Social Media Trends 2012 - what can we expect?

2012 has already proven to be a busy year for the social media world with Facebook finally undertaking its IPO, Twitter announcing its plans to censor offending Tweets on a country-by-country basis, Lady Gaga launching her own social networking platform and f-commerce capturing the attention of big brands. So what else can we look forward to this year? Laura Hudson spoke to some digital and social media experts from across the UK to guage their views.

Jim Dowling, managing partner at Cake

"Social commerce will happen. People will start buying real products via social media channels; it will start to become standardised behaviour. We've become comfortable buying products over the phone, then online. Buying our weekly shop, a gadget or some entertainment via Facebook is the next small step to take."

Steve Downes, MD of Juice Digital

“One thing will determine the development of social media in 2012: Facebook’s IPO. There’s no doubt that Facebook will raise the capital – but what will they do with it? They have a dilemma. Increase the number of features to keep ahead of the pack or is it already too feature-rich for mobile use – the real growth area? Watch that space.”

Matthew Warneford, CTO of Dubit

“Following Moshi Monsters in 2011, social games and worlds for children will continue to grow in 2012, with a greater focus on narrative. The sale of virtual goods will continue to break records and many brands will see real profits from social games, virtual worlds, and the sale of in-game items.”

Kieron Hannon, head of enterprise consulting at eSocial Media

“2012 will be the year that business people start to embrace online content, conversation and professional networking as vital parts of the B2B marketplace. They will be seen more as core components of business and a perfect way to communicate internal competitive advantages.”

Jonathon Joyce, technical director of Storm ID

“Social media marketing will just be called marketing! Marketing companies will get the tools and experience they need to harness ‘real-time’ social channels. Social data will be stored and mined in CRMs and will be bought and sold for direct marketing.”

Paul Mallett, managing partner at Brass

“The biggest challenge I hear is – ‘what exactly is social doing for me? Yes it’s there, yes everyone’s doing it, but how does it fit with my other digital activity and what should I spend?’ – 2012 will be the year of the Total Digital ROI model, where social realises its true value.”

Dominic Stinton, share managing director at VCCP

“2012 will be the year of do-ers, not dreamers. It will be the year when the industry and its recruitment consultants finally sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of talent, and focus on tangible results in social media. It's no longer enough to think that a directional haircut and subscription to Contagious is enough to get you a job. The world is catching up with the genuine business opportunities that social media marketing affords.”

Jim Coleman, managing partner at We Are Social

“Last year we saw retailers embracing social, and this will continue in 2012. We'll see closer integration of retail social channels with existing CRM programmes and loyalty schemes. Retailers will be looking to close the loop between in-store and online behavior by rewarding social interaction and social channel behaviour within their existing reward schemes.”

Gary Boon, MD of Shout Digital

“We foresee the greatest emerging trend for social media in 2012 being the amount brands are likely to spend and the focus on ROI of this spend. Social media has been used to managing and building brand reputation and performance, and was largely measured with arbitrary KPI’s such as number of ‘likes’ or ‘followers’. This will change as brands begin to realise that there is a true financial return to be made from adding a well-planned and constructed social media strategy to their marketing strategy.”

Jason Cormier, co-founder of Room 214

“A trend we see is a more comprehensive use of data inside Facebook to drive direction for content development along with better (more targeted) advertising campaigns. Platforms such as Calm Sea and Infinigraph are helping marketers gain greater insights resulting from brand engagement on Facebook.”

Peter Gandy, CCO of Rockpool

“2012 will be the year of the consumer. Brands need to use social platforms to listen to their customers and provide a personalised experience. No matter how you use it, the integration of social with local and mobile (So.Lo.Mo) will be key to engaging consumers wherever and however they choose to communicate with you.”

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