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3 social media trends to watch in 2012

It’s December. That’s right. Somewhere along the line, we managed to get to the business end of another year, and its all tinsel, Christmas ham, end of year parties and champagne as we bid a fond farewell to 2011.

As we rush from one year into a fresh new one, it’s time to start thinking about what 2012 has in store for us. And more specifically, what’s likely to impact our businesses. It’s been a great year for social media—in particular social media marketing. More and more businesses have seen the opportunity of using these channels to connect, attract and engage with customers, and increased business involvement is going to have a real impact on the way these channels mould updates and roll out new functionality on their sites. It’s a really great time to be a socially savvy business!

While I make my Christmas wish list, I’m also making a list of top social media trends that I think are going to define 2012.

Mainstream acceptance of S-commerce

While I might have made up that word (for those of you playing along at home, s-commerce is social media commerce), the stats are anything but. Industry adoption of payment and sales via social networks accelerated rapidly throughout 2011, and if history has taught us anything, it’s that the masses will follow.

Facebook is leading the way with an already viable, successful retail platform. The top three brands on Facebook (determined by fans) all reap the rewards of their Facebook page, with Coca Cola netting $24 million, Starbucks turning over $20 million and Disney making $19 million in sales in the first half of this year. In fact, Starbucks has more than a million customers using their Facebook e-commerce CRM system.

Tech start-up Pygg has just jumped onto the market to allow friends the ability to pay each other instantly via Twitter and we can expect to see many more players in this space as we welcome in the new year. If you haven’t yet thought about how you can monetise your Facebook page you probably should.

Facebook to become the new website

While the big businesses are holding onto their website for dear life, we’re seeing a raft of start-up and SMEs begin their online adventures with a Facebook page. And stay there. It makes sense when you think about it. Without the budget for mass promotion of your site, traffic can look pretty sparse, which makes life awful challenging if you’re also trying to sell your goods online.

One in 11 people around the world are on Facebook, and if the first rule of marketing is to be where your customers are, it’s a clear indication that you should have a page. Every time someone ‘likes’ your brand page, it appears on their newsfeed, in turn promoting your brand to their network. And as Facebook overtakes Google as the most visited site, the way we search for goods and services online will fundamentally change. It makes sense to change with it.

Interestingly, we’re already starting to see the effects of this shift. Coca Cola has reported that their US website was down 40% in the first half of this year but their Facebook page continues to grow to well over 22 million users. Don’t have a Facebook page? Use the quiet time in early January to get one started!

B2B social marketing will hit in a big way

Remember when LinkedIn was just an online resume site? Now, it’s a fully fledged way of connecting with both clients and colleagues on a professional landscape, with many innovative businesses making good use of its sales and networking capabilities.

Used correctly, LinkedIn can be a great source of new clients, suppliers and employees, and a great way of building a personal and professional brand. Sales people are using it to generate leads, recruiters are using it to find candidates, and it’s starting to claim real estate on business cards around the nation. Recommendations are becoming the new references, and with partnerships with Microsoft, IBM and Twitter, it’s poised to make a huge impact in 2012.

For those savvy business owners with a profile, keep it updated, join some groups and be prepared for some great LinkedIn opportunities over the next 12 months. (And if you haven’t, that was my subtle hint to join up!)

I’m looking forward to some great new social initiatives in 2012 and all reports indicate that it’s going to open up the global marketplace for Australian businesses (of all sizes!).  What social media trends do you see on the horizon for your business? Have you had a successful year on your social networks?

What do you think?

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Emma Mulquiney

Emma Mulquiney

As resident social media expert and editor of <a href="http://myob.com.au/blog/">The Pulse</a>, Emma is the online voice of MYOB. With a background in digital marketing, graphic design and advertising, she has a keen interest in new technology, photography and web design. Find Emma on <a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/MYOBteam">Twitter"</a>, or connect with her on <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/pub/emma-mulquiney/22/a11/433">LinkedIn</a>

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