The Future of Social Media: 50+ Experts Share Their 2013 Predictions

The world of social media underwent major changes in 2012.

We saw the addition of Facebook Timelines for Fan Pages, the rise of Pinterest, revamped LinkedIn Company Pages, improved Twitter profile pages, and the increasing pressure to prove social media ROI.

As more companies begin leveraging social media for marketing, sales and customer service, it is more important than ever to stay ahead of the curve.

On December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore will participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.  We hope you will join us and in the meantime please enjoy the following predications from over 50 thought leaders.

The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales and Customer Service?

1.  Jason Stein, Founder and President of 24/7 Laundry Service – @jasonwstein

Social media has completely blurred the lines between all aspects of marketing. We live in a world where Facebook posts double as paid ads, and people’s tweets are a form of journalism. As a result, in the new year brands will really embrace the concept of “converged media,” and see owned, earned and paid as a unified program. This is the future of B2C communications.

2.  Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing and Sales at Awareness, Inc. – @bostonmike

Small and mid-sized market will be revolutionized by social customer acquisition at scale. Specifically, new social profiling and scoring tools will allows marketers to analyze and apply custom segmentation logic to their social databases to meet specific customer acquisition and conversion goals. As a result companies will see a tangible social marketing ROI – increase in sales and customer retention.

3.  Natalie Bidnick, Account Supervisor and Social Media Strategist at The Marketing Zen Group – @NatalieBid

Social Media will become an essential – not optional – form of communicating with customers. More companies will use Facebok and Twitter to both listen to their customers, solicit feedback, and practice public crisis management.

4.  Zubin Mowlavi, CEO of Lucid Fusion – @ZubinMowlavi

2012 was the year of data and more specifically, data as it relates to the Social Interest Graph. People and companies shared content more than ever, and this data was organized around interests rather than personal relationships. This trend continues in 2013 with the Social Product Graph which highlights shifting the focus to the sharing and serving of actionable content around products of interest. By doing so, social media will become a social stream for product discovery and commerce, thereby driving sales.

5.  Jeremy Goldman, Entrepreneur, strategist, & author of the upcoming book, Going Social – @jeremarketer  

Companies will begin to shift from thinking of “Social Media” as a department, or as a component headed by the same person who heads their E-Commerce operations. Instead, they will begin to shift social media responsibilities into multiple departments. Companies will begin to see social media as something akin to a telephone that can be used in multiple ways by multiple departments.

6.  Mike Wolfe, Founder & President, WAM Enterprises LLC – @WAMGolfs

Social Media will continue to grow in 2013 due to the increase usage of mobile technology, specifically smartphones. We can expect to see visual (images) to be a driving force and I believe an increase in internet video usage too.

7.  Patrick J. Sweeney II,­ featured contributor to Social Media Today and CNBC – @PJSweeney

The future of social media will evolve around the frictionless capturing of precious memories in the real world. When people are skiing, doing a triathlon, at a concert, or doing anything fun and engaging – mobile technology will enable them to capture the moment with very high quality pictures and video and instantly share online without lifting a finger. Brands will pay for or sponsor this infrastructure in order to have “product placement” on social media. See Cadbury at the Olympics for a great example.

8.  Kelby Brick, Esq., Vice President, Regulatory & Strategic Policy at Purple Communications, Inc. – @kelbybrick

In 2013 smart businesses will emphasize using social media for personal interactions and connections with their customers. This is different from 2012 where macro blasts were the norm. Personal connections result in a more loyal and valued customer base.

9.  Mike Bal, Creative and Digital Marketing Director at Baseline21 – @CreativeIthink

The biggest change we will see in the next year is that we are over the main hump on the adoption curve. At this point it’s not a specific demographic, it’s all of them from grandmas to elementary aged children.
Now that the majority of society has adopted social expectations have changed. Those expectations will dramatically affect customer service, marketing and sales.

