As 2011 races to an end, what can we expect from social media in 2012? Predicting the future is never easy as social media – like the internet itself – continues to morph and evolve, sometimes at breakneck speed. Here are a few of the trends we are keeping watch for in the New Year.
Enhanced Customer Service
Instead of hosting a massive call center, many companies are “right-sizing” their customer service operations with smaller staffs of three or four persons who provide support through Social Media, primariy Twitter and Facebook. This will become a fully realized necessity for many companies in the coming year.
Social Commerce at the Ready
Because of the economy and the challenge to increase sales, many companies are turning directly to social media as a profit generator. Expect to see more and more offering their wares through Facebook or by using Twitter, allowing users to accumulate “points” and cash them in for cool products. Social commerce is a rewards-type program that promises to get even bigger in 2012 and it will keep evolving.
Healthcare Dives into the Social Media Pool
More than ever before, in the coming year, healthcare providers – from individual physicians to major hospitals – will turn to social media. As growing pains (pun intended) related to protecting a patient’s personal information online work themselves out, healthcare “infomatics” – sharing this data between providers and organizations – will see increased usage. The next time you visit your doctor’s office, ask if a staff person is available on Twitter or Facebook to answer simple health-related questions. You may be surprised by the answer.
Social Media Education
Navigating social media towards a specific goal is an extremely difficult task. Just because someone uses Twitter, Facebook, or Foursquare does not automatically equate to or guarantee results or measurable ROI. Because of this – because social media is ubiquitous as oxygen – you can expect to see the educational system (public and private) offer basic level training. The same goes for corporate America, where more companies will realize the importance of having a staff across all business lines minimally educated about social media inside the workplace and out.
Data Collection and User Reviews
In 2012, you will see more companies gather user ratings and other useful data from social media sites that they will then post to their own sites. This is an evolved version of an old style “news clipping service,” but instead of combing newspapers, magazines, or trade publications for good reviews or trends that will affect their bottom line, companies will turn staff loose on doing the same with social media sites.
Social Media as a Purveyor of Global Change
2011 was really the first year where social media played a dominant role in global social events – think of the uprisings in the Middle East or any of the “Occupy” movements – but 2012 will see even more of that societal change from Social Media as the medium becomes even more focused and organized.
Bring on the Tyrants!