Social media brings the most opinions in the digital marketing space, and what follows just demonstrates that fact:

Matthew Standish, CEO of IDInteract

Over the past few years, investments in harnessing and leveraging brand sentiment on social media has run into the billions of dollars, from customer experience management solutions to marketing analytics software and CRM platforms – all are promising unprecedented ability to target and reach customers through social channels.  

In 2013, we expect to see a growing backlash as enterprises recognize that they are seeing little measurable ROI from these efforts. Rather than try to cure the social hangover by drinking the “hair of the dog,” we expects to see enterprises demand new solutions that will deliver on the promise of measurable ROI.

CEO, Paul Miller, UBM Tech

2013 will see a continuation of social media as a key outreach vehicle for companies looking to promote and engage target communities with their owned content. LinkedIn will continue to branch out from its solid recruitment revenue stream into broader marketing services as it looks to exploit its strong member database. 

For B2B event businesses, social media will become an integral communication and promotion vehicle. The key to social media for B2B in 2013 will be content and story telling at a level not yet evident in the ‘owned media’ arena. Businesses will demand positive metrics from social media campaigns.

Jess Seilheimer, SVP Digital Strategy & Planning, Havas Life NYC

It’s time for all companies to realize interns aren’t the answer to managing social channels for brands. Companies have to strategically think through their marketing goals and create content/assets that is engaging and interesting to the user (i.e. start doing more customer research and ethnographies) and stop pushing marketing messages and wrap lifestyle around content.

Additionally I think brands need to think about customer service in a completely different way and utilize SaaS licensed solutions like Get Satisfaction to automate and encourage CS across the consistently increased customer service requests via social channels.

Joshua March, CEO of Conversocial

Social media has brought about the most significant change in CRM this year. Relationships are being played out quickly and on-demand, on channels such as Facebook and Twitter. This combined with the surge in mobiles as a consumer standard has put our communications with businesses on tap. In 2013, social media will need to be positioned at the heart of customer communications if businesses are to keep up with accelerating demand for complete and comprehensive service, and this means a move into the contact center. 

This will require the same level of organisation and focus on resolution as traditional customer service, with dedicated social customer service teams; you can’t market or even community manage your customers a refund. Responsiveness on social media can no longer be considered a nice to have, and budgets will have to recognize this.  

Diane Kegley, CMO of RichRelevance

Social media remains a critical element for brand and retail marketers—but is increasingly used for generating awareness, rather than direct sales. While our data show that retail shopping traffic referred from social networks is low – less than .5% – it has grown 30% year-over-year.

Retailers are just starting to utilize social media to generate customer “delight’ — as in the case of Target; they recently awarded gift cards to a number of customers who Tweeted about them over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Expect social media to surge as a tool for developing brand awareness across multiple channels in 2013.

Shiraz Datta, Lead – Marketing CRM and Business Intelligence at Nokia

Social media has and will further evolve the marketing communication space for companies across the globe. Social Media has evolved as mainstream for companies to not only reach to their customer, but as the space evolves, would require becoming a mainstream consumer monitoring/listening center.

Now it hard to believe that any consumer sector has not be touched by the magic of social media and hence with consumer and companies coming in the same space of voice; the companies needs to make the social media not only a broadcasting center, rather a listening and engagement center through analyzing unprecedented amounts of information on consumer behavior and preferences. 

Kunur Patel, brand strategist, Percolate

In 2013, more marketers and their agencies will take a page from publishers to be more relevant, timely and engaging on social platforms. Look to the new breed of brand “newsroom,” which aim to break down the long production cycles endemic to advertising in favor of fast-paced content creation built off what’s trending online. 

In this model, the usual creative meeting months in advance has evolved into a daily plan for a brand to react to what’s happening online right now. Content is currency in social and the brands that win are those that begin to craft their messages at the break-neck pace of the internet.

Mark Cooper, CMO and Co-Founder of Offerpop

One of the major trends we’ll see in 2013 is that social media will become more brand-friendly. Pinterest and Instagram just introduced business pages, and Pinterest will be rolling out a public API for developers soon. Marketers will need to develop strategic approaches for expanding and engaging their audiences on these networks, and for managing marketing campaigns across multiple social channels simultaneously.

Jonathan Gardner, former global director of communications at Vibrant Media

Social media marketing will (finally) grow up. With Facebook still pulling in content by the petabyte, there is an incredible valuable trove of data these sites have amassed. With the sustained brand interest we’re seeing in data-driven advertising, you’ve got the potential for some serious social marketing in 2013. The challenge will be for these sites to act smartly and display sensitivity, to manage users’ comfort level with data security and third-party relationships.

Social platforms will continue to seek creative ways to work with brands. More than ever, this will be in a mobile context. But it will go well beyond asking people to “like” an ad. There will be deeper integration with brands and branded content into social media experiences. Expect to see apps, features and content that is sponsored (“brought to you”) by brands that you have – or your friends have – engaged with.