Customer Service – People know they don’t have to wait on the phone to get help, they can tweet. This makes it easy for the customer to let the brand know about any and all problems. So any company who went ahead and distributed products with minor flaws in hopes that the customer wouldn’t want to deal with the hassle of a return or exchange will have a rude awakening. Many companies have adopted social media as a customer service tool purely for the fact that they can look good in front of thousands of potential customers. This year companies will start adopting it out of necessity. If a customer who doesn’t want to talk to a machine or wait on hold for 20 minutes, they are going to reach out via social. If you
don’t answer and they HAVE to call, they are going to be highly irritated and more demanding, ultimately costing the company more money.

Marketing – Having a presence on social media has become (or will soon) as important as having a website. Not being on social means you’re missing out on big opportunities in search engine real estate and with your customers. More firms will add social media to their offerings and the smartest ones
already have. We should have realized by now that it’s not a stand along media channel, it’s an essential part of a successful media mix.

Sales – Social media has become a powerful tool for both B2B and B2C industries. It can generate leads and drive buyer traffic to a specific product. Sales teams will evolve to include a digital lead generation
specialist and marketing strategies will be broadened as location isn’t as much of an issue when you’re running a powerful social platform.

10.  Joey Sargent, Principal, BrandSprout Advisors – @brandsprout

In 2013, we’ll see more social maturity in both B2C and B2B applications. Business will get “social smarts” and more fully integrate social media into their day-to-day operations across the organization. This means less social for social’s sake, and more focus on social media as a legitimate business tool to facilitate communication, engagement and loyalty.

11.  Beverly Solomon, Creative Director at musee-solomon

People are over saturated with social media. They will gradually remove themselves from all but a few networks, blogs, etc. So many ads come in everyday that they have lost their impact. Most
people just delete them before reading them.  Social media will function more to alert friends of rip-offs than to encourage sales.  Only the most clever sales campaigns will have any impact.  More and more advertisers will be leaving social media and returning to snail mail, print and other traditional ads.  Social media will continue to be a dating hook up, gossip fest and avenue for “gurus” to sell seminars. But real businesses will use social media less and less.

12.  Caroline Kornowicz, Social Media Manager for CliqStudios Cabinets – @CarolineSofiaK

The future of social media lies heavily in images, video and interaction for the user. It is exploring our senses further with sight, sound and touch. We are seeing current trends with infographs and statistics speak for themselves that an image or video provides higher engagement than plain text posts.

13.  Melissa Brodsky, co-founder of Smart Savvy Social – @smartsavvysoc

More and more brands will realize the importance and relevance of social media and begin to grow their online footprint. Also, I believe that Facebook will eventually burn too many bridges and a new network will become dominant, one that WANTS to help brands instead of only themselves.

14.  Brittany Dowell, Director of Publication Relations at Digital Talent Agents

Social media use is not going anywhere but up in 2013. Companies will hire more full-time employees dedicated solely to engaging with customers via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. With customer service moving to more online interaction, we could see the need for traditional office space steadily decline.

15.  Jayme Pretzloff, Online Marketing Director for Wixon Jewelers – @jpretz

Going into 2013 social media will impact sales more than any other metric because of the continued integration as a marketing platform and the acceptance of users to be marketed to. In 2011, almost 70% of users said that no social media platform influenced their buying decision and in 2012, that was cut in half to 35%. In 2013, this number will be decreased significantly again because these sites have become an integral way to gain access to information on companies, promotions and products.

16.  Amanda Vega – @amandavega

Social media will continue to have direct and indirect impact on sales in 2013. Consumers will continue to expect an immediate response to their needs online, and a lack of timely response will have a hard-to-measure, but certain impact on brand satisfaction and recommendations.

17.  Tom Koulopoulos, Chairman at Delphi Group and Author of “Cloud Surfing: A New Way
to Think About Risk, Innovation, Scale, and Success” –

The greatest shift in Social media over the next year will be the maturing of “behavioral business models” that use a deep and comprehensive cross platform understanding of consumer and enterprise
online behaviors as the basis for predictive analytics about their interests and habits. Companies that own the broadest range of platforms such as Apple and Google will be able to track online consumer activity
in ways that create enormous value for retailers. The same is true of enterprise applications of social media where online B2B transactions are being collected and analyzed by companies such as E2Open, which have created a similar capability in projecting future behaviors of markets in order to dynamically alter supply chains in real time to meet the needs of consumers. This notion of using behavior to predict the future will be a critical contribution of social media in an increasingly uncertain world.

