Social media is quickly becoming common place for small business owners to get their message broadcasted to a larger audience for a fraction of the cost of advertising. As we enter 2012, businesses are able to take advantage of many new trends that are emerging and will give business owners even more reason to dive into using social networking to grow their customer base.
Reasons People Are Currently Using Social Networking to Grow Their Businesses
- The 3 most important reasons small businesses leverage social media are:**
44% of small business decision-makers use social media. Of those 86% use Facebook, 41% use LinkedIn and 33% use Twitter.
Over 80% of all Americans use a social network daily.
Facebook alone added over 200 million users in 2011.
Social networks and blogs account for 24% of time spent online.*
More than half of social media users follow a brand.*
Mobile social networking is up 30% from Q3 2010.*
Social media is driven by real world connections and a desire to contribute.
50% of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media – most notably through Facebook and LinkedIn. ***
Nearly 60% of all small business decision-makers spend less than $100 on social media.**
- Connecting with customers
Social Trends for 2012
There are several ways in which branding of businesses will be trending in 2012. One trend is a larger shift towards social branding where companies can get more visibility through self promotion on social networking sites based on more interaction with consumers through sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. With the growth of social networking sites, small business owners can gain access to an audience they may not have otherwise been able to reach through contests, free downloading and special offerings promoted though content sharing with customers.
Another trend in branding is sponsorship branding which is where brands advertise through associating themselves with activities their target market would find interesting. Branding in this fashion allows for exposure and positive attention without directly asking for anything directly from their customers. Sponsorship branding inspires emotion and visually stimulating content that is more likely to be remembered and appreciated, much like Redbull pioneered in 2011 with their snowboarding movie The Art of Flight. While not all companies will be able to afford such an extreme example of sponsorship branding, using services such as YouTube to broadcast marketing efforts in this way may be similarly productive moving forward in 2012.
Social Gestures -
As social networking becomes more a part of our everyday lives, people are becoming more accustomed to sharing even the most personal of details of their lives with their online communities. As Mashable’s Pete Cashmore’s discussed in his 2011 Media Summit keynote, the phenomenon of social gestures began with the introduction of Facebook’s frictionless sharing, whereby actions on the social network are automatically shared without you having to hit a button. Its highly likely that 2012 will see more and more of this API based social gesturing.
A social gesture is basically “social sharing” in the context of a person, brand or business. It began with the comment, then moved to the status update and the shared link, and has now started moving into automation. Public social gestures now encompass an increasingly wide range of activities from the check-in (Foursquare), to the review (GetGlue), to the purchase (Blippy), to the Like (Facebook) and the Share (Google+).
The popularity of social gesturing will grow as people seek to have a seamless integration of communication between their current status and sharing these events, reviews, purchases and other activities with friends.
Social commerce is an umbrella term for the use of social media to support the buying and selling of products and services. Facebook is among the top competitor for the use of social commerce as it continually is rolling out features to support social shopping.
The top 3 brands on Facebook, all sell on Facebook. This fairly new way of shopping on Facebook is called f-commerice and it is a huge trend that is emerging. The f-commerce ecosystem is comprised of Facebook stores, deals, credits, apps, developer tools, advertising, and check-in deals.
A social search algorithmically analyzes social Web activity to make search results personally relevant, similar to how search engines pull information today. Recently Twitter increased it’s social search power with the acquisition of Julpan. This will allow Twitter more personalization algorithms to make its search results more relevant to users that go far beyond simple keyword matches.
Social searches are important because personalization is where the web is moving and these algorithms will ensure consumer keyword searches will include data that is far richer than search results of the past.
As you can see, the social web-isphere is continually producing new and innovative was to reach a larger customer base without spending a high volume of dollars as would be necessary with traditional advertising. Will you use any of these emerging trends in 2012 to grow your company’s exposure to your audience?
*Facts presented by Nielsen
**Facts presented by Zoomberg
***Information provided by Mediabistro via CrowdSpring