2011 was an interesting year in social media. While the natural progression of technology is imminent in our society, there were significantly more newsworthy events that spawned across these mediums. We had the live tweeting of the raid (and eventual death) of Osama bin Laden, Weinergate, and the Occupy Wall St. movement that singlehandedly redefined a new news cycle. More brands got involved in the conversation, though a few (Kenneth Cole, Ragu) saw some serious snags.
So what’s in store for 2012? Here are just a few of my thoughts.
Companies will get more strategic
2011 was the year where we saw companies scrambling to establish social media sites (often times with no idea what to put on them) but in 2012 expect to see a lot more strategy to a company’s plan. It’s no longer about just getting on Twitter and Facebook (it never really was but CMO’s thought it was) but relative context and compelling content.
The Online Identity will become more secure
I’ve always said that Facebook would become the “white pages of the internet” and sure enough sites like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter have become our online “identity cards.” Whereas personalized web communities have existed long before Facebook and Myspace, the popular acceptance of these identity platforms will give new life to companies willing to build and grow with the social graph.
Niche social sites will thrive
Bringing the social interaction off of Twitter and Facebook will increase in 2012. The ability to create a larger and “deeper” experience is a lot easier when you have a larger canvas to work with, and right now Facebook is pretty limited when it comes to their site. With the larger cultural adoption of the “social identity” we will be able to have branded experiences based on our social graph, which then can be shared back through our mouthpieces of social media. Early adopters of this, like Pepsi’s Refresh Project, have created a large social web of participants both on their site and on Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Also look for sites like Soundcloud, Turntable.FM, Pinterist, Instagram, HowAboutWe, and Path to emerge as places where people will start to share more focused content on each different platform.
What’s really interesting to me is that there have been a number of sites that build niche communities…it’s not a new thing. Garageband.com was launched in 1999 and offered a number of social components to help independent artists be found and discovered, and their company would eventually launch iLike. ReverbNation was around before Twitter, and is still thriving today. What we now have that we didn’t have 5-6 years ago though is the (affordable) technology that allows for a much larger user base and database to optimize that experience.
Brands will create products to sell products
I think that more brands will create products for their customers as an added value to build loyalty. Nike+ is a longstanding example of how they were able to create a demand for their shoes by wrapping your workout experience in their brand. It started out as a shoe sensor and moved into mobile and social applications and has grown to a global phenomenon. While theres is actually a consumer product, there are plenty of companies spending resources on something they just give away for free.
Urban Fashion brands like LRG have sponsored full length mixtape albums with popular major label and Indie artists that are distributed free across the web. From the artists wearing the clothing throughout video series down to the branded cover art, the entire package reflects back on their fashion brand.
These are just a few quick thoughts I had, there will obviously be some serious events coming up like the election, SOPA, and the Google+/Facebook conundrum. What do you think are going to be some of the trends in 2012? What were some of your favorite moments of 2011? Leave a comment below and let’s start a discussion.