Eight Areas of Social & Digital Planning for 2016

As organizations around the world lay the groundwork for their 2016 plans, here are eight areas of focus in the social and digital space that I believe will be critical for the year ahead (click to tweet).

#1 Agile
Real-time working demands an overhaul of workflow. A 24-hour review process won’t cut it when a trend is breaking on social media. Ketchum has built an integrated and agile workflow that we’ve packaged as a proposition called StoryWorks. Our newsrooms combine listening, strategists, creative and community management all working in a live environment.

#2 Purpose
Social media is collapsing hierarchies and eliminating and removing silos within an organization. Every aspect of an organization must be social. The twentieth-century notion of centralized communication command and control communication is dead, if indeed it ever existed. Practitioners are helping the leaders of progressive organizations to discover their social purpose and collapse the silos between internal and external communication.

#3 Creative
The Cannes International Festival of Creativity teaches us that memorable brands tell stories that respond to what motivates their audience across all forms of media. Award winning work is based on smart creative. The content frequently engages the audience directly as part of the campaign. To build meaningful relationship and trust, brands need to a strong, authentic narrative rooted in an organizational purpose.

#4 Paid
There are two camps emerging. Half shuns paid while the other predicts that public relations is set to overturn the advertising business. As media fragments and amplification, paid influencers, native and promotion become part of their business we dodge this at our peril. A media agnostic approach focused on working across all forms of media is paramount.

#5 Authenticity
Modern media is social. It is human. Brands needs to engage with people in plain language and not in polished brand speak. You can also dump your stock photography. One of the favorite places on the internet is the Condescending Corporate Facebook page which pokes fun and the nonsense that brands say and do. It’s good for a giggle and will make you think.

#6 Tools
A burgeoning tool market has emerged to support campaign planning across different devices and fragmented forms of media, analytics and planning. The #PRstack crowdsourced project that I kick-started earlier in 2015 has sought to characterize the market. While you should always automate with care, check out the 50 how-to guides to explore workflow improvements and how to simplify repetitive tasks.

#7 Data
When I started out in public relations in the nineties, planning was as crude as aligning media titles with an audience segment. In the noughties we discovered demographics and segmentation and matched media accordingly. As we head into 2016 we can identify influencers around a geography, industry, topic, or market using tools to explore networks.

#8 Skills and Professional Development
Upgrading skills to work across all forms of media is an ongoing work in progress, much like our business itself. We’re moving from being generalists to having broad knowledge of our discipline and specialist knowledge in an area such as research, planning, strategy or content. Talent acquisition is the new front line. At Ketchum we’re developing these areas by way of our internal university curriculum and online training programs.

About Stephen Waddington

Stephen is a Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University. Chairman of Future Proof policy unit and Past President, CIPR. Author of Brand Anarchy and #BrandVandals; and editor and contributor to Share This and Share This Too. Connect with him on Twitter: @wadds