Social networking has been described as the global cultural phenomenon of the year, and the trend is most likely to grow in 2012, when people will continue to connect in innovative ways, via portable devices that will eventually became “wearable” like Sony’s Nextep wrist-cum-holographic computer projected for 2020. It’s very likely that Hiromi Kiriki’s design will come to a dealer near you way sooner than initially stated, and it will be equipped with everything that makes the trends grow stronger: social media connect, voice activated assistants, apps galore, bonus features, HD cameras and so on.
But what’s more than certain is that all devices – computers or smartphones – in 2012 will include Facebook connect, Twitter apps, and other social networking apps to offer a better, faster user experience for customers all over the world. From all social networks, Facebook looks like the absolute winner, at least according to a new whitepaper by comScore, that shows Facebook as the largest player in social networking, by virtually any metric.
It will take a while for Google to catch up with Google+, but Facebook will not go down without a fight. 2012 will be a year of war for global supremacy, and no other player can interfere between Facebook and Google with enough strength to make a difference.
Instead, the number of niche social networks will grow, particularly in travel, where people will count more and more on local and expert tips to plan their holidays. Even Google is ready to join the trend, with Schemer, a social recommendations travel engine, which is most likely to open its doors to the public at the beginning of 2012.
2012 cannot be something other than social, where interaction is concerned. There is no other logical step – the evolution is clear, and was clear at the dawn of the first online forum. Although not described as forums, modern social networks are just the natural evolution of the latest, and Twitter – an online bulk SMS service with opt-in features – to simplify the definition for laity. Twitter is defined as a microblogging service, although it’s more about broadcasting, community and communication. But beyond definition, Twitter’s role in shaping the way people consume information is clear. comScore graph below shows the 10 most tweeted moments of 2011.
Why is the trend important for PR and marketing? There are many reasons, most important being that social networking leads in online display advertising in the U.S.. This, however is still virgin territory for advertisers, and social networking display ad market is not yet attracting its fair share of online ad dollars, according to comScore.
Even here, Facebook is the undisputed leader, delivering in 2011 28% of all display ad impressions – more than the other four major portals combined (Yahoo sites, Microsoft sites, Google sites and AOL).
Last but not least, remember that, by all statistics, 2012 will also be the year of the smartphone. comScore and other analysts consider mobile devices the future of social networking, as they provide the means for users to connect on-the-go, facilitating real-time interaction.