Thursday, February 28, 2013

Birnbach Communications' Top Predictions for 2013, Part I

We've been issuing annual predictions for more than a decade now. Our goal is to help our clients more effectively understand and engage on topics of interest for media and social media.

We will be rolling out our 2013 list of trends over the next two weeks. Here are the first few:

·         The story still matters.  Even in a communications age limited by Twitter to 140 characters, the story and messages continue to matter, and are an important part of how companies remain relevant.  But the impact of social media is that stories need to be told not just shorter but differently.  They need visuals (still photos and video); text alone isn't enough. They need to be more frequent; you can't issue marketing materials in Jan. and feel you're done for the year.  And the stories companies tell must be very customer focused and be easily shareable. And stories have to be about offering tips and lessons learned because social media is all about offering advice as a way to show a company's expertise.

·         Corporate values and personality matter. As a part of corporate branding, values have always mattered but corporate personality may not have been important. After all, the differences between Coke and Pepsi aren’t significant. The same is true for McDonald's and Burger King. But there is a difference between Microsoft vs. Apple vs. Google.  And that's certainly true of what otherwise might seem like commoditzed sectors; insurance branding in advertising seems to be all about each company's personality -- you don't need to be a psychologist to grasp the differences between Geico, Progressive, All-State and Liberty Mutual (Disclosure: we have done project work for Liberty Mutual). And in 2013 and beyond, social media will multiply the impact of values and corporate personality. Companies need to be prepared to communicate not just their selling proposition but also their values and personality as they engage with customers via social media. (Be prepared for a lot of companies to try to appear edgy...even if they're not.)
·         Social media is relevant for B2B companies. In 2013, it's not only B2C companies that need a social media strategy; B2B companies will need one, too, because it should be clear to them that their customers are online, whether as part of their personal or professional lives. Social media isn’t about telling your friends about what you're having for lunch or sharing the latest LOL cats clip (or, at least, not only about that). It is where people go to get and share information. B2B companies that have been reluctant to engage on social media need to realize that social media provides them with the opportunity to reach customers in ways that ads in traditional print publications are not doing -- and we think 2013 will be that year.
Let us know if you agree or disagree. And check back tomorrow for additional predictions.

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