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January 5th, 2012 - 30 Social Media Predictions for 2012 From the Pros

How will social media impact businesses in 2012?

Social Media Examiner decided to tap the knowledge and expertise of top social media pros for a glimpse of what we can expect in the new year. Here are their predictions of where social media is headed in the next 12 months.

#1: Businesses consolidate social media activities

As the social media landscape becomes more crowded in 2012, businesses will pick their battles and dig in. What used to be simply Facebook and Twitter is now Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (and who knows what’s next). On top of this, you have many specialty networks like Foursquare, Yelp and Instagram.

The old mantra of “be everywhere” will quickly be replaced with “be where it matters to our business.”

The major four players have all gone through massive changes in preparation for the battle for users. But don’t let a shiny new wrapping be the motivation to focus on social network A or B. Instead, it will be essential to focus where you’ll see results. And that may not necessarily be Facebook or Twitter for your business.

- Michael Stelzner @mike_stelzner

#2: Photo and video social networks will blossom

We’ve been nibbling around it for a while, but 2012 will be the year of the multimedia social network.

Photo- and video-based social interaction will grow. There is more meat on Instagram and Viddy and Tout than bun, and that enables the whole point of social networking—making and perpetuating connections and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

I don’t expect these services to dethrone Facebook, as many people simply are not comfortable with multimedia. But already you’re seeing power users reduce their Facebook (and Twitter) musings in favor of multimedia, where a picture (or video) speaks louder than 140 characters.

Given that the camera on your smartphone is almost as good as your actual camera, the multimedia-driven social networks are here to stay and will be an emerging force for brands in 2012, too.

- Jay Baer @JayBaer

#3: Brands embrace real time

Brands should move to agile marketing and real-time thinking. Gone are the days when it took 6 months to develop and launch a campaign or 5 days to answer a disgruntled customer.

Brands need to master the art of opportunistic marketing and the art of real-time response. To break through the online noise, they need to stand out with their creative thinking around capitalizing on current buzz and trends.

For that, brands need the right infrastructure and agile processes that will allow them to intuitively and immediately pick up on the marketing opportunities. They need agencies that can adapt, react and support them in real time as well.

- Ekaterina Walter @ekaterina

#4: Strategy takes center stage for social media

I firmly believe that 2012 is the year most business start to turn the corner on embracing and understanding social media marketing and using it more strategically. We’ve had enough of the hippie, tree-hugger, Kumbaya nonsense and want to start using social media as a strategic business driver.

Now is the time. Businesses will start to show their chops in 2012.

- Jason Falls @JasonFalls

#5: New apps help with content overload

I believe that 2012 will be the year that we will see a lot more apps and companies come forward to help free us from content overload. This hopefully means both to make reading content and sharing it more meaningful and less cluttering.

I think this will come down to throttling, filtering and optimizing the content that reaches our eyes and that we share. Especially if Zuckerberg’s Law of sharing holds true, this will be an amazing opportunity.

I am sure there will be some fabulous new inventions coming to the social media world regarding this in 2012.

- Leo Widrich @leowid

#6: Businesses outsource content creation

As social media becomes more mainstream, content will continue to play a bigger role. However, stretched marketing teams will continue to struggle with adding content creation to their already full plates.

Therefore, marketers will need to find a sustainable model for creating amazing content, which may include more outsourcing. As social media matures, efficiency will become an increasingly important factor.

- Nichole Kelly @Nichole_Kelly

#7: Advanced analytics are coming for the masses

Today a lot of what we call social media analytics is actually social media metrics, which is a lot of data telling a story of the past using great data visualizations.

Advanced analytics are already being performed inside large agencies, brands and social networking sites. Data analysts and scientists, many with advanced degrees in statistics and computer science, primarily do the work.

In 2012, we will see social media analytics companies releasing simplified SaaS (software as a service) tools for smaller agencies and brands to perform similar, less complex analytical functions. The tools will tell a story of not only what happened, but also of why it happened, and to model and predict the future.

- Dag Holmboe @dagh

#8: Regularly creating unique content becomes essential

For a company or brand to be successful marketing with social media in 2012, two main things will need to happen.

  1. Create unique content. So many brands and individuals are creating amazing content that you will need to do something not only amazing but unique, so that you gain the attention you’re looking for.
  2. Be consistent. You can’t just create this unique content a few times; you need to create a schedule for yourself to come out with unique content on a consistent basis.

If you fail to do both of these, someone else will gain your customers’ attention.

