12 Social Media Predictions for 2012
2011 has been a year of countless innovations. It was the year that social media matured into a powerful business tool – and one that has spurred social change. It was a year of new technology, many of which have changed the way we live our lives.
If this passing year is any indication, 2012 will be an exciting one as well. Developments that began in 2011, and even further back, will come to fruition. New innovative business methods will emerge. And small businesses will have greater access to all of this than ever before. Many predictions are based on assumptions. Many of these however, are based on the quantifiable data Social Strategy1 has accumulated and the resulting trends.
Here are a few of my predictions of what will come in 2012:
1. Mobile apps will mature and have more practical uses
One of the biggest business stories of 2011 was the further proliferation of smartphones and the subsequent boom in mobile app usage. However, as evidenced by this data from mobiThinking, mobile apps are currently not being utilized to their full potential, both because of consumer habits, as well as the quality of the apps themselves. Expect business to put more resources into developing high-quality mobile apps that will become indispensable to smartphone users.
2. SMB will have greater power to use social media tools to grow business
Small Business social network OfficeArrow’s own infographic on Social Media for Small Businesses shows the many SMBs currently don’t have an organized approach to social media, nor do they have a specific idea of what they want to achieve with it. But thirty percent of the small businesses surveyed are planning on investing more money into their social media presence in 2012, and that number will surely grow as more small businesses achieve success through social media with tools like Social Strategy1’s small business toolbox coming out next week.
3. This will disintermediate many of the agencies that want to help small business (which will send them into highly SEO friendly content)
Small businesses typically have had to go through centralized channels to get their products in the public eye, but developments heading into 2012 show that small businesses will now have the tools themselves to meet social media head-on, and will rely less on traditional advertising agencies.
4. We’ll see a greater convergence of content and technology firms. New unconventional players will enter the content game; more content will show up on social media as the new distribution system
Although social media is already the de facto distribution system of content and media, 2012 will cement this status. Instead of content being produced on outside sources and shared via social networks, more and more content will be produced specifically with social media in mind. There will be a host of innovative new services to take advantage of this change.
5. Traditional media will continue to falter under the weight of its cost structure and lose relevance as new competitors use social media for distribution
You don’t have to live in the business world to see this one coming – newspapers, televisions networks, even traditional media websites, are all suffering in the new media economy, because no matter how fast CNN is to post a breaking news story, it will still hit slower than a Tweet or Facebook post. Consider the recent $315 million dollar sale of the Huffington Post, which functions more as a content aggregator than a traditional news outlet. These shifts will become more apparent as 2012 progresses.
6. More and more companies – many you wouldn’t expect and many who shouldn’t – will offer “social media” functions or services
Social media can be extremely effective, but it’s not perfect for every business. There are many unlikely social media success stories, and there will be many more in 2012, but there will be even more businesses attempting to squeeze social media into a market segment that is not fit for it.
7. Companies will continue to ‘step-in-it’ through social media because of lack of understanding of its full impact.
One of the most common failures of business, both large and small, is that they approach social media without first understanding the medium. Social media cannot be approached with the same methods and expectations as traditional media outlets, and it will take more than another year for businesses to learn from their mistakes.
8. Social Media will offer more ways to execute daily tasks – everything from picking airline seats to registering for class
With internet-based services already finding traction everywhere, from high schools to libraries to mass transit, it is only a matter of time before social media becomes just as integrated with daily life. All it takes is one idea to completely transform the way we do seemingly mundane tasks.
9. LBS (location based services) will be less about checking-in and more about rallying friends, getting deals, making recommendations, completing tasks
Location based services have been around for a little while, but few businesses have utilized them in an effective way. Now that the technology is in place, businesses, politicians and advertising firms will look to use this powerful data source to provide their customers and voters a wide range of new services. Don’t underestimate the power of peer pressure.
10. The cloud will become less mysterious, more mainstream
2011 saw major developments in cloud computing and storage, such as Apple’s iCloud. Although there will surely be bumps along the way, cloud technology will gain wider acceptance among the both large and small businesses, as concerns about security as stability are assuaged.
11. At least one more nation will shift its complexion because of social media
The power of social media to affect the political system was, without a doubt, 2011’s most exciting development, and one that revealed the full extent of social media’s potential. This trend will undoubtedly continue through 2012, and well beyond.
12. Sadly, non-profits will still be unable to use social media effectively because of a lack of guidance
While the business world is quickly adapting to the social media landscape, non-profit organizations are not developing as rapidly. It will naturally take longer for them to change their approach to utilize social media, and it may take longer than 2012 for most to do so.
Each of these predictions is promising, but the trends of 2012 that will be the most exciting will be the ones that we didn’t see coming. And the best way to ensure that you’ll be at the front lines when they happen is to stay abreast to the most promising ones now.