21 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2012

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We have collected trends in social media, marketing, business, gaming and mobile and combined all of them into this post. Trends collected by Priit Kallas, Mart Prööm and Raul Kaevand. This is our third annual presentation about what to expect in social media marketing in the coming year. We are getting pretty good at this. Here are the 21 social media trends you should watch out for in 2012:


1. Social media marketing disappears

Social media is going to be integral part of everything we do when promoting our business. This will make social media an integral part of marketing and it will not be a separate activity. Much like SEO or email marketing, social media will be just one tool in the box.

2. Integrating social media to corporate websites

Brands start large scale integration of social media content into their digital properties. Big brands will use social media connect and user generated content to get closer to customers. This will help them get most out of true fans and brand advocates by linking their web properties to conversations.

3. More support through social media

The integration of social media will lead to people reporting their problems in their channel of choice. Social media integration lets some of those problems be handled by the peers. However, companies should find ways to avoid their social media channels becoming a glorified helpdesk.

4. Social CRM will make inroads in larger organizations

Social data will be added to the CRM systems to find trends in sentiment and indivitual preferences of customers. The goal is to engage the customer in a conversation and give value that binds them tighter to the brand. As brands lose control of online interaction social CRM will help them react and predict how conversations are taking place. Findings from IBM showed that in the next three to five years, 81% plan to focus on customer analytics and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

5. Social media will influence more sales

Social media integration will allow customers to get real user opinions before making purchase decisions. Social commerce is not web shop on Facebook. It’s a digital property where people can make their decision based on marketing materials from the brand and augmented with feedback from existing customers in a form of ratings, reviews and comments.

6. Social commerce on mobile devices

We will lead into a new era in eCommerce where you can directly purchase from your Facebook account. With proliferation of mobile platforms social commerce will become popular on mobile devices. Facebook’s Open Graph will also let you directly purchase with Facebook credits based on recommendations by your friends.

7. Social media budgets will grow

Most companies will increase their social media budgets. This includes in-house spending on and outsourced services. Part of the investments go to boost their own social presence through blogs and product reviews. Rest goes to external sites like Facebook. Related post.

8. Social media advertising will grow

Social media channels are looking to turn a profit so they are looking for ways to get at your advertising budget. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others are looking into way to display more marketing messages to their users. This will increase budgets dedicated to social media advertising.

Social media advertising will grow to $5 Billion in 2012, 25% of that vill be locally targeted social advertising. Related post.

9. Social media ROI is a must

More result oriented. Still less than half of the marketers measure results from social media. Social media ROI is a hot topic but less than half of the marketers report seeing it. We see that the budgets will grow and social gets more important in the brand’s marketing mix. This means that C-level will demand results. Dollars in sales. It can be as easy as direct sales from Facebook or a bit more vague as in conversion rate of people from social channels is higher than average.

In the course of our conversations with CMOs worldwide, an overwhelming consensus emerged. The vast majority of CMOs believe there are three key areas for improvement. They must understand and deliver value to empowered customers; create lasting relationships with those customers; and measure marketing’s contribution to the business in relevant, quantifiable terms. Insights from the Global Chief Marketing Officer Study (PDF).

10. Rise of the branded content

Next to advertising there will be a push be in the user’s stream. This means brands need to create content that is good enough to be curated and shared. Content has longer shelf life, can be reused in different channels, has higher perceived value for customers. This means that content creation budgets may in many cases exceed the social advertising budgets. It wouldn’t be surprising if some brands will kill advertising in favor of content creation.

11. Content Curation and Discovery

Information explosion has created an attention deficit and people want to have a quick overview of what’s important and easily find what they need. Aggregation and content curation are going to be very important and brands start filtering information to give value to their customers.Brands will integrate curation into their IT or use third party services. News aggregation apps like Flipboard and magazine apps will find a market in corporate circles.

12. Tabletizing and mobilizing websites

Not exactly a social media thing but businesses start to make their sites mobile. Like 10 years ago companies made websites because everybody else did, now they will make their sites mobile because everybody else does. People will use more social networks’ messaging instead of regular email and IM. (Webmail providers should be worried).

