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3 Digital Marketing Trends To Watch in 2012 and Beyond

Chances are on any given workday, marketers take advantage of a social feature, channel, tactic, or strategy that didn’t exist 12 months ago. An accelerated rate of change has always been a hallmark of social marketing, and with this in mind, eMarketer published a study in this area, Top Digital Trends for 2012. It explores digital marketing trends in 2012 and beyond, and predicts dramatic industry changes as both the hardware and software platforms of choice shift in favor of mobile devices, social media sites, and dynamic content. I was particularly struck by three key ideas:


  1. Companies are no longer satisfied with standard social media success metrics
  2. Magnetic content allows companies to succeed in the social and digital spaces
  3. 2012 will see a dramatic increase in Smartphone and tablet users, as well as an increase in online video consumption


A shift in social media metrics

When marketers first adopted social media, success was generally measured as volume of amassed friends, followers, and ‘Likes’. While this had been the prevailing notion of success, companies no longer feel satisfied with those metrics.



Image 1: Marketers believe social media will eventually provide ROI, but struggle to measure currently.


According to a Marketing Sherpa survey, only 20% of marketers thought social marketing produced ROI in 2011. This low number makes sense; only 41% of marketers could produce ROI figures at all according to The State of Social Media 2011 survey by Econsultancy. Of marketers surveyed, fewer than 10% could track ROI for the time and resources spent on social media efforts. However, the majority of marketers still believe that social marketing can produce ROI, which points to a need for more meaningful social analytics, and more robust tools to track key metrics.



Image 2: Some marketers are measuring more strategic metrics such as sharing of content, generating qualified leads, and earning incremental sales through the use of social media.

The importance of magnetic content

In addition to a shift in metrics, prevailing methods for capturing attention have also changed. According to eMarketer, more marketers are realizing that in order to succeed, interruptive advertising can no longer serve as the dominant method for attracting fans. 

Instead of spending staggering sums on banner ads and other interruptive media, companies now place a greater emphasis on creating magnetic content that provides inherent value to consumers. This content acts to supplement paid media by increasing positive brand awareness, creating a connection with consumers, and fostering lead generation through collection of consumer information in return for valuable content.

Macy’s, for example, provides a fantastic example of how to successfully create magnetic content. In 2011, Macy’s launched a web video series called “Wendy”, a modern take on Peter Pan. Featuring short episodes and high production value, costs were low and viewers could watch the series without a significant time investment. Each episode begins with a “presented by Macy’s” banner and the characters dress in Macy’s clothing, but otherwise the shows are free from overt promotion. Image

Image 3: Macy’s produced a mini TV series that led to hundreds of thousands of impressions.

Marketing this content via TV, social media, and branded websites, Macy’s generated cost effective interest in their program, getting 82,000-200,000 views per episode. “Wendy” created hundreds of thousands of non-interruptive brand impressions for Macy’s by making customers want to engage with their content.

The rise of smartphones, tablets and online video consumers

2012 marks another year of increased smartphone and tablet adoption, as well as increased viewership of online videos. eMarketer’s study predicts that almost half of all mobile phone users will own smartphones, and almost a quarter of internet users will own tablets by the end of 2012.

2012 and beyond

As we look to 2013 and beyond, it’s clear that companies embracing these changes will succeed as they create valuable content, invest more in understanding their customers, and improve their social ROI measurements. What are your predictions for what’s going to shape marketing in the next year? You can also consult the 2012 Social Media and New Marketing Predictions report we published at the beginning of the year. Some of the best minds in our industry like David Meerman Scott, Brian Solis, Erik Qualman, Paul Gillin, CC Chapman, and Steve Rubel, shared their thoughts on what’s to come.


Join The Conversation

  • seowestcp's picture
    Sep 16 Posted 4 years ago seowestcp

    Hi Mike


    First off, great article and many of your points make sense - I have seen firsthand the rise of Mobile device uses amognst my client sites (just by looking at the %Growth within Google Analytics for example) - with some sites more than doubling the number of mobile visits in the since the beginning of the year.

    The Macy's tactic was a grand one in deed - showing that entertainment is strong and if packaged properly (short episodes), you can target mobile and smart phone users as well.



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