2013 predictionsThe New Year often sees businesses re-focus and re-energise for the year ahead. As one of the leading social media agencies in the UK, we’ve pulled together some of the key social media trends for 2013, to help you plan your digital activity for the next 12 months – making sure you’re ahead of the competition and using social to deliver real business benefits.

1. Realising the potential of social media to drive sales

Businesses use social media because they understand the need to go where their audience is. Listening, engaging and being discoverable online is essential for any modern business, but 2013 will be the year social media moves beyond community management and marketing to actually driving direct revenue.

High-impact, sales-driving social media campaigns will turn your social networks into revenue channels, and targeted outreach will help identify new audiences and customers.

2. Greater focus on measuring social media

In order to show the above, it will be more important than ever to measure social media activity. Quite simply, if your business can’t show quantifiable results from your social media campaigns, those in charge of the purse strings will want to know why. In the same way an underperforming PPC campaign would be stopped, social media activity that shows no measurable return will also see its budget cut.

While measuring the ROI of social depends on your company’s goals (brand awareness, engagement, loyalty, reduced returns/call volumes), three key metrics will continue to be traffic, community growth and revenue/client generation.  We’ve recently written a guide ‘How can social media increase sales?’ with some tips…

3. Visual content will continue to rule

Photos, videos and memes will continue to dominate social content, due to Facebook’s Timeline changes last year and the continued growth of platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. Why? Visual content, especially user-generated content, has a crowd-sourced, conversational and authentic feel – and thanks to social tagging, it’s now easier than ever to search for this type of content.

You can also expect the debate over content ownership, highlighted again in December by Instagram’s changes to its terms, to continue into 2013. 

4. 2013 will be the year of EVEN MORE mobile

mobile2012 was THE year for mobile, and the trend will only continue.

2013 is the year when the number of users accessing the internet through a mobile device will exceed PC users.  It’s easy to see the huge impact this will have on social media campaigns – reaching your customers on mobile first will make more sense, so it’s more important than ever to make sure your website, social media and online content is optimised for viewing on mobile devices.

5.  The rise of social search

Facebook has been gathering data from its users and their interests for quite some time, so is 2013 the year when we see a true competitor to Google emerge?

During an interview in Sept 2012, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg sparked some excitement when he broached the subject of search. As this article states, ‘Facebook is going to do social search, and soon — and it already has most of the ingredients necessary to mount a significant challenge to the search giant’.

Zuckerberg revealed that Facebook already handles about one billion search queries every day – that’s 20 times as many searches as Bing and about a third of the 3 billion queries that Google handles every day.

But it’s not just about volume: the critical factor is that Facebook’s searches are all about finding socially relevant information. As he put it: “Search engines are really evolving towards giving you a set of answers… Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of the questions that people have.”

So what can you do to influence your brand’s search rankings on Facebook? Well, until Facebook launches it we can’t really tell you what the ranking factors will be but we can look at what we do know already about Edgerank – the algorithm developed by Facebook to govern what is displayed and how high on your News Feed. And what we know is that content must be engaging, fresh and the more people share it the better.

In 2013, one thing is certain – companies who take a strategic approach to social media will discover how to turn their social media investment into bottom-line results. Contact us today to find out more about our results-driven social media campaigns…