Top 10 List of Marketing and Social Media Trends and Predictions Lists for 2012

January 20, 2012



It's 2012 and there is no shortage of lists from top industry publications with marketing trends and predictions about what we should expect in the year ahead. So I've gone ahead and selected my list of lists – “The Top 10 Marketing and Social Media Trends and Predictions Lists of 2012.”

  1. eMarketer: Key Digital Trends for 2012
  2. Mashable: 7 Social Media Predictions for 2012
  3. eConsultancy: Predictions for social video in 2012
  4. Brian Solis: Ten Social Media Strategies to Define a Successful 2012
  5. MarketingProfs: 12 Marketing Predictions for 2012
  6. PC World: Five Tips For Your 2012 Social Media Strategy
  7. Social Media B2B: 12 B2B Social Media Predictions for 2012
  8. Dream Grow:  21 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2012
  9. Social Media Today: Two Compelling Social Media Trends for 2012
  10. CNET: 5 social network predictions for 2012


FH Perspective:

2012 is the year of the user. It's no longer about garnering more users; it's about putting the user first and adding value to the experience you present. Here are 10 broader predictions about the social and marketing trends for 2012.

  1)      Real-time marketing will take over.
Companies can no longer create marketing budgets 6 months at a time. Marketing departments must be flexible and agile to react to relevant marketing opportunities and news. Facebook provides companies the opportunity to see what their consumers are doing in real-time. In 2012, consumer activity will be more readily accessible; therefore companies must be more strategic, turning “likes” in to relevant actions i.e. “shopping”. There needs to be a shift towards action-building as social continues to be incorporated with real-time.  The world of PR is fast and agile and can easily spot and adapt to real time activity and trends.

 2)      Convergence of social and mobile
Consumers will conduct most of their online activity via mobile devices and tablets. Search will become much more contextual than text-based. Consumers are able to take a picture of products or scan a barcode to receive price comparisons and reviews. Day-to-day task will be altered as much more social activity will occur through mobile mediums. Consumers are now buying ferry tickets on their bus commute or movie tickets on their way to the theater and have the ability to share the experience with friends. In 2012, companies will need to optimize their mobile assets and enhance their mobile experience especially with features like geolocation. Geolocation will be the defining factor for companies as it offers customized mobile experiences for consumers and relevant consumption information for businesses.

 3)      Mobile/device adoption.
Mobile and device adoption by consumers has increased and will reach a tipping point in 2012 as more and more consumers turn to their smartphones and tablets to receive information. Companies will be forced to not only change their perspective to put the consumer first but also incorporate mobile devices as touchpoints in their marketing strategy. Consumers are now using their mobile devices to stream video and music, download apps, and browse the web. In 2012, companies will need to develop a mobile marketing strategy as well as a mobile advertising strategy utilizing unique mobile features such as GPS, the camera, and the accelerometer and augmented realities to reach their customers.

4)      Companies will reach consumers through multiple touchpoints.
Consumers receive information through various devices, applications, and formats. Companies will need to adapt to the changes in content curation and in new media, spending more time on driving content to the top of the platforms and on increasing content availability. Consumers are ‘always on' and connected to devices; therefore, companies will need to allow for seamless integration across multiple platforms and devices. In 2012, marketing strategies will need to be malleable and relevant. Companies should focus their efforts on pertinent platforms as social media applications continue to increasing. With new platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest, companies will need to stay up to date but also pay attention to the relevance that these platforms to their campaigns and consumers. The goal for companies should be to find trends in individual preferences and create valuable opportunities for consumers on the relevant social platforms, insight and analysis into the consumer behavior will be key determinant in making these decisions.

5)      Paid, owned, shared, and earned media will increase.
The lines between content and advertising have blurred and now integrating both traditional and new media to offer compelling content is important. Marketing strategies should focus on both fan growth and fan engagement; acquisition and activation. It is no longer important to just get a “Like” or a “Follower”; it is about how the company connects to their consumer and what that consumer chooses to do with that new information. In 2012, companies will need to be more holistic in their approach with offering viral videos, events, custom games, email campaigns leveraging the paid media tools of promoted tweets, and sponsored stories to increase the reach of traditional social content.

6)      Social metrics will become more accurate.
As sharing and engagement becomes more pertinent for companies, new metrics will arise in 2012 to help marketers offer more accurate ROI to stakeholders. Companies were drawn to dabble in the digital space as an experimental new way to reach consumers, but now there is increased pressure to make an impact on the bottom line. In 2012, there will be stronger focus on hard metrics and cross-platform marketing. Metrics and analysis will lead toward efficient content development and promotion, freeing customers of constant content overload.

7)      Politics will dominate the digital space.
Obama's use of social media in 2008 set the bar for all political campaigns.  In 2008, CNN changed the way voters contributed to the election by utilizing YouTube in presidential debates. Facebook teamed up with CNN to host a live feed of the 2008 presidential election. Mitt Romney became the first presidential candidate to utilize Promoted tweets. Political campaigns will continue to experiment with digital spaces hoping to reach more voters and raise more money. In 2012, the social spaces will become a breeding ground for lobbyists, political candidates, activists, voters, and media. These efforts will push the envelope, what is embraced and what is rejected will develop the playbook for the next generation of social engagement.

8)      Social media will encompass live TV interaction.
YouTube has proven that video is important in both the marketing and advertising realms. Companies have begun to incorporate in-page video ads or embedded videos, but what will be strikingly different in 2012 is the adoption of live TV. With the anticipated prospect of Apple TV, the living room will never be the same. There has been an increase with texting in with shows or real-time tweets with news channels, but now there will a dynamic shift to integrating mobile devices with live TV whether that is through taking a picture of a product during an ad and buying it straight off of a mobile device or having the mobile device connected to the television so the set greets you as you enter your home. Consumers will have the ability to interact with real-time television event through social networks and mobile TV apps.

9)      Facebook vs. Google+

It's great to see Facebook and Google making strides in creating a more robust platform that addresses directly the needs of business working with their platforms. Facebook recently introduced a private messaging feature that will allow companies the opportunity to connect with their customers on an individual basis yielding strong customer/brand relationships, and in turn build brand loyalty. In addition, the feature also offers a more private means of interacting with a customer during a crisis.  Being able to connect with a customer on a one-to-one level in a way that makes the consumer comfortable is a great step in seamlessly closing the loop from a community relations perspective. 

Meanwhile, Google+ introduced a controversial “Search Plus Your World” feature that has received scrutiny from Twitter and others in the industry.  There is a battle brewing over search content and Google making moves to allow their social network content to influence search results in a big way.  This will be a hot topic moving into 2012 and it could result in anti-trust hearings against the search giant. 

In the meantime, it's important to experiment with the Google+ platform, build an audience with the tech savvy early adaptors.  There are a lot more enhancements expected from both Facebook and Google+ over the coming months and we're anticipating these will help brands create a more robust user experience.

10)  Expect news to be social and social gaming to increase.
Leading mobile usage for consumers is playing games followed by reading news. The revolution started with Facebook's incorporation of Zynga. Now, companies have released branded games and in-game ads. In 2012, social gaming will not only increase but will also include a real-life element. Social games will incorporate visiting places or performing certain tasks that could have a potential virtual effect. We've seen FourSquare use steadily increase as users collect badges for checking into places they visit in their daily routine. The element of gamification will stretch across multiple platforms. News aggregation has changed with the advent of Flipboard and the Washington Post Social Reader. Consumers will continue to interact with news in the social space by recommending certain articles, commenting on stories shared by their friends, and interacting with news outlet in real-time.