I attended an AMA event a few weeks ago where Tomeeka Farrington spoke about The Future of Social Media. As we continue to scratch the surface of how the internet can enable us to connect and share with others around the world it’s important to continue to innovate and expand upon these ideas to make them better.
Here are some highlights from the presentation and some thoughts of my own on what to expect in marketing and social media in 2012.
Optimize For Mobile
More and more people are using their mobile devices to browse the web. The biggest thing you can do to get ready for social media in 2012 is to establish your mobile presence. Some stats from a recent ComScore study show:
- More than 70% of users who use mobile social media use it daily
- As of March 2011, there’s been a 45% growth in mobile social media usage since last year
One way to make your site more mobile friendly is to provide an alternative site for viewing on mobile devices. WordPress users can download a plugin like WPTouch and be up and running on their smartphone easily. More recently sites have been experimenting with responsive web design that basically eliminate the need for multiple versions of your site by creating one version that adapts to fit the current screen size. It’s important to at least be aware of your site’s mobile usability as traffic to and from social media continues to increase.
Provide Mobile Offers and Incentives
As more advertisers turn to mobile it’s important to keep up to date with the most recent developments to drive better traffic. The ability to target ads based on location is getting easier and shows great promise for the future. WHERE had some interesting statistics in the ComScore study mentioned earlier. The study says:
40% of consumers who click a location dynamic ad show purchase intent while 30% will go on to share the ad in their social networks.
Here is a list of mobile advertising networks from mobiThinking to get you started.
Another way to advertise is through offers on sites like Foursquare and Groupon. This attracts a more tech savvy crowd which is in turn more likely to share or review your service through social media. Be careful however as new data suggests these offers could potentially generate negative reviews as well.
More QR Codes and Some NFC
You may have heard of QR codes by now but did you know “About two-thirds of US respondents have seen a QR code. Of those surveyed, about half who saw a QR code, used it” - Heidi Cohen. I personally think most of its usage stems from mere curiosity but the idea behind it is important as newer technologies emerge. Near Field Communication (NFC) although limited in availability is easier to use and has much more potential if it takes off. This provides new advertising opportunities as we can target ads based off location and previous purchase history. Google already has one Android phone using NFC and will soon add another. Expect to see new creative uses of QR codes and a rise in NFC usage.
Collaboration Is Key To Innovation
Businesses already recognize the importance of monitoring social media and using it as a means of interacting with their community. Social media provides a greater opportunity to collaborate with communities to further innovate. Collaborative innovation embraces diversity and enables motivated individuals within the community to contribute in ways that were once not possible due to location, language and accessibly limitations. Expect to see a growth in collaboration tools emerging that will improve upon written, audio and visual communication as well as the organization and development of ideas and resources.
With the number of public APIs increasing and new APIs popping up from popular social media sites expect easier ways to use them. Sites like Ifttt.com and Yahoo Pipes put the power of public APIs from sites like Twitter, Yahoo, Google and Facebook in to easy to use interfaces. Expect to see more innovation around the automation of network management and content distribution.
Personal Network Integration
We need to start changing the way we think about our social media networks. My smartphone has essentially decentralized my contacts from their respective networks and recompiled them into one list. Instead of searching across multiple networks I can now instantly find the best way to contact anyone in any of my networks in seconds right from my phone.
But it’s not just about the centralization of our networks. A growing number of social media sites allow users to use their site as an authentication method for other services. Not only can you use these sites to assist in the registration process but you have access to most of the data for that user. This in turn allows you to leverage their existing networks and make the user experience more targeted to their interests.
Redefining What’s Relevant
An amazing Ted Talk by Eli Pariser opened my eyes to the problems of Facebook and Google filtering content based on usage. Eli goes on to say that by only displaying what’s relevant we create “filter bubbles” or we only see what Google and Facebook think we want to see. We don’t necessarily see the things that challenge our beliefs and make us uncomfortable but these are the things that help us grow and evolve into better people. I expect this will change as new services, and changes in existing ones, work harder to get more relevant content to us.
There’s a lot to be excited about for the future of marketing and social media. Social media enables those with something to say and good ideas spread faster than ever. Keep an eye on emerging mobile technologies and be willing to embrace change and innovation.