This month reveals that social media is becoming both more personal and more automated for PR pros. As new technology like machine learning and bots become mainstream, savvy PR pros can use it to free their time from the mundane tasks that keep them chained to a desk and to help their clients get out into the real world again. 2017 might be a good year to add some real-world events with video to your PR plan, as well as help your clients think through automated customer service and other uses for bots.

Snapchat Spectacles

At long last, Snap, Inc. (formerly Snapchat) has made Snapchat Spectacles something you can purchase anytime, instead of having to wait for one of their mysterious roving vending machines to pop up near you. At $130 per one-size-fits-most pair, you can create a real-time content army at events, all wearing the same goofy, non-threatening glasses. If you find that you’ll be committing to these as part of your strategy long-term, you can even take them to your optometrist and have prescription lenses fitted: the video camera is in the frame. One caveat: remember to get release forms signed or acquire a real-time verbal release on camera before putting anyone in a video online for your brand.

Facebook Video

In a move sure to annoy most Facebook users, Facebook’s recent upgrades to its newsfeed videos will include sound during automatic playback. Luckily, they provide a setting where user can turn off sound on videos in their settings. Smart brands and PR pros will continue to make videos that have transcripts or words on the screen to accommodate the majority who will continue to watch videos with sound off. What other features are they adding to video that PR pros might be able to take advantage of? Vertical video enhancements, the ability to watch while scrolling (this will look like “picture in picture” on a viewer’s screen, so your content will follow them down the page), and – the biggest update of all – Facebook for TV. Facebook for TV will allow people to watch Facebook videos on a variety of smart TVs and devices, including the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. This increases your potential viewing audience for your brand’s content exponentially.

Pinterest Lens

Pinterest has added real-world item searching to their platform with Lens, designed to allow users to capture an image of an item using their phone camera, then find it for sale (or a close equivalent) on Pinterest. If you have retail clients, this could be a game-changer for them. They also added a feature called “Shop the Look” to enable an easier “admire to purchase” journey for viewing home and fashion items, and “Instant Ideas” for real-time shopping suggestions while scrolling. Paired with the video ads they launched this summer, Pinterest is becoming an immersive, visual experience that brands can bank on.

Are You Thinking About Bots Yet?

Chat bots are on the rise, finding great success on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter where users spend the bulk of their social media time. If you are a PR pro with your finger on the pulse of how customers want to interact with the brands you represent, it might be a great time to add chat bots to your strategy. Even if you aren’t quite ready to take the leap, we recommend learning about this technology now, early, so you understand it as it grows.

In PR, timing is often everything – it can make or break your campaigns. One benefit to each of this month’s social media changes is an element of “now.” Social media continues to merge more and more with real life, and as the line blurs, forward-thinking PR pros are poised to have a great advantage. Before leaping into any of these new technologies, however, make sure you’re tracking the data and analytics that matter. They will help pinpoint your audience and understand where to invest your time and budget.