Top 10 Social Media Trends for 2012

Contributed by Mike Supple, Sr. Social Media Manager

Social media has seen some amazing innovations in the last few years, and it doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. As more users turn to friends and connections to get answers to their questions, search engines are working hard to build social signals into their algorithms. Staying on top of social media is about working smart, not just working hard. Based on where the industry is moving, these ten trends should be strong influencers in 2012.

  1. Socialization of search: Search engines started using social signals in their ranking algorithms in the end of 2010, and increasingly in 2011. As Google and Bing continue testing and perfecting their algorithms, the search results for any individual users will become increasingly personal based on location and his/her social connections.
  2. Hard ROI metrics: As with all marketing campaigns, at the end of the day it is important to see some measurable returns from social media. The concepts of “brand exposure” and “building engagement” are great buzz words, but in order to improve your efforts on a regular basis you need to be able to measure results. When a social marketing plan is developed correctly, real ROI is able to be measured and reported.
  3. Merging of marketing channels: As search engines begin incorporating the data from many different departments into their algorithms, it becomes more important for members of various marketing teams to communicate and share strategies. The lines between traditional, paid, organic, and social marketing are blurring.
  4. Location-based social media: The technology in mobile devices is more powerful and more affordable than ever. This combination of power and economy is contributing to an increase in mobile social activity. A large user base with geographic ties allows brands to target small, qualified groups of users with unique and relevant messaging.
  5. Social media fatigue / content aggregation: With so many different social networks available, it is easy for the average user to burn out and get tired of staying on top of every new channel. In some ways this is already evident by the large number of accounts on Google+ that were created and quickly abandoned. Users are starting to focus on the one or two social networks that fulfill their unique engagement needs. To be able to connect across so many networks, it is imperative for businesses to have a strong listening foundation, and the ability to adapt targeted messaging to diverse networks.
  6. Infographics: The idea of sharing large amounts of complex data in a friendly, visual manner is not new. However, the rise of infographic popularity on the internet is astounding. Creating compelling infographics is a great way to get fun information out to your customers, but also a way to reach new users with popular keywords. Social Media Trends for 2012
    Search volume for the words “infographic” and “infographic” on Google. Source: Google Trends
  7. LinkedIn: As search engines rely more on social signals, it is important to have an active presence in the channels that carry the most search engine weight. LinkedIn is one such channel, and can be a very effective tool for connecting with business consumers as well as getting yourself to rank higher in search engine results.
  8. Identifying sales leads: The real-time nature of social sharing presents the potential to proactively reach out to users and cultivate potential sales leads. The key is to develop effective listening methods that allow you to identify and contact potential consumers in a way that allows you to contribute to ongoing conversations.
  9. Facebook sharing: Facebook’s open graph technology is making it easier for users to connect and share things on Facebook while outside of the FB platform. As developers create applications that take advantage of the open graph network, “liking” will become more ubiquitous to include other verbs and not require physical clicks of a button.
  10. Consumer lifetime value: Too often, marketing promotions focus on ways to grab attention for one purchase or event, and fail to take into account the potential value of consumers over a lifetime. Using social media to reward customer loyalty can ensure a long and profitable relationship.

6 Responses to “ Top 10 Social Media Trends for 2012 ”

Nothing at all on video?

Hi Grant,

Video absolutely should be a high priority for any social marketing campaign in 2012. Because of the importance of video in regards to search optimization, I view video as an integral part of many of these top initiatives. So rather than listing it as it’s own bucket, I would include it in many other areas. Video creation and optimization definitely figures into the “socialization of search” as Google’s most recent algorithm update gave a significant boost to videos. Video creation and measurement also fits directly into “hard ROI metrics” and “merging of marketing channels,” as well as several other social areas we will be focusing on this year.

Thanks for your comment!


I agree with everythingh in the article, but I have a question about something that has not been mentioned: Mobile. I’d like to know what’s your point of view about mobile devices and uses and above all about mobile applications like Foursquare that (I believe…) will be one of the main tourism tool.
Many thanks for your attention,

Hi Alessandro,

Mobile is definitely an area that played an important roll in 2011 in internet marketing, and that roll will only increase in 2012. It is not mentioned specifically in this article, because mobile covers significantly more area outside of just social media. It is definitely a very important piece of step #3 – the merging of marketing channels. Creating unique experiences for mobile users – web content, ppc campaigns, social campaigns, etc is very important. This is especially true in regards to applications that take advantage of the user’s location. We have seen a large rise in the number of users engaging with hotels on platforms like Foursquare, and as search engines continue to tailor their results based on user location and connections, optimizing your business presence in the hyperlocal channels will be very important.


The key issue is content ,it has to be quality and it has to be video content ,people do not want endless reams of SEO optimised tedious text . They want it on any device any time which is now increasingly mobile or tablets . Neither do most people on social networks want to be pestered with content they haven’t asked for or need. Brands are going to have to work harder in seeking out where their audience is and make sure they build the engagement required to retain them as customers. Analytics’s is key and will expose the weakness of some of the social media players , especially the larger generalist players.

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the comment. I definitely agree that any good strategy must start with high quality content. If you aren’t offering something of value to your potential customers, then they will have no reason to want to connect with you!


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