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.