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23rd December 2011 |  Written by Steph Goodman

2012 Social Media Predictions & Trends

Social media now accounts for 1/5th of our time spent online (90% in my case but I don’t really count) (comScore, 2011). In this blog post I will look to explore what has the potential to be huge in 2012 in terms of social media. An annual report from comScore has found that for every 5 minutes spent online in October 2011, at least one minute is used to view social media sites, whether Facebook or Twitter etc. Let me now take you through my social predictions for 2012:

1) Search & Social

As previously mentioned in this blog post, we are seeing increased integration of social in real time search and an increase in consumers looking to social networks as opposed to search engines. The gap between search & social is blurring fast, whether it’s tweets or Google Plus posts in Google search results or Bing offering Facebook liked results. I believe that search will not be able to scale without taking social factors into consideration and 2012 will likely be the defining year for this. For companies looking to preserve or improve their rankings, social marketing activities will no longer be optional; they will be a necessary element of traffic driving success.

2) Google Plus

Although 2011 looked like Google was going to make its first successful social network this hasn’t necessarily been the case. However in 2012 I expect that it will become useful not just as a social network but have influencing factor on rankings (got my SEO head on). As Dave previously mentioned Matt Cutts stated: “Social is a good way to create a reputation for authors. If the reputation of content authors is transparent, it will make the whole web better.”

3) Influence

In 2011 there has been a lot of discussion around ‘influence’ and how this is measured across social networks and in the online space. It has also been a very touchy subject in 2011, especially after Klout changed their scoring algorithm.  A lot of people argue saying that you can’t measure true influence with a number, while others say it will play a major role in a company’s media activity. Either way influence is likely to be a hot topic in 2012 – let’s be honest you can’t argue that Lady Gaga & Justin Bieber are ‘influential’ in the social space.

4) Twitter – customer service platform

Twitter will become even more prominent in 2012. It will move from being just a social network, which means that a growing no. of journalists will seek information and news sources on Twitter. By making yourself relevant you are likely to get some media attention. You just need to ensure that you are relevant and content rich. We all know content is king on social media, the more relevant the more it gets shared etc.

5) GEO Targeting

2010/2011 was the year for Foursquare which made check ins for locations a reality. The mobile web is something that will have a major impact over the next 5 years (something I will expand on in my next point) as the world’s more than 5 billion phones become ‘smarter’. We have seen Starbucks offer pieces of cake for checkins and I believe this is something that will be used more during 2012.

6) Go Mobile

Smartphones are also growing in popularity as a medium for accessing social networks with 3 in 5 smartphone users accessing social media sites in America. 2 in 5 are doing so nearly every day in America which is staggering figure. Even Twitter is now embedded within Apple iOS5 mobile operating system. Read more about being ready for Mobile Search here.

That’s my predication for 2012 – let me know if you any other ideas. Have a great Christmas and New Year from all the Return On Digital team.

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