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5 Social Media Trends to Look Out For in 2012

2011 October 21

Tuvel’s managing director, Mitch Arnowitz, and I will be presenting a seminar on November 1st at the Foundation Center DC entitled Doing More With Less: Social Media Tips and Trends for 2012. Naturally, as we head into the last quarter of 2011, thoughts will begin turning to trends and what to expect in social media in 2012 – and especially in the nonprofit and association sector, marketing plans will also be focused on making the most of what social media has to offer with smaller budgets. I don’t usually speculate on future trends, as many social media bloggers and thought leaders tend to do. But for this seminar, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what we might see in 2012 – and how organizations can best utilize those without breaking the bank.

In my opinion, there’s really nothing new under the sun; new trends tend to be a rehashing/reimagining of old trends (think the resurgence of 80s fashion and culture trends over the last 5 years). But when it comes to social media, what I’ve found is that trends focus more on innovation and improvement. We’ve been experimenting with social media for a few years now, and we’ll continue to do so – but with more experience and knowledge, better data and more useful tools. Social media trends are based on taking what we already have and making it better in some way.

So, that being said, I’ve come up with 5 trends that I think will be major areas of innovation and improvement in 2012. What I want to know, however, are your thoughts. What do you see as major social media trends in the coming year?

  • Mobile, mobile, mobile: Mobile has been on the lips of marketers for a few years now, but with the smartphone market booming (it’s expected that smartphones will overtake “feature phones” in the US in 2012), it will be talked about even more. The “mobile-friendliness” of your brand will become increasingly important for reaching customers and prospects, and will cover everything from making your website more mobile-friendly and/or developing mobile apps, to using QR codes to deliver information and utilizing location-based services.
  • Influencers: Lots of talk in 2011 about that nebulous concept of “influence” and what exactly is considered influential in social media – Klout has certainly attracted lots of attention (positive and negative) with the idea of quantifying influence as well. We’ll start to see more talk about the role influencers play in social media marketing, as well as the importance of identifying and reaching out to them to build valuable relationships for your organization – including the development of more tools to help you do that.
  • The rise of content curation: For a while now, there has been an emphasis on creating valuable content to share via social media channels; however, with tools and services like Paper.li and Storify becoming popular, we’ll see increasing importance put on curating content. Success in social media and content marketing will partly rely on the ability to leverage the collective knowledge of your communities to deliver value. This is important for building strong social media communities and engaging customers and prospects in a way that makes it less about you – and more about them.
  • Crowdsourcing: This is something that many brands and organizations have leveraged successfully in some way for a couple of years now, but in the same vein as content curation, leveraging the collective knowledge of your community will become even more important. We’ll see growth of this concept and see it adopted across more industries in 2012.
  • Quality over quantity: Brands will always put a huge emphasis on reach and how many people see their messages through social media; but we’ll see the rise of social networks like Google+ that allow for greater targeting and more focus – not just broadcasting to the masses, but talking with the right people.

I’d love to hear what you think – please let me know in the comments below!


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  • http://www.sohini.com Sohini

    I think you’re spot on here. If anything, I think that expectations from social media and community engagement managers are going to rise, making marketers of us all – including those of us who have primarily focused on engagement (dialogue, discussion, conversation) and not enough on action. For non-profits, in particular, this is going to be the big issue.

    So bummed I cannot be at your talk!

    • Kari Rippetoe

      Thanks for your thoughts, Sohini! Engagement is always going to be important, BUT it’s not a metric. End of the day, social media efforts need to be tied to business goals. So yes, community and social media managers will have to prove that what they’re doing is good for the organization and producing quantifiable results.

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