What will happen in the year ahead? I’m no fan of making predictions, but there are some major social media tactics that we can expect to affect businesses in 2012. Some of these tactics already have been adopted by select companies, but this year we’ll see mass adoption of these tactics by businesses of all sizes.
1. Social Listening for Marketing Intelligence
Last year we saw a plethora of new technology platforms that moved social media monitoring and started crunching some sophisticated data to gauge sentiment to drive marketing campaigns.
In my view, 2012 will be a year where businesses will take a step forward from simply looking at company mentions, debatable “sentiments”, and arguable influencer scores, and instead move toward combining all disparate social data to form a marketing intelligence that drives future marketing campaigns. Quite a few tools are doing this already, but expect to see more.
Marketers will no longer be tongue tied when asked by C-suite “mentions on social media…so what?” Instead, platforms will help marketers make smarter marketing decisions based on social listening.
2. Facebook – Advertisers and Brands will Focus More on Profitability
With Facebook on pace for a billion users, playtime is over. Businesses had in the past put lot of emphasis on the somewhat superficial numbers like number of Facebook fans without taking into account the quality of that fan acquired. What we’ll see instead in 2012 is businesses focusing more on profitability and a laser-sharp ROI focus when it comes to Facebook contests, Facebook ads, and Facebook only promotion.
Businesses will also realize that there is more to Facebook than measuring a linear conversion path from a fan to a paid customer. Marketers will be open to measure non-linear path of ROI measurement like creating Facebook-only promos to drive offline traffic. Retailers are a classic example, where lots of buzz and Facebook-only promotions will be done to drive foot traffic into retail stores. Besides large retailers, we’ll see an increasing number of small and medium-sized businesses adopt this strategy.
Advertisers will start measuring their Facebook Ads campaigns based on profitability that either helps generate revenues or supports in some kind of cost savings. Brian Carter’s new book “The Like Economy: How Businesses Make Money with Facebook” is an excellent resource.
3. Google+ – Pedal to the Metal
Google will aggressively roll out new features to Google+ and make Google+ pages more business-friendly. The biggest advantage Google has is its integration with other Google properties, like in its search engine results pages, in paid search ads, Google Reader, YouTube, etc.
Google also put a great internal focus on social last year by restructuring its employee bonus and salary structure based on Google’s success on social. This internal focus ensures that everyone inside the Googleplex thinks of social all the time. So, this internal focus with external push to consumers could make 2012 a year of Google+.
4. Quality Content
We all appreciate the importance of quality content – content that is engaging, relevant, and unique to the user.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen this mad rush (and budget) from companies to create content with the sole purpose of creating content for SEO. But we all know what happened to that with Google’s Panda update! So, in retrospect, Panda was a timely and much needed update from Google.
Instead, what we’ll see in 2012 is a more structured approach by businesses to create content that focuses on provides unique value to readers resulting in higher engagement levels with their community members. We’ll see a more holistic approach from businesses with content, whether it’s videos, how-to content pieces, or other types of content.
5. Community Building
As marketers get sophisticated with planning and measuring their campaigns, we’ll find businesses paying close attention to their existing community members. An increased emphasis will be placed on building an engaged community as opposed to simply amassing numbers. This means community managers must energize their community members as well as engage members for a variety of things like product development, market research, and special product discounts, to name a few.
Community building and management is all about people, content, and consistency. This tactic will be widely adopted in 2012 and will become an integral part of community management.
6. Social, Local, Mobile (SoLoMo)
SoLoMo – the social, local, and mobile triumvirate, will get a strong hold in 2012 with more integrated campaigns combining social media with local offers involving mobile devices. Essentially, socially advocated mobile content has the potential to boost brand loyalty, and this can boost sales among nearby on-the-go shoppers.
Top daily deals sites like Groupon and LivingSocial are perfect examples of this where they using deals to drive local sales. Foursquare is perfectly positioned for this SoLoMo tactic. We’ll see more local merchants signing up with Foursquare.
Traditional on-page SEO factors will still hold true since it’s all about making your content search friendly, but what we’ll see in 2012 and beyond is strong social media sharing activities will drive SEO results. Last year we witnessed Google’s push to integrate social results into its SERP’s (and the newly launched Search Plus Your World update) and the Facebook-Bing partnership.
Ultimately, SEO will win because conversions will be higher (and relatively straightforward to measure) on organic search. As a result, more businesses will ensure closer collaboration between their search and social teams.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the rapidly evolving social media and search landscape. Social and search are also closely intertwined so pushing on few tactics above will impact other tactics as well.
Over to you now: what other tactics do you think we’ll see businesses adopt in 2012?