Seven Social Media Trends for 2013

There are only 41 shopping days left until Christmas. Yes, really. This also means it’s about that time of year that industry movers and shakers get together over a crystal ball. Always keen to get in early, here are my top social media predictions for 2013. I know we’ve said this before, but next year social media will move beyond ‘engagement’. It has to. What else? Well we saw something start to change at Yahoo, under Marissa Mayer, but will that result in a renaissance?

Yahoo’s fortunes as a whole mirror those of Google’s social platform Google+ and next year will really have to be do or die as far as it is concerned.

We’ve said it many times, but it did happen this year. 2012 was the year of mobile, we saw that clearly illustrated in the US election, and 2013 will be the year of even more mobile thanks to 4G. 

1. Social media will move beyond ‘engagement’:

‘Engagement’ already feels like a hoary old term amongst the digital elite. And perhaps that’s because social media is maturing to become a platform that can offer more than just fan engagement. Effective social media strategy is no longer just about best practice community management; it now also offers a precious source of data that can be integrated into wider brand activities.

By fully embracing opportunities like Facebook’s Open Graph, social media becomes a lot more personalised and relevant to businesses and their customers. Brands will be able to tap into a consumer’s network of friends and family in a barrier-free and increasingly innovative way. Some major US brands have been trailblazing this idea. Expect the UK to follow suit soon.

2. 2013: Yahoo!’s renaissance?

Yahoo! and its search engine Bing have long been overshadowed by Google. But with Marissa Mayer – Queen of Silicon Valley and widely seen as Google’s secret weapon during her previous tenure with the search giant – at the helm, 2013 needs to be a year of resurgence for the ailing Yahoo!. It’s make or break. The appointment of Mayer might create some interesting new social media opportunities for brands and consumers. Watch their space.

3. Although 2012 was the year of mobile, 2013 will be the year of even more mobile… thanks to 4G:

Many heralded 2012 as the year of mobile. And indeed it was. There are many jaw-dropping statistics out there showing how mobiles are becoming the consumer tool of choice for searching and buying over the internet: Econsultancy’s multichannel retail survey showed that 32% of UK consumers have made a purchase using their mobile and new global research from BuzzCity suggests 77% now go online solely via their phone.

Indeed, the number of mobiles now outstrips the global population. But with the imminent arrival of 4G, mobile’s potential as a digital channel is set to explode. 4G, combined with increasing handset sophistication, means businesses will now be able to use mobile to push even more creative content, such as video-based display, pre-roll or streaming. This will drive social media innovation and e-commerce like never before.

4. Do or die for Google+; but rise and rise for Facebook

2013 will be a defining year for Google+. The platform’s honeymoon period is now over and they still haven’t managed to convince marketers to siphon advertising budgets away from Facebook. Meanwhile, Facebook’s advertising platform is coming of age – increasing options are available to advertisers and the social network is seemingly improving its revenue from mobile as suggested by recent financial results. As a more intuitive platform, Facebook is currently the more attractive option for advertisers. Google+ really needs to evolve and innovate over the coming year if it wants to differentiate itself from its arch rival.

5. We will see greater emphasis on web analytics and conversion rate optimisation

Due to economic pressures, smart marketers will begin investing more in web analytics and CRO. With crucial tools such as Google Analytics (GA) being perceived as free, marketers have a history of undervaluing its use and under-investing in proper implementation. However, insightful analytics are the best way to prove the positive ROI impact of social media. Such solid ‘proof’ is probably the only way to secure increased digital marketing budgets from purse string holders during this tough economic climate.

6. Tag management will become a prized asset

With marketing teams coming under ever increasing pressure to justify social media budgets, identifying the parts of customer journeys that contribute to sales is becoming more important than ever. With multiple channels contributing to sales, it’s crucial to be able to identify which channel is having the most significant impact; which is where multichannel tagging comes in.

Web analytics platforms such as Google Analytics have become increasingly sophisticated over the last year, enabling an intelligent understanding social media’s impact on consumer purchasing, drilling down into detailed click attribution analysis and insight. Such a thorough understanding means the wheat can be separated from the chaff so that budgets can be spent more efficiently.

7. 2013 will see siloed managed become shared management

Despite widely recognising the importance of integrated digital marketing, too many brands still silo social media from other digital duties. But different areas of digital marketing can no longer be separated if they are to work effectively in reaching their collective potential. Brands that do digital well tend to manage all digital disciplines within the same team. Clearly, smaller companies may not be able to justify the expense of a full-time digital team that covers every skillset whilst keeping up with wider industry innovation. But that’s what digital marketing agencies are for.

Jonny Rosemont is head of social media at search and social media agency, DBD Media.

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