Some Key Social Media Trends To Look For In 2012 by Joseph Puopolo

Reposted from TechCrunch.com
Social-Media-Collage

Editor’s note: Guest contributor Joseph Puopolo is an entrepreneur and start-up enthusiast, who blogs on a variety of topics including green initiatives, technology and marketing.

In 2011, social media had its share of growing pains. Large brands and corporations took to social media in force to try to find footing in this expanding medium. Some brands found success, while others found peril and new PR nightmares. One person who has helped brands navigate the proverbial social media minefield is Amy Jo Martin. She is the founder of Digital Royalty, a social media firm that has set itself apart by helping A-listers find their social media voice.

Amy works with people like Dana White of the UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of acting/WWE fame and brands like Nike and Fox Sports (and now Joel Stein). Her specialty is working with organizations or individuals and making them look good online. Since the online world is in perpetual flux, I wanted to get Amy’s take on the social media landscape for 2012.

Here were a few key trends Amy said we should look out for in 2012:

1. Social TV Integration

Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.

As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.

2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way

2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.

3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage

Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency. Amy puts it quite well when she says “they’re building an online destination we’ll never need to leave, and my guess is they’re only about 8% of the way through their product roadmap.”

4. Big Business Has Woken Up

The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.

5. ROI Is Still Huge

ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.

Customer service, research and image branding could all be considered social media intangibles, yet all three are obviously important in business. Social channels impact every single aspect of business from human relations to finance, sales, operations and legal. It’s important for everyone to understand how social media affects their role and responsibilities. Opposite of television, social media is a dialogue vs. a monologue and if a brand is able to collect opinions real-time in high volume via social channels like Facebook polls, they can save a great deal of money on formal research studies.

There have been a lot of discussions about social media fatigue and whether brands refuse to play for that reason. With over a billion people on social media it’s irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. 2012 will be the year for brands to go beyond cookie cutter campaigns and really determine how it not only adds value to their company, but how it adds value for their customers. 2012 will be crucial for companies and social media. For those who don’t see a direct correlation between social media and sales consider:

“Social media is an ideal tool for moving people up the fan ladder, from being a casual fan of a brand to a loyalist, because the communication channels allow people to build stronger emotional connections with brands.”

So in 2012, the question is, how will your brand use effective strategy to move people up the fan ladder from interested to foaming at the mouth brand zealots?

Excerpt image from 4socialmediaconsulting

From the book "Likeable Social Media" by Dave Kerpen

Social media sites and tools are ever-changing. But there are certain principles that remain timeless.
If you truly want to delight your customers and become a more likeable brand, here are six principles that I found to be absolutely indispensable:

#1: Listen first and never stop listening

As tempting as it may be to join the conversation, keep in mind that communication is 50% listening and 50% talking.
Your customers want to be heard and social media provides a channel that really allows you to listen on a large scale. Some (free) ways to listen on social media include:

  • Google Alerts
  • Technorati search blog
  • Twitter search
  • Facebook search
  • YouTube search
  • TweetBeep

For more advanced listeners with a higher volume of conversations to listen to, consider using paid listening platforms such as Meltwater Buzz, Parature, Radian 6, Sysomos and Vocus.
Remember to not just search for your brand name, but also for your competitors’ names and words and phrases that your customers use.

#2: Be authentic

As organizations grow large, they develop processes and models to enhance efficiency. Unfortunately those processes also make it difficult to be personal and authentic when dealing with customers.
Social media provides an opportunity to reverse this trend and actually ‘be human’ in dealing with customers. Some ways to be authentic include:

  • Be an “improv show,” not a musical—brands need to think less about putting on a show for their customers and instead focus on building an excellent team that is flexible, able to go with the flow, responsive and engaged.
  • Develop an authentic voice—consider what your brand or organization is all about. Think about how you can convert your mission statement or About Us page into a conversation piece. Let the world know your company’s personality while showing that you truly care about your customers.
  • Just be real—drop the PR-speak or legalese from your organization’s communication. If you sound robotic or scripted in your social media conversations, you’ll turn off customers. Let people hear your real, human voice in all of your interactions and they will trust you and even buy from you.

#3: Provide value—for free!

The more valuable content you can share with your fans and followers, the greater the trust and reputation you’ll build with them.
Share your expertise without expectation or marketing-speak and you’ll create an even better name for yourself. Some ways to provide free value include:

  • Start a blog to share resources, advice and tips that your prospects will find useful.
  • Write white papers to solve customers’ problems.
  • Create ‘how-to’ videos.

And don’t worry about giving away too much information. It’s rare that you could give away so much information that people could afford to do everything on their own. In any case, they’re not the experts, you are—and eventually they’ll need your expertise to help them solve their problems.

#4: Share stories (they’re your social currency)

Every brand has at least one story to tell. Social media (especially blogs and online video) allow you to share stories with your customers, prospects and the world. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How did your company get started?
  • How did you survive the toughest times?
  • What kind of funny or interesting things have happened involving your customers or staff over the years?
  • Which employees’ lives have changed as a result of working for you?
  • Which charitable organizations has your company or its staff supported?

