What to Watch in 2012

Here are a few things to watch for in 2012, and a few tips to stay ahead. 

For many brands, 2011 was dedicated to monitoring the conversation, delving into location based marketing tools like Foursquare and Facebook Places, and keeping up with the unpredictability of changing platforms.  

In 2012, let’s take a giant step forward and build on everything we learned last year. Here are a few specific things to watch and plan for this year. 

Resources. The single biggest challenge social media professionals will face in 2012 will be a lack of resources. The most influential and forward thinking brands already understand that an intern with no marketing experience can’t build you a rock star reputation in social media. It requires a knowledgeable and highly resourceful team of professionals, and a dedicated budget.  

In order for brands to move in this direction they have to commit, and put their money where their mouth is. Social media is not free. It requires time and resources to be effective.  In 2012, brands will be budgeting for social media and growing their social media teams to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for this type of marketing.  

Consider this, more than 3,000 employees at Dell are internally certified to use social media on behalf of the company. This team monitors and responds to social media in 11 different languages, and was responsible for $6.5 million in sales over an 18-month period. 

Dell gets it. They are committed to social media and have a staff with a dedicated budget to make it happen. 

Measure. The second challenge you will likely face in 2012 involves measurement. In order to find out if your brand is seeing a positive return on investment (ROI) in social media you need to measure your efforts. The trick here is finding the most effective metrics. 

Instead of concentrating on page views and re-tweets, try creating a metric that aligns with one or more of your organizational goals. If your goal is to increase sales for a specific product or service, build your social media goals around that. Measure clicks to the product website from sources like Twitter and Facebook (Google Analytics and Adobe SiteCatalyst both have this function). Measure the number of time people share the product page on social networks. What? You don’t have these pages set up on your website? Now you know where to start. 

In 2012, plan to see more opportunities to measure social media, accompanied by an increase in available metrics that will help align more accurately with traditional marketing campaigns.  

Mobilize. Did you know that about 70% of all updates on social networks are posted from mobile devices? The entry point for the Internet is no longer an ISP homepage, or any homepage on a computer for that matter. Instead, people are using mobile devices to search social networks like Twitter and Facebook for information. 

Mobile is fast becoming the gateway to all things digital. It is the absolute best way to get an effective message to an audience that will act on it. In 2012, bring mobile marketing to the planning table. 

Integrate. In 2012, social media will finally gain a permanent seat at the planning table right next to SEO, outdoor advertising, and print publications. Brands will be more focused on integrating social media into everything they do from email, to websites, to mobile technology, to advertising. 

At this point in the game, resistance is futile. If your brand isn’t actively involved in key social networks, it is invisible. 

Accomplishing complete integration is easier than it sounds, but requires a great deal of dedication and a slight mental shift. When your marketing team sits down at the planning table in 2012, start with digital. Begin the brainstorming session by asking how this campaign will look on the web and in social networks. Think about how different it will look in Facebook as compared to Twitter and remember that every campaign doesn’t have to work in every social network. Find the right medium for your message. Start with digital and you will be surprised by how easy everything else can be worked in. 

Conclusion. One thing is constant; social media will change. What we do to keep up with it is what makes our brand stand out among the ever-increasing crowd. To stay on top, keep asking one question; “How can we build on this.” Take everything to the next level. 

What else would you add to this list?