The 2013 Social Media Marketing Crystal Ball

Social media and its platforms are in a state of constant evolution. In 2012 alone, we saw Facebook launch (yet another) overhaul, adding the much-maligned and eventually accepted Timeline feature. LinkedIn is in the process of updating its look and Twitter made adjustments to profile pages.

One thing that has remained constant is social media’s interconnectivity with businesses and consumers. Most marketing experts agree that 2013 will see even more B2B and B2C growth. Digital Marketing Suite surveyed more than 50 leaders in the digital industry to get their takes on the upcoming year. Some of the points of emphasis that the survey results suggest will be important for businesses trying to engage with customers in the upcoming year are:

Visual images (high-quality pictures, infographics, video) will become a driving force. They are all highly sharable across social platforms. Spreading your brand is always the responsibility of your marketing professionals, but it never hurts to have the public give you a hand.

Social media as a customer service tool.  The norm for companies today is to respond to a Facebook post or a customer’s tweet as part of an engagement effort and to address feedback. Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21, envisions an additional use. He believes a service allowing reciprocating tweets between a customer and a company can eliminate the negative feelings of waiting on hold to speak to someone or talking to a machine to report a problem with a product or service.

Social media will be a “must have” for sales. Jayme Pretzloff, the Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers, cites a survey that shows social media influence has become a dominant force in influencing customers. In 2011, that survey showed 70% of users said social media was not a factor in their decision, but in 2012, that number decreased to 35%. That’s pretty solid evidence for the influence of social media and sales.

GOOGLE+ making moves in 2013?

The riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside a social network is Google+.  Google+ was launched in June 2011 and has yet to truly rival Facebook as the most popular social network (400,000,000 Google+ users vs. more than billion users on Facebook as of September 2012), but 2013 could be the year Google’s entry into the social world makes a big move.

Google announced recently that features of Plus and Google Shopping would merge, meaning users can rate and review products using their Google+ account. Those users also have the option to post the reviews on their Google+ profile page. That can be good news for businesses (at least the ones getting positive reviews) because Google now displays Google+ results more prominently on its search results pages. It is believed that Google also plans to launch several new integrated services to Plus in the near future, which could help it close the gap on its competitors and become a boon for businesses wishing to engage with current and potential customers.

Because Google is the dominant search engine and since it’s giving a lot of credence to its own social network, it only makes sense to have a complete, SEO-friendly, and active Google+ profile page for your business.

Mobile Based Social Networks continue to grow

Digital Market Asia predicts mobile social networks will attract one billion users by 2014. The main players in that market are companies who want to interact with large communities (retail, education, healthcare and government, according to Digital Market Asia).

For smaller businesses, campaigns on mobile and location based networks like Foursquare can enhance revenue and reputation. For instance, in 2010, a Milwaukee burger restaurant attracted more than 150 customers…at the same time! The owner used other social media platforms to seed the idea of Foursquare users in the area converging on his restaurant, checking in, and earning the “Swarm” badge. That led to an increase of 110% on the average sales that day!

A coffeehouse owner in Starkville, Mississippi credited a 34% increase in sales from September 2010 to September 2011 to his use of marketing on location based social networking sites, according to a New York Times article.

With the rapid growth of these “check-in” based platforms, effective marketing on these sites has potential to build your client base in 2013.

Ready for the (very near) future?

It’s never too late to jump on the social media marketing bandwagon if you haven’t yet and it’s never too early to begin adapting to social media advancements and getting ahead of the curve. Contact DBS>Interactive and kick your online marketing into high gear, whether you’re just jumping into the game or already playing it now. Social media is not just about what’s hot today…it’s the future of online marketing.