The Top 12 Social Trends

The Top 12 Social Trends in ‘12

With the new year upon us and 2011 in the rear view mirror, it’s time to pay attention to where social media will go this year. In December, the Ogilvy Digital Influence New York City team hosted its year end 2011 Social Trends Lab. The team predicted 12 trends we think will shape and influence 2012. Is there a prediction you don’t see on this list? Let us know!

And now without further ado, here is the Ogilvy Digital Influence crowdsourced Top 12 in ‘12 list of predictions in social media trends (in no particular order).

  1. Social Television goes mainstream. David A. Brooks and Chris Heydt said the trend to watch  is the popularization of Social Television.  New technology will have an effect on the TV industry much like Apple iOS and Android had on the  smartphone mobile market. David noted, “It has gone beyond simply dual screen. Just like you had the advent of smartphones you will see TV technology being revolutionized which will alter viewing habits.” An area Chris said to pay attention to  will be advertising and engagement. “New ads in this forum using engagement technology will be able to garner instant reaction.”
  2. Social ROI must become real. Maya Swedowsky said the debate about ROI must be clarified and made concrete in 2012. Facebook analytics need to show better tracking in order to appease the 1 in 3 CMOs demanding to see how their marketing budget invested in social actually has a direct effect on consumer purchase. “Facebook metrics need to go deeper to show if marketing expenditures are actually worth the investment. Currently, the analytics are unable to show this but will need to in order to get CMOs to continue to invest in the platform.”
  3. Mobile apps will be the main communication tools between brands and consumers. In the week between Christmas and New Year’s users downloaded 1 billion apps. Yes, you read that correctly, 1 billion. Rose Reid thinks certain apps will become just as popular as the platforms that help amplify them. Case in point is Instagram. Instagram as a community platform will grow in 2012. “A brand will eventually tap this platform to carry out an initiative. They may use other platforms to amplify the program, but more app-specific social marketing programs beyond Facebook and Twitter will expand as a result of more people owning mobile smartphone technology which prompts them to use apps as daily utilities.”
  4. News sources that harness the power of social will be credible alternatives to traditional media outlets. Layla Revis thinks one platform to watch in this area is She thinks it will emerge as an alternative to mainstream media news. “As new technologies collide with world-changing events, the independent voice (or tweet) has emerged as a major player in news media. Like Alternet and Huffington Post, a citizen news platform like is a growing trend to watch.” The innovative platform where civic media and citizen reporting converge to connect new audiences to valuable stories, resources, and — most importantly — each other is definitely a new journalism model for 2012
  5. Social media functionality will further integrate into digital website properties. Geoffrey Colon thinks the website of the future will be templated in 2012 with new design and user experiences. “The website as we’ve known it is evolving. Brands that have a website and a Facebook and Twitter presence and a mobile application need to merge all of these experiences together to create a unique and friendly digital experience. People are spending 8.5 hours per month on Facebook based on 2011 Nielsen research. Why would a consumer want to visit a brand website when they have community on the Facebook page or get updates on their Twitter feed? If the company website had Facebook or Twitter plug-ins integrated with the open graph this is one way brands can help customers get closer to their owned property. This actually helps brands get more from advocates by linking their web properties to real time conversations.” As a result, Colon thinks social aggregators will be popular on company websites and CMOs can use the data to create targeted marketing messages in real time.
  6. Apps on Facebook will become the main amplifier of brand messaging. Max Kelerstein and Stephen Cooper both think there will be an influx of apps on Facebook due to the new open graph. The ownership of verbs to track engagement and personalize a brand on one’s newsfeed will only take place with a good app that ties back to the brand message. Kelerstein states, “Making verbs personal and tying them into a unique app with great functionality is the only way many brands will ever end up in one’s social feed.” Although users tweet and post about brands, it’s more likely they will show brand love through interaction with a seamless and frictionless experience. Case in point is the popularity of such apps as Spotify and Nike+. So brands can reach their advocates through all the clutter, a paid/earned model will become an essential part of all successful app launches.
