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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

8 Internet trends that will affect your business this year…

Already in 2012 we are seeing significant new trends and developments in social media with the significant growth in popularity of interest-based sites like Twitter and Pinterest . Consumer purchasing is moving towards and becoming increasingly influenced by websites and social sites that share people’s passions and interests as well as customer reviews of products and services.

These are the new frontiers for customer-engagement which are already affecting your business and which your PR and marketing strategy needs to prepare for and embrace.
  1. More user reviews and ratings on websites: reviews are becoming extremely influential in consumer purchasing decisions. Groups like TripAdvisor on which no hotelier wants to get on the wrong side, already have the capacity to make or break a business. The adage, ‘you’re only as good as your last job’ reflects how companies and service providers are increasingly being seen by the public. A bad review has significant commercial implications for the organisation involved. The trend now is to gather as many ‘good reviews’, ratings and product endorsements and post them where they can be seen on your website.

  2. Information / social media relevance: with access to over 98,000 tweets, 695,000 Facebook status updates, 79,364 Facebook wall posts and 600 new YouTube videos uploaded every minute of the day, not to mention the average 147 daily emails we receive in a working day, consumers are clearly suffering from ‘white noise’ and information overload. What they want now is to be given the information they are interested in immediately or they’ll look elsewhere. The ability to match your business/product information with the right people is becoming the a major driver of success.

  3. Social reputation management: it’s staggering how many UK organisations don’t have a tried and tested crisis communications plan ready to deal with social media relations when disaster strikes. However, the recent example of the Costa Concordia cruise disaster has woken many up to doing something about it this year. The ship’s sinking and the incompetence of the captain has been widely broadcast, embarrassing and costing the Costa and Carnival brands dearly in terms of public confidence and also, the reputation of the cruise ship industry as a whole, forcing it to re-evaluate itself.

  4. Social media - increasing influence on search results: it’s already happening, with search engines like Google crawling social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. This includes user generated reviews and ratings from other social media consumer conversations.

  5. Social customer relations management (SCRM): truly customer-centric companies are recognising that social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, and social interest sites like Pinterest, are cost-effective and quick ways to ensure their customers always keep them ‘in sight’ and ‘in mind’. Social customer relations have become an integral part of their customer relationship management activities. This year however, we’re going to see more social media ‘newbies’ catching-on and reaping the rewards.

  6. Social and website competitions: these have become a great way to make your company stand out from the crowd and drive people to your website and product offering. The US and Canada do this very well and UK/European organisations are starting to pay attention and enjoy the benefits.

  7. Do-it-yourself TV: smartphones, tablets, YouTube and Skype which allow people to visually communicate and share information and experiences are starting to take-off in a big way and will need to become an integrated part of the ‘customer experience’.

  8. Real-time, geo-marketing promotions: more retailers and high street service providers will be starting to use geo-marketing techniques to connect to consumers shopping or visiting their neighbourhood and offering deals and incentives directly to their mobile phones.