A few weeks ago, the hubbub that was New York Social Media Week (NYSMW) saw an eclectic group of marketers, advertisers, storytellers, content creators, technologists, data junkies, researchers and journalists descend on the Meatpacking District.

While the focus of many sessions was sales and marketing, I was keeping an eye out for ideas applicable to company communications and engagement activity. Here are three trends that communicators need to know.

  1. The digital world is becoming emotionally intelligent

Emotional awareness has arrived on our smart devices and can measure the strength and quality of our emotional connection with content. Affectiva — touted as a start-up to watch by Tech Crunch and the New Yorker – has combined more than 10,000 different facial expressions with a trained algorithm to gauge audience response to content viewed in front of a computer. We road-tested it live and it works! No surprise that it’s already used in ad-testing by global marketers but I can see applicability in gauging emotional resonance of company messages, storytelling, crisis response and corporate brand positioning among key stakeholder groups.

  1. People are the new media channel – and it’s two-way

Social media has given rise to the egalitarian phenomenon of crowdsourcing. In this new era where everyone has a voice, it’s creative citizens who will be driving content from the bottom-up. Open collaboration between companies and the public has many applications, most obviously co-creating products and brands, but harnessing this mind share could prompt both companies and agencies to think differently.

For those of us on the agency-side of life, it will change the way we assemble teams and source input and feedback on client projects. The client benefits from a broader input and perspective, avoiding the tendency towards group-think from people sitting around a table who may be inclined to think they know the world better than the world knows itself.

For company communicators – the traditional push of content and messaging has most definitively been replaced by the push-pull dynamic of information that organizations want to share and the pull of information their constituencies want to know. For companies that embrace crowdsourcing to inform their efforts, a deeper, more meaningful connection with stakeholders will follow.

  1. Social command centers are becoming the new eyes and ears of companies

Conversations, opinions and experiences are the living, dynamic elements of brands and reputations. A social media command center collates all this real-time knowledge of company perception and displays it in an environment that immerses you in the online world. Indeed social media data is now seen as both a lagging and a leading indicator of company perceptions and up to half of social media content produced by a company is now driven by social media conversations per se as opposed to teams of content creators dreaming up ideas.

These command centers also bring hitherto disparate teams together in collaboration across a company. Digital and corporate communications, social media, brand, marketing, data analytics, IT, legal, compliance, customer service — all start working together to improve the flow of information and how a company uses it. The communications team has access to more holistic and timely insights than ever before, informing editorial calendars and guiding both proactive and reactive campaigns.

As technology evolves, the application of social media will continue to expand across different parts of organizations in the quest to deepen audience relationships, drive preference and create advocacy. The next stop for the U.S. could be the application of social media to customer care – it’s surprisingly currently one of the lagging countries in being so-called “socially devoted.” Given that 10-to-30 percent of questions to a company are submitted via social media channels, I don’t think this will be the case for long.

In closing I wanted to share my two favorite quotes from NYSMW that can apply to any walk of life:

“The right question is better than a great answer,”

“Prohibiting failure stifles innovation.”

– Tina Orlando

Tina Orlando is co-founder and partner at Indelable, a strategic communications firm that helps companies with change management, employee engagement, competitive positioning, corporate citizenship and brand activation through stakeholder involvement