  7. Brands will become publishers and not simply curators.  Sophia Aladenoye thinks that content production and strategy will continue to grow tremendously in 2012. Brands will be expected to be content publishers, producers & planners – pushing them to become more flexible, imaginative and proactive in the creation of great content to sustain interaction with the millions of people who follow them. People, across various social networks, will expect brands to provide them with consistent & fun content that spans across platforms. Brands that embrace this challenge and focus on developing an online personality that is easily recognizable via first, second and third-party brand content will win (in the space of online attention & relationships) moving forward.
  8. A content sharing strategy will be just as important as a content production strategy. It’s not enough to simply create good content in 2012. All brands are slowly becoming publishers and there is a lot of clutter. Brands will have to plan accordingly in order to create good shareable content. It’s the end of the “produce content, push it out and make it go viral” flowchart. A brand’s social content can have as much of an effect, if not more on consumers in social channels as it does on traditional avenues.
  9. Privacy issues will lead to rewriting personal history in the social realm. In the advent of social media, many users were carefree to share everything. This included controversial tweets and photos. Like people, brands may have disharmony in their social history. And many (unfortunately) will go about the practice of editing that history where it may seem harmful to the brand. Geoffrey Colon noted that the new timeline on Facebook will probably lead many to edit their social history for fear of losing out on a job or to not embarrass themselves to friends or family. “Brands most likely will also have a similar timeline user interface on Facebook and many will be quick to edit any negativity to present themselves as pristine to potential consumers. Tools empowering the deletion of photos, omissions from their timeline and other actions to help protect their reputation will be the norm.”
  10. Healthcare and B2B will adopt what B2C brands have been doing for the last five years in social. Most consumers are used to engaging with CPGs like a favorite soda or fashion brand. But many will finally be able to communicate and do business with companies that were more conservative in getting involved in the social space. Digital health specialist Priya Kapoor says the space to watch in 2012 is in the healthcare social media space. “In 2011, we saw a lot of activity in the space from pharmaceutical, physicians, hospitals and patients alike. We’ve also seen how platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, working with risk-adverse pharma companies, can reach key audiences. But all of this was done at a sluggish pace as the industry awaited guidance from the FDA.” With the category ending the year by acknowledging the space with newly drafted guidance, we can expect to see healthcare and B2B finally go 2.0 and beyond in 2012.
  11. Social commerce is adopted across the board. Remember all those crazy crowds and long lines on Black Friday 2011? That will be an image of the past as retailers will adopt location-based apps to help consumers with purchase in the real world in real time. Imagine this, you check- in on Foursquare. Automatically, you are asked if you want to pay using the brand app. You download the app, scan the mouse bar code, get a subtotal, and you hit OK to purchase. The app takes the amount right out of your checking account, bills your credit card or debits a pre-existing gift card. Your receipt is emailed and you’re on your way out of the store to your next destination. Starbucks already does this using smartphones with a register scanner. More retailers want to make noise in this realm as customers will amplify how lovely the experience is and thus, we’ll see more of it in 2012
  12. Brands will become more nimble along with their agency partners. Social is a 24/7/365 business. And consumers are always talking. While brands are planning with their agencies, they’re talking. Smarter agency partners will tell their clients that they must use social to actually adopt real time messaging. For a long period of time, social sat in a silo and didn’t reflect the larger brand message. That is now history just like 2011. Smarter CMOs and agency execs know that social conversation needs to be utilized not to simply see what people were saying in the past, but to communicate in real time based on the current social conversation. While conversations are happening about a brand across a variety of platforms, whether it’s positive or negative, a brand can shape what it wants to talk about immediately. Not ten months from now via a television advertisement.
  13. Trends from 2011 we enjoyed: What would a forecast list of the future be without what we enjoyed this past year? Here’s some of our favorite social items from 2011: Spotify, Instagram, Socialcam, Pinterest, Path, Foursquare, Twitter reboot, YouTube reboot, Facebook timeline, Google+ launch, tablet app creation and strategy, social CRM, social business, Kim Kardashian