By Neva Mwiti, Senior Account Director
Given the importance of new and social media on every aspect of business, this month I was drawn to a white paper from Awareness Inc. that collated a list of the top 2012 predictions and trends – collective intelligence and insights for what is to come next year in the world of social and digital marketing.
Here’s an excerpt of what industry influencers, business and marketing experts, marketing leaders and agency visionaries had to say and predict.
I hope you find these expert predictions informative, educational and actionable so you, the business and marketing leaders of today, can successfully engage in the evolving ecosystem that supports the socialisation of information, and are in a position to help businesses adapt to the new era of building lasting relationships with consumers.
“Social media gives us the ability to communicate instantly, yet most marketers have not developed the communication skills to address real time,” observes globally recognised marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott.
“Marketers have been trained with a campaign mentality, spending weeks planning, designing and executing in a sequential manner. Social marketing is changing that. We now need the ability to react instantly to breaking news, changes on our websites and negative customer feedback. Marketers need a new mentality, infrastructure and workflows to meaningfully participate in real time.”
Social business evolution
“Companies of all sizes will need to transform their business and existing infrastructure, and reverse engineer the impact of business objectives and metrics,” predicts prominent thought leader of new media, Brian Solis. “Businesses will have to embrace all of the disruptive elements, such as mobile and social technology, in a new, cohesive organisation that is focused outward and inward.”
“It won’t be front-page news or sexy, but adding customer relationship management and tying social CRM functionality to marketing efforts will improve our ability as marketers to hit relevant audiences with relevant messages at relevant times and in relevant places,” predicts Jason Falls, founder of Social Media Explorer. “Companies without relevancy in messaging as a priority will fall behind.”
Trust as social currency
Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, says “2012 could be the year where digital leadership transcends privacy. Winning social network providers will be those that both individuals and companies trust.”
The Year of Integration
“Brands are learning not to treat social media as some kind of an outlier to delegate to a junior manager or an agency,” shares Paul Gillin, author of Social Media Marketing for the Business Customer. “We will begin to see very large ad campaigns from some prominent companies developed with a social component at their core. This development will light the way to a new generation of integrated marketing programs that are much more sophisticated than anything we’ve seen in the past.”
An explosion in short-form multimedia will happen, as companies start to truly embrace video and mobile photography. The ‘it’s not-high-enough-quality’ fears are starting to evaporate,” predicts Jay Baer of Convince and Convert.
“Business will catch up with mobile users in 2012,” predicts Mark Lazen of Social Media Today, “and will seriously begin to make valuable offers to their geo-located fans.”
“Large brands will have enough experience with social media marketing under their belts to act more strategically and better integrate social media into their overall marketing and operations,” says Neil Glassman of Social Media Times. “They will start looking more carefully at the tools and many will make changes informed by their experience. SMB’s will be presented with more affordable and accessible DIY application choices, making it possible to be more proactive with their social media initiatives.”
Mobile as a game changer
“The continued growth of mobile — smart phones as the primary device to access the web and use social — will totally change the game for social marketing,” expects DeBi KleiMaN of MITX. “Social marketing use cases and the kind of data that can be gleaned when people are using social on their phones will require brands to completely rethink how they connect and communicate with consumers.”
Dave Peck, author of Think Before You Engage, observes that, “Every company has its own ‘secret sauce’ for measuring influence. Companies that are able to standardise influence measurement will be the winners going forward.” (Read our earlier post on ‘How to power up your digital influence’ for more tips on growing influence.)
Socialisation of existing digital properties
“Corporate sites will be better and more deeply integrated with social media properties,” predicts Matthew T. Grant of MarketingProfs, “bringing with it a more seamless experience as you move from the social media spokes to the proprietary hub. It will also mean a greater emphasis on creating community with content, not just around your brand and industry. To the extent companies are neglecting community, the importance of community-centric, industry-specific sites, like toolbox.com, will only increase.”
“Brands will move beyond the question of whether to participate in social media to a new understanding of how to optimise their overall approach to social media,” says Mike Lewis of Awareness, Inc. “ The biggest progression in 2012 will be around taking social data to the next level. Instead of focusing on measures such as reach and participation, brands will begin to focus and act on the insights from those metrics. Specifically, more brands will look at the details of social profiles to better target marketing offers and increase conversion rates.”
Integration of marketing tools
“More businesses will actively engage with all the stages of inbound marketing,” predicts laura FiTToN of HubSpot. “Right now there’s too much focus on social media marketing and content marketing. True inbound marketing involves knowing which tactics work – which pieces of content, calls to action, forms and emails generated the most leads. It’s integrating your SEO efforts together with your content generation and sharing, with your advertising, your lead nurturing, your analytics, measurement and A/B testing, with every tool you use and everything you do as a marketer.”
TaulBee Jackson of Raidious predicts that, “Brands will understand they are in the business of managing audiences and they no longer have to rely on media to create audiences for them. Brands will shift from renting customer attention through paid media and borrowing interest through earned media. Many will see the value of owning their own audiences, and 2012 will see a continuation of that trend.”
Mass ‘unfollowing’ and ‘unliking’
Samuel J. Scott of My SEO Software says, “The biggest development will be in the mass ‘unfollowing’ and ‘unliking’ of companies that do not demonstrate and communicate value to their fans and followers. Too many companies think that social media marketing consists of reposting or forwarding an interesting article. This is not a unique value proposition. The biggest challenge will be for marketers to ensure that their companies are not one of those that will be affected.
“Real-time social will push marketers to form better internal collaborations and deeper partnerships with their agencies. Collaboration will lead to better marketing, increased advocacy and better customer value,” says Lora Kratchounova of Scratch Marketing + Media.