I began 2011 with a post of social media trends to watch for the year. In that post, I spoke about monetization, community buying, geo-tagging, and the rise in the interest of international networks. 2012 is a bit of a different animal, so here it is again for the 12 months ahead of us; 3.5 trends to watch for this year.
1. Better use of the “second screen”. This is the one that excites me the most. According to Wikipedia, the second screen is “the electronic device that a television watcher uses to interact with the content they are consuming.” Over 75% of Americans use the internet and watch TV simultaneously. This means we’re on the couch with our laptops, smartphones, tablets googling actors, tweeting and interacting with personalities, voting on reality TV outcomes, and so on.
The Toronto Blue Jays are one of my favourite examples of using social media to enhance the game experience. I know what you’re thinking: “Why would you need to use social media to make baseball more exciting?” But it’s a great feature of Blue Jays telecasts. Tweeting Tuesdays allows fans at the game, and at home, to connect with broadcasters and other fans, ask questions, answer trivia, and win prizes. Originally (2010), the Jays had only planned on doing this about once a month, but by the end of the 2011 season they were doing this every week. For more on the Blue Jays’ social media efforts, check out their “Social Media Clubhouse“.
The second screen goes further than just using your laptop to interact with and google content. Enter Apple TV and Google TV. These products are already available and serve to further integrate your TV, online, and smartphone experience. They allow you to access on demand content, are similar to many digital cable offerings, record programs, share with your other devices, etc. Download the Buddy TV app and you can control your entire experience from your smartphone including personalized channel guides, TV time reminders, and recommendations. Are you watching this?! is a great app for the sports fan that helps to keep tabs on your favourite teams and will let you know when other great games are underway. You can then use your smartphone to switch between the games.
2. Continued decline in quality of social deals. In 2011, I predicted that we would see an increase in the number of social deals, but a decrease in the quality of the offerings. This trend will continue in 2012. When community buying started to get big, customers were being offered 70%, 80%, and 90% off quality merchandise, services, and restaurants. Now, things have changed, and will continue to degrade. Example: The Groupon for January 3rd, 2012, was 53% off two singing Justin Beiber toothbrushes. There will still be good deals to be had, you just have to be diligent in finding the worthy ones.
3. Growth in social media measurement tools, but no winner established. This has been the elephant in in the room of community managers for years. We’ve been able to make due by clustering together a variety of analytics, influence measurement, and link tracking to get a good idea of active audience size and engagement. Several companies are competing for this space (Radian 6, Klout, PeerIndex, Twitalyzer, Crowdbooster, Sysomos, etc.) Some are free, some cost thousands of dollars a year, but nobody can paint the complete picture. Unfortunately, solving the social media measurement problem won’t come in 2012.
3.5 More IPOs. We saw 19 social media IPOs in 2011, and over 80% of them are trading below their opening price as we start 2012…not a good track-record (more on that story from Mashable). This year will certainly see it’s share of IPOs, perhaps the anticipated Facebook IPO will be the largest in history, but the viability of these properties will continue to be called into question. It’s hard to predict who will to what with whom, but if you do decide to invest, history tells us that you will be losing money. This one only gets 0.5 because the Facebook IPO is an easy one to call, but we also can anticipate others going public this year, including Livingsocial, Dropbox, and Yelp.