Where Business Meets the Blogroll

5 Social Media Trends for 2013

What’s the next big thing in 2013?

There isn’t one. But, here are five trends I predict will be important in 2013 for social media innovators.

1. Retrenchment. It’s a tough environment for a new Instagram or Pinterest to break-out. Instead, I think individuals and organizations will focus on gaining a return on investment from the time and money they’ve invested already. After a period of exploration and experimentation, it’s back to the basics.

Silver Lining: There’s always room for a new casual game.

2. Engagement. Building on #1, it is a time for deeper engagement on fewer platforms. For an individual this looks like: more intentional social networking and more time on their favorite platforms. For those building a business online, a lot more people will implement loyalty programs and other forms of gamification.

Opportunity: There’s a stable set of mature well-established social media platforms. With focus, you can quickly develop expertise in less frequently used, but still powerful, features of them.

Cat in window

The future Internet will also have lots of cats.


3. Small Screens. It’s pretty obvious: the PC era is turning into a mobile device era. It’s less obvious how business should react. My advice: think twice, and then think twice again, before creating an mobile app. Instead, relentless test, retest, and optimize the heck out of your existing web content for access via small screens.

Challenge: If you’ve already developed a mobile application, it will be painful to drop.

4. Micro-community. Whereas the large horizontal social networks are entering a period of mature consolidation, there’s plenty of room for niche interest-based and geography-based services. Content marketing is as powerful as ever and if you can create a online community around your brand, that’s pure marketing gold. No one has figured out a scalable business model for hyper-local news, but that shouldn’t stop you from creating a hyper-local network around your brand, products, or location.

Challenge: picking the right size target and having the patience to foster slow organic growth.

5. Problem Solving. Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door. Maintaining a consistent robust presence on multiple social media platforms is tedious. Address that challenge, and the you’ve got a viable offering.

Tip: if you aren’t using if-this-than-that (IFTTT.com), check it out. It’s the Swiss Army Knife of mousetraps.

Your Turn

Do you agree with these 5 trends? What do you see in your social meda future?

Image credit: Cat and Peking Duck special by Steven-L-Johnson on Flickr


8 Responses to 5 Social Media Trends for 2013

  • Professor – a few comments … well you did ask ….

    You should reorder the headlines – that way your post can be known as MR. ESP 🙂

    You should resize the ‘cat’s cuisine’ – it is blocking nav on the right

    AND – while I agree with the sentiments … I would slightly tweak – let me provide a couple of examples

    referenced but not specifically called out location based services – while not for everyone – will become much more important for those business where location is relevant
    I agree that writing your own app is not necessarily the best idea – neither is a simple ” test, retest, and optimize the heck out of your existing web content for access via small screens.” – surely the point of mobility is the context – and that should be the take home on small screens – it is not just about making your content work on the small screen – it is making your content work in the context of the small screen – as in why is the visitor likely to be on a small screen to begin with

    BTW – love IFTTT – but they need some substantial help on their ‘expert user’ UI – while it is perfect for the beginner – i only have 13 rules and already I am annoyed by the screen space it takes up – 13 rules I should be able to see in a angle screen glance.

  • I think you have missed how important mobile video and content creation has become.


  • John — Thank you for the comments! And yes, I did ask! 🙂

    Changed the picture size…

    Good points all around. I think location based services is one way that mobile apps shine. But, OTOH, can’t that be done to some extent with a smart mobile version of your website? (And, yes, I totally get that mobile friendly involves a non-trivial set of issues to incorporate in a website.)

    I’ve had that same issue with IFTTT. There’s some other upgrades it really needs, too, like the ability to manage multiple accounts on the same service (e.g., I’ve run into issues with managing multiple twitter and multiple tumblr accounts).

  • Robert — Thanks for the comment. Maybe we’re talking apples and oranges here…

    The site you link seems to fall under the tools category (#5). Unless I”m missing something, it looks primarily like an easy way to get content from mobile to youtube. That also fits with trend #1… Youtube is likely to keep on growing… and growing. I just don’t see any new video platform arising.

    I’m quite curious, what new personal or organizational impacts do you see with mobile + video in the near future?

  • Great insight, Steven. I definitely agree on all counts. I’m currently working on streamlining – right sizing – my social platform. I’ll be focusing on continued development of my brands through a limited, lean set of networks. 2010-2012 introduced a plethora of capabilities and opportunities, but I believe that 2013-2015 will be all about optimization and a focus on workflow. In order to realize a ROI, an organization or brand must incorporate a social strategy into its workflows – not just slap it on top of a marketing plan. I love the idea of localized hyper-content, and after a decade of information overload, I think this is just the time to explore narrowing into communities.

  • Dear Prof. Johnson,

    thank you for sharing your ideas and thoughts with us. I agree with all 5 trends. My thoughts fits with trend #4 and I like the last ideea of Christopher Ford. I think that it’s a must to guide the user in a personalized way to interesting resources and to help users cope with the problem of information overload. Social networks are all over and it’s hard to match the content with people. I think that 2013 needs to bring new ways to identify the groups of interest, the most trustworthy content and users in the social structures of a network. Regarding social networks and recommandation systems I put some of my ideas in this article “Building a Social Recommender System by Harvesting Social Relationships and Trust Scores Between Users”. Any feedback will be highly appreciated.

    Best regards,

  • Great points Ryan. Building on #4, social media is being used at an accelerated pace by business for providing more responsive and transparent customer service with a goal of customer satisfaction/retention. This use of social media is becoming more and more important to businesses, ranking just behind customer acquisition, which is still the primary driver for business to invest in social channels based on our experience. Thanks for sharing.

  • Very valid points! Specially point no. 4 about niche-communities! I think they will play a big part in social media in the near future! The trend in B2B social media is also changing a lot, ‘Google Plus’ will apparently grow by 20% in the next year or so. It”ll be interesting to follow how it will evolve. Some more info in this report: B2B Social Media Benchmarking Report 2013

    all the best.