Emerging technologies and innovations in brand storytelling are creating new communications trends. Several aspects of social media platforms and communications strategies evolve every year, which means brands need to pay attention to stay relevant. Here’s a glimpse into four communications trends that businesses can adopt to stay competitive in their industry.

Social impact = business impact.

Most of us know that practicing transparency and authenticity in brands results in more favorable business outcomes. Brands that don’t practice transparency are at more of a risk. Within the last decade, consumers have gained significant access to user-generated platforms, allowing them to expose a brand through consumers’ criticism and feedback. Therefore, staying true to your brand and adopting ethical and transparent business practices are safer and more reputable options for your business in the long-term.

Transparency is key when building a long-term business strategy, and incorporating social impact initiatives is proven to generate positive results and increased revenue for businesses. As of 2015, among the 66 percent of consumers who are willing to pay more for products, over 50 percent of them are motivated by corporate social responsibility factors such as environmentally conscious companies and brands that have a sustainability commitment and offer products that include natural, organic and fresh ingredients.1 Statistics of consumers influenced by social impact initiatives increase every year.

Relevant content builds customer engagement.

Although visuals and videos are becoming popular when it comes to brand storytelling, businesses can still use creative copywriting to get their messages across to their target audiences. Consumers prefer brands that adopt relatable and relevant approaches in copywriting and brand storytelling. Therefore, businesses should research their target audiences and tailor their content accordingly. Personalizing content is key to engaging consumers and gaining new customers.

People prefer purchasing from brands that have a personality and are relatable. The lines of professional copywriting and personalized content are becoming more blurred, leading brands to customize content. According to a report surveying 1,500 U.S. employees, eight percent of the consumers found personally relevant content as a key determinant in their purchasing decisions. Additionally, a 500 percent increase in consumer spending is attainable for brands through content personalization. On the contrary, a lack of content customization can result in an 83 percent decrease in consumer engagement.2

Omnichannel strategies are transforming the retail industry.

Another trend to keep an eye out for this year is omnichannel, a multichannel strategy used to improve consumer experience. An omnichannel marketing strategy incorporates the use of multiple mediums so customers can access the platforms a brand uses. For example, when consumers visit a website they may receive a pop-up to input their email address for a discount code, and is then encouraged to use the code to make a purchase on the company’s social media channels.

Omnichannel strategies are highly effective, as customers are drawn by user experiences that take them through various platforms. In fact, businesses that incorporate omnichannel user engagement strategies retain about 89 percent of their customers. Companies that neglect omnichannel methods have a customer retention rate of only 33 percent.3

Crisis communications practices are on the rise.

Reputation is a buzzword in the public relations community, but for good reason. In a world of fast-pace news cycles and digital platforms that promote citizen journalism, reputation management is crucial. Businesses are recognizing the value of crisis communications and protecting their company’s reputation, which is why the PR industry will continue to see a trend in companies enlisting assistance from PR professionals to map out crisis communications plans and media training for their executives. Businesses need to be prepared to respond, protect and build trust in their consumers and target audiences following a crisis. PR professionals will be on the front lines to assist during a crisis and offer related services.