Year-end Observations of Social Media Practices and Services

December 17, 2012

As 2012 roars to a close, I’m still booked solid doing social media trainings and support for a variety of companies. I’d like this to continue in 2013 and I do have some availability in the new year, so call me.

But, this post isn’t about stumping for work, it’s about the transformations I’ve seen this year in social. Specifically, the changes in social media’s habits, tools and landscape. To share that info, I wrote a ‘cutlets’ column of thoughts. I welcome yours in the comments here.

BTW – happy holidays and I hope you have a safe and social new year.

Companies are finally spending the time to evaluate where they spend ‘ambassador’ money. In 2009-2011, companies would see someone tweet about a car company and suddenly enter them in a reality show. Or they’d notice someone praising their products and whisk them away to conferences or trips to shake hands, run a tweetup and be the temporary social face of the brand. It’s different now. Brands are leaning away from Klout and even Kred to do their own research. They are looking for employees more than ambassadors and are willing to invest in the right people. Just look around the social sphere and you’ll see half a dozen ‘famous’ social media marketers who are now tied to big online and brick-and-mortar brands. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but it would be nice to get a call from Dr. Pepper, JetBlue or even MINI USA.

Pinterest is still confusing. People aren’t yet fully conditioned to ‘pin’ things from their computer. For some folks it’s akin to creating an RSS feed or adding articles to Delicious or Reddit. (This isn’t a resolutions list, so I won’t bore you with my admission that I’m going to learn more about Pinterest in 2013)

More people than ever are cross posting Twitter-appropriate stuff on Facebook. While the analytics for Facebook keep swinging to and fro – saying first that pictures and videos get more attention, then saying text-only messages get more attention – my real question is “Why are people being so lazy?” Write for the audience and the medium. These are two different services people!

Twitter is on a land-grab of unanticipated scope. They’re tweaking their photo treatments, they’re allowing users to finally archive their entire history, they’re making it impossible to see the firehose of information from the ‘main’ Twitter stream, and they’re buttoning up the tool. My guess is that they’re finally waking up to the reality that the only money they’ll be making is by selling the company. And we all know a company that has fewer loose strings is more attractive to buy than one that has 87 different apps and lots of undefined features.

Everyone has a book. Coming from an industry (journalism and writing) that for decades screamed about the demise of the printed book, it’s odd to see so many of my colleagues and friends coming out with books. The stumbling block in the past for publishers was the promotional cost. Now, if you can find someone with enough followers online, you’re well served to have them author a book because they can do all the promotion you used to do at a fraction of the cost. Everyone wins. My first book was written in the old world of publishing. I got an advance check, I spent the check, I wrote the book, I still get royalties. I’m interested to talk to some publishers when I wrap up the books I’ve been working on to see how different the process is now.

IRL still has the most value. While being social online is still a kick – and can further your intelligence, your career and your connections – there’s nothing more valuable than face-to-face interaction. That’s why conferences still flourish. That’s why people flock to social events. That’s why the most popular social media events put more emphasis on social and less on media and technology.

Google Plus might finally show up in 2013. It’s a cool product. I love the hangouts feature and the design. I still think Google is handcuffed because it’s a busy market and we didn’t need another social media status update service when they launched. We might be ready for that in the coming year. But to do so, Google has to get their customer-service division ramped up. Too many people have multiple gmail and related Google accounts online that streamlining all their services into one place is going to require some hand-holding and forethought. Especially for the millions of people who set up their personal email as a Google Acct. and now aren’t allowed to combine that information with the account tied to their gmail account.

What did you see in 2012? What do you see coming in 2013 – if the world doesn’t end on Friday?