The anti-prediction of 2012 social media predictions


This is the time of year for predictions and it’s all starting to sound like yada-yada to me.  Probably you too?

But how many bloggers go back and actually let you know how they did with last year’s predictions? Let’s start there, and then I will add four surprising 2012 predictions of my own at the end.

Here are social media predictions I made throughout 2011 and my grade for my guess!

Google+ will not be the Facebook killer. People went crazy when I predicted this, especially since at that point I had not even tried it! Doesn’t matter. The switching costs are too high among Facebook’s core audience. I think Google+ is important and it will survive but it will not upend Facebook.  Am I right?  Too early to tell, but I think I am trending correct on this one. I’ll have to give myself an incomplete.

Quora is not the next big thing.  In early 2011 I was the lone voice it seemed not piling on the Robert Scoble bandwagon. Scoble had declared that Quora would replace blogging and was more useful and elegant than Facebook and Twitter.  I said no, there was not going to be a Quorgasm — it was too easily gamed, too noisy and too difficult to navigate. Yes, I was right.  Grade = A +

QR Codes will soon be obsolete — Many people predicted that QR codes would rock the world in 2011 simply because they were so popular in Japan. That’s the first mistake. Never assume what takes in Japan will take someplace else.  I said that QR codes are the eight-track tapes of our generation because will be a mis-applied, over-used gimmick and people will end up not trusting them.   I saw an article last week declaring QR Codes dead so it is too early to tell but I think I am trending positive on this.  I’ll give myself at least a B.

Augmented reality gets big.   I was a little ahead of my time on this. I thought AR would take off in a bigger way in 2011 but it is still in the silent movie stages. I still think I’m right but it didn’t happen as fast as I thought. Grade = C

Social Media “re-set” – I thought that during the 2012 budget planning process, marketing executives who were caught in the early social media hype would look over their budgets and figure out they’re not getting the traction they expected.  Too early to tell if there will be a budget re-set, but I think the anecdotal evidence I hear is that I’m wrong.  Small businesses are still catching up of course and the big brands I’m talking to are moving ahead with some pretty advanced stuff.  Would like to know what you think.  Grade = D

Social scoring takes center stage – A year ago when I made this prediction, nobody had heard of Klout.  Yeah, I got this one right.  Way right.  Grade = A+

Social for the enterprise – I wrote that internal uses of social media was the next big frontier for social media. Since that time, Yammer, a leading enterprise provider, had a nearly 200 percent growth rate according to various reports and now has some type of installation in 80 percent of the Fortune 500 companies. And it’s just getting started. Yes, yes, yes.  Grade = A

Micro payments – finally? Facebook started dipping its toe into micro payments in 2010 by giving out free credits to help condition customers use the new credit system.  Yes, this is taking off for virtual goods you can buy on Farmville but it is not the general monetization system for art, music and even blogging that I envisioned. Could still happen but not there yet, Grade = D.

OK … Here are four offbeat predictions for 2012:

1) 2012 will be The Year of the Bird.  On a percentage basis, Twitter will be the fastest-growing social media platform. It’s not new, it’s not sexy, but right now it is getting hot in high schools and that is where the cool stuff starts. It is also exploding overseas.  Watch out for Twitter.

2) Facebook will create alternate universes.  Facebook is too freaking complicated and changes too much.  And while it grew on the back of teens, Grandma represents the fastest-growing demographic. The platform will have to design user interfaces tailored for different market segments … more analytics for geeks, cool new skins for the kids, a larger typeface for the senior crowd.

3) Crowdsourcing goes enterprise. Crowdsourcing has so much potential but also carries a stigma of unfair labor practices.  Based on growth rates calculated by, it look like this has the potential to finally take off on an enterprise level if companies can be assured of politically-correct and fairly-paid sources of labor.

