At the end of each and every year, we tend to look back and try to identify the most significant events that recently emerged so we can predict trends that will continue to grow well into the New Year and reshape social media.
2011 was a big year for social media and web technology. We saw trends like Rebecca Black getting more views on her "Friday" video at a faster pace compared to Justin Bieber, a huge shift in Internet services moving to the cloud, and the launch of the now very popular Google+ social network.
There's a lot to take into account and nobody could ever accurately predict what will happen in the future, but it's interesting to try anyway. Here are a few social media predictions we are expecting to see in 2012.
A bigger shift in social media toward branding, customer service and B2B marketing.
It has become increasingly more important for businesses to invest in social media for promoting their products or services and for communicating with customers. In time, businesses won't be able to afford NOT to use social media for marketing.
Of course, while social media has always traditionally been embraced by the B2C (business-to-consumer) sector, it's also expected that B2B (business-to-business) branding through social media will experience significant growth 2012.
Relevant and measurable social media influence.
Social media influence has been a touchy subject in 2011, especially after Klout changed their scoring algorithm. Some people argue that you simply can't measure a person's true influence with a number, while others say that social influence measurement will continue to play a large role in an individual or company's social media activity.
It may be long after 2012 when we see a real, significant impact by the measurement of social influence given that social influence is in its "embryo" stage. Still, sites like Klout, Kred and PeerIndex should continue to grow in popularity and complexity throughout the New Year.
Social television converging with traditional television.
Don't be surprised to see traditional TV and the internet converge and reshape the way we choose how, when and why we watch television in 2012.
It sounds like Apple will be launching a new product or service involving television in the near future, and we already love using Internet services like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and others to watch our favorite shows on demand.
In 2012, it looks like all of our media devices including our television sets, computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones could come together to offer us more social and sharable television experiences that we can enjoy whenever we want.
Social media affecting search results.
Search engines like Google are continuously perfecting their algorithms, and they'd be out of their minds to ignore the shift toward social media relevance. Google recently made some tweaks to their search algorithm that now returns more timely and recently published content in search results.
For websites and company's that have blogs updated frequently, the integration of social media into search engine results is important. Moreover, search results are getting a lot more personal and customized to individual preferences, especially now with the integration of Goolge+.
Pages that have previously been shared by your network on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ rank higher in your own search results. However, For somebody else's search results for the same keyword may look comparably different because their network of friends shares different content.
Expect to see your search results move even more toward social relevance in 2012.
Facebook taking sharing to a whole new level.
At the time of this writing, Facebook has not yet fully rolled out its new Timeline profile to all users and people still have to press the "like" button manually to share content with their friends on Facebook.
Eventually, Facebook sharing will become automatic. When you're reading a blog post on your favorite blog or watching a YouTube video from one of your favorite creators, it will be shared automatically via open graph sharing.
To sum it up, Facebook is way ahead of all the other social networks out there and will likely become the web's default sharing platform in the coming years. Get ready to see those huge changes (including automatic sharing) start to roll out in 2012.