For social media, time to grow up
In 2012, the medium matured with new advertising platforms
December 20, 2012
This year was the one that social media came of age, and nothing was more emblematic of that development than the IPO of Facebook, the company started by a Harvard University student in his dorm room as a way to connect school friends.
The IPO was botched in many ways, the social network’s stock price falling by half before it finally began rebounding this fall.
But botched as it was, the Facebook IPO vastly broadened corporate America’s interest in and fascination with social media as a potentially dynamic marketing tool.
The coming year will again see many advances in social media, but the most notable will be just how seriously media buyers and planners now take what was once an internet amusement.
“Playtime is over,” says Bill DeRosa, principal at Talking Finger, a social media marketing agency in Connecticut.
“Analytics, ROI, creating integrated social marketing strategies with ‘traditional’ and other online resources and tools is moving to the forefront. I truly feel just a year ago it was still very experimental.”
Next year upwards of $4.6 billion will be spent on the medium, up from just $215 million in 2006, according to ZenithOptimedia.
Spending will increase 35 percent over 2012, making social media the second-fastest-growing medium, behind only mobile.
Three-quarters of social spending this year was on Facebook, where ad spending nearly doubled compared to 2011, despite the company’s continued struggles to monetize its hugely popular mobile app.
But in the next few years the gap between Facebook and other social media sites, most notably Twitter, will begin to shrink as advertisers shift dollars to more targeted social media destinations.
Also, Facebook and other sites will become increasing sophisticated in coming up with new ways for advertisers to connect with members.
Facebook earlier this year opened its own ad exchange, and Twitter has been pushing native advertising, which pops up alongside editorial content rather than being served as a separate display ad that is easy to ignore.
Over this same period, smaller sites such as Pinterest and Instagram have seen their audiences explode and also become hits with businesses, which are putting up pages that allow them to connect with potential customers in new ways.
That will continue into 2013.
Another big trend to watch in the coming year: the morphing of social media into a visual experience.
“Pictures and video rule the social content world,” DeRosa says.
“My business partner Erik Granato coined the term ‘social currency’ for these objects. I believe you will see more and more focus on creating branded visuals.”
Measurement of social media campaigns and results will also become more sophisticated. DeRosa says advertisers are beginning to realize that likes and follows are meaningless metrics. They’re more interested in tools that can track return on investment.
“For quite a while, it was thought that large numbers meant a better chance of ROI, when in fact the opposite occurs. The audience becomes so watered down it becomes tough to actually create content that would be valuable to a specific audience,” he says.
Tags: advertisers, advertising, audience, facebook, facebook ad spending, marketing, media, mobile, roi, social media, social media ad spending, social media spending, time, twitter, twitter ad spending
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