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Social media has already had a huge impact on businesses both large and small. But according to the latest projections from the research firm International Data Corp. (IDC), there’s a lot more change coming. IDC analysts expect the coming year to be pivotal for social media in business with (among other things) a new emphasis on using social to grow profits, not just gather followers.
Here are key social business and social media changes that could have a major impact on how you do business in the year ahead:
• Visual-social takes off. Online marketing efforts that include a visual component (images, video, infographics, etc.) get better results than text-only. As this sinks in, social platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn) will add new features and focus on visual networking. The success of the image-sharing site Pinterest is just one example of how popular and effective visuals have become in the digital world.
• Groupon’s last gasp. As Groupon continues to struggle and face competition from countless similar services, the Groupon approach will give way to new types of group purchasing conducted via social media communities and what’s being called “Social Local Mobile.” In SoLoMo, local businesses make offers directly to customers on their mobile devices.
• Social business gets a boost from new devices and operating systems. Apple and Microsoft are both integrating social into the newest versions of their mobile and desktop operating systems. As a result, social media will become an easier experience for the user and more effective for businesses that understand and leverage the new social business environment. With the release of each new device and system, the social media experience becomes a more integral part of everyday life for customers and prospects.
• Gap between “haves” and “have-nots” widens. Despite the massive growth of social media, business owners and executives remain polarized on the role social media should play in running a business. The pro-social camp will continue to explore social not just as something new and shiny, but also as the very foundation of their businesses. They will expand their efforts on multiple fronts. The social doubters, on the other hand, see Facebook’s 2012 stock-offering debacle as confirmation that the value of social media remains in question. •