18.  Joey Beachum, Digital Content Specialist at Markstein Consulting – @MarksteinChats

As wireless technology advances and smartphones continue to proliferate (they’re projected to form 54% of the total mobile phone market in 2013), consumers will become increasingly tied to social media in some form or fashion. This gives sales professionals even more of an opportunity at something I call ‘mass direct access’: reaching out directly to consumers on an individual level, like with a traditional sales approach, yet on a mass scale. More socially-connected consumers equal more potential touch-points and more sales opportunities.

19.  Kurt Uhlir, Cofounder and Chief Servant at Buzztastic – @KurtUhlir

There is a great wave of un-liking/un-following that will hit brands, at the least we will see people unselect “show in newsfeed” on Facebook. Consumers want higher quality content than what most brands are offering. This is a huge opportunity for brands offering engaging content that know how to activate an audience.

20.  Aalap Shah, co-founder at SoMe Connect – @some_connect

A companies mobile/tablet strategy (or lack thereof will define sales & marketing success for brands and companies in 2013. Consumers can access apps that display social data and activity of their friends anywhere and at anytime and retailers and brands need to have a consistent and clear message to push across social media channels. Without a mobile strategy, most companies will see their sales go to competitors that are where their customers are consuming information.

21.  Ed McMasters, Director of Marketing & Communication at Flottman Company

The future of social media for B2B will be held in the hands of LinkedIn – the new advances of LinkedIn make it a true Business To Business relationship builder. People that have their profiles at 100% and
continue to update them will have the biggest advantages. Knowledge that posting monthly or bi-weekly updates to your profile puts you in front of clients and potential clients is just like advertising only a
lot less expensive. I am a firm believer that LinkedIn will be the Social Media BIG GUY of the future.

22.  Sheryl Johnson, Founder of BD-PRo Marketing Solutions – @BD_PRoMarketing

Social media is here to stay. I predict that social media will evolve into a powerful knowledge management system that leverages virtual connections while capturing valuable information. The biggest challenge moving forward is to create a method of harnessing and connecting this data from all sources in a meaningful, searchable way.

23.  Ty Kiisel, Director of Content Marketing at Lendio – @tykiisel

I don’ think there’s any question that social media has become a relevant part of many brand discussions over the last few years generally, and 2012 in particular. However, more and more marketing leaders are finding that being social just to be social isn’t gaining them the traction in the marketplace they might have hoped. 2013 will see a greater focus on the creation of relevant and substantive content creation initiatives that provide value to customers that will ultimately create greater affinity for those brands that are most successful.

24.  Valerie Jennings, CEO of Viral Bolt Media and Jennings Social Media Marketing – @valeriejennings

Sales and marketing will continue to be impacted by organic SEO and SMO via social media. One major change may be the shift away from exclusively focusing on Facebook as a business sales and marketing tool and moving into more advanced programs including sales and marketing strategies that generate sales on Pinterest, Google+ and even FourSquare. If these platforms do not support sales and marketing strategies, other platforms via social networks will evolve quickly in the marketplace until there is one sold and remarkably profitable solution.

25.  Vickens Moscova, Owner/President of VM Enterprises – @VickensMoscova

I predict more and more people will get focused on utilizing social media to build their own personal brands, while more brands and businesses will realize that the control of their brand has shifted to having consumers having more control over their choices.

26.  Joan Barrett, Owner of The Content Factory – @ContentFac

My prediction is that social media will continue to have a strong impact on SEO, especially with Google
Algorithms becoming more and more personalized. The more social shares an article or site has, the higher it is going to rank.

