Top 6.5 Social Media Trends for 2012

Social Media Prediction

As social media matures, even greater technological and financial resources are being dedicated to it by the business community. Not surprisingly, this technology is becoming more interwoven into our culture and daily existence.

As a social media enthusiast, I’m enjoying the revolution. It’s exciting to consider how this fundamental change in the way we communicate with each other will impact the world in 5, 10 or even 100 years.

So without further ado, here’s my subjective, inherently biased and decidedly unscientific predictions for the big social media trends to watch and plan for in 2012:

Smartphones

You probably didn’t need me to point out this trend – but then again, how could I write an article about the future of social media without beginning with the devices people will use to connect.

Social media usage via smart phones will continue to increase in 2012 – and will become the primary way of social media interaction for many. App purchases and usage already reflects this movement, as consumers are discovering the full capabilities and computing power of their smart phones.

Location-Based Social Media Usage

2012 will be the year when specific, location-based social media platforms truly take root in everyday usage.

Location-based social media actually had a “false start” a few years ago. Platforms such as Foursquare and Yelp were at the forefront of this trend, where they’ve cultivated a rabid and loyal following — yet users quickly discovered that the cross-pollination of these sites with their Facebook and Twitter accounts were not always a good thing. Non early-adapters quickly fatigued of seeing where their friends were checking in on a daily, or in some cases hourly, basis.

These platforms stayed relevant by making “checking in” to a location a stand-alone value through discounts, special offers – or even earning “points”, thereby marrying the concepts of social gaming with location-based social media usage. Facebook even joined the party in 2010, offering the “check-in” via Places option on their mobile app.

At present, only 4% of the internet population is using location-based services to “check-in” via social media. I predict this number will increase dramatically in 2012.

Universal Logins

Logging in to a site has always been perceived as a “necessary evil” by web users –  the process is cumbersome, passwords are easily forgotten, and giving away an email address often opens the door to annoying spam. Conversely, businesses are desperate to collect any information they can about who visits their site and views their content, plus have ethical (and in many cases, legal) obligations to protect the privacy of their site users.

Next year will show us an increase in usage of Facebook and Google (and Twitter and LinkedIn to a lesser extent) as universal log-ins. By 2013, I predict the norm will be to log-in using existing profiles as opposed to starting from scratch with each site.

LinkedIn

All things considered, LinkedIn is the premier destination for business networking.

The average LinkedIn user had an income of $109,000 a year, and a whopping 86% of companies use the site for recruiting. It’s become a necessity for anyone in the job market – even entry level employees, and a staple for those in the B2B community.

I predict LinkedIn will become an even stronger business tool in 2012. Jobs specific to sales and marketing through the LinkedIn platform will begin to develop, as more organizations will begin to view LinkedIn as a potential market.

Privacy Concerns

People want to selectively edit their social history. Users will demand that applications allow them to delete posts, photos, and check-ins. I predict the marketplace will find a way to meet that demand in 2012.

There will be an even larger demand for the ability to permanently delete information from social media sites. People do not necessarily want all of their social histories stored into perpetuity. Social media sites will soon have to comply with this consumer demand, or risk losing their user base to new sites that do.

Social Media Fatigue

Yes, social media is becoming an integral part of our lives. However, users are now experiencing a “fatigue” when it comes to learning and implement new social media technologies. One needs to look no further than to the public outcry to the new Facebook profiles, as well as underperformance of Google+, to see indications of a certain “comfort zone”.

I predict a return to simplicity and consistency in 2012. Consumers will limit their social media exposure to platforms that make sense for them. Social media will be less about “fun” and more about usefulness as it is integrated into our daily lives. As a direct result, consumers will look for “the straightest point between two lines”, thereby making their lives more simple and efficient.

How To Develop a Winning Social Media Plan

Not really a prediction…but Learn iT! will be introducing a new social media course in 2012 – How To Develop a Winning Social Media Plan. This will complement our Facebook Marketing for Business course, yet will cover a strategy for all social media platforms.

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I’m Jason Hecker and I serve as the Director of Career Programs at Learn iT! Back on June 28th, 2011 I formally announced my pick of my alma matter, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats, to win the BCS College Football Championship in 2012. As of today, 11/11/11, they are 7-1 (3-0 in Big East games) and ranked #23 in the BCS Standings. Remember who told ya first…

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