Key Social Media Trends to Look for in 2012

2012 will certainly bring it’s share of new technologies and innovations that will continue to drive the growth and usability of Social Media Platforms. Below is a sampling of some of the major trends that we can look forward to in the coming year as reported by Joseph Puopolo – Tech Crunch

Joseph Puopolo
Sunday, January 15th, 2012
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Editor’s note: Guest contributor Joseph Puopolo is an entrepreneur and start-up enthusiast, who blogs on a variety of topics including green initiatives, technology and marketing.
In 2011, social media had its share of growing pains. Large brands and corporations took to social media in force to try to find footing in this expanding medium. Some brands found success, while others found peril and new PR nightmares. One person who has helped brands navigate the proverbial social media minefield is Amy Jo Martin. She is the founder of Digital Royalty, a social media firm that has set itself apart by helping A-listers find their social media voice.
Amy works with people like Dana White of the UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of acting/WWE fame and brands like Nike and Fox Sports (and now Joel Stein). Her specialty is working with organizations or individuals and making them look good online. Since the online world is in perpetual flux, I wanted to get Amy’s take on the social media landscape for 2012.
Here were a few key trends Amy said we should look out for in 2012:
1. Social TV Integration
Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.
As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.
2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way
2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.
3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage
Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency. Amy puts it quite well when she says “they’re building an online destination we’ll never need to leave, and my guess is they’re only about 8% of the way through their product roadmap.”
4. Big Business Has Woken Up
The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.
5. ROI Is Still Huge
ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.
Customer service, research and image branding could all be considered social media intangibles, yet all three are obviously important in business. Social channels impact every single aspect of business from human relations to finance, sales, operations and legal. It’s important for everyone to understand how social media affects their role and responsibilities. Opposite of television, social media is a dialogue vs. a monologue and if a brand is able to collect opinions real-time in high volume via social channels like Facebook polls, they can save a great deal of money on formal research studies.
There have been a lot of discussions about social media fatigue and whether brands refuse to play for that reason. With over a billion people on social media it’s irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. 2012 will be the year for brands to go beyond cookie cutter campaigns and really determine how it not only adds value to their company, but how it adds value for their customers. 2012 will be crucial for companies and social media. For those who don’t see a direct correlation between social media and sales consider:
“Social media is an ideal tool for moving people up the fan ladder, from being a casual fan of a brand to a loyalist, because the communication channels allow people to build stronger emotional connections with brands.”
So in 2012, the question is, how will your brand use effective strategy to move people up the fan ladder from interested to foaming at the mouth brand zealots?
Excerpt image from 4socialmediaconsulting
Tags: social media, Amy Jo Martin
Read more at techcrunch.com
 

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The next generation of the Social Network… in 3D!

I’ve been saying it for quite some time… the next generation social network will take the flat 2 dimensional environment currently available on Facebook and Twitter, and turn it into a 3Dimensional environment that will more closely resemble a real time social experience.

This evolution is already underway as explained by Mark Jeffrey in his most recent article titled “The Return of Real-Time Social Environments” – Mashable. As he mentions there are already apps available that can be used with Facebook and Twitter. These apps can integrate with your existing social networks so that you can invite your friends to share in these experiences. One of these examples is Shaker.

Created as a Facebook app, Shaker lets users enter an environment that resembles a bar. You can see and interact with other avatars that look like mannequins. Users can chat, dance, give other users virtual drinks, see which of your Facebook friends are nearby and invite them to join the fun.

To me this idea is only the beginning, you will eventually see fully blown social networks that are designed from the ground up to have this 3dimensional experience built in. You will also see this evolution continue to develop within the existing social network infrastructure, specially since Facebook and Twitter already have the masses actively participating.

One example that I mentioned in a previous blog post would be for a video content provider like Netflix or a movie studio to create an environment where a member can invite his or her friends to go watch a movie, there would be a virtual movie theater where everybody could join in on the fun. The experience of renting a movie and watching it online can now extend from an individual experience typically had in the home to one that will be online with many other users. This will obviously have to be monetized so each guest will have to pay a fee for their movie ticket. The benefit to the content provider is that the content is delivered once to a group of people who can then share in the experience together. The advantage to the user is that he or she can now have more fun watching that video content with his or her friends.

Similar opportunities and environments can be created for other content providers like game developers, can you imagine playing a role playing game like Doom or Mass Effect where your friends can also join in and play in real time within a virtual Game Room of your favorite social network? The possibilities are endless… More to come as I explore this idea further and come up with more cool ideas for the next Social Network.