13. Social gaming will grow and spill over to real world

Social Media Games have more players than prime time TV shows have viewers. In-game ads and branded game items will become important promotional tools. As social media will become more mobile so will social gaming. This means that games that are hosted on social networks, such as Zynga and EA on Facebook, will be playable on mobile devices. These kinds of games will be played on-the-go – when you’re traveling by bus, sitting in a boring lecture, waiting for your lunch. Social gaming will be integrated with real life to physically perform tasks offline that have effect in the virtual world. Engage real friends, go to locations, flash mobs, etc. The potential growth of mobile social gaming will be huge.

14. Location! Location! Location!

Location based services will be everywhere. Local information, reviews, coupons, loyalty programs and more. All tied in with your social graph. We are moving towards an era of real-time need for information. More and more people will be checking for recommendations about nearby restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. Location based services will be part of many marketing campaigns. Near-field communication chips in mobile devices get more common and will pave the way to the new era of “tap & pay” commerce. Loyalty programs will start moving towards NFC and location based solutions. NFC will be a convenient way for you to connect, share and react.

15. Most social media usage will be on mobile devices

Social media is happening in real time and people share content when it’s happening! As smartphone penetrations reaches majority and tablets become increasingly popular, sharing content will move towards mobile devices. Smartphones gives us extra depth into personalization – we can share what we want, when we want. The limits are fading! You will always be connected with social media, no matter where you are!

16. Group buying sites will add location based services

Let’s face it, it is a brain dead model. Grow a huge list by offering really cheap deals and then sell that list to businesses to get really cheap deals. Group buying will not go away but businesses will understand better what it is and use it accordingly. To spell it out: businesses buy an opportunity to let potential customers sample their offering at a hugely discounted rate in hopes of repeat business. New layer of value can be added by integrating with location based services that will alert users to deals when they are in the neighborhood.

17. Interacting with live TV in social media

Live TV shows will react to user interactions such as votes, suggestions, etc. We have the ability to change what’s happening by providing real-time feedback on social networks. TV is going to be everywhere through mobile apps.

18. News will be social

News websites will gradually be replaced by applications integrated with social media technology such as Facebook’s Open Graph. While this won’t happen instantly, we’re going down that road as we speak. People will be reading news from their dedicated applications such as iPad’s Flipboard or Washington Post Social Reader. We will take in a lot of recommendations and read the same things that our friends are reading.

19. Mobile apps will become more social

All of the successful new mobile apps will be deeply integrated with social networks allowing you to share and engage more than ever before. We will be taking in a lot of suggestions and recommendations from our friends, colleagues and other trustworthy peers.

20. Your social media footprint will grow

Frictionless sharing capabilities and social gestures will make our lives increasingly visible on social networking sites. Music, TV shows, check-ins, purchases and more will be automatically posted to social media sites. Always connected, always sharing! If you don’t share, your friends will. Some may rise privacy concerns but most people will ignore the implications and their lives are going to be more open than ever before.

21. Facebook will break the 1 Billion people mark

Where does that more than 1 billion Facebook users come from? The countries with more than 20 million people and Facebook penetration below 20% will add most of this growth in 2012. Add the potential growth of other countries and you get to a cool billion or 1.1 billion even. And that does not include China.

Here you go! What do you think will happen in 2012. Please, et us know in the comments.

Priit Kallas

Priit is the founder and CEO of DreamGrow Digital, an internet marketing and social media company. With his 20+ years internet marketing experience he is Helping companies to understand and use the digital marketing to reach their target audiences. He's also writing on a personal growth website FixWillPower.com. He has spoken at hundreds of seminars and conferences on different aspects of internet marketing. Priit is also the organizer of Digital Elite Camp, a leading traffic and conversion event.

32 Responses

  1. Allianz Global Assistance Singapore says:

    Today, there are a lot of changes on the social media and SEO. I believe that more and more people are engaging in these platforms first before buying a product or services that they are looking for.

  2. Ian Smith says:

    December 7th 2012. Just read the post. Tried desperately to find something that was ‘way off course’.
    So, we need a new post entitled ……………….. wait for it …………………
    “21 Social Media Marketing Trends for 2013”


  3. Kaavay says:

    I agree that Social media marketing is a very powerful way to communicate with your customers about your products and services.
    Check out my blog on Social Media Marketing – Facebook more addictive than beer in Goa?

  4. Aakash says:

    Really like the analysis here, Social media is indeed important for any business today and one needs to evaluate and constantly keep investing time and money to find better creative solutions to impact the ROI from the social activities.These are both tangible as well as intangible in nature.

