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5 Social Business Predictions For 2013

Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows
Facebook's 2012 Highs And Lows

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This past year saw some major milestones in social networking, but many of them were in the external social networking realm. However, if it's safe to say that 2012 was not THE YEAR OF SOCIAL BUSINESS, we can say it was the year that social technology made some significant inroads in business. So what's ahead for 2013? Here are some predictions.

1. If your company is not talking about social technology, it will be.

At a holiday gathering, a PR director friend told me that his workplace -- a state social services organization -- will be investigating the use of social networking this year. He said he is nervous because it all seems so new, but he added that he knows the social train is running and his organization has to jump on board or be left behind. He is not alone. Indeed, 2013 may not be the year that your company jumps -- or even dips its toes -- into social business. However, by the end of the year, any organization that wants to be competitive in its space will be talking about and planning for how social technology can and should be used.

2. Social will come into your organization "through the back door."

Your organization may or may not decide to proactively make use of social technology this year, but social will have presence in your organization. Whether it is a communications director testing out a company page on Facebook, customers complaining about or praising your company on their own Twitter profiles, or traditional enterprise applications being updated with social capabilities, there will be social. It is for this reason that your company should have some policy around social, no matter where it is on the social spectrum.

[ See what's around the corner for enterprise social networking. Read Social Enterprise 2013: Opportunities And Obstacles. ]

3. Enterprise applications will integrate more social features.

As we said in the previous item, one of the ways social technology will make its way into your organization will be through updates to existing applications or integration in new products. From CRM to office productivity apps to business intelligence systems, social capabilities such as collaboration and expert search will make their way into more and more of the products your company is already using.

4. You will be judged by your social presence.

When vetting potential job candidates, one of the first things hiring managers will do is check out their public social media presence. (Indeed, one of the bigger social media stories at the beginning of 2012 involved hiring managers asking candidates for their social media passwords.) However, even if you have no intention of leaving your current position, someone that you will be hiring, or meeting with, or even working with will be checking out your profiles on Facebook, Twitter and especially LinkedIn. Have you demonstrated social savvy? Is your presence on all networks free and clear of anything you wouldn't want your boss or mother or child to see? Do you even have presence on social networks? We've heard some professional people say it doesn't matter or that social is just a fad. It does, and it isn't, and someone will be looking you up on social this coming year.

5. Facebook will matter less; Twitter and Pinterest will matter more.

This has been a rough year for Facebook, from its lackluster IPO in May to confusion (by Mark Zuckerberg's sister, no less) over its ever-changing privacy policies. And that's the problem. Facebook is in a constant state of flux, and the new features it does roll out seem like they are thrown against the wall to see which ones will stick. That's a problem for companies that are betting big (or any) chunks of their marketing, customer-service and e-commerce budgets on the platform. Twitter, meanwhile, pretty much is what it is, and companies thus are able to more effectively evolve and enhance their presence on the platform. The same goes for Pinterest, which, while less tested, has also done a good job of tapping into images as a sales and marketing tool. We expect that companies will pull back their Facebook presence this coming year, while beefing it up on Twitter and Pinterest.

So, will 2013 be THE YEAR OF SOCIAL BUSINESS? I don't think so. In fact, I don't think there will be a year that we can point to that will stand out as the year that social really took hold in the business world. Rather, I think, social will continue to wend its way into enterprise products, and organizations will continue to experiment with new social collaboration practices.

Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.

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