2013 will be the year we finally go “beyond the like.” Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare have realized that they need to make revenue, and have great potential to do so. One option is always to leverage the tremendous and incredibly valuable trove of data they have on hand. Of course, to ensure their users are comfortable and do not feel their privacy has been violated, they have been and will continue to be very careful about how they allow third parties to use your data. As long as they keep taking baby steps, I think they’ll find the revenue they need to grow, as they explore new ways to work with brands to develop integrated social media experiences.

Both Facebook and Twitter have been exploring exciting new territory with ad exchanges and eCommerce (Facebook); and keyword targeting and images (Twitter). Expect to see them innovate in 2013, but with a bit more emphasis on solutions and features that attract dollars, versus simply making their platform sticky for users.

Andrew Der, Digital Strategy and Innovation

Metrics for social media need to change in 2013. There are companies that are still measuring social media success by the number of Facebook Likes and Twitter followers they have. Today, Social media strategies have evolved from simply acquiring followers to monetizing those followers and creating content that drives SEO benefits

Brands should leverage social listening tools to respond to followers with targeted content that converts engagement into a sale. Moreover, social content has direct SEO effects, so content should be carefully crafted to optimize SEO benefits.  Brands that aren’t focusing on these strategies and metrics that drive more direct results are missing the larger opportunity with social.

Dan Jeffries, Jeffries Consulting

Brands owners need to recognize that they exist in the social space whether they like it or not. Not having a strategy to deal with this area of customer engagement is no longer acceptable. Customers, especially in the consumer space, will use social media to comment on a company’s performance and, as with all ‘word of mouth’ marketing, bad news travels a lot further and faster than good news.

A solid social media strategy that incorporates proactive and reactive messaging is essential in the social media age. Big companies need to ensure that their PR departments are fully engaged to ensure that the marketing department is not left to treat social media as a purely advertising tool.

Finding a good partner to support companies in this space is crucial.  By working with an expert in social media, brands can maximise the opportunity it presents and also get in front of potential bad news before it spreads like wildfire. 

Mark Simpson, Founder and President of Maxymiser

Probably one of the most important channels we’ll see come of age is social media. For far too long, marketers have treated social media as an island from the rest of their strategy, and in turn, have not reaped any benefits of it being a useful sales channel. 

Going forward, we’ll see more brands using social data to personalize experiences on the website, as well as applying testing and personalization to their own Facebook pages.

Sean W. Bohan, Co-Founder, Decahedralist Strategic Consulting

The Social Media evolution continues via a combination of technology, usage, user behavior, companies overusing it as yet another marketing “bright shiny object” and the resultant loss of Customer trust. In 2013 you will see more companies bring this work in-house and field their own SoMe teams to manage their communications and user interactions while relying on their agencies to focus on integration with other communications (pr, marketing, advertising) elements. 

2013 might be a big year for companies taking more risk in the product development arena by working with and partnering with customers. Social is now an expectation for most companies, especially challenger brands.

Jason Burnham, Partner, Burnham Marketing

The problem with current practices is that most companies are still trying to apply one-to-one attribution to social marketing.  The root word is ‘social’ or ‘community’, and its relationship to something, such as a brand or product.  Therefore, it must be measured as a collective.  

All interactions between individuals and groups are social interactions.  In order for you to truly understand the impact your marketing programs have on driving specific actions, you must first break down the tactical silos to understand the relationship between all disparate variables of influence.

Louise Thompson, Director of PR, Badoo

Context and localization are going to be key to brands thinking about social media in 2013, particularly if they are international. As more and more companies move past the initial phase of thinking about social, they’ll need to start adding these essential layers of meaning and scaling their efforts effectively and appropriately. They’ll also need to make sure they have an integrated strategy that makes social activity work harder for real and lasting business impact.

Ethan Dobson, Director of Online Marketing at Offerpop

Social data is the richest and most relevant consumer data that marketers have ever had access to and 2013 is the year to make this data the foundation of your marketing strategy. This data can not only be used to disseminate targeted promotions via email, social, search, and digital ads, but it can also reveal prospect behavioral trends which can be leveraged to model acquisition programs across all channels. 

Additionally, there’s a huge opportunity to integrate this data across the enterprise and redefine your company’s approach to customer relationship management. If you have a sales cycle and are nurturing leads, in 2013 you need to be informing that process with the real-time, agile data that Social Media provides.

Richard Pasewark, CEO of Visible Technologies

While most recognize the growth of social media in English speaking channels companies fail to acknowledge the same rapid ascension of the social global movement. In 2013, it will be important for brands to adjust their marketing tactics and begin to derive insights from international channels to meet the rapid and constantly changing world market.

Dax Hamman, Chango

There is a tendency to think of social media as rapidly evolving to the point where marketers realize it’s just marketing, and should be a part of everything they do. But everyone organizations point along that path is different, and we will carry on seeing job titles with ‘social media’ in them for years to come.

In 2013 the confusion is likely to increase because of exchange-bought media like FBX cropping in social environments. Logically, FBX is just another media source, but marketers are cautious of it, and don’t understand where it sits in their organization.