Social Media: What to Expect in 2012

This is going to be an exciting year for us in the social media world. With the introduction and adoption of Pinterest, Instagram and Google+, brands have a whole new way to engage with their fans & customers. By now, most brand have poured their digital foundation and have a good understanding of who their audience is and how to communicate (If you haven’t – start here!) It is now time to take it to the next level and the good folks at DreamGrow have compiled a list of what is going to be hot, what brands should focus on, and even the importance of ROI for 2012. I couldn’t agree more with what they have to say.

1. Social media marketing disappears

Social media is going to be integral part of everything we do when promoting our business. This will make social media an integral part of marketing and it will not be a separate activity. Much like SEO or email marketing, social media will be just one tool in the box.

2. Integrating social media to corporate websites

Brands start large scale integration of social media content into their digital properties. Big brands will use social media connect and user generated content to get closer to customers. This will help them get most out of true fans and brand advocates by linking their web properties to conversations.

3. More support through social media

The integration of social media will lead to people reporting their problems in their channel of choice. Social media integration lets some of those problems be handled by the peers. However, companies should find ways to avoid their social media channels becoming a glorified helpdesk. (Related Post)

4. Social CRM will make inroads in larger organizations

Social data will be added to the CRM systems to find trends in sentiment and indivitual preferences of customers. The goal is to engage the customer in a conversation and give value that binds them tighter to the brand. As brands lose control of online interaction social CRM will help them react and predict how conversations are taking place. Findings from IBM showed that in the next three to five years, 81% plan to focus on customer analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

5. Social media will influence more sales

Social media integration will allow customers to get real user opinions before making purchase decisions. Social commerce is not web shop on Facebook. It’s a digital property where people can make their decision based on marketing materials from the brand and augmented with feedback from existing customers in a form of ratings, reviews and comments. (Related Post)

6. Social commerce on mobile devices

We will lead into a new era in eCommerce where you can directly purchase from your Facebook account. With proliferation of mobile platforms social commerce will become popular on mobile devices. Facebook’s Open Graph will also let you directly purchase with Facebook credits based on recommendations by your friends. (Related Post)

7. Social media budgets will grow

Most companies will increase their social media budgets. This includes in-house spending on and outsourced services. Part of the investments go to boost their own social presence through blogs and product reviews. Rest goes to external sites like Facebook.

8. Social media advertising will grow

Social media channels are looking to turn a profit so they are looking for ways to get at your advertising budget. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others are looking into way to display more marketing messages to their users. This will increase budgets dedicated to social media advertising.

Social media advertising will grow to $5 Billion in 2012, 25% of that vill be locally targeted social advertising.

9. Social media ROI is a must

More result oriented. Still less than half of the marketers measure results from social media. Social media ROI is a hot topic but less than half of the marketers report seeing it. We see that the budgets will grow and social gets more important in the brand’s marketing mix. This means that C-level will demand results. Dollars in sales. It can be as easy as direct sales from Facebook or a bit more vague as in conversion rate of people from social channels is higher than average. (Related Post)

In the course of our conversations with CMOs worldwide, an overwhelming consensus emerged. The vast majority of CMOs believe there are three key areas for improvement. They must understand and deliver value to empowered customers; create lasting relationships with those customers; and measure marketing’s contribution to the business in relevant, quantifiable terms. Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officer Study (PDF).

10. Rise of the branded content

Next to advertising there will be a push be in the user’s stream. This means brands need to create content that is good enough to be curated and shared. Content has longer shelf life, can be reused in different channels, has higher perceived value for customers. This means that content creation budgets may in many cases exceed the social advertising budgets. It wouldn’t be surprising if some brands will kill advertising in favor of content creation. (Related Post)

11. Content Curation and Discovery

Information explosion has created an attention deficit and people want to have a quick overview of what’s important and easily find what they need. Aggregation and content curation are going to be very important and brands start filtering information to give value to their customers.Brands will integrate curation into their IT or use third party services. News aggregation apps like Flipboard and magazine apps will find a market in corporate circles.

12. Tabletizing and mobilizing websites

Not exactly a social media thing but businesses start to make their sites mobile. Like 10 years ago companies made websites because everybody else did, now they will make their sites mobile because everybody else does. People will use more social networks’ messaging instead of regular email and IM. (Webmail providers should be worried).

