Three predictions for the new year of social.
Oh, boy - it's that time of year again. You know, the time when every so-called industry expert starts spewing out their "best of" and "predictions for" lists? Well, guess what? I've got one of those lists for you too, but I'm pretty sure you'll be on board with these social media predictions. I believe they're completely logical, and I only had to refer to my tarot cards once or twice to pull this list together. So here goes - my social media predictions for 2013:
Social Media Marketers Will Be Recognized As Key Players Within the Enterprise
Social media has proven itself to be an integral part of a company's overall marketing strategy, touching almost every department in an organization, from customer service, running all the way through research and development and up to the C-suite. Given its increasing importance and effect throughout the enterprise, social media as a career field and area of expertise will blossom in 2013. It will no longer be kosher to hand the company Facebook page over to just any fresh-faced 23 year-old; the criteria for being deemed "qualified" to manage social programs will extend far beyond hardly being able to remember a time before MySpace and when "tweets" were for the birds. The "me too" days of social will be over - companies will stop creating Twitter accounts just because "everybody's doing it," and will begin to treat social and those who manage it as an extremely valuable and influential part of their organization. Simply listing one's self as "Social Media Messiah" on LinkedIn will no longer be enough to score you a social media marketing job straight out of college.
Facebook Will Spruce Up Its Search Functionality
With all the buzz around search vs. social in 2012, it came as a bit of a surprise that Facebook didn't take on search along with its strategic moves into coupons, mobile ad networks, and social gifting. While Sponsored Results represented Facebook's first foray into search ads, and Bing's Facebook-infused search interface charted a sliver of new territory in 2012, it's no secret that the whole "social search" concept never really took off. However, I foresee that Facebook will unleash the power of its search bar and results page in 2013. Not only will it make innovative strides in combining pure algorithmic search results with interactive social elements for a totally new and unique user experience, but these changes are guaranteed to open up a whole new world to its ads' API partners. I see "searched for" as a Facebook-defined Open Graph action in our futures!
Social Focus Will Fully Shift From Desktop to Mobile
Since its IPO, Facebook has placed serious emphasis on its mobile efforts, and rightly so: 600 million of its one billion users access Facebook via mobile (Facebook, 2012), and users' monthly mobile-only access increased by 24 percent from June to September alone (TechCrunch, 2012). With 60 percent of Twitter users accessing Twitter via mobile, Twitter's Promoted Tweets, Accounts, and Trends are also mobile friendly, and targetable down to the device (Twitter, 2012). As the primary purpose of social networking changes from stockpiling fans and followers to audience engagement, mobile will continue to prove to be the platform of choice when it comes to reaching the right users with the right message at the right time. With smartphone usage on the rise, users are now carrying social networks everywhere with them, accessing them at the movies, the mall, and restaurants. This gives way to increased Facebook Open Graph functionality and a slew of customized "on-the-go" user actions outside standard check-ins. This prediction also opens the door to refined measurement for social conversions based on off-social actions - i.e., offers claimed, movie tickets redeemed, menu items tried.
2012 was a year of social roulette. From new Brand Pages and Open Graph actions to Reach Generator and Promoted Tweets, you never knew what you were going to get. While we can only speculate what social developments will take place in 2013, one thing is certain: Facebook, Twitter, and the gang are sure to stir up enough social shenanigans to keep us occupied the whole year 'round!
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Dilip is CEO and co-founder of Compass Labs. He previously led Google's mobile ads business and ran PayPal's risk and fraud management, financial services, and compliance. Dilip has co-founded and led two successful start-up companies -CashEdge and CommerceSoft - after stints at McKinsey and Goldman Sachs. Dilip has an MBA from the Harvard Business School, M.S. in electrical engineering from Rice University, and a B.Tech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.
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