2011 was certainly an eventful year for social media. Facebook continued to grow and add new features, Twitter announced it had over 100 million users, while Google jumped on the bandwagon with the launch of Google+. As such more and more businesses ‘got social’ and used it to increase their brand awareness and their customer service offerings.
We saw the good (and bad) sides of social media too. While the Arab Spring protestors turned to Youtube, Facebook and Twitter to tell the world their stories, closer to home it was used to co-ordinate riots and the looting of stores in London, Manchester and Birmingham.
With that in mind I thought I’d look into the special ‘Further crystal ball’ and make a few predictions for the future of social media in 2012…
Prediction # 1 – Social saturation
First off, I think that more and more businesses are going to get involved in social media for fear of being left behind by their competitors. By the end of 2012 don’t be surprised if you see your local pub, plumber or hairdresser online, tweeting deals and uploading photos. If they’re not online now, rest assured they soon will be.
Prediction # 2 – Sharing is caring
Given this year’s changes to search (in which Google started to place a higher emphasis on shared links and content) expect to see more sharing buttons embedded on business websites. Google+ it, Facebook it, Tweet it, LinkedIn it – we’ll be encouraged to tell our friends about what we’re reading, more than ever before.
Prediction # 3 – Behold the blog!
Although blogging has been around for years, I think businesses will place much more emphasis on creating compelling, creative and engaging content. Expect to see more businesses tweeting links and directing their Facebook friends to their website to read their words of wisdom and view their latest products. As I’ve already mentioned, there will be an increased use of sharing buttons and comments fields to encourage debate.
Prediction # 4 – Funnels for the win
The upcoming changes to Google Analytics will make users’ buying journeys easier to understand for e-commerce businesses because they will be able to see which ‘channels’ were most effective in initiating and assisting sales. Given that ‘social media’ is a category (along with display ads, pay-per click and organic search) expect to hear more about the importance of multi-channel funnels. What part does social media play in deciding to buy will be a big question e-commerce businesses will try to answer.
Prediction # 5 – Return On Investment
Given that 2012 is predicted to be a pretty gloomy year for businesses, expect to see more importance being placed on social media’s return on investment. Although it’s free to use, social media is cost-heavy in terms of the time taken to create content and engage with customers. I predict that many financial bods and marketing departments will come to blows as the latter tries to justify the importance of having a social online presence.
Prediction # 6 – Broadcasters get on the bandwagon
If you’ve ever watched a TV programme and tweeted at the same time, you know how enjoyable it can be. Broadcasters will want to tap into this sentiment and as such I predict that more and more of them will encourage us to connect with like-minded people watching or listening to their shows. From answering questions through Twitter hashtags to creating dedicated programme Facebook profiles, expect to see more social media captions and subtitles on your favourite TV shows soon.
Prediction # 7 – More offline social media marketing
As more businesses wake up to the power of social media, I predict that more offline marketing literature will contain their social media details. Your local pizza place will have it on their menus, your local pub will have it on their wine lists and your local department store will have it on their receipts. Goodbye Yellow Pages!
To sum up…
There’s no doubt about it, social media is moving at an incredible pace and it will be interesting to see which of these predictions come to pass. Yet regardless of what happens in 2012 you can be sure we’ll cover it in this blog – it’s an industry that keeps us on our toes and that’s why we love it!
What do you think of the predictions and where do you see social media heading? Let us know below…