  5. Dena Horne says:

    Gobza will turn number 16 upside down with it’s patent-pending marketing platform which allows businesses to advertise absolutely free! Check it out at www.gobza.com/revolution and join the Gobza Revolution today!

  6. Atv quads says:

    Facebook will lose some users with all this design updates..It’s a matter of time until something new will appear

    • Priit Kallas says:

      Something new may come but social networking sites are here to stay and will become an integral part of out lives.

  7. Atv says:

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Youssef Boutzakht says:

    Very, very cool stuff Priit…I used this phantastic stuff for my job in germany 😉 thank you very much my friend….i hope to meet you someday as one of the social media marketing elite in europe.

  9. Lars says:

    Almost everything on your list has already been happening for 2 years! Mobile apps will become more social? Maybe you don’t have an iPhone?

    • Priit Kallas says:

      Thanks for your comment, Lars. When these things go to mainstream is the question. Mobile web usage is in low teens right now. There’s a long way to go for all those technologies and marketing methods. We merely point out what is going to happen this year.

  10. Ellen says:

    Thanks for summing it up. My clients know they need me but don’t always understand why. I make sure to share this kind of data with them so they can perceive the value of my social media management.

  11. Jon says:

    Thanks for this simple but amazingly informative look into social media marketing trends in 2012. We at www.cybersarisari.ecrater.com are looking into this ways not only to increase sales but also to give value and satisfaction to customers by really knowing their needs.

  12. Rorie Hannigan says:


    Really like the bit about how Social Media is going to be involved in TV. In 2011 we have seen Twitter being used to help advertise programmes such as the Million Pound Drop live, where players tweets appear during the programme and get their #’s to trend.

    It was only a matter of time before TV shows became interactive and with the mobile trend set to explode in 2012 its the perfect opportunity to combine the 2!

  13. Darren says:

    2011 December 21
    Where do you see Google+ fitting in on the social media trend for 2012? Is it likely for Google+ to take over the mobile marketing area and become larger than Facebook, or do you see Google+ still playing catch-up to Facebook and the number of followers and social communities.

    • Priit Kallas says:

      Well, for 2012 we don’t see Google+ in mainstream. Google+ may take hold by Google pushing through its other services. But in 2012 it will not pose a threat to Facebook.

  14. Cameron says:

    Great insight on social media! Here’s a list of predictions I have for 2012 http://venpop.com/2011/5-social-media-predictions-for-the-new-year/

  15. Alan from Magicbuz says:

    You do not say much about online video. We believe that video is a major way to reach prospective clients. Already YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. Peaple are searching YouTube for answers. Your video should be there to provide these answers.

    • Priit Kallas says:

      I would say that video is already here. Youtube is the second “social network” https://www.dreamgrow.com/top-10-social-networking-sites-market-share-of-visits/

    • Rorie Hannigan says:

      Agreed, Online video is a medium that will help engage and inform customers in the future, in particular for social proof as video is a potential customers ideal research tool, as a result allowing customers to make their mind up at the zero moment of truth!

  16. mike says:

    Nice list. I’m thinking that #5 will lead to #9. The more and more that social media becomes a part of our everyday lives the more and more it will influence our purchasing decisions, whether we realize it or not.

  17. DirectAsia says:

    Good stuff here. Your prediction regarding ROI is the most interesting to me – I’m right there on measuring results, but not entirely sure if you mean to suggest that sales is the only/main criteria to judge ROI by?

    • Priit Kallas says:

      ROI is financial metric. You put in resources (time, money) and get results that are measured in profit.

  18. Don Fletcher says:

    This is great news for those who are prepared for it! A huge transfer of Wealth and Wisdom is happening as Social Media evolves and the internet expands.
    If you are involved in Social Media Commerce, it is time to get better. If you are not involved yet, the sooner you adopt and adapt the more profitable you will be!

  19. Sabrina Gibson says:

    Thanks so much for this great list. It is awesome to see it is more interactive and engaging vs. pushing information.

  20. Jon Davey says:

    Nice idea to come up with some social media marketing trends… I’d add community development… I believe that’s where the real power lies… people engaging with others of a similar interest creates community, loyalty and long term value…

    • Priit Kallas says:

      Jon, I totally agree. community developement was in our list of trends for this year. But it’s ongoing… as long as you market to people.

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