Social media is a business nowadays — but it’s also We The People in some very real ways. Everyone saw the Twitter and Facebook-fueled Arab Spring last year, and the direct impact of social media on our lives has only grown since. Here are ten ways that experts believe the power of social media is going to affect the corporate world in 2012.
Businesses will use less social media
In 2010, it was Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Today, it’s Google+, Pinterest, Tout, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, YouTube, Yelp, Instagram, and who knows what’s next. As the kinds of social media proliferate, some businesses will try to be everywhere at once, but many major ones (like GM, who recently pulled all advertising off of Facebook) will consolidate and pick their battles — and their battlegrounds.
Photos and videos will become normal, right alongside text.
YouTube made video marketing a reality way back in 2008, but it’s still just a single-mode communication. Modern companies are learning that they have to tap into all of your senses if they want to make it stick — so social media that puts photos and videos at center stage will become more dominant (Pinterest, anyone?). Why limit yourself to 140 characters when your iPod has a camera almost as good as your normal one and can upload to half a dozen social sites within seconds?
Real-time responses will be key.
A business that takes a week to answer a disgruntled customer these days risks a disaster — because all it takes is one person to pick up and run with a “your service sucks!” thread on Twitter, and suddenly it’s everywhere. Customer service needs to happen on the spot, with live people presenting solutions to your problems as you talk to them — and that’s true of every brand, whether they’re actually marketing on social media or not.
Negotiating filters will become vital to business success.
It’s inevitable — as people share more and more on the social networks, the signal-to-noise ratio will drop, and people will need to find some way to filter what they have to deal with. It’s already starting in the internet marketing world, with big names like Ed Dale famously chopping his ‘friends’ list down to only his real life friends. As more and more people realize that their Twitter updates faster than they can possibly read it, they’ll find ways to cut the fat — and if companies can’t find a way to convince you that they’re not fat, they’ll get cut.
Businesses will turn to ‘amateurs’ for their content.
Marketing teams across the country are stretched to their limits already, parlaying radio, television, text, and internet marketing into successful sales. Adding social media brings an entirely new, huge headache to the table. Business are going to have to turn to outsourced content producers — people who are likely to have never seen the inside of a corporate office — for their content. Fortunately, by and large, these ‘amateurs’ are often better connected to the social pulse than any corporate schlub will ever be, so this is likely to be a win-win across the board.
The impact of social media is already just about impossible to understand, and it’s only going to continue to grow. Businesses that can grasp what’s coming and start changing before the adapt-or-die phase hits are going to thrive. The others…well, have you been on MySpace lately?