7 Digital Trends to Watch in 2012

Integration, mobile, and consolidation were all topics under discussion at the January 12 IABC/Washington panel on trends in digital communications.

Here are my top seven takeaways:

1. Silos will start to fall. According to Steve Radick of Booz Allen Hamilton’s Digital Strategy and Social Media Practice, government agencies will better integrate their social media initiatives. He noted, in particular, that people are starting to understand the disconnects that happen when customer service is not integrated.

2. Government social media will be in “wait and see” mode. Radick said not to expect a lot of big Government 2.0 initiatives. He suggested that most agencies will be in waiting mode during this election year.

3. Companies will start to clean up their act. Dan Horowitz of Fleishman-Hillard’s Digital Group and Social Media Practice pointed to a new Altimeter report that found that large companies have an average of 178 corporate-owned social media accounts. In 2012, he said, they will consolidate and coordinate better–which involves, of course, aggregating efforts via smart tools (e.g., Buddy Press).

4. Social media reaches maturation. Horowitz pointed to Forrester’s just-released research on social media adoption that found that 86 percent of adults who use the Internet use social media.

5. The press release is dead. Okay, Rick Dunham, Washington Bureau Chief of the Houston Chronicle and chief author of the Texas on the Potomac blog, didn’t really say this. But he did say that he’s relying more and more on Twitter search and other social media to discover trending stories and breaking news–and to get ideas for news stories–and not so much on press releases.

Plus two trends from my remarks:

6. Mobile has arrived. eMarketer estimates that there will be 113.9 million mobile Internet users in 2012–an increase of 17.1 percent from 2011. This includes 72.8 million mobile shoppers and 37.5 million mobile buyers. This means that every business–large and small–needs to have a mobile strategy.

7. “Find-ability” will be more important than ever. With Google rolling out “Search Plus Your World,” having a solid content marketing strategy (and quality content) will be more important than ever. Businesses that are still relying on static, corporate-brochure-type Web sites will be left in the dust.

Bonus Trend: Platforms. I just read Phil Simon’s The Age of the Platform (review coming soon), and I haven’t really had a chance to sit down and think through how small businesses will be able to take advantage of what he calls “extremely valuable and powerful ecosystems” (think Amazon or Apple) that allow you to scale, morph, and bring in partners, users, vendors, and so forth. While the business concept may not be new, technology has made doing this very different. I think Simon’s on to something. This is one emerging trend to watch.

Agree with these trends? Disagree? Think something’s being over-hyped? Please weigh in below.

Photo courtesy of Capitol Communicator.

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