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5 New Ways You’ll Be Using Social Media by 2012

5 New Ways You’ll Be Using Social Media by 2012

Poking is so 2008. Just when you’ve figured out how to leverage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Foursquare to your advantage, there’s a whole new wave of social media tactics for you to explore. They will help you engage your customers and provide the knowledge you need to meet their ever-changing demands. Don’t wait. They’ll be yesterday’s news before you know it.

We’ve asked five social media experts to point out the new ways in which tech savvy companies are using social media to their advantage, and what trends are on the horizon for 2012.

“Social-itics” Data Mining

In the near future, businesses will harvest far more customer information from social networking platforms, seeking out the most profitable nodes of their social graphs.

This is the prediction of Jacob Morgan, principal of the San Francisco-based Chess Media Group, a management and online marketing consultancy.

Morgan said the process of gathering and organizing this data, which he refers to as “social-itics,” means extracting data out of social interactions, and bridging Facebook with client relationship management data, email marketing data and Twitter.

It adds up to a more detailed picture of a business’s target market that companies can use to focus their marketing efforts ever more tightly on lucrative customers.

While some companies have begun venturing into social-itics territory, Morgan said, current capabilities are limited. “I don’t think anybody is really there yet.”

Social Media as point of sale

A.J. Vaynerchuk, co-founder of the New York-based marketing firm VaynerMedia, said more companies will use methods like Facebook Credits to sell products within the social network in the coming years.

One example, Vaynerchuck said, is a Warner Brothers offering that allows customers to “rent” the film “The Dark Knight” and view it within Facebook.

“Facebook has slowly been integrating more use cases for Facebook Credits,” Vaynerchuk said, “and it seems as if they see this program as a priority.”

Geolocation technology

As smartphone usage increases, businesses will have more opportunities to connect immediately with their customers, telling them about various deals right away as they move within buying range.

Brian Matson, of the Fargo, N.D.-based Echelon Media, said that over the next couple of years, “increasing numbers of people will be made aware of the products, services and experiences around them at all times.” This marketing method, Matson said, favors small businesses that offer products and services in a small, local area.

Streamlining communication within companies

“Using social media for internal communication will be bigger than ever in 2012,” said Mirna Bard, a social media consultant.

Bard said many small businesses have begun using tools such as internal blogs, micro-blogs and wikis to help employees share information and collaborate with one another.

She also envisions more small businesses providing employees with wireless devices to streamline internal communication. “I would expect the number of companies doing this to at least double by 2012,” Bard said.

Points of engagement

The prospect of making deep connections with customers may be social media’s best marketing feature.

Avi Savar, founder of the New York-based marketing firm Big Fuel, cited this is a key opportunity that companies are just starting to take advantage.

To make his point, Savar used the diaper brand Huggies: if Huggies hires an advertising firm to produce a television commercial, it must use each expensive second to convey the product’s benefits.

It’s a tried-and-true method, but it’s one of which today’s consumers have tired.

Social media, Savar said, lets Huggies talk not only about its product, but to offer useful information on topics like parenting and potty training. This kind of content — useful to customers and relevant to the brand — builds strong customer connections, Savar said.

The method is intuitive, but it has taken hold only in the past couple of years, Savar said, adding, “A lot of people are finally realizing what it means to be relevant, to be useful, not continuing to sell, sell, sell.”