If you’re wondering what will happen with social media in2013, you are not alone. Everyone is wondering what Facebook will do next or ifa new social network will surge. While no one can really foresee the future,there are some trends that will probably be strong in 2013.
The first trend I want to point out is that customers willrely more on online media. The relationship between business and customers willnever be "offline-only" again. As people get more acquainted with allthe possibilities that social networks can offer, their behavior will be moreshaped by what happens online. In other words, the information they find online(and the relationship they have with companies online) will impact what they do and buy offline.
What it means for small businesses: if you don’t have anonline presence (or don’t know what that means), you’re in big trouble.
As I’ve pointed out in my article about online reviews, 86%of consumers are searching for local businesses online and 85% researchproducts or services online before they decide to make a purchase. In otherwords, if they can’t find information about your business online, they willprobably look for another business.
Another big change to watch for in 2013 is the relationshipbetween social networks and business. Social networks depend mostly onadvertising to survive, and if they don’t improve the way businesses can reachcustomers, they’ll be the ones in big trouble.
Marketers need more consumer data to be able to bettermarket on social media. They also need more tools to help figure out the returnon investment and to do more targeted marketing. So, in 2013, you can expectnew tools for business pages on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and probablyall other networks.
What it means for small businesses: if businesses are ableto market to a more targeted audience, they will be able to benefit more fromsocial media. While everyone knows that stronger relationships are the ultimategoal in social media marketing, not all small businesses can afford this typeof ROI. More tools for business pages would be a great way to reach thetargeted audience and get more trackable results.
Here are a few more things you can expect from the mostpopular social networks in 2013:
Facebook: The biggest social network will be bigger. In2013, you can expect design changes, privacy changes, EdgeRank changes and whatI’m really looking forward to better tools for businesses. Also, Facebook’snew feature GraphSearch promises some big opportunities for localbusinesses.
Instagram: Facebook bought the app back in April 2011 tokill the competition. And it worked. But as we all know, Facebook likeschanging (to “improve users’ experience,” they like to say), which meansInstagram will change, too. I believe that in 2013, users will use Instagrammore than ever and Facebook will try to integrate both networks.
Twitter: 2013 barely started and Twitter already launched anew product Vine, a mobile app that allows users to capture and share shortvideos. Since the videos can only be six seconds long, Twitter’s intention isto inspire people to be more creative. If you think that’s all Twitter iscoming up with this year, you’re wrong. You can expect more changes in terms ofhow users will see their tweets and how advertisers will be able to use theplatform.
Pinterest: The online pin board already announced that it’llbe testing some new features in 2013. The platform wants to improve its searchbar and add a new feature called News, which would help users discover newcontent.
Foursquare: The mobile app has been changing its platformfor over six months now. Unfortunately, a lot of the changes are not wellexecuted and you’ll find tons of broken links and error messages. Regardless,Foursquare has said it’ll come out with even more new features and justannounced an Owners app, where business owners will be able to track specials andcustomer visits.
Google+: Google plans to integrate even more services intoits social network. If you’re a Google user, that will make your life easier(you’ll be able to control everything from one place). However, the learningcurve with Google tools is higher than other social networks, and Google+ isstill a "niche network" (popular in fields like IT, design and socialmedia). The big consumer mass is not there yet.
Review Sites: Websites like Yelp, Google+ Local, TripAdvisorand UrbanSpoon will only grow bigger and more important in 2013 especiallyfor local searches. Customers are checking online reviews before deciding whatto buy or where to go. So if you haven’t claimed your business’ pages, 2013 isthe time to do it. All the sites will be improving customer experience andmaking it easier for users to leave reviews, so watch out for new features too.So far, Yelp has added health inspection scores to its restaurant pages (onlySan Francisco and New York for now), and Urbanspoon launched the Dineline, whichenables people to share their dining experiences on Facebook.
LinkedIn: more of a B2B network, LinkedIn will also improveits features to help people and companies get more business. For 2013, youcan expect growth in LinkedIn ads, more companies joining the network and someenhanced profile options. Also, there are rumors that the platform will comeout with some type of CRM, since the company acquired ConnectedHQ.com in 2011.
What it means for small businesses: It is time to stopignoring social media and start joining it. The longer you wait to start, themore difficult it will be to catch up. It isn’t a matter of being there becauseeveryone else is; it’s a matter of using it effectively to beat yourcompetitors.
In 2013, look at social media as a serious marketing tooland take the time to learn it. The social networks will be developing morebusiness tools and if you don’t take advantage of them, your competitors will.
If you have any questions about any social network, feelfree to email me at [email protected]