1: Moving from "What is social media?” to "How does my business use social media this year?”
2010 and 2011 were the years of the early adopters and the experimenters.
Small businesses like Giapo showed New Zealand what social media can do for businesses by taking a leap of faith and really going all out digitally.
Workshops and Conferences were everywhere, educating those interested in the social media space, and Twitter and Facebook were the preferred digital platforms for most businesses due to their sheer size and influence in the digital realm.
So what does 2012 hold? Well, we have a much more educated market now. For many businesses, digital media is not such a scary prospect. We’ve got our heads around the idea that social strategies should be lead by clear objectives, not just by a desire to try out the new shiny toy.
We predict that 2012 will be a year in which business owners and marketers are more comfortable with the idea of social media, more familiar with the role each platform performs in the digital world, and more focused in their approach with each presence.
Profiles will be more targeted, objective-led and will have a clearly defined point.
2: Facebook and Twitter no longer the big two
During the experimentation phase over the past couple of years, Facebook and Twitter have featured prominently on many businesses "to do” list.
As the only two social media platforms that many business owners or marketing heads had any real knowledge of, Facebook and Twitter profiles were set up, played with, abandoned and picked up again with very little strategy behind them. They were seen as, and were, easy and "safe” ways to dip a toe in the social water.
However we are happy to report that "social media” will no longer be synonymous with Twitter and Facebook come 2012.
As businesses begin to apply more strategic direction to their digital presences, we should see a more diverse range of social platform use emerge. Whether that movement includes branching out into geo-locational platforms like foursquare and gowalla, or more specialised sites like grindr and vwforum.com or even into building their own new presences, it will be interesting to see social integration evolve past the Silicon Valley giants.
3: Dipping toes into the influence market
This year in the overseas market we’ve heard a lot of murmurs of marketing to those who are influencers in the interwebs. You might have heard of tools like Klout and PeerIndex. These two services collate information from your social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Linkedin, and attempt to rate how "influential” you are based on your digital activity.
While these tools aren’t perfect by any means, they do provide a reasonably simple filtering tool for judging influence amongst certain groups.
Using influencers to act as ambassadors for your product is not new, but using the online influencer-rating tools to establish who those influencers are online is a relatively recent trend and likely to be something we see more and more of in 2012.
4: The real-time age
Access to real-time information (or close to real-time information) through platforms like Twitter and YouTube is starting to put pressure on media giants to step up and stay relevant to their audience. We’re also seeing marketing and customer service heads using social platforms as invaluable tools for gathering immediate and super targeted feedback on business performance and promotional campaigns.
In 2012 we will see a trend develop toward real-time information reporting integrated into mass media offerings like TV and News websites.
This year we saw major programs like Close Up and Campbell Live mentioning Twitter and Facebook as two of the ways you can connect and talk about the show. And Cup Talk, a RWC wrap up show, integrated the use of live Twitter discussion heavily within the show.
As smartphones continue to saturate the market in 2012 we’ll continue to see growth in real-time communication between businesses and punters. Examples of popular restaurants using GPS systems to push special offers to your handset as soon as you come into range of the store are already starting to become common place in certain areas around Auckland.
5: Disruptive banking
This year, both Square and Google NFC Digital Wallet have caused quite a storm in the mobile commerce and retail sectors with their disruptive idea of being able to make purchases with a swipe of your mobile phone.
This year we saw NFC being used at the Rugby World Cup, with MasterCard’s PayPass. Similar in concept to Google’s Digital Wallet, the new card allows a swipe-to-pay system, instead of the usual rigmarole of fighting with the new chip readers on store eftpos terminals.
While we’re not likely to see anything as extreme as RFID or NFC purchases being made through our mobile handsets on these shores next year, we ARE likely to see more MasterCard style transaction stations popping up around the country as enabled cards become more commonplace and retailers cotton on to the very real potential for improved efficiency at the point of sale.
So overall what do all these predictions mean? After the past two years’ focus on learning and gaining knowledge, 2012 will be a year for asking, "What else can we do in this space beyond the 101 of social media?” And the answers to that question are looking pretty exciting from where we’re standing.
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