immediately shut down their accounts in protest. Instagram issued a response later that day titled “Thank you, and we’re listening” in an effort to clarify and settle the unrest. Regardless, users took to social media to complain, protest, and announce their intention to leave the service. We predict that the backlash will blow over, there are plenty of good alternatives, and that Fast, Filtered Photography will continue to surge in 2013.

Another clear indication that Fast, Filtered Photography will boom in 2013 is the recent Instagram and Twitter divorce, where Instagram recently disabled its photo integration API with Twitter, forcing Twitter to create its own dynamic, filtered photography setting on its mobile app. The new Twitter user interface is incredibly similar to Instagram and the functionality is more or less the same, but is it a game changer or just a quick fix? And will it improve Twitter photo sharing? Only time will tell.

And for one more proving point that Fast, Filtered Photography is hot, hot hot, please check out this parody by College Humor. Parody, some say, is the most sincere form of flattery, but sensitive ears take note, this video is rated PG-13!

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2. Quick Video Sharing

Our SOcialpr Team also believes 2013 will see a rapid rise in Quick Videos. Hot apps on the market, like Keek and Viddy, are already gaining widespread popularity and adoption, especially with celebrities like British diver (and heartthrob), Tom Daley, who joined Keek and sparked a surge in signups. While Keek is still only in beta, Daley’s 47 short videos (or “keeks” as they’re known), have gained more than 2.1 million views and 41,000 followers. Will Keek become the new “video Twitter” for socialistas to post short, timely, video updates to their followers and communities? Stay tuned!

Viddy is similar to Keek and encourages users to “Capture Life in the Moment.” This Quick Video Sharing App has been around for a few years, but recent celeb adoption by hotties like Rihanna are sure to thrust this app into a brighter spotlight. The biggest difference between Viddy and Keek is that with Viddy, you can apply filters, background music and other visual effects to your video – similar to Instagram. Hot stuff!

If 2012 was the year of the animated GIF, hang on for mobile apps like Cinemagram, where you can now record a short video, highlight the area you want animated, play with the settings, add a filter and upload. We predict that photo/video sharing app acceptance and adoption will rise, and that Cinemagram will gain traction. Check out some samples on the Cinemagram Tumblr here.

3. Business Will Demand Social ROI

Social media marketers have proclaimed “return on engagement” (ROE) and “brand affinity” as defining pillars of social media measurement, aka, ROI, since the beginning of social’s very short time as an acceptable marketing practice for brand outreach. But as brands invest ever more serious money, responses like, “What’s the &^%ing ROI of your Mother,” just won’t cut it when it comes to reporting value. Our clients are no longer willing to skirt around the issue of defining ROI for social, and expect to see real measurable value resulting from social marketing endeavours. In 2013, we predict that brands will become skeptical of the ROE model and start demanding metrics that measure real dollars and cents/sense when it comes to reporting results on social spending – just like they do with all of their marketing endeavours.

Social marketers will have to stop playing fast and loose with brand dollars and develop and define real reporting that clearly demonstrates the brand-building, sales-driving value social media provides.

How will we do this? A brand’s community management is only as strong as its agency community manager. The Social PR community manager of 2013 will need a comprehensive understanding of link clicks, click-through rates, analytics dashboards and goal setting. Community managers of 2013 will need to partner with brands to define objectives and tie them back into measurement platforms like Hootsuite and Google Analytics to be able to track, evaluate and unclutter the social consumer’s path to purchase.

This kind of measurement will become increasingly difficult for consumer packaged goods that are sold in the real world, on store shelves, and not online. Working with brands to measure the effect of social marketing, from coupon redemption tracking, to developing creative, out-of-the-box measurement techniques, will become absolutely essential in 2013 as business puts its collective foot down and demands fiscally responsible reporting.

4. The Uncertain Future of Social Networks

While many new social networks popped up and gained popularity in 2012, there is still an uncertain future for some. Facebook’s limp IPO comes to mind when discussing the future of social networks. There was much fanfare the minute Facebook announced it was going public but this quickly died into a sad trumpet “womp womp” as its stock price faded from the ding of the opening bell.

Our questions for the future of social networks include but are not limited to:

–          Can Justin Timberlake save MySpace?

–          Will Google+ begin to resonate with everyday users?

–          Will Twitter continue to shut its API down?

–          Will Pinterest succumb to social media fatigue?

–          Will the big social networks continue to acquire the little ones, or is there a chance for the little guy to succeed?

Whatever the outcome, we predict that 2013 will be a rough ride for social networks as we users, brands, and marketers continue to raise expectations and make more demands on them.

5. The Rise of Social TV and the “Second Screen”

If you watched a major TV show in 2012, it’s likely that you saw a hashtag in the corner of the screen – a subtle reminder to join a conversation about the show on Twitter, or another social network. A recent Nielsen survey confirms that vast numbers of consumers are using a second screen while they watch television. The report notes that 41% of tablet owners and 38% of smartphone owners use their device daily, while in front of their TV. Are they chatting about the show or are they doing other things?

The report found that consumers are doing a whole bunch of stuff while watching TV (Stats from Nielsen’s “State of the Media: The Social Media Report 2012,” pg 13) including:

–          Shopping (22% smartphone, 45% tablet)

–          Visiting a social network (38% smartphone, 44% tablet)

–          Looking up information on the TV program being watched (23% mobile, 35% tablet)

–          Looking up coupons/deals advertised on TV (12% mobile, 24% tablet)

–          Looking up information on a product from an advertisement seen on TV (15% mobile, 26% tablet)

Furthermore, Neilsen has teamed up with Twitter to launch a new service that measures TV chatter on Twitter called “Neilsen Twitter TV Rating.” Its concept is to create a standardized benchmark of measuring chatter around TV shows that will analyze the exact size of an audience.

In 2013, we predict that the humble, on-screen hashtag will start to affect what an audience sees on their screen. This past summer, Big Brother successfully integrated social hashtag voting into its live programming when viewers were encouraged to tweet one of two possible outcomes for the houseguests, using two different hashtags. We expect more TV shows to follow Big Brother’s lead and get much more interactive with live and engaging outcomes in the future.

The second screen presents a real opportunity for marketers since users can actually look up info about products being advertised or placed, in real, relevant time. Will brands start producing time-specific ads encouraging viewers to tweet using a specific hashtag for a coupon or deal? Why not? The possibilities are endless and we expect to see major “second screen” integration into both television programming and advertising in 2013.

One thing’s for sure! In 2013, start-ups, upstarts, entrepreneurs, techies, geeks and nerds will continue to raise and maybe make big bucks, and boos boos, (we’re looking at you Instagram), in their efforts to monetize their creativity with fab new products nobody, even advertisers, wants to pay for.

SO, there you have it, Strategic Objectives’ Top FIVE Social PR Predictions for 2013. What do you think? What are your predictions for 2013? Please sound off and share in the comments below!

This post originally appeared on the Strategic Objectives blog.

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Deborah Weinstein (@DebWeinstein) is co-founder, partner and president of Strategic Objectives, an international award-winning, full-service public relations agency that delivers smart ideas and better solutions to many of Canada and the world’s leading brands. Headquartered in Toronto, Strategic Objectives is IABC/Toronto PR Agency of the Year 2012, 2011, and 2009. It employs more than 40 top public relations professionals, in addition to associates across Canada, and PR partners around the world. Deborah is a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond and Golden Jubilee Medals for Outstanding Service to Canada and its Communications Industry.

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