Prepare for Social Media Upheaval in 2013
2013 will likely be the year of the small social network. In the coming months, marketers should expect to see a backlash to the sheer massiveness of the current popular networks. Here's what to prepare for.
Experts believe that in 2013 we'll see more users start to expect, if not demand, tangible benefits for their participation in large-scale social networks. Consumers are starting to understand the value of their information and are asking to be compensated, whether with badges, rewards, preferred pricing, or discounts and perks. This will likely lead to an increase in new kinds of virtual currencies and services.
The tremendous size of Facebook and Twitter are creating opportunities for smaller-scale, niche networks. Though people aren't likely to flee Facebook outright, users will increasingly augment their online social experience by using niche networks whose more customized parameters are better suited to specific tasks and goals.
The emergence of more and varied social networks will present a challenge to businesses accustomed to Facebook and Twitter. Many people will likely migrate specifically to avoid the increasingly commercial aspects of Facebook; in that case, businesses would be smart to start by limiting their presence on new forums to participation and listening, rather than selling.
Eventually, however, smaller networks will become effective ways to reach specific geographic areas or professional groups, or build communities around a brand. The goal for businesses in 2013 should be twofold: businesses should find the proper channels for engagement, and build a strategy geared towards nurturing fulfilling relationships with the customers you already have. When you have loyalty, word of mouth will naturally bring in new business.