The people at Quest PR have written an article about the hottest trends in social media. With 412 new blog posts appearing every minute on the internet (yes, this is one of them), they have picked out 4 trends that seem to predict the future:

  • Businesses that offer more personalisation and customisation with thrive
  • Small businesses will have a better chance of competing with bigger names
  • Companies generating powerful content will come out on top
  • More pressure for social media strategies to deliver a greater return on investment

These 4 simple statements may seem extremely obvious, but in a PR world that is cut-throat yet sometimes dated they could be key rules for people to follow in order to survive in this new, PR 2.0 based world. On top of this, those companies that take these rules and then look deeper into them, will be the ones that thrive.

In my opinion, the most important points for companies to take note of are the first and third ones, so we’ll focus on those right now. Social networks since MySpace have been designed with customisation in mind, and whilst this customisation of a Profile Page has been diluted on Facebook, it still allows for its users to fill their profiles with as much, or as little, information about their likes and dislikes as possible. By using these customisable elements of sites like Facebook, businesses can find people who are interested in their product and attract specific groups towards their brands both on- and off-site. This is a great tool, and can be used to the advantage of brands such as Marmite who encouraged both lovers and haters of their product to join fan-pages – which then increased the brand awareness of the product. This kind of knowledge would be similarly useful for finding business leads on LinkedIn.

Similarly, the businesses and brands that use this customisation to their advantage will be able to create more powerful content, and when that happens people tend to speak higher about the brand or company in question. The best PR any business can have is through word-of-mouth, and by provoking people to speak about their products through clever and powerful content, companies are creating their own good PR – without having to force their messages down people’s throats. This is however, a risky strategy. Although PR 2.0 lets businesses take a back seat at times, and lets the general public do their work for them, the businesses themselves still need to let their social media PR campaigns bring a significant return or – like advertising – they just become another waste of money. I do think though, that if PR companies follow the rules mentioned in this post that they should not be too worried about investing hard into PR2.0 and social media!

Finally though, I disagree with the point Quest originally made about small businesses now almost having a fair playing field with larger companies. Although a lot of what happens on the Internet is driven by independent people, hence why small businesses can get some very positive PR through outlets like Twitter, the big businesses still have more money to spend on online campaigns. Even though anybody can set up a Twitter feed or Facebook fan page, the businesses with lots of money can spend endless amounts of cash on big, innovative and powerful content as well as hire teams to look after it.

In my opinion, if companies want positive PR to be spread across the internet, social media is the best way to do it – and if they follow these trends, then hopefully their company will be the one we’ll all be talking about tomorrow!