How SM Opinion Leaders Think Social Media Will Change in 2012

2011 was a big year for social media. Not only did Facebook land 800 million monthly users, Google+ became the new kid on the block and my dad joined Twitter. But as more people glom on to social networks than ever before, businesses have also had to step up. These days, entrepreneurs and brands are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to not just promote and market themselves and their companies but also become a valuable friend, fan and follower.

To better assist you on this journey in the New Year, I reached out to some of the entrepreneurs and social media mavens I look up to and trust. Here are their top social-media trends for 2012:

Gary Vaynerchuk
Book author and founder of VaynerMedia
Bookmarking Website Pinterest will explode. Similarly, closed networks likePath, which allows users to post and share videos and photos, will find traction. The reason is, the more open we become, some will do the opposite: They’ll look for closed networks.

And of course, brands and businesses will continue to misunderstand social. They will always look to ‘push’ their product or service and it will hurt brands. Websites that are social aren’t platforms that are similar to TV or print or radio, they are living and breathing. People should be able to react to your creative and you need to be there to react to it, as well as listen.

Looking at the communities you build as an ‘asset’ is important. You need to treat it like a spouse. For instance, you ‘sell’ your spouse on things very differently than someone who works for you. It takes more tact and a slower roll. That’s how to build advocates.

Chris Brogan
President, Human Business Works 

With so many consumers and businesses using social media, 2012 will be the year of oversaturation. That will require a more focused effort to make useful/meaningful media or be left behind as noise.

Guy Kawasaki
Book author and co-founder of Alltop.com

Google+ will have more users than Twitter in 2012.

Charlene Li
Founder of Altimeter Group

Given the limited time and resources that entrepreneurs have, you actually should be very careful about how much time you spend following new trends. Allocate a small amount of time to following new shiny objects — but 90 percent of your effort should be focused on the few social-media sites that have the greatest impact on your business. Develop them fully each and every day before turning your attention to new trends.

That said, the big one to watch carefully this year is Google+. It’s growing quickly and will accelerate as it gets adopted by companies at the enterprise level. Have at least a presence and cultivate a deeper, dialog-driven relationship that’s different than what you can do on more constrained social media sites like Twitter.

Shervin Pishevar
Managing Director at Menlo Ventures
This year will mark the rise of the ambient platforms where apps, services and devices mesh together as one in real-time synchronicity. Your activity will automatically register and trigger across multiple apps and devices.

Collaborative consumption, social commerce and services addressing excess capacity are going to build very fast. Social gaming and entertainment will continue to ascend in a second wave of innovation across Facebook and increasingly through mobile devices.

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