13. Social gaming will grow and spill over to real world

Social Media Games have more players than prime time TV shows have viewers. In-game ads and branded game items will become important promotional tools. As social media will become more mobile so will social gaming. This means that games that are hosted on social networks, such as Zynga and EA on Facebook, will be playable on mobile devices. These kinds of games will be played on-the-go – when you’re traveling by bus, sitting in a boring lecture, waiting for your lunch. Social gaming will be integrated with real life to physically perform tasks offline that have effect in the virtual world. Engage real friends, go to locations, flash mobs, etc. The potential growth of mobile social gaming will be huge.

14. Location! Location! Location!

Location based services will be everywhere. Local information, reviews, coupons, loyalty programs and more. All tied in with your social graph. We are moving towards an era of real-time need for information. More and more people will be checking for recommendations about nearby restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. Location based services will be part of many marketing campaigns. Near-field communication chips in mobile devices get more common and will pave the way to the new era of “tap & pay” commerce. Loyalty programs will start moving towards NFC and location based solutions. NFC will be a convenient way for you to connect, share and react.

15. Most social media usage will be on mobile devices

Social media is happening in real time and people share content when it’s happening! As smartphone penetrations reaches majority and tablets become increasingly popular, sharing content will move towards mobile devices. Smartphones gives us extra depth into personalization – we can share what we want, when we want. The limits are fading! You will always be connected with social media, no matter where you are!

16. Group buying sites will add location based services

Let’s face it, it is a brain dead model. Grow a huge list by offering really cheap deals and then sell that list to businesses to get really cheap deals. Group buying will not go away but businesses will understand better what it is and use it accordingly. To spell it out: businesses buy an opportunity to let potential customers sample their offering at a hugely discounted rate in hopes of repeat business. New layer of value can be added by integrating with location based services that will alert users to deals when they are in the neighborhood.

17. Interacting with live TV in social media

Live TV shows will react to user interactions such as votes, suggestions, etc. We have the ability to change what’s happening by providing real-time feedback on social networks. TV is going to be everywhere through mobile apps.

18. News will be social

News websites will gradually be replaced by applications integrated with social media technology such as Facebook’s Open Graph. While this won’t happen instantly, we’re going down that road as we speak. People will be reading news from their dedicated applications such as iPad’s Flipboard or Washington Post Social Reader. We will take in a lot of recommendations and read the same things that our friends are reading.

19. Mobile apps will become more social

All of the successful new mobile apps will be deeply integrated with social networks allowing you to share and engage more than ever before. We will be taking in a lot of suggestions and recommendations from our friends, colleagues and other trustworthy peers.

20. Your social media footprint will grow

Frictionless sharing capabilities and social gestures will make our lives increasingly visible on social networking sites. Music, TV shows, check-ins, purchases and more will be automatically posted to social media sites. Always connected, always sharing! If you don’t share, your friends will. Some may rise privacy concerns but most people will ignore the implications and their lives are going to be more open than ever before.

21. Facebook will break the 1 Billion people mark

Where does that more than 1 billion Facebook users come from? The countries with more than 20 million people and Facebook penetration below 20% will add most of this growth in 2012. Add the potential growth of other countries and you get to a cool billion or 1.1 billion even. And that does not include China.

Social media isn’t another tool for marketers that has just hit the scene and will slowly evolve over time. It is rapidly changing monthly. Look what the launch of Google+ pages has done in such a short time! It is time brands pay attention to the trends and start finding custom solutions now. The brands that are on the forefront of these trends will be the ones noticed in 2012 and will set the trend moving forward for 2013.

-@beadiful4you

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Don’t Think A “Social” Relationship Is Just For Your Customers

Social Media and Engagement Marketing is a double edged sword for those who don’t know how to execute properly. It can be limiting to most brand marketers without them even knowing it.

Social Media allows brands to reach a new audience instantly and to enhance and create a brand persona. However, a lot of marketers focus only on creating those relationships with their customers and sometimes get blinded by the possibilities. Those that think that way are prohibiting themselves from putting this tool to work for their brand(s).

A powerful relationship that can be created via social media (and is often overlooked) are brand partnerships – also known as “partner marketing.” In a way, it is the new form of brand sponsorships. It allows a brand to create a relationship with an existing brand and to tap into an existing audience.

