What will be big in social media in 2012?

Each Thursday, we address the big issues for social media.  We share three articles on the week’s topic and pick out our favourite tip or insight from each article.

At the end of 2011, we asked why you can expect to hear more about Facebook in 2012.  But what will be big in social media generally in 2012?

The predictions have been rolling in thick and fast.  Here are three of the best.

1.  Gamification grows

Contagious Magazine bills itself as “a creative early warning system” in the marketing world.  Of course we were keen to read their predictions for social media in the year ahead.

Number one on its digital predictions for 2012 list?  Gamification.

It’s the pet topic of one of our directors here at socialface.  (You could say he’s been banging on about it for a while!)  And the article really summed up our thoughts.

Gamification, as the article neatly puts it, is ‘a simple idea: engage people by applying game mechanics to non-game situations. Points, level progression, badges, achievements, virtual currency & puzzles.’  But, and here’s the rub, ‘the principles may be simple, but effective execution is not.’

The whole article is worth a read.  Or head over to the gamification blog to read more on this big trend for 2012 and beyond.  The trend will be so big, in fact, that Gartner is saying that more than 50% of organisations that manage innovation processes will gamify them by 2015.

Watch.  This.  Space.

(Hat tip: Jon-Paul Jacques)

2.  Content rules

There’s a saying that everyone is in sales.  In 2012, small businesses will increasingly be in publishing.

Mashable has a great article on how digital will change small business in 2012.  While we like the whole article for its relevance to our small business client base, we particularly liked the third observation on content marketing, which reflects the increased inquiries that we are receiving here at socialface.

This point nailed it for us: “Whether it’s a company blog or a corporate e-newsletter, small businesses will focus on creating the content and developing their own publishing vehicles to get their messages to market.  They will bypass traditional media outlets and go directly to their target audiences by creating branded niche media properties.”

3.  Software eats

Yes, you read that correctly.  We couldn’t go past this interview (of sorts) with Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape and now of Silicon Valley venture firm Andreessen Horowitz.  The guy knows how to pick a trend: his firm has invested in Facebook, Groupon, Skype, Twitter, Zynga, and Foursquare, among others.

“Software,” Andreessen says, “is eating the world”.  What he means by this catchy turn of phrase is that more businesses and industries are now run on software and delivered as online services.

What’s behind the trend?  As the interview sums it up, “ubiquitous broadband, cloud computing, and, above all, the smartphone revolution.  In the 1990s, the Internet led to crazy predictions that simply weren’t yet possible. Now they are.”

Andressen’s essay in the Wall Street Journal, Why Software Is Eating the World, is well worth the read.

Tell us

How will these trends affect your business in 2012?  What are you doing to ride the wave?

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