New Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2012

2011 is gone, and 2012 has rolled in without missing a beat. The social media industry is growing in leaps and bounds. I often hear business people say social networking is like the Wild Wild West! So answer this question for me. Would it be valuable if you knew the future social media trends for 2012? How wonderful would it be to know what trends are in store for the coming year? Could you adequately prepare for this rapidly changing industry? In this article, I provide my 2012 predictions for the evolving trends in the social-networking industry. It’s always gratifying when my predictions come true. My predictions are not based on any kind of special powers. They are based on my industry research, what I read and what I see happening every day in my work. My accuracy rate in the social media industry has been about 97 percent. However, even when I’m wrong it’s only because my timeline ended up being longer than I thought it was going to be. I have a knack for spotting social media trends. And this article lists four powerful trends unfolding right now. You can profit from what I say or ignore me, the choice is yours. Either way these trends will unfold as the year progresses. So read on and heed my advice. Prepare your social media marketing campaigns to take advantage these trends for 2012 and beyond.

Prediction #1) Social Media Networks and Marketing will continue to grow at an alarming rate.

Last year Facebook grew from around 600 million to 800 million users depending on whose numbers you believe. Twitter and LinkedIn also both showed growth and added many new features, (not to mention that they both acquired several new partners and internet assets). Add to this, Google started Google+, and Microsoft is said to be in the works of building their own social network. The adoption rate of small business will lead the way, but expenditures by large corporations will exceed that of both small and medium-size businesses. My first advice to you is; create and implement “an employee social media use policy” to control business hour usage. Second, create a social media marketing plan to reach and engage this enormous market. Combining both engagement and pay per click campaigns work best.

Prediction #2) One of the largest players in the social media arena will make a “miss step” in 2012.

I believe that one of the top four Social Media Network companies will make a costly mistake causing them to lose significant market share. Right now several of the larger social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all share one crucial flaw. They try to make it almost impossible to communicate with them. Take Facebook, for instance. They do not list any contact information other than a Facebook page. Sure they have lots of help pages. Yes, Facebook has a blog, lots of YouTube videos, but provides no phone number where you can call and talk to a human being? They do have a Facebook page you can enter suggestions on, but that’s it. What happens when you get a strange message from Facebook, or you’re having trouble with your account? You post a message and never get a reply! Twitter and LinkedIn are not much better. They don’t list a contact phone number or address either. However, I have found that they do reply to your email and posted messages, although it sometimes takes as long as seven days to get a reply.

In my opinion, of the top three social media companies, LinkedIn provides the best service. Google is new in this game. It’s not as easy to lump them in with the rest of the social media giants yet. However, I can tell you that Google has a notoriously poor customer service reputation. It’s been my experience with Google that the quality of service you receive depends on the person you get on the phone. The good news is that you can get someone on the phone! Google does list contact numbers. My advice to any business is easy, be ready to make changes to your social media campaign if need be. Furthermore, if you’re using any of the top four social media services, make a backup of your data. This is in case you decide to make “the switch” and ditch one of these players.

Prediction #3) Google+ will become one of the top 3, in the social network arena by the end of 2012.

I know I’m going out on a limb here, but I believe this is inevitable. Google’s share size and current customer base will allow Google+ to grow at a much faster pace than other social media sites. The exact number of Gmail users is not public, but we do know that it is huge! I have read estimates ranging from about 190 million to 250 million accounts. Furthermore, Google owns so many internet properties, that they can easily integrate the use of these properties into their social network. This adds value to their social network. Add to this, the fact that Google owns Google Search, Google AdWords, YouTube, Blogger and Picasa. Are you starting to get the picture? Google is gigantic. Google controls the lion’s share of internet traffic and advertising dollars.

Google has also been able to produce a social-networking product that is easy to use, search engine friendly and innovative. These qualities’ have made them the internet leader they are today. I am not sure that they can keep this frantic pace forever, but for 2012, it’s a done deal. My advice to you is to review where you are spending your advertising money and see if it makes sense using any of the Google properties. If you’re an individual, and have been waiting on the sideline with Google+, stop what you’re doing and take the 10 minutes to set up a Gmail and Google+ account. If you already have a Gmail account, this will only take you about 5 minutes. The bonus here is you can also set up a Google+ Brand page without a lot of fuss.

