Amongst the other major buzzwords that have come to exist in the computing space, social media has witnessed the most traction. Some of the developments predicted for 2012 are as follows.

Facebook to touch 1 billion users

If we consider Facebook as a country, it would be the third largest in the world in terms of population, the registered number of users. Thankfully, it’s not adding to the world population. Currently, Facebook has an active user base of about 800 million unique users, which is growing really fast. According to statistics from Facebook, this growth has largely been coming from Asia (specifically south east Asia) and Brazil, which had earlier been the breeding grounds for the now essentially outdated social network, Orkut. Going by this growth rate, with no other equally potent social networking site in sight, Facebook is set to reach one billion users in 2012. This growth can largely be attributed to the addition of more Internet enabled devices like tablets and smartphones. Moreover, one can imagine where this growth will reach if China unblocks Facebook! Currently, it seems very unlikely, but you never know!

Google+ will live on as another marketing platform

Google+ might have had explosive growth since its inception, but it’s still far behind Facebook, and given the pace at which it has been moving, it doesn’t look it will make much of a difference in the coming year as well. However, the debate is still hot over whether it will remain in the race or fall by the wayside like Google Buzz and Wave. Our prediction is that Google will remain in the race next year, but unless it does something very different and does it quickly, it might end up having the same fate as Buzz and Wave. Because, so far, most of the features it has incorporated are already available on Facebook, like bookmarks, brand pages, etc. Many sites have integrated the +1 bookmark prominently, apart from Facebook Like and Twitter’s Tweet. But the difference here between the number of people who click on Facebook Like and Google’s +1 is clearly visible, with the former being far ahead of the latter. Similarly, Google introduced brand pages, similar to Facebook’s fan pages.

Smartphones will take centerstage as the platform of choice to access social media

Desktop PCs and laptops have been used for accessing social networks till now. But social media is no longer a passive way of connecting with the world. Social media interactions are happening in real time and people share content as it’s happening. As more and more people adopt smartphones and tablets, sharing content is moving towards mobile devices. Using smartphones in the coming year, people will be sharing what they want in real time. Apart from networking on the move, the big difference would be the apps that these smartphones run. Most apps being used by users cater to an event or interaction like checking into a particular place. These events are only possible on the move in real time. Also, social networking apps and app integrations make sure that people can utilize their travelling times to lighten up. Social networking, chatting, etc have been identified as the major areas where a large part of the bandwidth spend happens. Hence, smartphones are sure to make it to the top in terms of accessing social networks.

Social media to be a part of just about every company’s strategy

Today almost every business considers using social media as a part of their business strategy. Leveraging the benefits of social media while supressing the ill effects like productivity loss have been the focal points of concern and discussions amongst organizations. Most organizations have been able to maintain a direct contact and build a rapport with their customers on the platform of their choice. But uptil now, it has most certainly been individual or department driven. Going ahead in 2012, social media will become an increasingly shared responsibility across multiple departments that will collaborate to provide the best social experience for their communities.

Organizations operating in the B2C space have more or less established profiles on online social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. These platforms serve as a direct point of contact between the seller and the buyer. Maintaining a good rapport online is also critical to their business as these interactions are mostly public and the world can see how consumer issues are being tackled. This goes a long way in determining user choice when making a decision. Year 2012 will see a firm placement in social media strategy in most companies who have been contemplating the next step. Private social networks amongst main networks like Yammer, Brand management tools, online brand manager profiles are sure to emerge as an industry to capitalize on the social interconnect phenomenon. Social networks will become the main source of lead generation, customer relationship management, and more. Content analysis and social audits can provide valuable insight into consumer behaviour which otherwise is an elusive property. Finally, companies will realize they can’t make strategic decisions on social media policy guidelines without fully understanding the implications of social media technologies. They can’t manage something they don’t know. Companies will start accepting this fact and investments regarding the same will start to appear in the budget books. Tools and individuals adapt at using those tools will soon be a part of the company HR.

Social networking is not only for the individuals or consumer centric. Organizations with a futuristic outlook in mind will look forward to social networks to drive collaboration, work sharing, and develop more productive workers. Most social networks are popular because they promote a strong platform for communication and collaboration, something which if leveraged in the proper way could catch the employee of an organization. While an official team meeting might not necessarily entice the worker, an informal looking discussion through these sites could help a lot in getting things done without really appearing like a burden on the employee.

Source: PCQuest

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