2011 is gone, and 2012 has rolled in without missing a beat. The social media industry is growing in leaps and bounds. I often hear business people say social networking is like the Wild Wild West! So answer this question for me. Would it be valuable if you knew the future social media trends for 2012? How wonderful would it be to know what trends are in store for the coming year? Could you adequately prepare for this rapidly changing industry? In this article, I provide my 2012 predictions for the evolving trends in the social-networking industry. It’s always gratifying when my predictions come true. My predictions are not based on any kind of special powers. They are based on my industry research, what I read and what I see happening every day in my work. My accuracy rate in the social media industry has been about 97 percent. However, even when I’m wrong it’s only because my timeline ended up being longer than I thought it was going to be. I have a knack for spotting social media trends. And this article lists four powerful trends unfolding right now. You can profit from what I say or ignore me, the choice is yours. Either way these trends will unfold as the year progresses. So read on and heed my advice. Prepare your social media marketing campaigns to take advantage these trends for 2012 and beyond.
Prediction #1) Social Media Networks and Marketing will continue to grow at an alarming rate.
Last year Facebook grew from around 600 million to 800 million users depending on whose numbers you believe. Twitter and LinkedIn also both showed growth and added many new features, (not to mention that they both acquired several new partners and internet assets). Add to this, Google started Google+, and Microsoft is said to be in the works of building their own social network. The adoption rate of small business will lead the way, but expenditures by large corporations will exceed that of both small and medium-size businesses. My first advice to you is; create and implement “an employee social media use policy” to control business hour usage. Second, create a social media marketing plan to reach and engage this enormous market. Combining both engagement and pay per click campaigns work best.
Prediction #2) One of the largest players in the social media arena will make a “miss step” in 2012.
I believe that one of the top four Social Media Network companies will make a costly mistake causing them to lose significant market share. Right now several of the larger social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all share one crucial flaw. They try to make it almost impossible to communicate with them. Take Facebook, for instance. They do not list any contact information other than a Facebook page. Sure they have lots of help pages. Yes, Facebook has a blog, lots of YouTube videos, but provides no phone number where you can call and talk to a human being? They do have a Facebook page you can enter suggestions on, but that’s it. What happens when you get a strange message from Facebook, or you’re having trouble with your account? You post a message and never get a reply! Twitter and LinkedIn are not much better. They don’t list a contact phone number or address either. However, I have found that they do reply to your email and posted messages, although it sometimes takes as long as seven days to get a reply.
In my opinion, of the top three social media companies, LinkedIn provides the best service. Google is new in this game. It’s not as easy to lump them in with the rest of the social media giants yet. However, I can tell you that Google has a notoriously poor customer service reputation. It’s been my experience with Google that the quality of service you receive depends on the person you get on the phone. The good news is that you can get someone on the phone! Google does list contact numbers. My advice to any business is easy, be ready to make changes to your social media campaign if need be. Furthermore, if you’re using any of the top four social media services, make a backup of your data. This is in case you decide to make “the switch” and ditch one of these players.
Prediction #3) Google+ will become one of the top 3, in the social network arena by the end of 2012.
I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe this is inevitable. Google’s share size and current customer base will allow Google+ to grow at a much faster pace than other social media sites. The exact number of Gmail users is not public, but we do know that it is huge! I have read estimates ranging from about 190 million to 250 million accounts. Furthermore, Google owns so many internet properties, that they can easily integrate the use of these properties into their social network. This adds value to their social network. Add to this, the fact that Google owns Google Search, Google AdWords, YouTube, Blogger and Picasa. Are you starting to get the picture? Google is gigantic. Google controls the lion’s share of internet traffic and advertising dollars.
Google has also been able to produce a social-networking product that is easy to use, search engine friendly and innovative. These qualities’ have made them the internet leader they are today. I am not sure that they can keep this frantic pace forever, but for 2012, it’s a done deal. My advice to you is to review where you are spending your advertising money and see if it makes sense using any of the Google properties. If you’re an individual, and have been waiting on the sideline with Google+, stop what you’re doing and take the 10 minutes to set up a Gmail and Google+ account. If you already have a Gmail account, this will only take you about 5 minutes. The bonus here is you can also set up a Google+ Brand page without a lot of fuss.
Prediction #4) More businesses will start using blogging and article marketing to build trust.
You may be asking the question; what does blogging and article writing have to do with social networks? The answer is straightforward. Both blogging and article writing create a following, and they both encourage fan interaction. These followers will leave comments on the blog/article sites and interact directly with the authors. Now that I have established that blogging and article marketing is social in nature, let’s discuss building trust.
There are many ways to build trust with people. Here are just a few ways that a business can build trust; receiving word of mouth and written testimonials, consistently providing a good product or service, providing written guarantees and making it easy for your customers to communicate with you.
Today, writing articles is creating a new powerhouse for trust building. Any business that receives expert status from writing about their industry niche will garner instant credibility. According to the website “numberof.net,” the number of bloggers in 2007 was around 23 million. The same source predicted that, by 2012, U.S. bloggers would reach 35 million. Guess what, this year’s articles in Technorati and Blogpulse both listed worldwide blogs to be around 164 million by the end of 2011, almost five times the original predictions given in 2007. I guess the adoption rate for blogging has far exceeded what was once looked upon as a strange new type of website forum.
We live in a society where the published word has high value. This is truer today than ever. Savvy businesses are taking to blogging and article marketing as an exciting new way to distinguish them from their competitors. What, you say you can’t write? Ghost writers are a cost-effective alternative. They are readily available and well worth looking into. My advice to you is straightforward, create and use a blog for marketing. Your blog articles can also be used in article marketing by submitting them to article databases. They can also be integrated into your website. Your blog post can easily become part of your website “current content strategy.” If done well, blogging will build your reputation as the go to expert in your particular business field. As an extra bonus, you will be able to engage prospects and clients in a way that builds trust, a commodity that is vastly absent in today’s business climate.