The development of Social Media in 2012

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As this year draws to an end I thought it would be a nice idea to take stock of how I’ve seen the world of social media shape and develop.

Large organisations have now embraced these channels, their presence across popular social platforms is expected and consumers are engaging with them in ways that had previously been difficult without the development of technology. These large companies and brands are taking this stuff very seriously and a big change I’ve noticed are new jobs titles. Over the last 12 months there has been a huge increase in social media related roles – anything from executives to Head of Social Media within these large organisations.

Where does that leave the agency? I think in a very strong position. Now brands are switched on and understanding why social is so important, they are also fully aware that content is key to engaging. Many brands have agencies that are on board to help them cut through the noise online, getting them to find and build a profile in the right communities and making sense of all the data that they collect. This makes an agency the perfect partner to helping a company create some great content.

One area of growth I’m very happy with is the use of customer service and social media. For many companies this appears to be the preferred route for starting out and giving it a go. Some companies have really thought this through, reviewing their internal structure and doing their homework before launching into a Twitter help service. Others still work on a 9-5 basis, ignoring their customers remarks until they log back in on a Monday morning.

The gap between the companies that have got this right and those that are creating problems for themselves is widening and I hope that in 2012 we see some of those bad practice companies reviewing what they’re up too and getting some help.

Data and understanding is also important; I must sound like a broken record to my colleagues when barking on about listening and digesting the conversation out there but I’ll stick by what I say. There are a lot of great tools out there and we’ve started to see CRM and listening tools merging (think salesforce and radian6). If set up properly, this will give companies amazing insight about their customers and prospects. Knowledge is powerful stuff.

Most of this stuff isn’t new; product reviews, understanding your customers, Predicting sales trends, Market research. It’s what we’ve been doing for decades but technology has given us the tools and accessibility to do this en masse and in real time. I think ‘Social Media’ caused panic for a while and that’s why it’s taken companies a while to get on board, but now the magic has been explained and people can’t imagine life before these tools we’ll start to see some companies doing so really exciting things.

Have you got any great examples to share?

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