27.  Tom Corson-Knowles, best-selling author of How To Make Money With Twitter – @JuiceTom

In 2013, we’ll see a lot more companies turning to social media primarily for customer service. We’ve already seen American Airlines cut down their phone service and instead encouraging customers to talk on Twitter if they need customer support. A lot more big companies will follow this trend in an effort to reduce overhead and expand their social media presence.

28.  Jeff Browning, Sr Director, Online Strategy at F5 Networks – @jeffbrowning

2013 is the year social leaps beyond projection / syndication and becomes more about listening, understanding, and driving better products and relationships that drive business. Vendors and agencies that provide useful big data analytics (ideally blending the inside and outside the enterprise) will become big dollar rockstars. Over 50% of C-level will finally realize social does not equal Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

29. Jim Caruso, marketing strategist & CEO at MediaFirst PR – @jimcaruso

Facebook will matter more for B2B, as will FB advertising, since stock price matters when you are a public company.  LinkedIn with matter more across industries and new players, like Pinterest, will continue to disrupt the big players in social media

30.  James Medd, Social Media Marketing Manager at Emailvision – @jamespmedd

In 2013, I predict brands will grow their investments in social customer service to better serve customers who engage with them through social media channels – who have been shown to spend 20% to 40% more than customers who are not socially engaged.

As social customer service matures, I expect to see more integration of technology platforms from traditional customer services with social monitoring and team collaboration. This will enable customers to receive the same level of support and information, regardless of their communication channel preference.

31.  Ryan Schram, CMO of IZEA – @ryanschram

Today’s consumer demands a genuine relationship with the brands they love; nowhere is that more apparent than in social, where soft-selling, brand-building, and real-time problem solving comes into the main more and more each day.   Brands are utilizing a diverse array of tools and resources to
maximize their presence on the social web, including the compensation of social influencers to promote products and services (known as Social Media Sponsorship).   The 2012 State of Social Media Sponsorship study indicated that almost 60% of brands have a stand-alone social marketing budget with that amount having increased dramatically since 2009.

32.  Stephanie Ciccarelli, co-Founder of – @stephciccarelli

Sales, Customer Service and Marketing departments will need to work together to engage, sell and retain customers who choose to interact with a brand online via social networks. Companies will need to view those managing their social media as being on the “front lines” of a brand’s online customer service efforts. The best way to do this is to have a dedicated social media manager who can share content and engage a community online but also be a means of support to those asking questions.

33.  Dimple Thakkar, CEO and Impresario of SYNHERGY MARKETING – @dimplethakkar

Start planning a serious budget for social media advertising in 2013. Make sure you skip the promotional tone in your ad copy to build trust with followers. Consumers have an amazing radar for bullshit and your brand has a small window to make a good [first] impression.

34.  Caitlin Connors, Social Media Director at Boomtown Internet Group – @boomtownig

Social media is an elusive program for companies because it changes with your goals and with your audience and especially with technology. I predict that companies who use social media correctly, with an outsourced company that understands their brands and goals perfectly, will be overwhelmed with how much it can positively impact leads/conversions/sales.  In 2013, hopefully more people who claim to have an understanding of SMO will be aware of what effects ROI and how to customize SMO for each company. If they don’t (as many don’t know), leads aren’t happening and CEOs and Executives are doubting the effect of SMO. Customer Service could greatly benefit from SMO in 2013 with Twitter API’s for sites to have an “Ask Us Now” option to live chat, and a full-time Twitter manager to answer incoming questions. Google Hangout and new conversation management tools are now all in place to be utilized to find people having products with brands and services and actively seek them out to answer their qualms.

35.  Kevin Ohashi, Founder of Review Signal – @kevinohashi

I think the most important trend is customer service over social media.  Companies are more actively monitoring what is being said about them and consumers will become more empowered to see and react to the ways companies are engaging their customers. Access to information is democratizing and
consumers will be able to make decisions based on company behavior, and customer service is the biggest touch point between most companies and consumers.

