As 2012 comes to a close it’s time to look ahead. 2012 was a memorable year for social media. We saw many changes, memes, successes and failures. I thought I would highlight a few of them before looking forward to see what could happen with social media in 2013. Whilst it’s impossible to predict the content of what 2013 will bring it is possible to infer from 2012 what we may see in 2013. So without delay let’s look at what happened in 2012: 

Social Media Fails: 

There were a number of social media failures this year. Some were bad decisions made by community managers, others were posting from a business account rather than posting from a personal account and some were just ideas that seemed good on paper but the Internet decided to make them into a joke.

McDonalds #McStories – This one has consistently been voted one of the biggest social media failures of 2012. McDonalds decided that they wanted to focus on the people who grow their food. To do this they created their own hashtag and asked people to send in their own ‘McStories’. As you can guess this didn’t turn out so well

Whilst McDonalds expected some sort of snarky response this was quickly branded a massive failures as the responses were far more snarky than good. However McDonalds Canada did have a fantastic social media campaign this year. Their campaign ‘Our Food. Your Questions’ gave a rare behind the scenes look at the work of the McDonalds crew. It attempts to dispel various myths associated with the fast food chain and does this through YouTube videos (though they were smart enough to disable the comments on the YouTube videos). So McDonalds experienced one of the worst and one of the best social media campaigns over the year. That’s just what you should expect from a major brand with a massive social media presence and a very, very fickle Internet.

American Apparel’s Hurricane Sandy Campaign – Whilst I have touched on this before I think that it bears repeating. Don’t use a disaster, be it natural or man-made, for promotional purposes. It will always, always, ALWAYS end badly. If people are dying or losing their homes or their way of life then it’s not a smart idea to make fun of them. This is common sense 101 but we saw it a few times this year. Whilst Celeb Boutique did not intentionally trivialise a disaster (they simply saw this at an attempt to trendjack) they shall still go down in the annals of history as sending an awfully timed tweet.

KitchenAid’s Mistaken Tweet – Have you ever sent an email to the wrong person? Perhaps you’ve accidentally sent a text message to someone you didn’t mean to? Know that feeling of your heart jumping into your throat and you feel like you’re about to be sick? I can only imagine that the poor guy who accidentally sent this tweet from the KitchenAid account felt like that.

“Obamas gma even knew it was going 2 b bad! ‘She died 3 days b4 he became president’. #nbcpolitics,”

— Tweet accidentally sent to KitchenAid’s 24,000 followers

The tweet was obviously meant to be sent from a personal account rather than the official KitchenAid account. It was considered deeply offensive and the head of Social Media for KitchenAid apologised unreservedly.

However KitchenAid was not the only brand to suffer from the social media faux pas but it highlights how incredibly important it is to keep all of your business social media on a completely separate browser, program or even computer. Such mistakes are incredibly damaging to a brand and yet incredibly preventable.

The best of 2012!

I love a good social media campaign and we saw some great ones this year. I honestly believe that the best social media campaign of 2012 was Oreo. Their ‘Daily Twist’ campaign was so incredibly simply and yet so effective. The campaign made use of the beloved product in a fun way to celebrate a range of things. The day that the Mars Rover landed Oreo released this picture

and they stirred up quite a bit of controversy with an Oreo that supported Pride Week

Though according to the Director of Marketing at Oreo the most popular picture was actually one that celebrated the birth of a Chinese panda

An adorable picture to say the least. Many of the pictures went viral and this was, in my opinion, the best social media campaign of 2012.

2013 and beyond!

But what will 2013 bring? Well there’s no way to truly predict what will happen but it’s possible to hazard a guess at what the trends may be.

Campaigns Spanning Multiple Networks

No longer will consumers have simply a Facebook or a Twitter account. They will have Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest etc etc and brands have to be able to reach their customers wherever they are. As more and more people sign up for both mainstream and niche social networks it will be important for businesses to be able to reach their customers no matter where they are. It will be essential for brands to maintain a consistent message across these services. With consumers researching on multiple websites, talking to different friends and reading different reviews a brand must not appear fractured.

Instant Customer Satisfaction

More and more people are demanding customer support from brands through social media. It is easier to initiate a conversation or lodge a complaint with a simple tweet than by returning to the store of purchase or contacting the brand on the telephone. Consumers expect a reply (not necessarily a solution but just a response) within minutes from posting a tweet or Facebook message. 

Socially Relevant Advertising

Facebook’s ‘Sponsored Stories’ and Google’s socially relevant search results mean that more and more people are going to be getting adverts within social media. These ads will come with a personal ‘recommendation’ from friends. Seeing that friends, people whom we often go to for advise, have liked/recommended a page or product makes it easier to come to terms with making a purchase. Socially pushed ads have proven to have a psychological impact on customers who choose to buy a product. 

Content and Engagement 

With Facebook’s changes to its Edgerank algorithm many community managers found that their posts were not being seen by a large percentage of their audience. Some resorted to paying for promoted posts or pages. Others realised that they simply had to create better content and to see which posts resonated with their audiences. Over the next 12 months, as Facebook continues to ‘tweak’ its algorithm, agencies will have to constantly stay on top of the latest trends that have proven to increase engagement.

Ubiquity of Access

Whilst smartphone penetration has risen considerably in Australia over the last 24 months we’re seeing more and more smartphones available for free from a variety of different providers. It is predicted that there will be a smartphone penetration of 92% by 2017. This means that brands have to prepare for a future where they can reach their customers anywhere (and their customers can reach them). Furthermore consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices as they watch television. People are commenting on the shows as they’re watching them. Many shows are also incorporating hashtags in order to foster a sense of community. Just today Twitter and Nielsen announced a plan to create a ‘social rating system’ that would be the definitive metric for social television.

It was a fantastic 2012 and I can’t wait to see what 2013 may bring.