Five Ideas for a Brand Partnership Campaign

1. Have a brand “sponsor” your contest – this is pretty self explanatory. Next time you are thinking of running a contest, talk to some brand appropriate partners to become a part of it. They win by getting exposure for their brand with your current audience. Make sure you choose a brand that has an audience similar to your contest goals. For example: if you are wanting to expand to a younger audience, think about partnering with a urban product/brand to introduce yourselves to.

2. Get involved with a popular cause – there are many benefits to your brand by getting involved with a cause. However, by doing this and leveraging it socially, you are not only creating a relationship with a new audience, you are deepening the loyalty with your current audience.

3. Syndication strategy – If you don’t have the time and resources to create a full brand partnership campaign, you can always test out the partnership by creating a syndication strategy with a desired brand. Cross-promotion can be done on Twitter successfully by leveraging hashtags to link the branded tweets together. Whether it is agreeing to promote a product or an event, you could see big results from this quick marketing enhancement.

4. Limited time product offers – Set up a limited time discount code/product offer for your brand partner to promote to their audience socially. Allow your brand partner to have exclusive rights on promoting it.

5. Guest Blog – You can get creative with this and it can be a nice addition to your marketing efforts. Creating and managing a blogging strategy is VERY time consuming. Guest blogging is a nice way to dip your toe into the blogging waters to gain the benefits. Star by finding a brand blog that is relevant to your brand or blogging goals. Partner as becoming a guest blogger (or vice versa) to gain awareness with the readers. Work out a monthly schedule to become a trusted voice among the audience and track all referring traffic to determine success.

@beadiful4you

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HOW TO: Use Pinterest For Your Brand

HOW TO: Use Pinterest For Your Brand

Hundreds of new social networking sites pop up every day. The success is unknown until the audience speaks. Pinterest is no exception to this rule. They should be taken seriously and considered as an addition to any marketing campaign that is intended for online audience engagement.

They define themselves as a “virtual pinboard.”

MISSION

Our goal is to connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting. We think that a favorite book, toy, or recipe can reveal a common link between two people. With millions of new pins added every week, Pinterest is connecting people all over the world based on shared tastes and interests.

THREE BENEFITS FOR YOUR BRAND

Think about it…your product is a book, toy or recipe. You now have a platform – that is highly addictive – to help organically promote that product. One of the most important benefits of Facebook is network recommendations and suggestions. Pinterest is built around nothing but that. NO status updates, NO applications, NO circles. It is where you build a personality for your brand through images and categories.

1. Your customers are pinning

Your customers are creating “boards” to show their style, plan their wedding, decorate their home or shop for the holidays. They browse the internet and ‘pin’ products they want to include on that board. I am sure that if you do a quick search, you will find that people are already pinning your products!

2. Enhance your brand personality

By creating a profile for your brand, you are enhancing your brand persona with the boards you create. Take a look at how DressU ( a small boutique in Atlanta) is creating a brand persona with Pinterest.

They have created a good balance of “promotion and personality.” What that means is they aren’t using this tool as just another place to sell products. They have established boards to highlight certain collections in their Boutique ({alma-mater} and the Holiday Collection) but they also leverage the unique differentiators that their brand offers. They specialize in GameDay fashion and travel around the Southeast to participate in the tailgate festivities at all the major college football games. So, they have created boards like “-TAILGATE-” (where they “pin” some good tailgate ideas that they like from other users) and “-THE COACHES WIVES-” (where they highlight their style and who they follow.

The benefit for them is that they now open themselves up to a whole new audience who is interested in the lifestyle that DressU caters to and creates a common ground between the brand and that user. GENIUS!

3. Acceptance

Going back to my first statement “One of the most important benefits of Facebook is network recommendations and suggestions.” I want to elaborate on this a little…

Pinning = “LIKE” = Retweet = +1

Make sense? The only difference with Pinterest Pinning and Facebook “LIKING” is that on Piterest, that is all that you can do! You don’t have the ability to update your status and upload photos of your Christmas tree. You are pinning an image to add it to your board of your choice. Making that action 10x more powerful than any of the other actions above. Also, when a user logs in, the homepage is populated with new images that have just recently been pinned by people they are following.

Ready to start a page for your brand? Click here to get started. (NOTE: Right now, you still need an invite to create your own boards. Comment below with your email and I will gladly send you an invite.) You can also find a thumbnail to put on your product site if you wish by visiting this site.You can also check out my boards!

Happy pinning!

@beadiful4you

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