Big Social Media & Digital Trends for 2012 – Part II
Five more trends for the year ahead
Social media is struggling through its adolescence. Growing pains are very real for many businesses, torn between the social business nirvana and the pragmatic realities of the day-to-day. To help those keen to get a jump on the year ahead I offer five more trends that are likely to shape PR, social media and digital communications in 2012.
1. From Bolt-on to Business as Usual
The advent of social media saw marketers attach themselves to channels such as Twitter, Weibo and Facebook with palpable glee. Many felt they were low-cost ways of pushing more marketing messages at a receptive public, and gleefully measured success per 1,000 likes in the same way they’d previously lapped up media coverage measured by the pound. Social networking activity was rather clumsily ‘bolted’ on to existing marketing and communications programs, and often left to its own devices.
The lessons of 2011 told us that social isn’t a ‘bolt’ on. For many consumers, Facebook is the Internet. Facebook traffic is going up and web traffic is in decline. 1-800 numbers are passé – customer support is 24×7 and on your social network. The mission for 2012 is to create a seamless experience across a range of historically disparate social media, digital and offline properties. Wishful thinking? For many, perhaps. But in the social consumer’s mind, the change has happened. Better interaction across business functions isn’t just management dreaming, it’s social consumer demand.
2. Social goes mobile
More than 300 million people are accessing Facebook via mobile apps as the smart phone becomes the primary internet access device. The users have spoken and in 2012
marketers must be ready for them. The brand relationship is increasingly dependent on smaller screens.
Variables such as geolocation, NFC, mobile search and augmented reality need to be ns which need to offer compelling – and directive – experiences. We’ll need to start marketing through mobile channels first, making better use of images, video, and less text.
factored in as time and location become critical for brands wanting to capture greater mobile wallet share. For those that haven’t considered this, take a look at your website on a smart phone. Hope you’ll like what you see…or more crucially I hope your consumers like what they see.
3. Influence is currency
2011 saw the influence debate really take off. Google and Facebook are fighting tooth and nail for your social credentials. Klout and Peer Index both have gained greater recognition over the year but with their success has come controversy. The fact that
Klout’s changes caused uproar indicates that reputation measurement is here so stay. 2012 will see even greater use of influence scores as the industry seeks a better standard.
Better algorithms will dictate greater use of scores in shaping PR tactics. Our focus will increasingly be on understanding how the influential and vocal minority can help us shape our client’s brands. Customers and employees will play larger roles in marketing programs as social currency becomes easier to measure. The ability of Klout and its ilk to keep innovating and providing more specific data will change the way we look at PR forever.
4. Changing channels?
In 2011 the social network wars exploded. The emergence of Google+ saw Facebook and Twitter make significant changes to their UIs. Niche social networks like Instagram and Pinterest found a home on many desktops and mobile devices. In 2012 we’ll see Facebook, Google+ and Twitter continuing to innovate and greater ability to focus conversations
for more specialized groups. Will social consumers remain loyal or will new networks emerge to challenge?
Outside of the social networks, traditional broadcasters aren’t standing still. The entertainment
and social media industries are colliding, with Twitter in particular helping create a new discipline called social TV. Second screen apps such as Umami
and Gracenote are also blurring the lines further.
In 2012, stories will increasingly have to be told across networks to keep consumer attention. There will only be greater attempts at integration while simultaneously the big networks will do more to keep consumers within their ‘walls’. The challenge for brands will be to keep on top of the niche and large social networks and traditional broadcasters. It will be critical to keep an open mind and be willing to experiment as the channels jostle for position.
5. PR’s future
My final prediction is a big call but that’s the pleasure of forecasting. From my perspective PR will go through a required change in 2012. The shift will reflect the other nine trends I’ve talked to. Our ability to react to changes in channels, consumer behaviors, tools and technologies will cement our future as an industry.