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Dec 27, 201112:00 AMThe Web Chef's Cafe

with Paul Gibler

Prognostications – Implications 2012

Prognostications – Implications 2012

As the year comes to an end, the gifts have been opened (and some are ready to be returned), and it’s time to think about 2012. To help in this quest, I’ve been tracking predictions and trend projections from throughout the tech, marketing, and online worlds. I thought I’d share some of these with you in this year-end prognostication for 2012, along with giving you some insights on the implications of these projections for your brand and/or business.

 

The one theme I found from a number of experts and one that I agree with is the continued growth of Social, Local, and Mobile, or SoLoMo as it is now being labeled. For each of these there are significant developments that could be of interest to you, whether you are wearing your hat as a business professional or as the voice of your business online. For this blog posting, I’m going to focus on social with subsequent postings in 2012 to cover the Lo and Mo, plus many other 2012 trends worth exploring.

Social media

Your brand’s social graph will grow in importance, as tools are refined and introduced to manage your social presence, interact with your market, identify and track influencers, and monitor and expand the conversation. With the continued refinements being made to Facebook, the growing popularity of Twitter and LinkedIn, and the introduction of Google+, the playing field in social is growing more crowded and complex as players and supporting players jockey for position in our increasingly digital world.

Here are some of the insights that I’ve found about social media, along with some implications for your business:

Prognostication:A Shift in Buying Behaviors: A study from NM Incite showed us that 63 percent of social media users list ‘consumer ratings’ as their preferred source for getting information about a business, product or service.”
5 Internet Marketing Trends for SMBs to watch in 2012,” Lisa Barone, Small Business Trends, 12/12/11.

Implication: Make sure you are monitoring review sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google Reviews, etc., to see what is being said about your business and to take action to respond and improve accordingly. If you are an online retailer, consider adding consumer reviews and social sharing tools to your item listings. There are tools from companies like Power Reviews that can help you in this regard.

Prognostication:The Cult of Influence: In much the same way that Google has defined a system that rewards those who produce findable content, there is a race on to develop a system that will reward those who wield the most influence. One particular player has emerged, Klout, determined to establish their platform as the authority of digital influence.”
Six Social Media Trends for 2012,”David Armano, Harvard Business Review, 12/12/11.

Implication: Get your social brands on Klout to see where you stand, who you influence, who is influencing you, and how your social currency is changing over time. Beyond Klout, take a look at Peer Index, another player that is gaining some impact in the field of measuring social influence. Pay attention to the players in your niche that are influential and take actions to build relations with them in a proactive way.

Prognostication:Social Intelligence: Savvy PR and marketing folk are digging deep into the conversations – mining that data to find insight that can drive strategy, inform product R&D, give the competitive edge and improve the pesky bottom line.”
Trends for 2012: Social Media Intelligence,” Sally Falkow, Social Media Today, 12/12/11.

Implication: Dedicate resources, both people and technical, to tracking the conversations about your brands, your company, your key executives, your competitors, and your markets. Develop guidelines for response so that you don’t overreact, underreact, or ignore the negative and positive conversations. If the market isn’t generating either of these, you might be doing something wrong and it is time to take action to break through the clutter. Listening tools can be as simple as free ones like Google Alerts or keyword tracking on Twitter or Hootsuite or contracting with more sophisticated sentiment-monitoring companies that troll the Web for these conversations.

Prognostication:Scheduling Posts for Highest Impact: I see this as one of the most important things companies can do in 2012. Granted everyone has been scheduling posts for convenience for a year or two now, but they’re not generally considering how to really time it for the best impact.”
OnlineMarketing Trends for 2012,” Jennifer Evans-Cario, Marketing Motive, 12/12/11.

Implications: Try to determine when your target markets are engaged with the social media tools you are using. Implement tools like Hootsuite that allow you to schedule your tweets and other social media posts based on the best times for connecting with your audience. Plan your blog postings and Facebook posts to engage customers at the best times possible.

As 2012 draws near, it is important that your business or brand tune in to the rapidly changing online world to develop the strategies and tactics that will keep you abreast of your customers’ increasing demands to be heard, to engage, and to be part of all facets of your business from product/service development to customer service to pricing to distribution choices. It’s a whole new marketing world out there, and you don’t want to be left behind.

Stay tuned for more 2012 projections and implications.

For insights on the Madison business community, please follow us @ibmadison, or for statewide news and insights, follow our new Twitter account @ibwisconsin. You can also find us on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, and now Google+. For more on the latest tips, techniques, and resources on e-business and marketing, you can follow me @thewebchef.

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