Prediction #4) More businesses will start using blogging and article marketing to build trust.

You may be asking the question; what does blogging and article writing have to do with social networks? The answer is straightforward. Both blogging and article writing create a following, and they both encourage fan interaction. These followers will leave comments on the blog/article sites and interact directly with the authors. Now that I have established that blogging and article marketing is social in nature, let’s discuss building trust.

There are many ways to build trust with people. Here are just a few ways that a business can build trust; receiving word of mouth and written testimonials, consistently providing a good product or service, providing written guarantees and making it easy for your customers to communicate with you.

Today, writing articles is creating a new powerhouse for trust building. Any business that receives expert status from writing about their industry niche will garner instant credibility. According to the website “,” the number of bloggers in 2007 was around 23 million. The same source predicted that, by 2012, U.S. bloggers would reach 35 million. Guess what, this year’s articles in Technorati and Blogpulse both listed worldwide blogs to be around 164 million by the end of 2011, almost five times the original predictions given in 2007. I guess the adoption rate for blogging has far exceeded what was once looked upon as a strange new type of website forum.

We live in a society where the published word has high value. This is truer today than ever. Savvy businesses are taking to blogging and article marketing as an exciting new way to distinguish them from their competitors. What, you say you can’t write? Ghost writers are a cost-effective alternative. They are readily available and well worth looking into. My advice to you is straightforward, create and use a blog for marketing. Your blog articles can also be used in article marketing by submitting them to article databases. They can also be integrated into your website. Your blog post can easily become part of your website “current content strategy.” If done well, blogging will build your reputation as the go to expert in your particular business field. As an extra bonus, you will be able to engage prospects and clients in a way that builds trust, a commodity that is vastly absent in today’s business climate.

In this article, I have discussed four powerful trends emerging in the social media industry. In the past, I have kept my prediction secret, and used them as part of my own marketing strategy. This year I decided to make my predictions public. My accuracy over the last five years has always been exceptionally high. I have sometimes missed the mark on the timeline, but I have rarely been wrong at predicting what will eventually take place. These four social media predictions should make sense to you. My predictions are based on my reasoning, research and experience, not some mystical power. My work leads me to believe that these trends will continue to grow at unprecedented rates. I have always had an uncanny ability to spot trends before, but anyone willing to look can spot these trends if they take the time to look. By heeding my predictions and adjusting your social media strategies, you will engage and garner more customers this year. Take the time to develop and put in place all the necessary elements needed to implement your social media strategy. By doing this, you will profit from social media like you never have before.

That’s my opinion; I look forward to hearing yours.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Social Media Marketing (But Were Afraid to Ask)

The live chats at the Vocus webinar a few weeks ago were fantastically lively and informative, with participants answering as well as asking questions that were posed to the scheduled speakers, Deidre Breakenridge, David Meerman Scott, Beth Harte, Lee Odden and Brian Solis. As time was tight, not all the questions were answered, so we thought we’d scoop some up from the logs and try to give some insights.

Q1: How do I increase my Twitter following?

This was a common question, but there’s no quick answer (unless you use a mass-following tool, which might boost your numbers but won’t necessarily give you a worthwhile audience that includes valuable influencers) – it can be a slow build, however, there are ways to make a difference:

• Write content that people want to read! Bit obvious, but just spieling out advertising isn’t the tastiest bait. Write interesting and useful articles and blog posts and link to them; create infographics, videos, slideshows and share them; make astute and witty observations; share content by others that you think your followers will find helpful. Give them a reason to follow you and retweet you.

• Search for your audience and follow them – if you’re doing the first point well enough, they’re likely to follow you back. Use any of the numerous Twitter applications and search engines to look for relevant people and influencers who would be interested in what you have to say.

• Get involved in Twitter chats to connect with your relevant audience – this is a great opportunity to offer advice, opinions and knowledge to key people who may become followers afterwards. Robert Swanwick (@swanwick) has compiled a Twitter Chat Master List where you can find the right subject for you.

