Data is the new black. Today, brands have access to vast amounts of consumer insight that would have seemed inconceivable as recently as a year ago. Yet, brands have barely scratched the surface in terms of how they harness this data and effectively reach consumers over social media. 2012 will be the year of the social enlightenment, and we’ve identified a small list of emerging trends in the social media marketing space:
More Social and Local Mobile Marketing – “SoLoMo” is a new term being coined to describe the future of mobile marketing, which will be intertwined with social and location-based marketing. SoLoMo will prevail in existing geo-social apps like Foursquare, Shopkick and Yelp. Social buying (e.g., Groupon and LivingSocial) will become more app-focused and provide real-time alerts on local deals. Brands will move beyond virtual badges and begin offering real-life rewards. Messaging will become more relevant by exploiting location-based targeting and embedding social content/shareability. With Facebook’s recent announcement that it will be testing mobile ads in spring of 2012 and the social giant’s acquisition of location-based social network, Gowalla, the likelihood of “SoLoMo” rings truer.
Social Intelligence Becomes More Critical – Social media is now mainstream and brands finally no longer see it as an experiment—it is now an accepted and effective business strategy. According to a report by Useful Social Media, 12% of the companies surveyed claimed that social media was under the direct control of the CEO. With that said, there is certainly increased pressure on corporate social media practitioners to deliver on investment: There’s an ever more pressing need to demonstrate ROI, along with progress against other crucial KPIs. In 2012, we will see more and more brands deploying social intelligence to inform their overall brand strategy, media planning, and ad creative across both online and offline projects. Insights will make a tremendous and lasting impact on marketing budget allocation throughout the year and into 2013.
Social TV Convergence – Today, television viewers are flocking to the digital water cooler to discuss their favorite shows and reality TV stars—and they are engaging in these conversations across multiple second screen devices. In 2012, these social activities across smart phones, tablets, laptops, and gaming devices will converge and become integrated with our TV sets. The future of interactive entertainment has three key attributes: It will be personal, connected, and social. This convergence will lead to a more personal TV experience, providing viewers with recommendations on new content that they will love. With companies like Samsung and LG developing new products featuring built-in Google TV, viewers’ experiences will also become more connected, as they’ll be able to enjoy TV shows anywhere, no matter where they are or what device or screen is in front of them. Finally, the TV experience will become more social as an influx of TVs will have social design ‘baked in,’ giving consumers access to programming based on what their friends are watching, what their interest graphs indicate that they will find appealing, and even what mood they tend to be in at certain times of the day. This will be an incredibly powerful capability for the media industry.
Brand APIs – In 2012, at least one brand will release an open API that will allow consumers to develop branded applications and games at scale with minimal investment. With the growing application developer talent, the possibilities for brands will become limitless, and some of the smartest brands will start taking advantage and push for the creation of the most fascinating applications beyond our imagination. This brand will create value in the form of content and utility and distribute it via platforms that extend in reach beyond proprietary channels. For instance, a company like Safeway could use that API to create its own app tied to its grocery delivery service. Customers could have all of the ingredients in a selected recipe delivered to their front door.
Brands will continue to forge new ground in 2012, and the ones who will integrate social media into their media mix will rise to the top.