36.  Adam Itkoff, Strategist at Fueled Mobile Design, NYC – @adamitkoff

As we look at growing usage trends across multiple social media platforms, we can only assume that these mediums will become more crucial to both business and sales. No longer must we ask, do we participate in Twitter or Facebook, but rather, how can we leverage these platforms best?  Look especially for Twitter and Instragram to keep growing strong.

37.  Flynn Zaiger, Founder of Online Optimism – @onlineoptimism

Social Media will help E-Commerce begin to surpass actual brick and mortar sales numbers. Expect Amazon to team up with either Facebook or Twitter to release an app that allows you to both see if a product is cheaper online, and also if your friends approve of how it looks.

38.  Melinda Janicki, Online Business Growth Catalyst, Internet Marketing Strategist & Implementation Expert – @melindajanicki

As social media moves from a simple networking site into being at the fore front of technology and SEO, I predict social media to be a must have customer services tool. Much like email has brought tech support
and customer service to a new level social media will be a must with apps, groups, Google+ hangouts, even Twitter chat rooms.

39.  Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc. – @griotsroll

Social media will replace the business website. If you don’t have a social media page with information on your products, services on your about page you are not in business. People will judge you on how they can get in contact with you through your social media page. Your “About” page will be more important than your website and you better have links to any other social media pages you have.

40.  David Drake, The Soho Loft – @TSLCCevents

US SMEs will start embracing social media strategies and crowd funding will drive this for startups and local business as crowd funding for equity is implemented as a law.  Social media strategies will become more readily available to consulting firms helping small medium-sized enterprises with the winners being local businesses learning the tools to embrace their eco system.

41.  Alex Schenker, President at  – @WeRockYourWeb

Marketers will need to use fewer words and more voice, video and images to connect with today’s overly stimulated consumer (e.g. Pinterest, Voxer, YouTube).  More filters will allow consumers to better target/find what they are looking for which will lead to more qualified sales’ leads. As we become more inundated with content, it will become more vital to have filters on how we choose to consume the content.  Mobile devices will continue to drive social media communication so the social media of choice may depend on which device you hold and the successful marketing efforts will be customized to that
platform. For example, Google Chat is not directly accessible via an app on an iPhone so they will likely turn to iMessage which allows you to text several people at once, creating your own “social network” for each message you create.

42.  Raghu Bala, Board Member at Fanggle – @raghurambala

Vertical social platforms will emerge to enable people with similar interests to share information (text, images/pictures, video) on topics of mutual interest. The current metrics – ‘Likes’, ‘Followers’, ‘Fans’ – will give way to more meaningful means of measuring engagement. I also see social media becoming more immersed in everyday activity. For instance, with Google Glass combined with voice to text, one can automatically tweet and attach an image more naturally than currently possible.

43.  Ziggi Yaxley, Social Media Specialist at Bozboz, UK. – @ziggidotcom

Social media is instant, personal and available to everyone. It’s the new way to do customer service and it’s a way to connect with current and potential customers in exciting and innovative ways. It’s human.
2013 will see more businesses investing in social media for the first time and socially-equipped businesses allocating more resource to running their social media more efficiently.

44.  Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer for Enterasys – @ValaAfshar

A truly social enterprise is not just about technology, it is about lifestyle. Enterprises that collaborate socially (and not just through social media) with their customers and employees are able to not only grow mindshare, but also their business.  For example, at Enterasys, we believe there is nothing more important than our customers – internally and externally – so if both are delighted, we know we are doing our job socially now and into the future.

45. Marifran Manzo-Ritchie, Director of Corporate Communications at Monetate

For marketers specifically, social media will continue to be a force in driving traffic to websites. Marketers will use social the same way that they’ve used pay-per-click and banner advertising in the past. However,
marketers need to take a careful look at metrics such as conversion rates before dedicating a huge chunk of the budget to advertizing on social media sites.

46.  Bill Corbett, Jr., President of Corbett Public Relations – @wjcorbett

The hype proliferated by “marketing” people about the tremendous business generating benefits of social media for small business will wind down. The reality will set in that social media marketing is only
part of an a comprehensive marketing plan which includes a digital media strategy. Businesses, particularly those in the business to business space, will recognize that they are not getting and probably will not get the ROI they need to continue to focus significant time, energy, effort and funds on social media marketing.