• Find a way to link what you’re saying to topical themes and hashtagged subjects – this gives you a more targeted audience when people search for those terms and keywords.

• Finally, give an incentive now and again – run polls, competitions, promotions to engage and reward your loyal followers, and encourage more people to follow you.

Q2: How can I make my blog more effective?

It’s easy to feel that your blog is lost in the webiverse, but there are ways to increase its visibility and boost traffic.

• Just like in question 1, content is key – write posts that are informative, useful, interesting and engaging. See this post for a more in-depth guide on how to write a great blog.

• Optimise – just like your website, make sure that you are implementing keywords, links and other SEO tactics to ensure that your blog can be found and ranked by search engines. Register with blog directories such as Technorati or PostRank to add to the places you can be searched for, and to keep an eye on your blog metrics.

• Network your blog with other social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – link up your RSS feed, or manually link to posts you want to push out there.

• Comment on relevant sites and blogs – not with pointless spam directing people to your site, but with genuine, thoughtful comments. If people appreciate what you’re saying, they’ll click through to your blog to see what else you’ve come up with.

• Search for other bloggers in your field who you could invite to guest-blog (or blog swap), creating a backlink and an interesting new slant for your blog.

• Most importantly, write posts that generate conversation – your audience will be compelled to comment, share, and your traffic will grow.

• Distribute: get your posts bookmarked, upload them to relevant sites, copy them to article-sharing sites etc – the more places they can be found, the more they will be read.

Q3: What’s the proper Twitter etiquette on mutual following?

Well, it depends how powerful and influential you are – if you’re such a big shot you’re followed by 20K and only follow one back then good for you, but you won’t be getting much out of the social aspect of Twitter!

You don’t have to follow every person who follows you, but ignoring everyone who tries to interact with you defeats the purpose of Twitter and can be, well, a bit rude. Choose those whose tweets you actually want to read and find useful. If someone’s followed you that you don’t want to add to your following list, then at least send them a “thank you for following” personalised message to show your appreciation. It’s useful to note that you can also add people to lists without having to follow them.

Q4: How do I use YouTube for marketing?

YouTube serves as a standalone search engine that is becoming more and more powerful within social media and SEO. Using it as a marketing tool really depends on your business, your aims and your content, but there are several ways to make use of YouTube as a social media marketing tool:

• Set up your own channel, where you can host your videos, link to your website/blog/social media profiles, hold discussions and answer questions.
• Use slideshows or infographic videos to back up a blog post or key point.
• Give out some personal and local information – show a behind the scenes of your company or location, introduce your staff, give a presentation on something that is important to you and your business.
• Document case studies.
• Film interviews with key company members, customers, associates etc.
• Have some fun – don’t take yourself too seriously (but at the same time, don’t make a total arse of yourself!)
• Make instructional and ‘How-To’ videos – these make up a lot of the search content within YouTube, as it’s much easier to learn from watching a demonstration than from reading an explanation.

Once you’ve uploaded a video, share it and distribute it via other social media platforms – embed in your site, your blog, link to it from Twitter and Facebook, add it to Vimeo – the list goes on. Get your content out there!

Q5: How do I measure/monitor the ROI of social media?

This is the big one, and unfortunately, the answer is not particularly straightforward. The first thing to do is stop trying to fit social media into a traditional sized marketing box. The purpose and results of social media marketing are less tangible than a PPC campaign, or press release launch – social media affects the reach and influence of your company, which in turn will affect its popularity and your website’s traffic, or awareness of your brand, which in turn will affect sales, conversions and profit. So how do you measure engagement?

Firstly, put monitoring tools into place – there are a ton of free tools out there, though you may find that most only cover specific areas of the metrics you are after, so you will need to use several simultaneously, or different tools for different analytics.

