By Beatrice Whelan, Social Media & Content Specialist at Sage
What an exciting year 2012 was from a social media perspective. What will 2013 hold and what should you be including in your social media strategy for 2013? A lot of these trends have already emerged in 2012 but will become more pronounced in 2013.
1. Social Is Digital
While 2011 and 2012 saw a lot of businesses questioning if they should use social media, in 2013 social media will become such an integral part of the online landscape that social will be a fundamental part of all serious online strategies. Those businesses that don’t see this will see an impact on their business results. Social media is no longer a choice for those engaged in digital marketing. We are now at the late majority/laggard stage of the Innovation Curve for social media.
In 2013 we will also see a shift towards a greater and deeper understanding of social from everyone engaged in digital marketing. PPC specialists, for example, will start to become social advertising specialists or at least have that as a major part of their skill set.
2. Facebook Finally Faces Search (and other challenges)
By the end of 2013 there will be 1.3 to 1.5 billion people using Facebook. Facebook has a lot of plans for the coming year. In late 2012 and moving into 2013 Facebook Gifts will transform F-commerce. 2013 will also be the year that Facebook moves into social search with rumours that Facebook are developing their own search engine to rival that of Google’s.
Facebook have recently changed their EdgeRank algorithm so that business pages have their posts seen by less of their Facebook fans. This is undoubtedly to encourage more promoted posts but my own opinion is that they will need to tweak this more in 2013 to give people the right balance of content in their news feed and keep brands interested in using Facebook. I also predict a trend toward less frequent use of Facebook as people get bored and login to Facebook less often unless Facebook find a way to keep people interested.
3. Social TV – It’s Already Here
We have already seen X Factor making great use of social media platforms like Twitter. As the shows unfolds, the audience ‘live blogs’ the show, making updates to Twitter. People not able to tune in can follow the entire show by just watching their Twitter feed. Here in Ireland watching the Twitter feed about the Late Late Show can be vastly more entertaining than watching the show itself at times and in 2012 we saw a tweet have dramatic impact on a TV presidential debate.
Social television will become a massive marketing phenomenon in 2013 as shows engage their viewers by urging them to do what they are already doing. Of course this is not excluded to TV, we are already seeing interviewers on radio programs taking questions from Twitter to put to interviewees.
4. Social As A Data Source
2013 will see businesses looking for real results from their social media activities. In 2013 some businesses will examine how they can data mine Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, while still respecting data protection and privacy laws. One way to get data from your Facebook fans is to have a data capture form on your Facebook page that fans fill in to enter a competition. The data you ask them for is up to you.
So what do you do with this data once you have it? Many things, but providing you have an opt in from each user that filled in the data capture form you can then use this data for email marketing campaigns. Another important use of data is to determine how many of your current customers are engaging with you via social, which can help you plan the nature of future campaigns.
5. Social Continues To Change How We Create And Consume The News
We have already seen social completely change how we create and consume the news. Initially RSS feed readers allowed people to create a personalised news reading experience. News has become a lot more personal and this trend will continue in 2013. In our Facebook ‘News Feed’ we see a combination of personal news from our friends with stories from news websites also shared by our friends. Twitter has become a newsroom with sites like Storify and The Journal sourcing entire news stories from Twitter.
Apps like Summly which has been called ‘one of the more potentially disruptive apps to be released in 2012’ will have a big impact in 2013. The app pulls in news articles from hundreds of online sources, then pulls out the key points and summarises them into 400-character paragraphs that fit neatly onto the iPhone screen.
6. Monitoring Tools, ROI Measurement And Analytic Solutions Will Improve
One of the most frequently asked questions about social media marketing is ‘how do we measure the results’. Measurement is moving beyond the number of likes, shares and retweets and tools like Google Analytics are being asked to provide ways to measure social in a much more meaningful way. Larger businesses are looking to tools like Sysomos to allow them to monitor and measure share of voice online.
7. The Social Business Emerges
In 2013 we will see social media move beyond marketing to HR, customer service and sales for a lot more companies. Social media is no longer the remit of the marketing team alone. This presents a challenge for businesses from the point of view of understanding how to really integrate social into those aspects of their business. Social media policies will need to address these new challenges. Rather than cross-functional social teams emerging I would predict that social becomes part of the skill set of people in what was up to now non-social roles.
8. Social CRM
One of the key areas of business where we are already seeing social integration is Customer Relationship Management. Social CRM is about using your CRM system to connect with customers and prospects that are participating in online conversations, groups and forums. CRM solutions like Sage CRM allow you to save the contents of a Twitter conversation to a note in your Sage CRM database so you have access to an archive of online conversations with customers and prospects.
9. 4G And Mobile
Although 2012 was the year of mobile, with the arrival of 4G, 2013 will be the year of even more mobile. Faster connection speeds will drive social media innovation and allow much richer applications to be run on mobile devices. Users will come to expect more interesting, engaging, and interactive content via mobile websites.