2012 Will be the Year of Social Catch-Up


Yeah, that fast.

Social media moves like the Flash.

Zip!  Bang!  Boom!

It’s fast – really fast.  Stop paying attention for a couple of days and you feel like you’ve missed an entire movement.  There’s always innovation – new technology, cool sharing tools, new ways to monitor and manage.  Heck, there are new platforms and applications seemingly dropping from the skies.

However, I’m predicting that 2012 won’t be a year that brands expand into new social platforms.

Instead, 2012 will be the year brands try to maximize existing social channels, primarily Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and location-based services like Foursquare.

Why?

Because at the end of 2011 there were still too many brands who didn’t have control over their existing social media assets.  The greatest pain points for brands in social media right now are:

  • Community Management – Handling the day-to-day interactions with consumers, partners, employees, etc.  Who is in charge of this?  What are the best practices?  Who has the final say on direct to consumer communications?  Are standards in place?  Is there any training?  What tools are being used?
  • Social Integration – Aligning marketing, communications and customer service on social channels in a consistent manner.  When the product marketing team writes an incredible blog post is it being syndicated on the Facebook page managed by communications or being tweeted out by the Twitter handled being managed by advertising?  Do they even know that the blog post (or, in fact, the blog) even exist?
  • Content Management – Having a content creation process and syndication plan that aligns with business goals.  Is there a process in place for streamlining content so that a news event has an accompanying blog post, YouTube video, photo series for Facebook and Flickr, poll on Facebook and a Twitter chat?  Is content being effectively maximized on every channel?

As my colleagues like to say when a situation falls apart rather quickly: “It’s a hot mess.”  That describes the social media strategy and tactical execution for many brands who don’t even have basics in place like social media guidelines or a social media playbook (a guide of best practices for content creators within the organization).

Now put all of these challenges into an industry moving at lightning speed and you end up with confusion, frustration and internal bickering.

Who needs that?

I’m predicting that 2012 will (or at least should) be the year that brands slow down and organize.  The year that they finally do an assessment of their social channels to figure out what they have and how it is working.  The year to put a sound strategy and structure around their social media efforts.

After all, doesn’t it make better sense to optimize existing channels before opening new ones?

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