2011 saw a huge rise in social media, taking it from a sideline, extra activity to the center of the web universe. In the coming year social media will grow exponentially and become one of the central activities in human affairs on many different levels.
Business and Marketing
Companies have all but fully embraced social media in their business plans already, but the integration in 2012 will become all-encompassing, with social media dwarfing other marketing activities. The increase will become so pervasive that it will become a given and a business necessity to have brand monitoring software to track engagement and measure ROI.
Companies will also move away from having a marketing department that also handles social media. The new necessity to survive the competition will be a director of social media, and possibly a staff that does nothing but. This is because social sites will become the new customer service centers of corporations, tailoring their practices to fit into the customers’ paradigm.
Marketing will finally find the ultimate sweet spot in social media, where well-planned campaigns become almost effortless and extremely more effective due to fitting in the target market’s activities rather than becoming an extra activity. Businesses that can see the future and prepare properly will thrive. Those who do not will sink, and we are likely to see a shake-up and shake-out of businesses in the coming year as this heats up.
Mobile Social Activities
With the smartphone and tablet markets already in full gear, this will be the year that they rise toward the saturation point. These markets have been sitting in the 20-35% adoption range for a couple of years, but the latter half of 2011 saw then inching higher each month. In 2012 this market will break 50% and beyond, and in doing so social media activities will follow and become much more mobile than they are tethered to a laptop or desktop. Social gaming will continue to grow at astronomical rates, incorporating more and more advertising as well as real-world activities that tie in.
News Will Be Primarily from Social Sites
Twitter really began the cycle of distributing news through social media a few years ago, but it has really grown into a powerful force today, with many people getting the majority of their daily news through social sites. This trend will only continue, and as major media outlets embrace it more and more it will become better structured and the primary source for most people to get their news, in one way or another. We have already seen in newscasts and in this election cycle the engagement and inclusion of Twitter and Facebook as legitimate sources of engagement and feedback from viewers, and this year’s Presidential election will likely see a huge impact from the social side of things.
Facebook will break 1 billion users, but Google+ will release their API and Rule the World
Facebook will get the push over the 1 billion mark by adding users from countries with lower rates of adoption, and they will remain a dominant player in every aspect of the social scene, which will mean the web itself. However, Google has already taken bold moves in recent days and months to set themselves up for the biggest putsch in internet history. They have steadily been integrating and tweaking their vast products and resources to eventually form one hub to rule them all, just as the Google search site was for years. With Google+ taking off in the last 4 months and being integrated with everything from search to pictures to documents to email to everything else, Google will complete this consolidation and finally release their API for third-party development, and in a matter o months they will out pace Facebook and once again become the dominant force on the internet. Once this happens it will be a coups that will be hard to undo.