2012 Social Media Marketing Predictions [Charts]

7 Social Media Forecasts for Your Marketing Plan

Social media usage increased in 2011. Social media now accounts for one out of every four minutes spent online in the US according to Nielsen.

Further, social media is no longer just for kids; Pew Research found social media use by older participants increased.

While Facebook remained social media’s 900 pound gorilla, it continued to evolve as a social network providing changes for both users and marketers. Despite Google+’s  meteoric initial growth, it’s failed to capture user and marketer attention, including Google’s own c-suite, to drive it forward as a viable Facebook competitor. That said, ignore Google+ at your own peril.

Further, smaller networks, namely Tumblr and Pinterest garnered sufficient participant engagement to gain marketer interest.  What’s certain is that there’ll be new entrants on the social media battlefield in 2012.

 

Among some demographics, social media is the dominant communication channel. Social media is how we stay in touch and find out about breaking news. Just as traditional media (such as television, radio and print) has embraced and integrated social media, individuals are reporters whether they share a photo of a plane landing in the Hudson or the sound of helicopters overhead in Pakistan.

Social media is device indifferent. Roughly two thirds of the US smartphone audience accessed a social media networks via their phone, based on comScore data. While personal communications were the dominant use, marketers should take heed that at least a third engaged with brands and marketing. 

Here are seven predictions for social media in 2012.

  1. Social media becomes social business. It’s not just marketing any more. Understand that prospects and customers will use every channel they have to engage with you. To be effective on social media platforms requires monitoring the environment for mentions of your company name, products, brands and executives as well as competitors. Additionally, employees need more than a set of social media guidelines, they need tailored training to enable them to deal with customers effectively on these platforms.
  2. Social media gets private. With expanded use of various social media platforms across age groups, individuals will look for increased protection for personal information they want kept, well, personal. With Facebook’s upcoming IPO and increased use by older segments, privacy and related business issues will bubble to the fore. While younger demographics may not care about living their life in public, older segments with personal baggage and financial assets aren’t going to be that open.
  3. Social media build brands. Using a variety of social media formats helps build brands. Research by Bzz Agent showed social media campaign exposure increased intent to purchase which remained elevated a year later. From a marketing perspective, the benefit of using social media to build, support or enhance branding is the ability to leverage the support of fans. An example of this is Oreos – Nabisco highlights a customer of the week eating Oreos cookies on Facebook.
  4. Social media supports purchases. Social media is part of every step of the purchase process. It’s not just checking with family, friends and social contacts regarding purchase decisions and/or examining ratings and reviews. (Not convinced? Check this article on mobile commerce.) It’s active shopping with others or via a device. It’s all flavors of social commerce.
  5. Social media thrives on content, namely a blog. As a result, blogs remain at the heart of social media. Since blogs are CMS (content management systems), they make the perfect hub for social media. Content is created on an owned location and can be shared across social media entities. Further when integrated into your website, they also support search optimization with continued content creation. (Here’s how to set up your corporate blog.)
  6. Social media connects online and offline. Regardless of whether you’re a swinging single looking for a date or a business seeking to expand your reach, social media allows individuals and businesses to move relationships fluidly from online to offline and offline to online. Think beyond Meetups, QR codes and Instagram.
  7. Social media ROI counts. While companies are getting better at tracking results from their social media initiatives, many still have zero social media ROI. Despite the fact that social media engagement creates lots of information (aka big data), from a business perspective, what matters is tracking the indicators that yield sales and related activities and the corresponding costs to achieve your goals. Further, with additional budget and resources, social media related activities must be accountable and show results (Note: This is the only social media prediction that was also on 2011’s list.) Here’s what social media experts recommend for social media monitoring.

While social media networks will continue to evolve and new platforms emerge, the bottom line is that, as a marketer, you need an integrated social media marketing strategy.

What social media prediction would you add for 2012?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mcgraths/3248483447/

 

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