The Changing Social Business Landscape in 2012: Is Your Business Ready?

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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:

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?

Neal Schaffer
The Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Maximize Social Business, Neal Schaffer is a leader in helping businesses and professionals strategically maximize their use of social media. Neal is the author of three social media books, including the recently published definitive social media strategy book Maximize Your Social. Forbes lists him as a Top 35 Social Media Power Influencer and AdAge lists his blog, Maximize Social Business (formerly known as Windmill Networking), as a top 100 global marketing blog. Neal provides social media strategy consulting and coaching, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and a Grammy-award winning musician. He has presented worldwide on social media at more than 150 events and also teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University. +Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer


Author, @MaxYourSocial | Founder @msocialbusiness & @socialtoolssmmt | Trilingual Social Media Strategy Consultant, Coach, and Speaker
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Neal Schaffer


  1. says

    Hi Neal and team,

    I believe we will continue to see a wide range of business use of social media in 2012. As the recent Altimeter report highlighted, large businesses that have embraced social media (at least in principle) have found themselves with 100’s of social media accounts to oversee. I believe this will lead to two trends from the more forward looking companies.

    1) Rationalization of social media presence. More companies will distinguish between their major social media hubs, where they actively look to drive engagement, and the places they make themselves accessible for the sake of their audience. The hub and outpost model will evolve to support this, with major outposts (like Facebook) also acting as intermediate hubs for the more far-flung social media outposts.

    2) Broader adoption of the social media “individual” in corporate social media. Employees, not necessarily just social media staff, will increasingly take a more active role that will be recognized by companies and (selectively) encouraged. We have been seeing this with subject matter experts of course, as companies look to build a degree of recognition and thought leadership around these people. Companies will begin to embrace the social media activity of individuals more broadly. In part, this is a natural outcome of rationalizing the social media presence, allowing employees to act as additional eyes, ears and voice for the company in these far-flung outlets.

    That’s just a prediction, the only thing I can say with confidence is it will continue to change, and change quickly. The pace of change will slow at some point, but I don’t think we will see it happen in 2012.

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