To use these tools effectively, you need to have an aim or goal in mind – what are you trying to measure or track? The number of followers or fans is not the bottom line – you need to look at how those followers are interacting with you, whether they are spreading your message, whether they are driving traffic to your site and more. Focus on an objective and measure the appropriate metrics. Here are some examples of aspects you might want to keep tabs on:

• Influence
• Click-throughs
• Site hits
• Re-tweets/mentions
• Followers
• Fans/Likes
• Interactions
• Increased time on site
• Sharing of your content
• Comments
• Backlinks
• RSS subscribers
• Image/video views
• Number of bookmarks

For example, you’ve written a blog post on your business’ new product – you publish it, distribute it, linking to the relevant page on your site. Now you need to track its progress. In this case, you’d want to look at how many click-throughs you get to the product landing page, how much new site traffic you receive, whether people are sharing this information amongst their friends. Monitor these aspects through each of the social platforms you publish the information on – and from there you will be able to see how social media affects the number of conversions/sales from each area.

Q6: How do I show the value of social media to my boss/uncertain executives?

Another popular question, especially for companies just starting out with social media marketing. Often, businesses, or those working above marketers, don’t see the instant results of a social media presence (or, as in the point above, are not receiving targeted analytics to prove its value).

First, gather information on how competitors and other companies in your field are utilising social media – see what works, how they’re interacting, and if it’s having an impact on their brand. If you have no social media presence, chances are that someone out there is talking about you (or your line of business) anyway – go and research and see what questions people are asking, what problems they’re coming up against and what they want from you.

Second, find out where your customers are, and where you should be – in which social media community should you be making a presence for yourself? If your audience are big Twitter communicators, get talking to them; if they loiter around YouTube, upload some videos and get comments and views. Find your niche and get settled in it.

Third, take an example from question 5 above, and show your execs some hard facts and figures – and explain the power of resonance involved in social media, how it can strengthen your brand, make valuable connections with customers and act as a fantastic customer service platform.

Q7: What’s the best way to use social media for a Non-Profit organisation?

I think initial supposition is that it’s harder for a non-profit organisation to market themselves, because they are not providing a service or a product in retail terms. Contrary to this assumption, I believe that non-profits actually can do exceptionally well with social media. The very nature of social media interaction connects likeminded people for things they believe in. Social media is emotional, we participate because we want to, because we are moved or amused by something. Non-profit organisations can take this opportunity to promote their work, their aims and the issues they deal with and gain support, publicity and awareness.

A few places to start:

• Assuming your organisation already has a website, add a blog, on which you can post content in a more conversational style, on issues and subjects that encourage comment and discussion. For example, some non-profit blogs document the progress of individuals who are fundraising by participating in a sponsored event, or post pictures and videos of success stories and company events.

• Facebook accounts have the option of creating a page or a group for your organisation – for this, a page is generally more appropriate, because it enables you to add more structure to the profile, whereas a group might be more useful for a specific goal or issue you are trying to gain support for.

• Twitter is a fantastic place for conversation, and raising awareness. Hashtags can easily organise a subject, and recently have been used to attract attention to issues which require donations and assistance, for example many tweeters are adding the hashtag #Pakistan to tweets which include a link to one of the various donation site for the Pakistan flood victims.

• Make the most of multimedia and sites like YouTube, Flickr to broaden your message and distribute different types on content.

Q8: Where do I find the time to do all this?!

Well, apparently there’s this hot tub that’s also a time machine… Or, you could just make use of those ‘time management skills’ that are on your CV and get organised.

• Focus on one thing at a time – there’s a tendency and a temptation to try to stick your fingers in all the pies when it comes to social media, since there are so many options, so many offshoots and avenues to explore. Target an objective, plan your action and monitor carefully rather than running around madly trying to connect with everyone, everywhere, all at once.

• Set realistic goals. Choose a few things that have the highest priority for any particular day. Put the rest aside and concentrate on achieving your immediate goals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and distracted by the fast-paced realtime world of social media.

• Schedule ahead of time. I’m a big fan of Hootsuite for pre-composing tweets and facebook posts, squirreling them away and schedule them to be posted later (there are other social media network options for multiple postings). Then you can concentrate on other distribution and interaction.

• Target the most active times for your particular community – look into a monitoring tool and find out when is the best time to post, to join a discussion, to comment and make yourself available at that time – it could be just one hour in a whole week that makes a big impact to your network.