4) Social Scoring — You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.  Klout stumbled and fumbled in 2011 but they also made breathtaking progress that was rewarded by brands.  But the real breakthrough is going to happen in 2012 —  Connecting online conversations to offline behavior. It’s already happening in small ways but the real rocket will be the Facebook Timeline.  Will work like this: Joey just posted and tweeted about a new record. Facebook Timeline shows Joey’s friends bought the record.  Record companies send Joey free stuff.

Along these same lines, I think Klout will continue to dominate this niche in 2012.  Although the entry barriers to this niche are really low (come up with an algorithm, attach it to the Twitter API and go), distilling wisdom from that big data takes some fire-power. Klout is far ahead in this respect.   However, I do think there is room for social scores based on different influence niches like teens, fashionistas, foodies, politics, and local measures of influence.  I also predict Klout Klubs will emerge so topical experts can find each other and interact based on this social proof.

What did I hit?  What did I miss?  Would love to hear your opinions in the comment section!

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  • As always, Mark, brilliant, and hecka fun to read! The *combined* potential of AR and whatever supercedes QR codes could have huge implications for CPG marketing, and will be fascinating to watch evolve.  I hope your prediction on FB, especially as it pertains to seniors, comes true; I know my mom, now in her 80s, would gladly join others in her demographic if it were easier to read.  All the Best for 2012, Mark, and I look forward to your annual update a year from now!

  • Agree about AR Pete. It is going to change everything.  Incredible potential. Thanks for being a loyal reader in 2011! 

  • I don’t think I ever even signed up for Quora. Go me! Oh, it was probably based on your advice though 🙂 

  • If you followed my advice, you would be the first one. You are a member of a very exclusive club Margie! 

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  • Scarycath

    Thanks Mark, for explaining what the FB Timeline is about and for all your output, I’ve learned much from you this past year.  Here’s to the next one, hope  2012 is good to you 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Right on! And yes, per your opening statement…I’m with you! Yada yada yada…I think it will be really interesting to see how Google+ scores in 2012. 

  • Jack Florio

    I support much of what you say for 2012.As the tools to help the enterprise connect with their customers become more sophisticated and simple to use, we will see a surge in social media activity.  It is a huge footprint of people wanting to communicate – wanting to get information – searching – – and the winners will be those companies who communicate with high value content and not just a “commercial”.  Push adverting is a thing of the past for the more sophisticated consumer.
    Also, as the social universe gets larger it will be more important to identify the leaders in the social dialogue and especially communicate directly with them.  Klout just does not do it !  These informal leaders will be “topic specific” as designated by their followers.  

    Lot’s of exciting evolution in 2012

  • Solid Mark…When most of the “gurus” said G+ is taking over the world, the smart money went on Facebook.  Sometimes the “gurus” have a myopic view and forget most people aren’t geeks.  The average FB user isn’t moving anywhere.  No way, no how.  G+ is great if you love photography. 

    I’m an admitted Klout fan, but I almost hope you’re wrong on the explosion of Social Scoring in 2012.  I’m not sure we can digest another year of complaining and moaning from people not happy with their score.  We’ll see.

    All the best in 2012…

  • Very kind of you to say!  Thank you and best wishes to you too!

  • That will be a big story of 2012.  Facebook usage has actually increased dramatically since G+ came out according to a recent Citi report so they are still losing “marketshare.”

  • Klout will have its place. It’s still early in the evolution of social scoring but I think 2012 will be a big year for that platform.  Thanks Jack! 

  • I think most posts about Klout are written on adrenaline.  People are making judgments on a snapshot of time instead of a really important long-term business development.  I’ve been studying this topic and I am sure that we are just seeing the beginning of this innovation.  Thanks for the support on G+.  It was a pretty lonely feeling when I wrote that post but I think I’m correct.  : )  

  • You did pretty darn well last year! I think you’re right on with QR codes – people and companies jumped the gun a bit early last year when the adoption rates weren’t there. Now that they’re a bit more widely used, I’m starting to see them on places that don’t make sense – like within websites & apps. Why? 

