We know that there’s already been a ton of posts predicting the hottest tech trends of 2012 and predicting social media changes in the upcoming year, but we couldn’t help but write our own post of what we think are going to be the dominant trends in social media marketing for 2012.
We’ve seen a lot of slow-building changes around the social media world in the last several months, and here are 12 social media marketing trends we think will take off in the coming year.
What do we think will be the biggest shifts in 2012? Probably all things mobile, curated and, of course, the integration of social back into those boring and often static websites.
1. Corporate websites will integrate social media
It feels like for the past several years, there has been a massive push by many large companies to drive people to their Facebook and Twitter sites rather than their own websites. Think how often you’ve seen a commercial telling you to find them on Facebook, or a food package encouraging customers to go directly to a social networking site.
But we think that’s all about to change. 2012 is going to be the year of brining social content and people back to websites. Big brands will use social media to connect and leverage user generated content, thereby getting closer to customers. This will help big brands and businesses get most out of true fans and brand advocates by linking their web properties directly to the conversations happening on social sites.
Brands and businesses are seeing more benefits of controlling and owning all of their social content, and are using products like Postano to easily and stylishly pull social media content back into their own web properties.
>>Read web strategy expert Jeremiah’s Owyang’s article on making your corporate website relevant again by integrating social media
2. More companies will embrace support through social media channels
We’ve seen more and more of this in the past couple of years, and a few big companies (like Best Buy and Comcast) have already pioneered the use of Twitter and other social networks as a support channel.
The integration of social media into websites will also further enforce the trend of people reporting problems and customer support requests using their channel of choice.
3. Social Media budgets and advertising will continue to grow
It’s become pretty clear that social media marketing is here to stay, and so 2012 will see an increase in both in-house and outsourced social media spending. No longer able to rely only on traditional marketing channels, companies large and small are going to be forced to outline a social strategy in the new year (if they haven’t done so already).
The increase in social media marketing budgets will also spill into social media advertising spending and budgets. With many of the major social networking sites looking to turn a profit, Facebook, Twitter and Linked in will continue find ways to integrate marketing messages and advertisements into their platform.
4. More businesses will become content creators
Just as Bill Gates predicted back in 1996, content is in fact king these days online. As more and more brands and companies are discovering, content is the key to any successful social media marketing campaign. In order to be successful with social media initiatives in 2012, marketers will have to do two things:
- Create high-quality, unique content – There’s so much great content floating around there online, you’ll have to get more and more creative when it comes to creating unique and amazing content that will gain the attention you’re hoping for.
- Consistently Create Content – It’s not enough to focus all of you energy on creating a few piece of great content and then stopping. To maximize social media marketing, you have to consistently update your social media profiles, blogs etc. with engaging, interesting and unique content.
Red Bull recently hit a marketing home-run out of the park with their branded snowboarding video called the Art of Flight, which went viral across several networks and had millions of impressions. Watch the trailer here.
>>Read our list of the 10 best corporate and company blogs
5. More (yes, more) social networks will become important players
It’s hard to believe that there is room in the busy social networking space for more successful networks, but with the continued evolution of social media, you’ll to see opportunities for more multimedia social platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest (which we named as one of the best websites of 2011).
6. Content curation and discovery will play a more important role
With all of the great, new content being created by more and more people, the need to sift and sort through all the noise becomes even more essential. Aggregation and content curation are going to be very important in 2012.
Brands will start filtering information to give value to their customers. Brands will integrate curation into their IT or use third party services. News aggregation mobile apps like Flipboard and web-based services like Postano will find a market in corporate circles.
7. Geo-targeting and location-based services will take off
Geo-location has been an important marketing tool for a few years, but in 2012 it will become more personal and more transactional, especially in social-media marketing. Especially with the rise of mobile technologies and marketing strategies, geo-targeting will play an increasingly important role in the next year.
This is a game-changer for retailers because it enables them to put potential consumers in the context of time and place and more effectively influence purchase intent.
Location based services will be everywhere. Local information, reviews, coupons, loyalty programs and more, and it will all be 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.
8. 2012 will be the year of mobile
Piggy-backing off the last social media prediction, it’s safe to say that the rise of mobile is here and will continue to grow in the coming years. Many have been predicting every year as the year of mobile, but in 2012 you’ll see more and more of a concerted efforts by companies to make their content mobile-friendly (and also location based).
Along with this, social media will move more and and become more mobile. 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.
9. Social Analytics and ROI are a must
With the rise of social media marketing and social data has come a need to find a way to measure, define and report on goals. As it turns out, still less than half of marketers measure the results from social media. However, with social media budgets and ad spending growing (see number 4 on this trends list), the need to measure and define social media success will become more and more crucial.
10. Social media finding its way into live TV
We’ve already started to see this trend taking off in 2011, but in 2012 the interaction between social media and television will continue to gain steam. Using mobile apps and social networking, Live TV shows will react to viewers through interactions, votes, suggestions and comments in real-time.
You’ll also continue to see more and more ads for television and movies using social media comments as part of their marketing offers.
>>Read about how NBC used Twitter to launch new drama “Grimm”
11. More branded Facebook apps are on the way
This trend has already started to take root, and we think the it will continue to grow in 2012. More and more brands and companies are going to be using Facebook apps in order to fully take advantage of Facebook’s new real-time ticker feed.
As curated content becomes more important (see #6), more and more people will be looking to their friends and social networks to help them discover content. Just look at how WSJ Social and the Washington Post Social Reader have taken off in a few short months.
As Facebook becomes more of a portal and connector the rest of the web, news consumption as a social activity will also become more integrated.
12. Google+ and Facebook Rivalry will heat up
According to an n article on the New York Times Bits Technology blog, Google+ is gaining traction with 62 million registered users, with one quarter of those people signing up for the service in December alone.
That being said, despite seeing this huge uptick in numbers, I still find Google+ to be somewhat barren when it comes to content, especially from my non-technical and engineering friends and colleagues. It’ll be interesting to see what the role of social and social SEO plays in the coming months.
>>Read more about the social implications of Google’s latest changes