2012 saw many significant developments for social media, with the industry continuing to establish itself as a serious contender for marketing budget and tools embedding themselves as part of everyday life, from the Wii U's in-game social networking capabilities to the use of mass-market social networks during regime changes in the Middle East.
What can we expect to see over the next year? Here are my five predictions for social media in 2013...
1. Internal investment expands
The creation of community manager and social media manager roles has exploded over the past two years, with an increasing number of companies realising social marketing and community building is not something that can either be done as a side-line or by a couple of interns. In fact, the big news yesterday was that Nike have taken the whole of their social media marketing inhouse in order to 'get closer to their customers'. We've seen plenty of self-created crises this year which could have been avoided by a judicious hiring strategy focused on quality. In addition, social media marketing is becoming fragmented, requiring specialists for specific elements such as content strategy and customer service. This will lead to either greater internal training for existing specialist teams, or recruitment for specialists into the social team.
2. Social budgets decentralise
Traditionally, the social budget has either come out of the Marketing or Technology pots. As social media activities become more embedded into other departments and as companies move towards a hub and spoke model as outlined by Jeremiah Owyang, we will see a move from most of the social budget coming out of the traditional departments and instead spread out across multiple teams, as they each run their own activities.
3. Content creation grows in importance and becomes more targetted
Econsultancy recently found that only 38% of companies surveyed had a content strategy in place, but 90% believed it would become more important over the next 12 months. As the importance of an effective plan for content creation for social spaces is recognised, we will see several changes over the next year. There will be an influx of editorial specialists focused on social media content creation. Brands will use more varied forms of media, with a focus on images and video as tablets with better screen estate enter the home en masse. Finally there will be less one-size-fits-all content and more targeted custom messages based on behavioural data.
4. Social TV and the second-screen spread
As more web-integrated TVs and other media devices enter the living room, Social TV will finally gain mass-market traction. We've already seen people's interest in using social networks to discuss TV live (and worked around a number of TV-streamed events such as the Royal Wedding and the FA Cup Finalamongst many others) and this year media companies and technology brands will aim to provide a fully integrated social experience.
Neilsen have recently introduced the Neilsen Twitter TV Rating, which they’re hoping to turn into the standard metric for measuring the conversation that a TV show spurs on Twitter. This new rating, aimed at advertisers, claims to provide the precise size of the audience and effect of social TV to TV programming, and complements the existing TV ratings. In other words, an extra arm of monetisation is being added to social telly.
At the same time, there has been an explosion in tablet sales which looks set to continue in 2013. Along with innovation in second-screen usage by companies such as Nintendo with its Wii U heralding an attempt at more fulfilling live interactions between gamers, a world with an augmented TV experience is not far away.
5. Social Business gains a foothold
Over the past 4 years, brands have gradually invested into social media marketing as they have seen the benefits in opening themselves up and reaching out to customers. Social Media teams have grown, generally around Marketing Department efforts, and established themselves either as centralised resource or as a source of knowledge and training for other departments to tap into. However, 2013 will be the year when a select group of forward-focused companies take the lead and start integrating social, not just as a customer engagement function, but as a fundamental element of all business functions. No more silos; rather a holistic embedding of engagement principles acting as the glue between the enterprise of employees and the community of customers, supporting the overall business strategy.