Social media pros predict the future


Facebook is the world’s largest social network — with more than one billion members — and its mission is to make the world more open and connected.

What will the social media landscape look like throughout 2013? The Grand Rapids Business Journal asked local public relations, marketing and advertising pros to email us their predictions for the coming year. 

Images and mobile will rule the social media realm, and businesses will find more ways to learn about and connect with their audiences. Privacy concerns will also remain a push and pull between platforms, advertisers and users.


If you're planning to include more video content this year, you'll find you're on the right track; visual content will continue to engage users in 2013. Choose your platform, and go for it.

“In 2013, visual appeal will rule content creation. The popularity of info-graphics, image sharing and visual storytelling will increase as companies experiment with the visual side of social media. The networks that have been built around quickly uploading and sharing images and video will continue to grow (i.e., Pinterest and Instagram).” – Dan Kimball, social media specialist, ddm Marketing & Communications

“A year from now, any entity that emphasizes an image-based platform with nearly 100 percent mobile ease of use will operate at a huge competitive advantage over the competition.” – Chris Tromp, senior director of digital, Lambert, Edwards & Associates

“Some of those platforms gaining steam are video-sharing apps like Tout. Tout is an app that captures 15-second videos on your phone or computer and shares them on Facebook and Twitter. It's popular among celebrities, athletes and news shows. It received a lot of buzz when Shaquille O'Neal used it to announce his retirement from the NBA last year on Twitter. I predict video-based platforms will have a much stronger presence in 2013 like photo-based apps did in 2012. These ‘micro videos’ can play a valuable role in helping businesses connect with customers online while injecting some personality and helping brands stand out from the competition.” – Emily Richett, founder, Richett Media.

“YouTube is exploding. Now the second-largest search engine, YouTube offers tremendous functionality and opportunities to engage with customers — no matter what the industry. Our clients realize that they don't have to spend a lot of money to establish and maintain a YouTube channel. Technology prices continue to drop while quality improves, making it both affordable and accessible for clients to do it themselves when it comes to producing respectable videos.” – Mary Ann Sabo, principal and founder, Sabo PR


With tablet adoption spiking fast and smartphones becoming ever-more ubiquitous, 2013 will see a growing demand for native mobile apps and websites catering to mobile users.

“With smartphone and tablet use increasing by nearly 50 percent over one year ago, expect strong growth in the use of apps vs. websites in 2013. Websites will still have a role specifically for business-to-business communications, but be on the lookout for better mobile websites that cater to tablet and smartphone users.” – Ginny Seyferth, president, SeyferthPR

“Video and app advertising will include more interactive media creating highly engaging brand experiences. More time is already being spent in mobile apps than browsing the web, and we can expect apps to play an even bigger role in 2013.” – Dan Kimball, social media specialist, ddm Marketing & Communications

“Everyone has — or wants — an app. More businesses are investing resources to develop and introduce apps, even businesses that might, on the surface, seem unlikely candidates… Privacy issues remain important, although not all app developers take them into consideration when creating new apps.” — Mary Ann Sabo, principal and founder, Sabo PR.

“People will use their second screens to enhance their traditional content consumption experience through social applications synchronized with their favorite TV shows, movies, video games, and etc.” — Brian Steketee, chief alchemist, Agent X

Location-based services

Both companies and customers will look to get more out of GPS-based technology. Think about what kinds of offers would entice nearby customers — on their mobile devices — to visit your store.

“As (mobile) use continues to skyrocket, a greater emphasis will likely be put on GPS-based services that connect users with nearby activities, establishments and friends. Many of us already use these services. We’ll use them more in 2013, while others will begin to use them, and the services will get better and more diverse.” – Nick Wasmiller, senior consultant, Wondergem Consulting

“Geo-targeting and location-based marketing to mobile devices is changing how consumers interact with brands. In 2013, businesses will encourage in-store check-ins and social sharing by offering more deals and discounts to customers.” — Dan Kimball, social media specialist, ddm Marketing & Communications

“We may start to see more companies invest in promotions and offers for location-based social media such as Foursquare and possibly even Facebook. This is already big in metropolitan cities, but I predict we will see a lot of growth in this area.” – Elizabeth Council, account manager, RC Productions

Pulling data and the ad buy

Social media optimization and inbound marketing continue to affect customer decision making, so executives can expect to pull more data from social analytics. Also, as social media sites like Facebook grow and refine their revenue models, they're offering more targeting and self-serve options for advertisers.

“I also think we’ll see great advances in analytics connected to social media and the increasing influence of social media on search-engine optimization efforts. As a result, businesses will be able to know more about people who like their brand, and conversely, the number of people who like their brand will have a bigger impact on how many others hear about the organization as a result of a search.” — Nick Wasmiller, senior consultant, Wondergem Consulting

“Successful brands will increase their focus on inbound tactics and developing customer loyalty, creating valuable digital experiences that draw users in rather than inundating them with unwanted ads.” – Brian Steketee, chief alchemist, Agent X

“Social platforms will make it easier for brands to reach their customers through new targeting and paid options. Users may notice more ads sneaking into their feeds (We’re already seeing this with Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts on Facebook, Sponsored Jobs on LinkedIn, Promoted Videos on YouTube, as well as Promoted Tweets and Accounts on Twitter). You can expect this trend to continue, as well as a pushback from users (e.g., recently, Instagram withdrew its policy that would include user’s photos in their ads because of user backlash).” — Dan Kimball, social media specialist, ddm Marketing & Communications

“Facebook will attempt to be more user-friendly for businesses, though I believe we will start to see more limits on business pages, at least in terms of how many fans will actually see a post. As a result, good Edgerank will be harder to come by without paid and promoted posts and paid advertising. Companies will surrender and begin paying for social media promotion, in addition to hiring their own content strategists.” – Elizabeth Council, account manager, RC Productions

PR and social media

Companies continue to gain public relations points through social media engagement, so you can expect that courting brand ambassadors and spreading positive word-of-mouth messages should remain a priority for your business.

“Today, you can’t just send pitches or releases out via e-mail. They need to be tweeted and Facebooked. More journalists are using social media to identify sources and secure interviews.” – Mary Ann Sabo, principal and founder, Sabo PR

“PR’s management role in social media will be in the areas of content development, ongoing message monitoring, responding to consumer input and recognizing consumer trends. PR will also ensure social media ties with strategic business goals. While companies will continue to measure consumer engagement volume in social media, PR’s key measurement of work will be tied to the securing key influencers, much like third-party endorsements to bolster brand credibility.” — Ginny Seyferth, president, SeyferthPR

What are your social media predictions for 2013?

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