5 Trends to Watch in 2015

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It’s time for the new year. PR pros are actively building and deploying their 2015 plans, but they have to be ready for changes in the larger media and technology marketplace. Here are five trend predictions for 2015 that will impact the industry.

And in the spirit of the holiday, let’s do them in countdown form!

5) CMO Enforced Accountability

Google analytics - PR Trends 2015

Accountability via measurement and big data analysis is a trend that has been talked about for a long time. Well, this bird is coming home to roost in 2015.

There are too many CMOs who know that their systems should be able to measure performance, and they are going to demand accountability from PR pros and agencies. Whether you measure increased awareness, first-touch attribution, community development, customer-generated earned media or brand reputation, there is a means to measure it.

Expect PR pros who learn data to excel in their positions. Those that continue to rely on follower counts, media hits, reach and other vanity metrics will struggle. Many PR pros will seek out professional training as they try to conform to this trend.

Want to see what PR tech will help you succeed in the new year? Get your free “PR Tech: What’s in Store for 2015” white paper now!

4) Instagram for Business

Instagram - PR Trends in 2015

Instagram made a series of moves at the end of the year. It announced it had reached 300 million users, cleaned up its spam accounts and told the world it would start authenticating business accounts. With the announcements came the launch of the Instagram for Business blog.

These moves clearly indicate the launch of a major Instagram for Business advertising push from parent company Facebook. Based on how the company handled the progression of native advertising on Facebook, this will likely include a migratory path that features a slow decline in organic activity for businesses. An organic traffic decline or a more potent business version of Instagram will provide extra incentive to pay for increased engagement.

3) Watch and Sputter

iWatch - PR Trends in 2015

Perhaps the most anticipated new technology launch of 2015 is the Apple Watch. Apple promises to make smartwatches more accessible to the average consumer.

But based on my experience with the latest Samsung Gear S, the Watch will likely sputter. Why? It’s simple, a watch simply does not have the screen size for significant media consumption or user input. Everything worthwhile revolves around location, and audio export and input. Specifically , it’s great for music, Google Talk based texting, phone calls on the go, Yelping for a restaurant on the go, and the usual fitness band activities.

Because the Gear S has its own 3G chip, it can take calls and texts independently of my phone. This is great, allowing me to leave my phone (and my business) behind, and yet remain connected if an emergency is needed.

In the case of the Watch, it is completely tethered to the iPhone or WiFi networks so it does not benefit from the ability to function independently. The Watch does feature better design than the Gear S. But because it requires wifi or an iPhone, I don’t think it’s a great leap.

In short, these devices are getting very interesting, but they’re just not ready for primetime quite yet. If your business is preparing for the coming wearable revolution — and it probably should anticipate it in 2016 or 17 — then start building audio content and location based apps.

2) Increased Vigilante Inspired Crises

The Interview - PR Trends in 2015 - Vigilantism

Whether it was the Sony hacks, starlet photos leaked on the Internet, Anonymous “investigating” the Ferguson police department, or TMZ’s acquisition and publishing of the Ray Rice elevator security video, we saw major stories created by third-party vigilantes. With these stories came crises for Sony, the stars, Ferguson’s PD and law enforcement as a whole, and the NFL, respectively.

The age of institutional authority is waning. The Internet empowers individuals and small groups of people in many ways, and that includes seeking justice or exposing other people’s “wrongs.” These efforts are getting results, which will only encourage more vigilantism. PR counselors now have to be ready for an increasing group of internal and external threats who right or wrong feel like they need to expose perceived wrongs.

1) Small Business Exodus from Facebook

Exit - PR Trends in 2015 - Facebook

Conjecture about a Facebook decline has continued for years on end. A recent AddThis infographic highlighted some interesting 2014 Facebook statistics, specifically a 14 percent sharing decline on the network (Pinterest saw a 15 percent uptick). But AddThis says Facebook is the center-point for conversations about major news events. Confused yet?

Perhaps the decline has more to do with business activity than consumer behavior. After all, there is one indisputable Facebook fact: Organic reach for business pages has hit the floor. To accomplish anything of note on Facebook, businesses need to advertise. While larger companies have the wherewithal to support consistent native advertising, small businesses don’t.

After a period of time, an inevitable small businesses exodus will occur on Facebook. Investing in organic posts don’t yield results anymore, and the cost of ads to brand and drive inbound website traffic are too much for a small company. 2015 is when this small businesses will stop posting on their Facebook pages in mass.

It’s not like there aren’t other alternatives. Hello Pinterest, Instagram (for now) and LinkedIn.

What trends do you anticipate in 2015?

About Geoff Livingston

Geoff is president and founder of Tenacity5 Media, a digital marketing agency that provides content marketing and social media services. A former journalist, Geoff continues to write, and has authored five books. Follow him @geoffliving.

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