Social networking websites underwent huge changes this year. Facebook added the Timeline feature, Twitter released business pages, LinkedIn redesigned Company Pages and Pinterest saw a huge surge in popularity. Businesses are now placing a lot of importance to their social media outlets to expand marketing reach, customer service and sales. So will this trend continue in 2013? Or will the importance of social media as an internet marketing strategy decline? A recent survey by Edison Research and Tom Webster, a social media behavioral researcher, throws up some interesting predictions that can help social media marketers and businesses prepare for the year 2013.
Increase in usage of mobile devices
The number of people using mobile devices to connect to social networking platforms saw a huge jump this year and experts predict that this trend is only going to continue in 2013. It is predicted that close to 70% of all social network users in the United States will use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn from their mobile phones next year.
Rise of Google Plus
The release of Google+ was over-hyped and people said that it would cause the decline of Facebook, but Google+ failed to make a huge impact in the social media world. However, industry experts are saying that the user base of Google+ could expand drastically in 2013. It is estimated that this social networking platform will have more than 250 million users by the end of 2013. Although this number is pretty small compared to that of Facebook’s, it gives content marketers reason to concentrate or divert their efforts on Google+. Businesses can reach a rapidly expanding customer base if they boost their content marketing strategies for Google+.
Search features will improve
Social networking will slowly become social searching and changes in the Google Search algorithms are the reasons behind this trend. So to increase traffic from search engines, businesses must now include social media integration or display the likes, tweets, pluses and other social media elements on their company websites.
Social media impact on consumers’ decisions
The survey conducted by the same people that analyze the U.S Presidential exit polls conducted the survey to gain more insight into how Americans use social networks and how they are influenced by it. Exclusive results of the research can be found at Convince&Convert as Edison Research has only given a sneak peak of these results for its members. Out of this tightly controlled research group, in 2011, very few – only 30% of respondents said social networking platforms influenced their purchasing decisions. However; this statistic saw a huge jump in 2012, when more than 60% of all respondents stated that their buying processes were heavily influenced by what they saw on social media platforms. These numbers will only rise in 2013 and businesses must integrate their websites with various social networks. People are increasingly looking to such networks to find information about companies, products and promotions.