47.  Carrie Peterson, Social Media Director at Internet Marketing Inc. – @CarrieSavvy

2013 will be the year of social media mobile and tablet application for marketers. As consumers become more and more socially savvy and are using their mobile devices for research and purchases, it is imperative that marketers hop on the mobile train with a solid strategy and targeted ad campaigns. These campaigns should integrate behavioral targeting, relevant content per the niche demographic, and social share features to maximize reach and social word of mouth.

49.  Eric Courville, Director of Marketing and Alliances

Social media channels are creating more demand and opportunity for immediate content from brands. To take full advantage, marketers in 2013 will need to have marketing processes agile enough to produce fresh, relevant content at lightning speed and the tools necessary to easily track the use of all digital assets.

50.  Jane Horowitz, Founder of More Than A Resume

Today’s college student and those about to enter college (our next wave into the workplace) will reshape, along with new technologies the workplace over the next decade.  The way this generation, (Millennials) communicate in their social lives will be introduced to the workplace, and then transform it; fostering new ways of sharing ideas and collaborating to achieve outcomes. Goodbye email and PowerPoint presentations. Hello file-sharing, multi-media presentations.  Everything we use and come into contact with will be converted into data that will be available at our fingertips to make informed and therefore smarter decisions. Marketing, sales and customer service professional will need critical thinking, analytical and problem-solving skills.

51.  Ryan Aynes, Founder & Managing Director at EDGE Collective – @ryanaynes

There will be a larger demand to quantify social media impact and how that is impacting business performance. As spending becomes tighter due to the economy and a higher level of financial accountability takes place across organizations, agencies pitching social media will have to come up with their own annotations for “like” value.

There will also be a higher demand for integrating the entire marketing process. This means ad-buying teams will have to work more closely with social. The most effective strategies will be integrated paid, owned, and earned. Consumer analysis from each end educates the other on consumer behavior, which builds better forward strategies.

Mobile strategy will become the norm and not just an additional option. As more ways to reach consumers opens up through mobile experiences, brands and agencies will make the appropriate modifications to add this into their strategy and planning.

52.  Devin Redmond, CEO and Co-founder at Social iQ Networks – @DevinHRed

It’s very common these days to walk into a business and find that different departments all have their own social accounts and social marketing tools to connect with customers, recruit employees, and drive marketing campaigns. That new reality and infrastructure has become a rapidly increasing sprawl that can be disharmonious and prone to risk for their company and their own efforts. This will lead to a push toward greater social infrastructure management as companies try to get a handle on social media sprawl to improve their efforts without having to worrying about mishaps, abuse, and social media mistakes.

53.  Rick Mathieson, author of Branding Unbound and The On-Demand Brand – @rickmathieson

Look for a nascent social media backlash to gain traction among consumers and the brands trying to connect with them. While 20% of Facebook users say they log on once or twice a day, 52% say they plan to spend less time there in the future ­ and that’s an emerging dynamic across the socialsphere. In 2013, look for a new emphasis on quality of engagement versus quantity.  When engaging in social media, look for the emphasis for many brands to finally move away from “How” the mechanics of going social to the “Why”,  by clarifying objectives and building social media strategies to meet them.

54.  Molly Glover Gallatin, VP of Marketing at Compass Labs – @CompassLabs

As marketers we need to stop being hyper-focused on the immediate ROI question around social media (I know, it’s hard!), and instead get our management team focused on another question: What have I learned today from my customers? The future will be best for those who stop marketing and speaking *at* their audience and start creating dialogues instead. Content strategy should include conversations – they are the most critical element of social media – hence, the “social,” and they increase brand affinity and tip the scales in your favor regarding revenue, as well.

Free Webcast:  Join us on December 4th, 2012 at 2pm EST, as Anthony Leaper, Shep Hyken and Pam Moore participate in a roundtable discussion around “The Future of Social Media: How Will It Impact Marketing, Sales & Customer Service?”.