2012 was a big year for social media. Facebook had its monumental IPO, Twitter strengthened its grip on the number two spot, and Pinterest stepped out as a legitimate force to be reckoned with. A lot went down, but what 2012 may be remembered most for is the year that brands stopped talking, and actually started to incorporate social media into their marketing strategies.
The business community has the social channel square in its crosshair, but in addition to major platforms like Facebook and Twitter, what specific destinations will it be focusing on? There will surely be several, but here are the top three social networks to keep an eye on in 2013.
Google+ first hit the scene in the summer of 2011. It got off to an unbelievably fast start, breaking all sorts of records on its way to becoming one of the social big boys … or so we thought. It was soon revealed that while Google+ was reeling in new visitors at a rapid rate, it was also having a hard time keeping them active. This revelation was followed up with talk that the site had already failed and would soon be on its way out the door.
The internet community started singing a different tune when it learned that Google+ could be a key piece of the SEO puzzle in 2013 and beyond. Google is encouraging authors to get onboard with its authorship initiative by connecting their authored content to Google+. It has been widely speculated that this initiative could play a huge role in the Author Rank the company might be using as a new metric to calculate search rankings.
Is the hype around Author Rank enough to save Google’s social platform? That remains to be seen, but all eyes will surely be on Google+ this year.
You’re probably asking yourself: is MySpace still alive? The answer to that question is yes. Despite being left for dead long ago and numerous failed rebranding attempts, the former king of the social space appears to be on another comeback trail. This time around, however, it might actually turn some heads and get people to start taking notice again.
With pop music sensation Justin Timberlake at the helm, MySpace has received an entertainment-focused makeover complete with an attractive design, and a full slate of new user-friendly features. Users get a streamlined view of updates from connections right on their home page, and have the ability to search for content such as music and videos in a variety of ways. Another thing users might find handy is music and videos continuing to play as they navigate the site.
The new MySpace is currently undergoing beta testing. You’ll need to be invited or request an invite from a friend in order to get in. Flourish or flop, it will definitely be interesting to see what becomes of this new direction.
Inbound.org is a promising social network strictly designed for marketers. Created by Dharmesh Shah and Rand Fishkin, respectively the founder of HubSpot and CEO of SEOMoz, the site is essentially a community that sees professionals networking and sharing content. Topics covered on Inbound.org range from social media and SEO to video and mobile integration. If it’s marketing related, it’s fair game.
Perhaps the best way to describe Inbound is as a professional version of Reddit. There’s a leaderboard-style list on the homepage featuring the most popular articles, in addition to the ability to make comments, and endorse content by voting. It is also similar to such sites in the sense that sharing valuable content from others is generally more effective than tooting your own horn all the time.
You can sign up to Inbound.org with your existing Twitter account. From the looks of it, this tool can be extremely useful at driving referral traffic and keeping a finger to the pulse of specific industries. Expect marketers wishing to better target their social efforts to give this unique platform special attention.
Rolling with the Times
2013 is shaping up to be the biggest year yet for social media. New players will enter. Some will rise, while others may fall. Predicting how individual parties will fair can be difficult, but we’re pretty confident about this trio making the sort of noise that warrants attention.
What do you say? Which social networks will be on your radar in 2013? Let us know in a comment.