2012 Social Media Predictions From a Grump Who Hates Predictions


Flickr photo by tgkohn

I have much antipathy – make that hostility – toward any kinds of predictions (see my 2011 social media predictions post  for the only explanation I will give for that). Despite that, I was honored to be asked my 2012 thoughts by the folks at Awareness for their eBook “2012 Social Marketing & New Media Predictions.”   There are some great thoughts by several folks in the industry smarter than I, but I thought I would take the opportunity to expand on my thoughts that were included (in case anyone holds me accountable).

Below are the e-book topics for which I provided predictions, and my further comments on each.

The Biggest Social Marketing Developments

What I Said:

“More companies will move to the next stage, having a more innate understanding of what they need to do in social media, and being more specific about where they allocate budgets within social media. Google+ will make some inroads, enough to add G+ more formally to the debate over how to split resources among existing social media platforms.”

A Bit More:

I noted in the last year or two that more companies of all sizes seemed to understand they needed to do include social media and brand publishing somewhere in their communications plan – selling the very idea of social media is over. Next is developing a more ingrained sophistication about what and how to do it. And yes, the patience I have preached regarding Google + is still needed, but will probably pay off soon as companies (and their consultants) figure out the best use for this social network.

A bit more about other social networks: it seems that many companies are jumping onto social tools specifically geared to arranging certain types of media– there has been a lot of noise about Instagram and Pinterest lately, for instance. That’s interesting, to the extent that these tools might differentiate themselves from what web developers will do for companies’ owned channels.

The Role of Big Data in Social Marketing 

What I Said:

“All data will be important. Responsible agencies and marketers will be measuring their programs with anything available to them. As for databases, merging CRM and sales databases with social outlets will get more intense. Sales people and departments need to get on board, and that means deciding once and for all how social sits in your organization. That may take more than a year.”

A Bit More:

2011 saw a lot of talk about “Social CRM” and “Big Data.” I think communications professionals are still figuring this out. We will see more flesh put on these bones, but complete understanding and utility is beyond the grasp of 2012.


Key Technologies to Impact Social Marketing and the Role of Mobile (I combined two since I talked about mobile in the first)

What I Said:

“Smartphones will continue to spread, especially Android, and tablets, still led by iPad, will only proliferate more. Figuring out the easiest way to interact with people via mobile will get more attention. The ones who succeed will be the ones who actually make apps and mobile sites that don’t break.”

“Anything mobile will be big. The only difference between B2C and B2B will be the scale and depth of how they deal with the customer on the go. If they treat their mobile channels (and many companies have both B2C and B2B) as they treat all other sales and marketing channels, then they have their baseline strategy right there.”

A Bit More:

Anyone can say “mobile” – so I did too. Neener-neener. The fact that I actually bought a tablet recently (an Android by the way) says a lot about the affordability (or willingness to pay the price) coming to a larger market. We need to continue with “mobile” as part of our thinking, but I think we’ll see more use. Aren’t you using your mobile devices more? What apps we rely on vs what we are used to from our PCs and Macs will also change as a result. What is easy to use and what translates to the primary “experience” (web site, document format, what-have-you) will be the most interesting to me.

The second answer seems a bit convoluted as I read it now. Essentially, don’t let new channels (mobile or whatever) drive your strategy and goals. As ever, it should be the other way around.

Top Challenges for Social Marketers

What I Said:

“Focusing on what works and not being distracted by shiny new objects, while making sure they don’t miss the shiny thing that actually becomes the next ‘what works.’ Measuring programs and linking them to business goals will become more important and more recognized.”

A Bit More:It shouldn’t be new to caution against chasing shiny objects, but people still do it, so there. Measurement has been a standard par tof the programs I lead at Voce, but too many people argue about the “warm fuzzies” aspect of social media, leading me to believe that more people need to be kicked upside the head regarding measuring their efforts. Even the fuzzy stuff and the unicorns (you know, I am an expert in Unicorns according to Klout, http://klout.com/#/dough/topics so listen to what I have to say).

Top Trusted News Sources

What I Said: 

“The grapevine, wherever it may grow. Currently it’s some combination of Twitter, Facebook and Google+ from peers in the industry.

A Bit More:

Total copout- but still true. Did you really want 19 people all to say “I read Mashable?” Follow people you trust, and they will lead you to good news sources.


Thanks to Mike Lewis of Awareness and Lora Kratchounova for forcing me to say something about the coming year. I expect it all to come true. Every last thing. Except the bits that don’t.



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