Lewis Howes, co-author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website and founder of Sports Executives Association and SportsNetworker.com events.

- Lewis Howes @LewisHowes

#9: Businesses learn to choose the right channels

In 2012, I think that much of the overzealousness currently in social media will be replaced by a nuts-and-bolts focus on getting the most out of the channels that fit your business.

Companies will focus on fewer channels, and they’ll want to dominate them instead of being diluted across all channels. The adage of “master your craft” will ring true for the companies that stay focused.

- Ryan Malone @RyanMalone

#10: Facebook’s growth inspires unique Facebook marketing experiences

In early 2012, Facebook will hit ONE BILLION users. With one billion users, you can’t deny the numbers. Facebook is by far the social media powerhouse.

The hype that will surround the one billion milestone will only draw more attention to Facebook. Not only will we see a boom of small businesses setting up shop on Facebook, but also those businesses already on Facebook will feel the heat to get even more creative and strategic with their fan activity.

Facebook is getting crowded, and those businesses that create unique user experiences will stand out from the masses. More sophisticated, interactive third-party apps, expanded live video capabilities and greater flexibility with page customization will all play a big part as fan growth and engagement become the most vital components for Facebook success.

- Amy Porterfield @amyporterfield

#11: Competition on Google+ rises

I see social networks getting even more competitive with Google+ trying to dominate the market in 2012!

The top networks (Twitter and Facebook) will be looking to compete by adding even more features. Google+ will continue adding similar creature comforts to their network for page functionality and looking to develop hangouts into something more useful for businesses.

The social network that will come out on top will be the one that listens to their users and allows each user’s messages to receive equal exposure without internal ranking systems judging which news goes to the top and which news gets hidden.

- Kristi Hines @kikolani

#12: YouTube provides a social experience

YouTube will (finally) get recognition and significant use as a major social network.

Google’s social focus demands tighter integration between YouTube and Google+. Google wants to change YouTube consumption from a passive experience to a social one and is primed to do so.

Recent feature additions (like YouTube video viewing in a Google+ hangout) prove that Google will do whatever it takes to make the transition. Those paying attention will respond by focusing on their own personal YouTube networks.

Video production is not required as YouTube members in the content curation and video aggregation space will hold as much sway, if not more, than their content-producing counterparts. Those who do both will, obviously, rise to the top quickly.

- Paul Colligan @colligan

#13: YouTube takes the lead

My prediction for social media in 2012 can be boiled down into one word: “video.” …as in, more of it!

At just over six years old, YouTube has just recently made some big changes, and they have a lot in store for us in 2012. Their most recent design and layout changes (including YouTube’s home page, which looks strikingly similar to Facebook’s Live Feed function) begin to indicate that YouTube wants to behave more like a social networking site.

The YouTube audience (not just the content creators) will now have more fun, engagement and interaction while on YouTube. The more activity you as a user (or channel) have and receive from your videos, the more opportunity your content has to get viewed and go viral.

YouTube is becoming highly intuitive. By observing your search and viewing behavior online, YouTube will continue to improve and impress us all with how they display relevant and related content in an efficient manner.

Also, with YouTube’s investment in their 100+ channels of “original content creators,” the video-sharing giant has also waged war (and is winning!) against the big TV networks, as they continue to blur the line separating “offline television” and online entertainment.

Combine this with an ever-decreasing barrier of entry for the average person to quickly become a video-producing master, and you’ll notice that in 2012, video quality (picture and sound) and entertainment quality will rapidly increase across the board. This will inevitably result in higher standards and expectations from the average YouTube viewer and leave those who are resistant to using video in their marketing scrambling to catch up.

- James Wedmore @JamesWedmore

#14: YouTube rises to top of mind

Most people might think that G+ will get the most attention in the Google suite of services, but I think YouTube will be top of mind. Why? With the latest redesign, YouTube is cleaning up its Wild West image and coming into alignment to be a grown-up social environment.

If your business is not there yet, make haste and set up your channel and start reaping the benefits of the second-largest search engine on the Internet.

- Phyllis Khare @PhyllisKhare

#15: More social players will join in

I predict that the social media landscape will become more poated with new and powerful players like Pinterest in 2011.

As social media continues to evolve there are opportunities for more multimedia social platforms.

Don’t underestimate the potential for these new sites to start majorly influencing social sharing and traffic—nearly overnight.

- Casey Hibbard @Casey_Hibbard

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