We’ve seen a lot of changes in media this year: from new devices and multiple screens driving responsive design, to the rise of native advertising, and the importance of imagery on social networks. The media is an industry that, for the most part, tends to innovate quickly, at the risk of dying. And most of the trends and disruptions that media face usually affect marketers shortly thereafter. So with that, here are three things the media has learned this year that marketers ought to pay attention to as they head into 2013.
1. Integration Is the Way of the Future
The media world moves too fast for marketing, public relations and social media to continue to operate in silos. Companies must embrace integrated marketing or risk being left in the digital dust.
Customers now expect and demand brands to be everywhere.This requires integrated plans with consistent messaging and emphasis on real-time marketing.
Marketing plans of 2013 should all include advertising, social media, PR and event/experiential components. These plans need to be tied back to larger brand goals, not secondary metrics like social media growth -- because it doesn’t matter if you have 100 more Facebook Likes if you don’t have a cohesive strategy or messaging to turn those Likes into real value for your business.
The success stories coming out of 2013 will be the organizations that integrate marketing departments with single leadership that is closest to overall brand and company strategy -- whether they are run by Chief Marketing Officer, the Chief Communication Officer or Chief Brand Officer is for another discussion. But what matters is that the disciplines and talents of marketing, public relations and social media are all working together toward the same strategies and goals, which means they're speaking the same language to customers everywhere.
To do this will be not easy, just as it was a struggle for media companies to integrate print and digital operations five years ago. Companies will need to make big organizational changes, and rethink budgets and ROI as traditional advertising metrics do not apply to earned and owned media. They’ll also need to invest in technology, training and tools that can manage cross-channel messaging. But as with media companies, the efforts will be rewarded when marketing strategies are aligned with what consumers are demanding.
2. Get Comfortable With Rapid Response and Have a Plan B
Traditionally companies have invested millions of dollars and time into brainstorming and fine-tuning the perfect pitch or slogan. This typically involves agencies, whiteboards and market research.
What the media taught us this year is that things move really fast online -- memes are instantly created, and the best laid marketing plans can become stale before the first tweet is sent, or worse, can be hijacked to the detriment of the brand. Just look at Starbucks' latest hashtag campaign in the UK, which quickly flared into widespread brand-bashing.
The best plans of 2013 have to be seen as the first draft, with the expectation that things will change quickly. Having a rapid response plan, and the ability to call in quick changes is a must in 2013.
Having a back-up plan may sometimes include a mea culpa like IKEA or playing along online. But as social media only accelerates the media cycle, it will be more necessary for marketers to develop a deep playbook for campaigns and messaging where changes can be called in as quickly as the meme of the moment makes it to a global Twitter trend.
This is what public relations executives are innately good at, and why having an integrated team of marketers, social media experts and public relations professionals will only provide more of an advantage in 2013.
3. Design Is the Next Killer App, Embrace It
In the physical world, packaging and design matters. Consumers like pretty and interesting things; this has enabled companies with the best packaging to outsell competition for generations. The famous and viral Old Spice campaign is, in many ways, an extension of the product’s physical brand packaging for the Internet.
If the majority of potential new customers will likely first experience your brand online, why not think as much about online design as the packaging that catches their eye on store shelves?
Social networks are placing greater emphasis on visuals. Just look at Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram or the rapid rise of Pinterest. Mashable’s new site design puts a greater emphasis on visual because we see our audience sharing more images, and the engagement around the photos that we share on our Facebook Page are 8x that of just text-based posts.
With social networking going more visual there are greater opportunities to stand out with design.
2013 will bring more focus to design, and it will require all successful marketing teams to include designers who work to create compelling images for Facebook, Pinterest and whatever the next breakthrough visual network may be.
Bonus: Make Your Business a Social Business
Social business will be a buzzword of 2013, but one worth paying attention to -- today’s consumers are more interested in interacting with and purchasing products from companies that do good.
For many small and medium-sized companies, that doesn’t mean shifting your entire focus to changing the world. That means integrating the good you already do as a company into your brand strategy. For instance, we started our Social Good coverage to complement our first-annual Social Good Summit, but found that our community wanted that content year-round. Today, social good is both a key part of Mashable’s coverage and core to the company’s mission.
Make philanthropy a feature, not an after-thought buried on a corporate website. Talk about it and engage your customers in it.