Social Media Predictions for 2012: Google to Battle Facebook, Plus Other Key Developments to Watch
Greg Tirico, Senior Social Media Manager, Sage North America
Speaking in general terms, most corporations and many small businesses have stopped experimenting with their social media activities. They have not abandoned their efforts by any means. Rather, they have moved into a new phase of social media use as their efforts collectively mature. Large social media platforms have established themselves and many agree that it would be hard to unseat these social networks without an enormous amount of effort or some structural market shift.
With this in mind, here’s what you can expect in 2012:
1. Greater Corporate Presence
Many corporations spent the better parts of 2010 and 2011 experimenting with their social media activities and aligning support resources in their organizations. As a group, we are all getting better and, while there will always be standouts, the corporate crowd is definitely learning quickly. In 2012, you can expect a much larger corporate presence on the social networks.
Remember 1995 and 1996 when corporations were just starting to figure out how to leverage the web as a platform? Today’s social media environment is analogous to those early days. As many before me have predicted, we are at the start of a significant growth curve for social media as corporations learn how to use the vast data generated by these networks to their advantage from a marketing, sales and customer support perspective.
2. Better Integrated Campaigns
As companies get smarter about their social media measurement activities, you can expect to see more properly integrated marketing campaigns in 2012. From the basics, like consistent messaging across platforms, to more complex campaigns in which different mediums are messaged in coordination with each other, marketing integration with social media channels will be one of the keys to a greater level of success in 2012.
This is easy to write about and very difficult to do. Even before social media was a viable marketing platform organizations struggled with truly integrated marketing campaigns. It is no different today and truly unique, original, and well organized campaigns will stand out above the rest.
3. Social Takes the Lead
Those who have moved past the challenges of integrated marketing campaigns (and many that have not) will begin to lead with their social media marketing activities. The cost is lower and the feedback loop is instantaneous, which allows for course correction in the middle of a campaign. In effect, social media marketing will become a test bed for larger marketing and communications aspirations.
We’ve already seen some examples in this space. The Old Spice campaigns are an obvious measure of success in which social (eventually) took the lead. Tempurpedic has also run “Ask me about my Tempurpedic” campaigns in which they encourage prospects who are active in social media to ask current customers about their experience. These types of advocacy campaigns on the social networks are going to be more popular in 2012 as companies realize the power of their social fan base.
4. Google and Facebook Battle for Social Supremacy
This one might seem a bit overplayed: Bitter rivals going head to head in a winner takes all contest. If this is your impression of the Google/Facebook relationship to date, then you’re in for a wild ride in 2012. The launch of Google+ in 2011 put Facebook on notice. The stakes are high for these two companies and their primary streams of revenue (ad dollars) are at risk.
There is plenty of upside potential for both organizations, but consumers face a limiting factor: time. It’s a valuable, limited resource and we are simply not able to spend an equal amount of time on both properties. Watch for Google to integrate social (a la Google+) into everything in 2012. As a Google executive now famously said, “Google+ is Google.”
Greg Tirico is a senior social media manager for Sage North America, providers of business management software and services to over 3 million small and mid-sized businesses in North America. In this role, Tirico stays current with social media trends and works across the Sage Business Units to help set strategy and success metrics for social media marketing programs.
Published: December 15, 2011 By: