Four Key Takeaways for Social Media in 2012

SocialSteve's 2012 Wrap UpOverall 2012 was a great year for social media. Almost all brands recognized the need for their active participation in social marketing. While many brands still struggle with a social strategy and a plan to yield winning measurable results (see “Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like,” most recognize the power of word-of-mouth marketing that social provides.

When I look back at the year, I see four key takeaways that not only shaped 2012, but should serve as considerations for your social strategies and implementations in 2013.

Social Saturation

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, just about everybody and every brand is in … social media is ubiquitous. Yes, this is great, but it also means that the social channels are saturated with everyone trying to get attention. How do you get attention? Stand out. How do you stand out? By delivering the most compelling and awesome content, information, and entertainment aimed specifically at your target audience. This doesn’t mean talking about your brand, but rather talking about your audiences’ needs, wants, and desires. Start by answering the question, “Why Would Anyone Want to be Your Friend?”

Content Marketing

Many brands figured out that the way to stand out is to have a winning content strategy and plan. The reality is that people are more apt to share content then simply talk about a brand. When looking at “Content Marketing – Social Marketing: You Can’t Have One without the Other.” Brands can motivate word of mouth marketing with killer content and there are some recommendations in the article “A Marketing Lesson about Brand Proliferation using Social Media” how to achieve it.

Earlier this year, I provided some content suggestions in a number of articles including “4 Posting Considerations to Optimize Social Media Engagement,” and “7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business.” But when you are developing a content strategy, don’t just consider your own original content. Add curated content that reinforces your brand’s subject matter expertise and position. And don’t forget “The Power of UGC (User Generate Content) for Social Marketing.”

I have been preaching the importance of content marketing as an integral part of social marketing for a number of years and 2012 was certainly the year that many others got on board. But let’s not claim victory yet. In 2013, brands need to consider “Evolving Social Media Marketing – From Content Marketing to Contextual Content Marketing.”

Following User Behavior

All marketing efforts must be aimed at the target audience and most successful implementations come from having keen customer insights and adopting marketing strategies to user behavior. There is no marketing or business channel where this mentality reigns so true as in social marketing. I captured a number of social marketing lessons learned this year simply by looking at human nature and behavior.

One story I found fascinating was presented on NPR and it covered the “rule of reciprocation.” While this story was not a social media story, I found direct applicability to social and covered it in the article “Why Giving is So Important in Social Marketing – The Rule of Reciprocation.” Whether it is the rule of reciprocation on some other recommendation, the guiding principle for social success must be putting the people you look to attract first. Such was my position in the article, “Putting People Before Profits Leads to Profits (And That’s What Social Media Is About).”

Once you have that guiding principle down and steering your social marketing direction, you are conditioned to take on some finer details. While I touched on many issues, three areas I see needing greater attention are 1) what’s next after social engagement, 2) understanding social influence, and 3) customer services on social channels.

In the article “Why You Should Not Be Satisfied With Social Engagement,” I highlighted that brand social engagement is not enough and brands should strive for greater social success. The pinnacle outcome of social marketing is customer advocacy.

With regards to social influence, I still see much misunderstanding. As a start, recognize that there are three different types of social influencers: a) traditional influencers (i.e. Wall Street Journal, NY Times); b) emerging digital influencers (bloggers with large followings and standout in a particular subject matter; and c) influencers by connection (i.e. “big man on campus”). In the article “A Real Look at Social Media Influence,” I defined these influencer types and what it means to work with them to increase brand awareness and earned media.

And the last area of social marketing that I believe needs attention based upon user behavior is the utilization of customer service on social channels. Generally speaking, I do not believe that social channels should be used for customer service and you can condition your target audience to go elsewhere to resolve problems. But read “The Dos and Don’ts of Social Media and Customer Service” if you are so inclined to get a deeper understanding of this prospective.

Facebook is not the Golden Goose

Finally, with all the talk of social media, I would be remiss not to mention Facebook. But I do not think that Facebook deserves all the attention it gets – at least not from marketers. Yes, they have one-billion-plus users, but how many of those users want Facebook to be used for brand engagement … follow user behavior. Facebook is not the golden-goose for social marketing.

Facebook made some big announcements this year and introduced a new look and feel (timeline). But the most revealing announcement from them was that only 16% of brand posts actually make it to fans newsfeed.

I shared suggestions trying to make sure you have a better understanding to determine how much you should vest in Facebook for marketing success. Consider checking back on the following articles:

New Facebook – Interpretation for Brands
Making Facebook Work for Your Brand
The Facebook Issue No One Wants To Discuss
Why Facebook May Not Be Your Brand’s Community

And I would not count out Google+ just yet. While user adoption is slow, I do think they have a winning formula as I highlighted in “Why Google’s Search+ Is a Bigger Deal than You Think.”

Social Success Elements

So there you have what I consider being the four key takeaways for social media marketing in 2012. If you want some other helpful social media tips to drive success, here are some other articles from the year worth checking out:

Know What Successful Social Media Looks Like
Why the “Social Media Person” Needs to Be More than Just the Social Media Person
The 4 Social Marketing Mandates
Where You Start in Social Media Strategy Defines Where You End Up
3 Key Elements of Social Media Marketing Success

I hope this helps you and I look forward to sharing more with you in 2013.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under behavior, blogging, brand communication, brand marketing, brands, content marketing, customer relations, customer service, Facebook, marketing, social marketing, social media, social media influence, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, UGC, Word of Mouth Marketing

4 responses to “Four Key Takeaways for Social Media in 2012

  1. Jim Matorin


    Outstanding post. Your four points resonate for me, but I especially like the why you incorporated links to old posts. Man you walk the talk. This post is better than any webinar on social media. We are truly on the same page.

    I would like to share a fifth learning companies/individuals should takeaway from 2012 and incorporate in their plans moving forward. Social media is the gateway for future knowledge workers. By staying committed and utilizing time management, if you follow the right people or participate in the right groups or go to the right sites, you will become a better, more knowledgable worker, a leader in your respective industry/field of expertise. That is why I follow you Steve. Posts (a.k.a.. gold) like this make me a knowledge worker in my laggard industry.

    Best wishes for 2013.


  2. Great recap and a wonderful resource with all the links from the year. Particularly agree on Facebook at Google+ points at the bottom of the piece. Look forward to hearing more from you in 2013 Steve. All the best.

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