    Amen on Google+. I like the platform but like you said, everyone’s friends are on Facebook. Making that switch just can’t happen quickly unless FB does screws up big time. Google+ saw some impressive numbers in growth, but the early adopters are the only ones logging in regularly at this point. Personally, I hope it survives but we’ll have to see. 

  • Excellent review, Mark.  Not everyone would be happy to say so publicly where they were wrong but you are so often right, I guess you can afford to do so.  I always thought you wre right about Google+ and for the simple reason you gave.  Twitter is already growing rapidly, so the continuance of that is pretty much a given.

    Social scoring in many ways could be the most interesting – in some respects, prospective employers’ reliance on this currently is frightening and it would be good to see the scoring become more sophisticated in 2012, so that it actually is a more reliable measure of a person’s online influence.

    Time will tell but one thing is for sure:  Mark Schaefer will continue to keep us up to date and in a way that challenges the assumptions many make.  I am very grateful for your posts in 2011 and wish you all the best for a very enjoyable and prosperous 2012 !

  • Karen Bice

    Great post, Mark! Look forward to your 2012 predictions panning out, especially #3 as unfair labor practices are definitely problematic for crowdsourcing. Wish you all the best in 2012!

  • Now this is a list I relate to as I also passed on Quora and QR codes last year, though I hope you’re off about Klout. Not that I dispel notions of influence, measuring it and using that research to target audiences; I still think Klout mostly counts online activity in a gamed system. *ducks flying vegetables*

    That said, I think you’re right about G+ and FB; it’s not that Facebook is unbeatable but as you say, any network has its work cut out for it. I think Google may have a better shot at getting those previously ‘unsocial’ than wooing those married to FB. But then again, hard to pitch a ‘social’ network if no ones friends are there. I still see lots of potential w/ Twitter, and the need for the service itself to help make those connections and friends, esp. new users. Now growth in numbers doesn’t always mean real, sustainable or quality growth. I’d look for more filters and search tools to help manage the signal-to-noise better (or that could just be my own wishful thinking). FWIW.

  • You have a killer combination of being insightful but with ‘tude!  Thanks for the recap on 2011.  I can see #1 being true for 2012. My younger brother has a couple friends that are seniors in high school that have been quizzing him about my work and asking for tips. Talk about A-HA moments. Can’t wait to see what happens with this audience. Imagine, an after school program on Social Media? I smell a job opportunity for some of us eh?? 


  • We need G+ to survive to give Facebook the competition!  Thanks Garrett!

  • Awww shucks. That is so nice of you to say Matthew.  I don’t mind saying when I’m wrong.  I’m a student like everybody else and I make mistakes all the time!

  • Thanks for being a loyal reader in 2011 Karen!

  • Oh Twitter can do so much more. I have high hopes for the interface.  Thanks for being such an awesome reader and commenter in 2011 Davina!

  • Teaching social media to high schoolers?  I’ll pass!!  But yes, there is probably an opportunity there : ) Thanks Anne!

  • Great post Mark.  You could probably make a decent living if this social media “fad” ever catches fire.  I agree about it being the year for Twitter.  A case in point is my Rotary Club. They just started tweeting.  I’m talking about a 50, 60 & 70 year old crowd.  While they are slow to adopt most things (and It took me 6 months to drag them along) once their grandchildren are in the mix this segment will grow.  And they don’t have to play Farmville.

  • Fair grading; although I would give yourself a C for the Micro payments prediction. It takes vision, knowledge and talent to “predict.” great post. I work a lot in Latin America and if you were to post your 2011 for 2012, you would need to up your grade by a letter. The Social Media potential still in the early stages.  The best Social integration with Mobile devices is what I think will drive the most traffic to different channels in 2012, the simpler, the better.

