It’s with great excitement we enter the new year. A year that will see Social Media really mature within organisations. Not to forget, it’s also the year when major social networks probably will file for an IPO.
But the big question I will focus on here is; How organisation will use social media in 2012. So let’s get going:
1) Don’t organise for social, instead organize around social
I strongly believe that the questions and confusions around what to do with Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc will fade away in 2012. More and more businesses will understand that “social” isn’t a layer that you just put on-top of what you already do, but rather something that heavily influence what you do. Social media won’t be treated as a separate department and managed as just another communication channel, but rather fully integrated horizontally into existing departments
Typical examples of this includes:
- Customer Service department can handle customer service outreach in social media channels
- PR teams will recognize the value of bloggers and other influential independent content creators
- Various departments will join forces and create inbound marketing initiatives
- HR will turn to the collective force of employees’ social networks
You may think that the above is old stuff, but do a reality check on most businesses today and see how many of them have successfully adopted social media throughout the organisation with a strong governing body. Most organisations have a social media presence, but very few have a governing body implementing and training departments in social media.
2) Businesses are going to recognize the value of customer influence
A lot has been written about Klout (an online tool that aims to measure digital influence between peers) already, I’m not going to add more to that discussion. Let’s not get stuck on how we define influence and how it relate to buying power. Let’s just state the obvious that more and more customers and prospects are getting a digital voice, and a voice that with social media can be amplified. Although we struggle with how to accurately measure and report on influence, brands are going to recognise customer online influence beacuse of the following reasons:
- It will be a major signal for Search Engines going forward, Google and Bing are already looking at social share metrics, going forward we’ll see more user driven metrics affecting search signals
- Businesses will explore more ways of how to use their existing customer base, that are socially connected, to increase revenues
- Businesses knows that socially connected customers can riot if they think they are treated unfair
3) Being trusted becomes the most important objective
By the end of the day all businesses have the same goal; to increase revenues. Your actions as a business will steam from that goal. How do you resonate in the board room when you try to promote actions that will increase trust but not directly return any short term gains? Do you look at the spreadsheet for quick wins or do you take a look at the changing market place and invest in the future sustainability of your business?
If being a trusted company is not one of your top objectives and reflected in your actions, how will you go about the following?
- 850M socially connected customers and prospects on Facebook
- Twitter being the number one news outlet
- Search engines taking more signals from social sites (i.e. your customers)
In Edelman’s 2011 Trustbarometer 29% of the respondents said that they turn to an Online search engine for answers, but only 5% referred to Social media. There’s one catch with this, and that’s what’s stated numerous times before; Search Engines will take signals from social media metrics. So in reality when you turn to an Online search engine in 2012 you will also turn to your friends, family and social networks.
The point is not to have a social presence, the point is to have an business agenda that reflects actions based on this changing landscape.