ADOTAS – Yes, social media will grow at rates that will shake even the most aggressive predictions. Yes, Facebook will go public. Some things about social media are easy to predict. But if you’re a smart marketer, you will need to get beyond the hype of IPOs and exponential growth predictions. I believe six things will happen next year that will truly impact the way marketers approach the huge opportunities of social media.
1. Facebook will release a social browser. It makes too much sense for them not to. They have too much technology firepower to shy away from it. Facebook is already the center of so much internet behavior and so much marketing revenue migration that launching a browser is a logical evolution and a brilliant way to open a western front against Google. Imagine a Facebook search campaign. For marketers: Keep an eye out for rumors and identify customers that are early technology adopters.
2. B2B companies will start to take advantage of social media. This will be the start of new, smaller customer segments that have high value. LinkedIn is an excellent example of a leading player already utilizing this approach. BtoB plays will need to be rich in content, and offer high value for their followers.
3. Content Marketing will become critical to brand marketers. The brand is the media. The brand is no longer just a buyer of media. Social media is the place where brands will become more aggressive, and it could be the most important brand trend of the next year.
4. Data overload. What do you do with “big data?” Marketers were overwhelmed with the wealth of data provided when online advertising took off. It’s nothing compared to performance and audience data provided by traditional media these days. And it pales in comparison to the data now available thanks to social media. Expect the technologists to wear marketing hats and vice versa. Marketing will go from one of the hardest things to measure to one of the easiest.
5. The mobile floodgates will open. The numbers around mobile migration continue to be staggering. It will be well north of 50 percent by the end of 2012. The crossroads of mobile and social is an exciting opportunity for marketers, because for the first time a brand can create a bridge between the digital and physical worlds. Everything you have been accessing from your desktop will now be reaching you in-market while shopping, eating lunch with friends or at your kid’s soccer game.
6. Reanalysis of Customer Strategy. The overarching takeaway is that 2012 will be the year brands approach social media not as an experiment or as a race to get the most followers, but as a way to get to know the people who use it. It’s time to identify behaviors and attitudes, find differences in the customers that have them, and address them accordingly.
Save the IPO valuations for the analysts. It doesn’t matter to marketers as much as the real work of making social media a reliable and exciting way to reach the right customer at the right time: That’s the big news for 2012.