Remember, stories humanize brands and make them ‘talk-able’ online and offline. And they can be told by anyone—customers, employees or management. They just need to be real.

#5: Admit when you screw up, and then leverage your mistakes

Being able to say “I’m sorry” when you make a mistake goes a long way toward making up for your error. Companies are made up of people and everyone makes mistakes.
Here are some ways to say that you’re sorry:

  • Have the highest-ranking person (or another executive) at the organization say it through a brief online video.
  • Use the appropriate social media channel to respond quickly when a bad situation arises.
  • Don’t stop at “I’m sorry.” Apologize individually to each person’s complaint and continue to follow up.

By responding swiftly and showing that you care, you can take a serious mistake, turn it around and end up with an even stronger reputation than you had before!

#6: Consistently deliver excitement, surprise and delight

On social media, you’re not just competing with your real-life competitors; you’re competing with all of your customers’ friends and the brands they’re connected to.
So the way to stand out is to create as many “Wow!” moments as possible. Here are some ideas:

  • Provide unexpected value—try listening to conversations that are not necessarily about your company and then respond to questions not directly aimed at you. For example, Best Buy developed Twelpforce to answer people’s Twitter questions about electronic products.
  • Create situations to bring people closer to your brand and strengthen that emotional connection. For example, Cisco Networking Academy delights their Facebook audience by actually allowing select customers to become administrators of their fan page (they have over 260,000 fans!).
  • Sometimes a personal, unique response from a real person at a big company can really “wow” people, even more than the coolest contest or giveaway.
  • Use surprise conversations. When the New York City Department of Health created their “NYC Condom Campaign” in late 2009, they used Twitter to search for people talking about “going out partying” or “looking to hook up” and then surprised them by responding with funny tweets such as “Pick me up, I’ll keep you covered,” or “Don’t leave home without me.”

Ask yourself how you can create conversations and situations that make people smile, while generating surprise. Remember, if you can truly reward your fans and followers, you’ll be able to energize a huge group of online advocates.

Too Much Can Sometimes Mean That -Too Much.

Boredom and clutter leading causes of ‘unliking’ brands on Facebook

There are two things guaranteed to make a Facebook Fan’s finger hover over the ‘unlike’ button on a brand’s Page – sharing information they find uninteresting and posting too often – according to a new study from DDB Paris and OpinionWay.

by Helen Leggatt
Boredom and clutter are Fan killers, found the study. While almost half of respondents said they ‘unliked’ a brand because it no longer interested them almost as many (46%) did so because “the information available was not interesting”.

Meanwhile, around a third of respondents were unhappy with the number of brand posts cluttering their newsfeed saying that “the information was published too often”. Few (14%) thought brands should publish more.
So we can see that the laws of relevance and frequency apply just as much to marketing in a social environment as it does elsewhere.

“The findings show consumer and brand usage of Facebook is still in its adolescence. There definitely has been a learning curve,” said Sebastien Genty, Planning Director at DDB Paris.
“No brand can afford to be blinded by technology and forget the basics of interaction with consumers. The teachings of our founder Bill Bernbach remain very relevant today. Always behave with respect for the consumer, recognizing that brands are ultimately in the hands of the consumers, not marketers.”

Earlier this year a survey from ExactTarget and CoTweet revealed that for two-thirds of Facebook users “excessive postings” by a brand caused them to hit the ‘unlike’ button.


If you are silence about your business, your business will be silence about you.

Marketing Through Massive Visibility

marketing through massive visibilityWe live in a world where our potential clients and customers are barraged with thousands and thousands of ads every single day. The competition is fierce, the climate is noisy and it’s not going to lighten up any time soon.
So how can a small business owner, on a shoestring budget, even compete? The answer is simple: repetition through massive visibility.
Research suggests that we are exposed to over 4,000 ads each day. As a result of “advertising overload”, our brains are forced to filter out and ignore most of these ads. Plus, let’s face it, most of the advertising we encounter is just a caberet of bedlam and babble that doesn’t even apply to us.
But, all of this is great news for the savvy shoestring marketer.
Each time your prospect catches sight of your brand, their filter becomes weaker until finally, your marketing message has broken through. But, it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, your prospect needs to see your marketing message, on average, between twelve and twenty-four times.
How do you ensure that your prospects come into contact with you and your brand over and over again? First and foremost, you need to ensure that you and your brand are everywhere. You must become so visible that your prospects can’t ignore you.
You should become an active participant in Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Dedicate time each day to blogging, podcasting or video marketing. Send out online newsletters and host monthly teleseminars.
I signed up a new customer last week and here’s the interesting part.  She read my blog, watched my videos, friended me on Facebook and followed me on Twitter for one full year before she decided to sign up for my free Shoestring Marketing Kit. I did some quick math and figured that, over the course of that year, she was exposed to my brand thousands of times through my status updates, blog posts, videos, podcasts and ezine issues.
Obviously, she took longer than usual to make the commitment to purchase my products and services. But, she let me know that one of the main reasons that she joined forces with me was because she “saw me everywhere.”
So, make an effort to get yourself out in front of your target market as much as possible. It’s the only way to break through all the noise clamoring endlessly for your prospects’ attention.