It’s been a big year of growth for Social Media as an industry, and it shows no signs of stopping any time soon. The Search Agency stays on top of social media news not only because we offer killer SMM services (shameless plug), but we also house a bunch of geeky enthusiasts who just can’t keep their traps shut on the topic. Oh, and I’m one of them.
I tapped into The Search Agency’s Social Media brain trust to gain some perspective on where this industry is headed in the impending New Year. One thing is definitely for certain; companies are starting to pay a lot more attention to the value of social media, and increasing their marketing budgets to allow for growth. A joint study  from Booz Allen and social platform developer Buddy Media, showed that 57 percent of businesses surveyed plan to increase social media spending, while 38 percent of CEO’s label social as a high priority.
Of all the predictions, the most common theme I discovered (and have been loudly championing for some months now), across social media gurus internet wide, is that the lines between search and social are becoming increasingly blurred. Google Plus is definitely going to be a social game changer in this arena. It will be interesting to see if it really challenges Facebook, as many people initially predicted, or if it will just quietly create the ultimate social search engine and melt our faces off in awe.
Another prediction has to do with influence, which is no stranger in the world of search. We as search marketers are well aware that Google has long been the well-respected professor rewarding good influence with higher grades in the form of single digit rankings. We have been watching Google for years to determine just how its algorithms determine what is well optimized, influential, and worthy of being found in search results. The same goes for social media influence. With social media content already infiltrating the SERP, it begs the question of what content will rise as having the most influence. We see Klout, a platform whose algorithm gives your influence a weighted number, and perhaps similar companies gaining momentum in the coming year, as what’s shareable is going to become as important as what’s searchable.
In the same vein as social search, and social influence, is social sharing. What is social, if not a giant shared space of individuals’ ideas, opinions, media, whereabouts and status updates. One of the first industries to really capitalize on this was the media, as popular sites began adding sharing options to content, which ultimately led to more page views and *GASP*, higher rankings in SERPs. So what’s going to happen next year in terms of social sharing? We predict that social sharing with start being monetized with e-commerce and web transactions. More and more companies will allow a user to share a product or review with their networks without ever leaving the site. Perhaps we don’t realize that something is worth sharing until someone gives us the option. “MAYBE someone in my Facebook network WOULD be interested in learning about how much time I spend looking at clothes on Modcloth.com …”
Those are just some general 2012 Social Media predictions from The Search Agency’s team, but don’t worry we have ideas for days. Below is some specific soothsaying wisdom from our in-house Social junkies.
David Carrillo  – Creative Editor
My conventional predictions:
- “Niche” social networks like Pinterest will gain more mainstream adoption
- Social media marketers continue to the move beyond basic statistics like fan count and start honing in on revenue related metrics.
- Twitter growth makes huge gains due to a variety of factors (native iOS integration, an increasing number of celebrity users, higher smartphone penetration, roll out of a self-service ad platform, etc.)
My controversial prediction:
- Google+ completes its integration into all Google products and becomes a success by default – a signed in Google user will become synonymous with a Google+ user
Grant Simmons  – Group Account Director
- Social media will have more integration into search, and thus be a greater contributor to search algorithms.
Erik Freeman  – Director, Online Marketing
- Facebook will launch search.
- Ebay will launch social.
- As social continues to grow in power and numbers the classic 6 degrees of separation will reduce significantly down until there is no separation. This is when I will launch doppelganger.com. You will find your twin and become one with everything. (hmm…Ok Erik…)
Josh Peters  – Manager, Social Media
- More social platforms will upgrade metrics which will allow users a better view of data which will lead to better content and better campaigns.
- The need for technology that scales better will result in better systems for managing workflows and social within a company.
- Local social will see major growth as more local businesses adopt, and platforms make growth easier.
- Google plus will find its balance, will integrate with other platforms, and undercut Facebook on advertising.
Check iMediaConnection for more social media predictions  from The Search Agency!