In the last few months of 2011 through the beginning of 2012, the social business landscape has proven to be as dynamically changing as ever. If your business thought you were all caught up because you were beginning to see engagement on your Facebook Page and were equipped with enterprise-grade social media monitoring software, some of these recent events should have you thinking again as to what potential you might be missing out on – or what trends are emerging that you should be paying more attention to:
- The rapid emergence and need for your business to be on Google Plus
- How Google Plus Search Your World is changing the SEO landscape
- Consumer brands are starting to amass hundreds of thousands of fans on Google Plus
- The newest social media phenomenon Pinterest generates as much website referral traffic as Google Plus, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Reddit – combined
- StumbleUpon drives more website referral traffic than Facebook
- LinkedIn experiments by allowing advertisers access to send InMails directly to LinkedIn users. Cisco sends a 140,000 email blast to LinkedIn executive users.
- A recent explosion in content marketing, including the consumer brand Coca Cola who believe their future is in content
- PhoneDog sues a former employee for $340,000 – the value of 17,000 Twitter followers
- The social media brand ambassador – a sign of things to come?
Businesses are slowly beginning to realize that social media needs to be an enterprise-wide initiative as it starts to permeate every aspect of their organization. Unfortunately for some larger organizations, they simply cannot keep up with the speed that these changes in the social business landscape require of them to maximize the potential that exists. On the other hand, smaller, nimbler, and more aggressive companies can leverage the opportunities that this change provides them – and accelerate the growth of their business. Only those larger organizations with true visionary leadership – or an empowered social media team – will be able to truly maximize the potential for social business.
As I reflect upon this dynamic environment, I was curious as to what some of my peers thought about the coming year. I am fortunate to have many contributors to this blog who I consider to be thought leaders in their respective fields and how they relate to social business. With that in mind, let me hand the mic over to them for their perspectives:
PR and Social Business Predictions for 2012 by Judy Gombita
“Recalibration” of social media expectations was introduced in my Festive Byte column. I predict in 2012 that bricks-and-mortar employees and programs will be more accurately reflected in social enterprises. For example, automatic response, 24/7, now tempered by reality and acceptance that people actually sleep and take time off. Besides realistic response times, lowered expectations of special treatment, simply because of one tweet or angry comment. And communication of these things will be handled by more senior staff who have mastered hybrid PR and social media skills.
I foretell digital footprints or the social capital of organizational PR/social media reps being monitored more closely. For example, what third-party individuals you choose to be a guest moderator in a dedicated business Twitter chat—what is his or her current business relationship with your organization and for what distinct wisdom or experience was the person recruited? Now it’s now more likely to be noticed and questioned when the fit is suspect. An aspirational hope that appropriate PR subject experts who already have knowledge and appreciation of such forums will be asked, even if they are less “Internet famous.” Similarly, that vendors with a large client base and/or online industry publications with a lot of readers are going to be scrutinized more closely as to whether they are showing favouritism to the same small circle of individuals (especially if their bailiwick isn’t actually PR). In my January Social Capital Byte column I explored these areas more thoroughly.
I’ve made a concerted effort with my Windmill Networking column to introduce colleagues with valuable knowledge and thoughtful insights, whether or not I know them very well. Let’s recalibrate and be more generous, so that more new voices and perspectives are given increased profile in regards to reputation, value and relationship building in a social enterprise. We’ll all gain from this. And that’s my final prediction.
Social Media for B2B Sales 2012 Predictions by Craig Jamieson
B2B sales people will become more receptive to, and will more widely adopt, social media as they recognize it’s potential to greatly expand their networks, build better customer relationships, and increase their revenues.
Social CRM products like Nimble will be huge in helping them to manage these relationships, track their results, and maximize their return from these efforts. SCRM becomes a critical tool for the sales person rather than being solely a vehicle for management to oversee their activities and it will be recognized as such. Inter-departmental collaboration will refocus all on the common goal of providing customers with an excellent buying experience and this collaboration will extend out to, and include, the customer base itself. This will be the year of application integration vs. disparate functions separately competing for a place, any place, within an organization.
Finally, mobile will be another key factor and will continue to expand out to include both social media and many of those field-related activities that are commonly associated with B2B sales.
2012 Social Media for Legal Trends by Michelle Sherman
Trends in law typically follow where businesses are headed, so it should not surprise anyone that one of the biggest trends – meaning ripe for enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission (the regulatory agency that is responsible for consumer protection) and also civil litigation – is privacy and what companies are not telling consumers about their data mining and directed marketing efforts.
To avoid this legal entanglement, businesses need to be “transparent” in what information they are capturing on users of their social media sites, and how they are using this information with users having the option to refuse the cookies (which store information on the website) and other data collection methods.
Unfortunately, businesses are being encouraged to find end runs around how users want their internet activity to be tracked with offers of “extremely persistent cookies” that “identify a client even after they’ve removed standard cookies, Flash cookies (Local Shared Objects or LSOs) and others.”
If you don’t think that these types of business practices are going to result in litigation and possibly Congressional action in 2012, think again.
How do you see 2012 evolving in terms of how businesses use social media?