Just as businesses thought they had a handle on social media, the landscape continued to shift in 2011. Google+ was introduced, Facebook updated its functionality (once again), Twitter continued to grow as a promotion vehicle for brands, YouTube updated its image and a new player, Pinterest, joined the game.
So what will 2012 bring? I have a few predications based on 2011 and the growing need to creatively engage consumers.
- Mobile interest will continue to grow: As more and more consumers consolidate their technical devices and utilize them to research and connect with companies, offering mobile-friendly information has become essential. If a company wants to actively engage with consumers, it will be crucial to offer useful information and a point of contact via smart phones and tablets.
- People will keep Pinning: As the top traffic referrer for retail based websites, it’s time for retailers to jump on board and provide Pinterest-friendly information to encourage consumers to “Pin it.” If you’re unfamiliar with Pinterest, the program is an online bulletin board where users can display their favorite items from a variety of categories including food, clothing, home goods, and recipes. This social bookmarking site is the epitome of word-of-mouth and will drive consumers to under-discovered corners of the web.
- Social will be essential: Social media has become such a huge part of the daily lives of consumers that businesses realize social media strategy and execution as integral to their marketing budgets and plans. In addition, creative minds will find successful ways to incorporate social media beyond the norm into other parts of business like HR and recruitment.
- Social searching: The major social media players will step up their game and improve in one place that they’re lacking—the search. These websites have come a long way since their creation, but they fall short in providing a way for users to pinpoint specific information easily. This is something that we should expect to improve as new social websites join the game and the veterans are forced to improve their functionality
- Social media consolidation: What used to be an easy decision (“Should we use Facebook or Twitter?”) becomes more complicated. Now, there are many social avenues to choose from—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn—in addition to specialty networks like Instagram, Yelp, and Foursquare. The old sense of wanting to have a presence everywhere will now boil down to a few questions: “What matters and makes sense for my business?” and “What do my customers care about?” Because of all of the options, 2012 will be the year to focus on social media strategy that is tailored and will offer meaningful results.
The social media landscape is constantly changing, so it’s more critical than ever for businesses to strategize and creatively join the conversation in order to be successful. As the social landscape increasingly influences consumer behavior, creative social marketing plans that keep up with the 2012 on-the-go lifestyle will be a must. Consumers’ fast-track attitude will continue to shape how information is gathered and shared. A company has only a few moments to engage with a person—are you using this time wisely?