• Form a routine. Everyone and every business is going to have different needs, but as you get more proficient within social media, you will start to find a groove, and see how best to organise your time. Having a routine makes things more manageable, makes you more efficient, and rather than making you stuck into a rigid schedule, it actually makes it easier to deviate if you need to, because you know where you left off and where you need to pick up to keep on track.

I hope these were helpful for those of you starting out in social media, or feeling a bit lost in the networking world! If you have any questions about social media marketing, SEO, PPC, web analytics or any other aspect of internet marketing, please let us know and we’ll try to keep posting Q&A articles like this regularly.

Either leave a comment below (or on any other blog post that you have questions about), send us a tweet @ikroh, or post something on our Facebook wall. We’d love to hear from you and we’d be happy to answer your questions.

10 Checklist Points Before Engaging In Social Media Marketing

Where to start?

Social media marketing has a phony reputation. For many an executive from the commercial department, this exercise sums up to a string of signups over several social networks randomly and from time to time, multimedia, article postings and advertising over Facebook and Twitter. This is definitely not the right shot!

SMM is more than just being present in the Social Media Sphere. It is a sharp commercial engagement that may just turn into total havoc if not handled properly. The goal of Social Marketing in cyberspace is the same as the real-world thing. It’s about delivering Unique Selling Points that will end up into concrete and sustained sales. It is about converting an anon into a brand advocate at best. Achieving this objective follows basically almost the same rules except for the fact that Social Media allows a closer, more personal and customizable, so to say Social approach of the targets. Same rules apply but with more or less variations. Assessing the prerogatives, context, environment and toolsets is the essential starting point of any Social Media Marketing campaign. It implies thorough setup and clinical precision in the way messages and attitudes are to be delivered through dedicated channels. Within such campaigns, posting on Facebook, on a fan page, group page or personal page is never the same process.

Here are 10 checklist points before engaging into Social Media Marketing:

