Despite some growing pains, companies are wising up to the dangers of uncontrolled online activity and have started to take more active, strategic approaches to social media engagement.
The evolution of social media will affect all aspects of branding, and traditional PR tactics will be replaced with new, innovative strategies for engaging audiences, public relations and social media firm Affect says.
It has put together a series of predictions for where PR and social media is heading in 2012. They include the death of the Email Pitch, as PRs reliance on email pitching dwindles in favour of social media connections with journalists, and use of Google+ as a platform to communicate with customers and prospects.
The New York-based agency also says it expects more brands to take a strategic approach to social media marketing, and start to concentrate their efforts on the platforms that offer them the greatest ROI, rather than trying to hop on every social media bandwagon.
And although companies are becoming more savvy in their use of social media for competitive advantage, Affect warns that social media crises will continue to come fast and furious.
Sandra Fathi, president and founder of Affect, says brands will continue to forge new ground in 2012. "It's a thrilling time to be involved in our industry; there is unprecedented opportunity to connect directly with consumers across the globe."
Meanwhile, increasing numbers of businesses will turn to company blogs, corporate eNewsletters and other formats to not only publish their own content, but bypass traditional media outlets and disseminate it too in order to get their messages to market. CEOs will increasingly begin to work in step with traditional news media to position themselves as thought leaders.
But at the end of the day, kiss and tell-style stories will continue to sell - whether it's in print or in digital formats. In the era of "clicks for cash" media will still rely on sex, scandal or a famous face to sell their stories - some things will never change.