Amplify’d from mashable.com
Mark Jeffrey
5 hours ago by Mark Jeffrey


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Max Jeffrey is a serial entrepreneur, podcaster and novelist. He co-founded ThisWeekIn.com, ZeroDegrees, SuperSig and The Palace and is currently writing the sequel to Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant (HarperCollins, 2011).

The last few months have seen an explosive resurgence in real-time environments, last popular in the late ’90s. The interesting thing is that this new zeitgeist seems to have taken root in multiple places within the space of a few short weeks.

I’ve seen this all before: I was one of the founders of an avatar chat company called The Palace, Inc. back in 1995. Although quite popular (10 million users at its peak in 1998), The Palace never found a revenue stream that worked. As Jake Winebaum once told me, Palace was a phenomenon, not a business. He was right. But that was then, and this is now.

The New Real-Time Landscape

Let’s examine a few examples. Avatar-based chat room Shaker took the gold two weeks ago at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Created as a Facebook app, Shaker lets users enter an isometric environment that resembles a bar. You can see and interact with other fully articulated avatars that look like mannequins. Users can chat, dance, give other users virtual drinks, see which of your Facebook friends are nearby and invite them to join the party. There is no “point” to Shaker interaction; it’s simply fun and engaging.

Then, there’s the twin phenomenon of Turntable.fm and Chill.com. Turntable lets you enter a virtual room (again with an avatar) and either DJ yourself or listen to other users select music. Chill is much the same idea, only it showcases YouTube videos or real-time streamed events. The idea behind both is shared media consumption while chatting with friends as you watch or listen together. If you recall the ’90s show Mystery Science Theatre 3000, you’ll know what I mean.

Worlize.com is perhaps the most Palace-like of the real-time spaces. Allowing for custom avatar uploads and creation of user-owned spaces, Worlize has the expressiveness, color and “aliveness” that made the Palace tick. You can invite your friends to join from Facebook or via a tweeted link. Worlize also allows for a few tricks: embedded YouTube windows and a live feed from your webcam as an avatar option.

Google Hangouts mostly centered on video party-lines wherein users could watch YouTube videos together. And with the most recent upgrade to Google+, shared whiteboards and shared desktops were added. Clearly, Google felt that the real-time environment is where the action is.

Real-Time Tech Has Come of Age

So what’s going on here? Why now, and not back then?

One of the largest challenges we faced back in the ‘90s with these environment

But now, Turntable.fm sends me email whenever one of the DJ’s I follow starts spinning virtual vinyl. And with the Facebook and Twitter integration of all these environments, rallying up an online party is not all that difficult anymore — they’re virtual flashmobs.

One of the largest challenges we faced back in the ‘90s with these environments was getting people to show up at the same time. I can’t tell you how many times I saw a Palace avatar materialize, look around at the empty room and dematerialize — only to have someone else materialize minutes later. There was no way to synchronize people’s participation.

We also faced significant technical challenges back then. The Palace and its competitors required hefty standalone clients or huge Netscape plugins crowbarred into the browser. The frequent changing of avatars, room art and real-time games meant a central server needed to coordinate a large flow of information. The “lag,” as it came to be known, destroyed the illusion of being in a space with other people. Now bandwidth is cheap, content delivery networks deliver art assets quickly, and Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds have pointed the way to solutions once unimaginable.

Lastly, real-time business models have changed significantly over the years. We had three choices with the Palace: charge for the software (nobody wanted to pay because “everything’s free on the Internet!”), charge for registration codes and “extras” (same objection) or charge for advertising. In the ‘90s, however, successful advertising on webpages was akin to sorcery, let alone advertising inside this weird little universe of speech balloons and downloadable clients. We couldn’t convince anyone to advertise at volume.

But again: that was then, and this is now. Zynga and others have shown that the purchase of in-world virtual products to “pimp” your farm, castle, mafia hideout or avatar is a highly lucrative business. Chill is already experimenting with “appointment viewing” of real-time net shows. Recently, the company experimented with This Week In Venture Capital. Finally, I profess that I’ve increased my iTunes purchases thanks to all the new music I’ve discovered within Turntable.fm rooms.

Why Now?

Back to the original question: Why is now the right time for real-time? Why has it grabbed the collective imagination at this exact moment? Simply, it is the last great frontier in social media. It is the logical extension of an already powerful trend.

We’ve been heading this way for some time. First we had Geocities — basically static shrines to this or that topic. Then we had static profiles in Ryze and Friendster and MySpace. Better, but still stale over time. Then Facebook and Twitter materialized, making near-synchronous feeds ubiquitous. It wasn’t quite real-time, but edging in that direction.

Now we’ve finally arrived — real-time is the latest social space. The technology is there and, at last, the right psychology is in place that will make these services explode. And I, for one, welcome our new avatar overlords.

Read more at mashable.com