Social Media in 2012: What’s Next?

by Jordan Richardson on December 26, 2012

So far in our unofficial series on social media in 2012, we’ve had a chance to look back at some of the trends of the past year. We’ve explored the arrival of the Catholic Church on Twitter and we talked about the corporate approach (or lack thereof). We also discussed Facebook in depth, both in the context of its recent outage and in terms of the top trending memes of 2012. Finally, we looked at what happened when Instagram updated its terms of service and explored the spread of information.

What happens next? That’s a good question. Social media is important not because of what its users gather to do but because of the fact that users gather period. While some continue to dismiss it as a relatively useless tool designed only for games and dull “status updates,” the truth is that its significance cannot be overstated.

This leads us to where social media is headed, especially in 2013.

For one thing, we need to acknowledge that the role of marketing and advertising using social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn will only expand going forward. Marketing companies will realize that they can have half their respective jobs done for them simply by getting average users to spread the word about their products and/or services through word of mouth.

This means that we’ll start seeing incentives from companies, like a lot more free product samples and other sorts of goodies to entice users to spread the word. There are already some cases where companies offer coupons for simply “sharing” a post on Facebook to one’s friends. This will only blossom in 2013.

Companies without a social media strategy will be left in the dust and will suffer potentially irreparable damages. We’ve already talked about how many companies are not equipped to handle social media. Those companies are at a decided disadvantage because of mentalities like the aforementioned; they don’t view social media as a viable tool and perhaps even see it as a fad not worth investing in.

Luckily, social collaboration tools will lead to companies branching out to explore strategies going forward. Services like Yammer and Sciomino are already introducing a socially-integrated workplace to workers and collaborators at several companies. This area will only grow in 2013 as more workplaces decipher how to gain more productivity through untraditional avenues.

The exploration of those avenues should, at least among reasonable companies, lead to further exploration into social media space. And that means more advertising and more advertising potential on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social networking websites.

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