  • Awesome as always, Mark! I’m with you on AR. I too thought it would be big in 2011 and I have (until now) been under the impression that AR is already somewhat big in the US simply because we’ve been seeing quite a number of innovative AR campaigns happening as compared to where I’m at where tech limitations gets in the way.
    This is a very fun read indeed! I may just come up with a few predictions myself for the social media scene in Malaysia on an upcoming post. 

  • Wow that is a cool story! Maybe a guest post? : )

  • Great points. The mobile prediction is too easy : ) Love to hear more about what is going on in South America. Keep the comments coming! Thanks.

  • Basically over here we’re still in the demo mode. No blockbuster commercial apps yet.

  • Thanks Mark A+!
    What are your thoughts on Instagram and Pintrest?

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  • Absolutely fantastic sites and red hot platforms!

  • Yeap, totally agree. It is easy. More than the obvious, mobile has the potential to change the world, contribute to democracy, help eliminate poverty, provide access to education/information to emerging markets and much more. My dad lives in Colombia, has the same i-phone I have, pays 1/3 of what I pay, has unlimited data and his network is very reliable (the maid has a cell phone and she is figuring out how to use facebook and twitter). The challenge here is to get a senior leaders in that industry to stop competing and start collaborating as one. Often times we underestimate what emerging markets can do and are doing to maximize the use of social. Watch Brazil in 2012

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  • Sure. But let me gather good stuff first.  This is in its infancy.

  • Anonymous

    Great list and insights, my prediction that one day I hope will come true – people simply stop looking for the next big thig [not you] and use what’s available, relevant and effective to simply talk to other people.  Not to broadcast and pretend they are engaging by being a sales marketer in disguise but to be natural and show they care by sharing not shouting.

    The internet is not mystical, magical or mythical it’s simply there to be used to communicate and build communites as we have for over 100,000 years.  By using what’s available and effective.

  • Skekuna

    Love the influence niches comment! The analogy about Tommy’s friends buying the record and the company sending Tommy “stuff” is both brilliant and scary. Hello Big Brother!

  • I like your grounded perspective Mark. Thanks for contributing today!

  • Actually, I think emerging markets are leading innovation in many ways because they are forced to be more resourceful in some ways. Money is the bane of creativity. Really love having your diverse perspective on this topic. I hope you’ll be a frequent commenter here in the {grow} community!

  • Oh yes. Big Brother is already here in a way that would probably chill Orwell.

  • Anonymous

    Simple is the best thing we all do, just making it relevant for some is hard and to stop broadcasting and make dialogues not monlogues helps everyone.

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  • Money is the bane of creativity! so true. Mark, I enjoy your perspective and out of the box way of thinking.

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  • Awesome article — 110% ditto on many of these points, in fact, some top secret CIA insights with some of our platform partners that point to a couple of these prediction being *dead on* : ).  I’m not so sure about the QR code prediction — with applications such as Paperlinks giving way for a branded QR ‘experience’ which may yet change the game as mobile savvy consumers pick up at an accelerated rate.  Looking forward to EOY eval! 

  • I do think there are some creative opportunities for QR codes, but think they are over-hyped. Thanks for the comment!

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  • Wow great article.  I especially enjoyed the social scoring idea.  This is huge.  What a concept.  Somewhat like network marketing.  Amazon does this quite successfully.  I can imagine This could be done with any business.  How about this?  Joey eats at restaurant.  Recommends to his friends we pay small commission. 

  • Any thoughts on Social Search?   As you can see Twitter and Google are engaged in some noise today.  I recently found and find it very useful.   I think social media would gain more credence if the impact of it was more immediate and transparent to small business owners and non-marketing folks within the enterprise.  Not everyone has access to google analytic and other paid social media tools.  Sites like topsy make it possible for the everyone to see what people are talking about the life of our messages.

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  • I think your concept of crowdsourcing is off. Its biggest incentive is to get something for nothing or very little. I personally can’t see this going enterprise.

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