It's difficult to suggest that the digital space in 2012 will revolve around anything other than social media. In just the last few weeks, we've seen Facebook roll out its 'timeline' interface as well as 'featured' (or promoted) stories.
We've also seen the launch of Google+ recently and there's no doubt that there is a lot more to come from Google as it looks to push its social media platform out to the wider public. Surely it's not just going to roll over and admit defeat to Twitter and Facebook, like Google Buzz had to?
There's more to come from Google
I saw some interesting statistics last week about how Google Chrome, the company's own web browser, has grown in usage over the last few years. It is remarkable to think that the browser looks set to overtake Firefox (having already overtaken Internet Explorer and Safari) to become the dominate browser within the next few months. The money Google has ploughed into advertising its browser online, offline (via billboards etc) and also on the TV, has obviously paid off. I suppose the fact that Chrome is genuinely a very good tool also has something to do with it! Could the same be said of Google+ I wonder?
Whatever your opinion of Google+, you'd expect Google - with the amount of time, money and thought they've invested into G+ so far - to throw a serious advertising budget at a campaign in order to get the masses thinking twice about whether or not they should stick with Facebook or migrate their social profiles over to Google. That said, this arena is all about relationships and if your friends aren't willing to move over to G+, why would you? It'll be interesting to see how they incentivise friendship groups to make the move.
Been focusing on increasing fan/follower counts? It's all about engagement this year.
Regardless as to whether Google+ takes off, social media will certainly play a huge role throughout 2012. Business models have already started to adapt to social channels, with many using the likes of Facebook and Twitter to improve engagement and customer service. Many of the businesses however, are blinkered into thinking that they need to attract as many followers and fans as they can.
With more and more people setting themselves up with social media profiles, one thing we're seeing more often is individuals looking to communicate in realtime, with brands. No longer are people picking up the phone or emailing customer services (these things take time). We all want feedback immediately these days, and that's why 2012 will be the year of engagement.
There might be less of a focus on follower and fan counts as a result of this new focus, but these numbers will naturally increase providing the company gets the engagement bit right. If the public can communicate successfully with a brand, a positive outcome will result and there's a chance that the individual will not only become a follower or fan, but also a brand champion - capable of communicating their positive feelings towards the brand, to their friends, thus giving you a viral reach. So, if you're just starting out with your company's social media campaign, think carefully about how you approach it and remember the importance of engagement!