My Prediction for the Evolution of Social Media in 2012

Facebook now has 800 million active users (according to Mashable). Twitter, 100 million. 2011 was also a big year for many other social media platforms like Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, and Postures. It will be interesting to see what happens in the social-media landscape next year.

My prediction: all social-media planning will revert and revolve around the original, fundamental concern: return on investment (ROI).

Now before you argue that there is no point to measuring engagement or sentiment and that companies should focus on building long-term customer relationships rather than short-term revenue flow, remember most businesses (if not all) require a system to measure the quantitative results of their campaigns. Whether it’s running a press release, advertising on billboards or attracting followers online, results are measured in numbers.

The other reason a clear ROI measurement and tracking is so important to social media is corporate buy-in. I recently came across a very interesting study from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. The study looked at Fortune-500 (F500) social-media adoption and found that the adoption rate for F500 companies remains either stagnant or slightly lower in comparison to 2010 (Blogs 23%, Facebook 5%, and Twitter 61% in 2011). The study also includes the social-media adoption of Inc. 500 companies. Among these fast-growing companies, according to the same survey, 50% of them use corporate blogs, 71% use Facebook, and 59% have active Twitter accounts. The adoption gap between the biggest and wealthiest companies versus the fastest growing companies leaves me wondering which type of company will become the mainstream in the market. Assuming F500 companies are the charging bulls, their social-media plateau syndrome could mean they have not found ways or sustainable metrics to justify the active use of social media in their communication strategies.

Even though social media has become a synergy of marketing, PR, customer service, IT and beyond, there is still not an easy way to track the customer-relationship cycle (from acquisition to retention) through social media. So companies have a hard time determining the effectiveness and value of social media. Therefore whoever can convert quantitative social-media data into actionable business intelligence will win the race.

There are only one month left in 2012. What do you think 2012 will bring in the social medium? How will your business use social media differently to stay up to date with the fast-changing industry and consumer behaviors?

5 Responses to “My Prediction for the Evolution of Social Media in 2012”

  1. Therran Olipant
    2011/12/02 at 4:10 PM #

    Evelyn – I totally agree with ROI as the necessary evil of this year’s social strategies.I think you’ll see companies start to integrate data sets to get better at this and huge leaps forward will be taken.

    My prediction: Analysis of the exploding number of social conversations will become as much about the qualitative as the quantitative. I wrote about Social Media as the new Focus Group a few months back, and to me, that’s going to be the biggest change in corporate use/study of SM this year.

    Personal Use Prediction: People will want to integrate profiles to benefit themselves more. For instance, if they have a Google+ ‘Music’ circle, then they’re going to want to link those people to their Spotify or Blip accounts so they can leverage those interactions more thoroughly.

    • evelynchou
      2011/12/02 at 7:37 PM #

      Thanks Therran, I love the innovative idea about social media being the new focus group.
      But that will happen only when everyone is tweeting & communicating with transparency 😉
      Would you mind sharing that post with me?

  2. Therran Oliphant
    2011/12/04 at 6:31 PM #

    Yes I believe we’ve hit the point where we can easily say that there’s enough scale to do responsibly say this is true. Remember, a typical focus group is only a representative of the population – less than 50 respondents due to costs.

    http://blog.polk.com/blog/blog-posts-by-therran-oliphant/why-online-sentiment-analysis-is-the-new-focus-group

  3. Jack J Florio
    2011/12/05 at 5:12 AM #

    I feel companies will begin to realize that the “ROI Question” has been an excuse when they or management was not convinced. The ROI on other types of media many times is based on exposures to potential customers. With the new tools of companies who not only provide social media analytics, but ALSO ENGAGEMENT TOOLS, this will change. Companies will be able to interact with very specific subsets of high value targets with “sticky” communication vehicles like microsites. I predict this will change the ROI story quickly,

    • evelynchou
      2011/12/06 at 5:27 AM #

      Hi Jack, thanks for your feedback. I absolutely see where you’re coming from.
      But most executives who hold the power determining funding for social media investment are not actually using social media.
      That is why I feel quantitative data and measurement are still very important to get the buy-in whether in B2B or B2C companies.
      That being said, companies that take social media seriously to build engagement strategies will definitely prove the profitability and customer relationship in the long run.
      Thanks again for reading my blog. Have a great night!

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