  1. Define your base strategy. Setup a budgeted roadmap with intermediate white stones that will help at fine tuning the campaign all along the way.The roadmap should stay in tune with what is being done or what has been done in the real-world. Social Media Marketing is never an innocent act. It is time-consuming and will incur expenses. Being precise about the campaign will definitely decrease the burden. As said earlier assess the main objective and methodology. For example, you may need to totally revamp your actual website so as to allow SM integration and SMO. Make your campaign stay SMARRT – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Relevant and Time-bound. Either go for Awareness or Sales or Loyalty. One at a time! Don’t try to aim for all objectives in one go. Remember! Stick to your company’s marketing and communication policy.
  2. Assess and understand your campaign’s environment. RESEARCH and don’t stop til’ you get enough! One surely doesn’t want to jump into dark waters without basic precautions and headlamps. So do you with your Social Media Marketing Campaign. Diving recklessly into Social Media can spell TOTAL MESS especially when dealing with building awareness and product reputation. Building an effective Online Social Strategy implies thorough knowledge of the competitors’ doing’s on common platforms (of course)… but above all, take an humble preview of how others from different sectors have done or are doing. Get into both successful and failed case studies. Learn more about technical potentials of each and every Social Network and platform.
  3. Identify these platforms and toolsets that are relevant and positively responsive for your roadmap. Social Media Marketing is about delivering the same consistent message through the whole spectrum of interwoven Social Networks. The intertwined winning triumvirate is made of the Blog, Facebook and Twitter, to which you would add a YouTube account if you would have video clips uploaded on a regular basis. Choose strategically. For example, you might feel the need of Slideshare and LinkedIn accounts instead of a Foursquare one, if your product or service is more into pitch-intensive B2B. Your toolset should also be made up of listening and monitoring wares.
  4. Realistically budget and size your Online Advertising. Use the full potential of Google AdSense and Facebook’s advertising platforms, but make sure to target wisely. Goal-tied Marketing Campaigns mean nothing without proper advertising. Intuitive Online advertising is now accessible through a few clicks and will definitely unleash its power to communicate about your brand on a global basis. They can also enhance diffusion to limited zones. Think about identifying and assessing your targets on geographical grounds. This will help at optimizing your online advertisement budget. Choosing PPC or CPC is up to you accordingly to your basic roadmap requirements.
  5. Setup a Social Media taskforce from within your staff and look for an outsider to operate as a Community Manager. The web never sleeps. Social Media Marketing is a 24/7 perpetual roll-on. As such it is time and resource-consuming. One should never expect to be capable of handling a Social Media Marketing campaign alone, especially if other primary company duties are at stake. Instead, invite some of your staff to engage into social networking on your business’s behalf. Be choosy though! Those indulged in such a sensitive and interactive task must write well, be tactful, creative and loyal. Outsider Community Managers are seldom biased and are limited to the sole responsibility of consolidating your taskforce’s activities over relevant Social Networks. In any case you should build a team whose main goals and capabilities are to listen, learn and reply in tactful manner.
  6. Prefer influential relationships. Get your team to identify major Bloggers and mainstream Social Media activists who fringe with your zones of interest and industry. This task is one of the hinges of success for your campaign. Getting to talk to Social Media heavyweights is like hiring evangelists when relationships get entrusted. Getting Lady Gaga to like your pair of boots is like tapping straight into a sea of opportunities as wide as 9 million individuals who would just follow Gaga’s recommendations. Getting her to buy one would mean immediate success. CAREFUL however! The adverse effect is also proportionally as big as your contact’s notoriety. Be sure of what you sell to him or her. A successful Social Media Marketing campaign starts here.
  7. Identify relevant measuring and benchmarking tools. They are proof of your campaign’s success or need for fine tuning. For example, the increase in the number of likes on Facebook or followers on Twitter is an indicator of your campaign’s health. Getting to know how many times your brand is mentioned across the web and rating these comments help at fine tuning the campaign. You should also be able to keep track of your on-growing relationships and traffic that comes from Social Platforms. Identifying prospects for future opportunities helps at developing better strategies. Beware! At the actual state of affairs, Social Media Metrics can be tricky! In fact you will need a very wide array of results coupled to trending reports to be able to depict the exact snapshot of your on-going campaign.
  8. Identify offline components that will be needed to complement your Online Social Marketing. Offline events are powerful conversion tools when geared the proper and relevant way. Offline components may also mean socializing with people off the web, in the real world, offering real-world prizes and gifts, organizing rallies, bar camps, conferences and seminars… etc Determine how these components can enhance your target’s brand experience and how they will relevantly fit into your Online Marketing Scheme.
  9. Urge for quality relevant content when posting articles, multimedia and comments. Praising your 270hp 1974 red Corvette when you advocate for ecological products on your blog isn’t the best of strategies. Be sure to lay editorial rules that will define consistent cross-platform content production both in terms of easy-reading literature and technical specifics. Should an uploaded video be in HD both on YouTube and on Facebook? How long should be an article? Should an article contain a generic common byline for multiple authors or should it bear the actual author’s name and on what grounds? One should always define these lines accordingly to the targeted audience.
  10. Urge to stay HUMAN at every stage! Putting up a Social Media Marketing strategy is about building your brand’s Social Media presence where your quality accessible content will be delivering values of your organization. Social Media is about… Socializing first! People are touchy when it comes to attitudes and postures. They don’t like to bullied or taken as immature consumers. Being too techy, too commercial, demotes the social experience. Simple language and “real-worldlike” politeness are the bases for the best of approaches. It is sometimes more fruitful to start a discussion that may seem miles away from your product and its campaign objectives. With the will to listen and the power to communicate clearly, high conversion rates are never far ahead.


Whoever engages into Social Media Marketing is bound to find himself pulling on very many strings at the same time. Assessing, understanding the campaign’s environment through research and pre-dive learning is a must. Although the marketing process might seem similar to the real-world thing, the Online Social Experience entails mastering every stage with even more precision, because you can never see or analyze real-time behaviors, except for what the prospect writes from behind his monitor, should it be true or false. A Social Media Marketing Strategy is simply the result of the conjunction of human competences and webtools that allow social interaction, interchange and sharing to the profit of a brand. It is a two-way traffic by which the seller has an on-spot obligation of being a psychologist, sociologist or an ethnologist. Be reassured you do not need to be these actually because you’re a human being who is supposedly used to human social codes in general.