101 Online Community & Social Business Trends to Watch in 2012


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One of the most important things that we have learned in helping companies and associations implement social business models is to listen. At the end of each year companies, media sites, and consultants all lay out what they think will happen and what is important for the next year. We believe that there is great data in listening to those predictions and analyzing the trends inside these trend lists.

Here are 101 online community and social business trends for 2012 from some of the brightest minds in business. Some of the business people whose predictions are listed below are very well known and others are lesser known, though all are insightful. What trends to you see?


  1. Customer-facing social hockey sticks. – DachisGroup
  2. Social will continue to become nearly everyone’s primary source of content and interaction – Uprising
  3. Consumers will reward transparent companies with their loyalty. – Charlene Li
  4. Your customers want to be known. –
  5. Customer first ! But for how long? – Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad
  6. Social penetration/saturation (the post social era poso) – Forrester Research


  1. Internal and external social business efforts blur, but remain distinct. – DachisGroup
  2. We’ll stop focusing so much on adoption and instead focus on solutions – @Greg2dot0’s Blog
  3. Social Selling as a Service – the Digital Influence Mapping Project
  4. Social commerce will be all the buzz in 2012 – Online Community Manager
  5. More attention for niche communities – Online Community Manager
  6. Inside Out. – Sandy Carter
  7. Codependence: SoLoMo. – Sandy Carter
  8. Be meaningful to your media savvy and connected customer communities – Uprising
  9. Identity Management – The Business of Social Media Beyond Web 2.6
  10. Budget : from technology to organizational transformation – Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad
  11. Adopting one’s future instead of adopting social – Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad
  12. Community-Driven Content and Products – Mashable
  13. Mass Appeal on Niche Networks – Mashable
  14. Customer-oriented enterprise opportunities (enterprise social is the next big opportunity) – Forrester Research
  15. Organisations will radically streamline their social media presences – Restless Communications
  16. Outsourcing partnerships with attract more attention – Salesforce
  17. Supplier Relationships Require New Guidelines – Salesforce


  1. Gamification – McAfee
  2. Gamification doesn’t happen, yet. – DachisGroup
  3. Gamification of social networking in the enterprise – Ideatrotter
  4. Gamification Endures – the Digital Influence Mapping Project
  5. Your audience is now an audience of audiences with audiences. – Sandy Carter
  6. Crowdsourcing stops becoming a buzzword and starts becoming one of the most cost effective ways for small to medium sized business to engage their stakeholders – Uprising
  7. Gamification – The Business of Social Media Beyond Web 2.2
  8. Social engagement will move from specialized social teams to business users throughout the enterprise. – Attensity
  9. Fun is required. Gamification Again. – Sandy Carter

Process & Organization

  1. Social intranets struggle forward, social business processes don’t. – DachisGroup
  2. The social business unit/center of excellence phenomenon continues. – DachisGroup
  3. Social business budgets go up another level. – DachisGroup
  4. The year will close with a consensus (or lack thereof) on enterprise social apps. – DachisGroup
  5. We still won’t agree what to call it – @Greg2dot0’s Blog
  6. We’ll understand what community is a bit better – Online Community Manager
  7. CCO: Chief Community Officer – Online Community Manager
  8. It’s all about the Process, baby. – Sandy Carter
  9. Adoptation is a forethought. – Sandy Carter
  10. Frictionless social gestures. – Sandy Carter
  11. Participant, not spectator. – Sandy Carter
  12. New Job Roles Grow. – Sandy Carter
  13. Design for loss of control. – Sandy Carter
  14. B2B marketers that don’t take ownership of social media as part of a strategic inbound engine will be an endangered species by the end of 2012 – Uprising
  15. Social media will move beyond marketing, PR and customer service and will become an extension of an entire businesses employee, customer and partner base – Uprising
  16. Enterprise App Stores & Business Intelligence Dashboards – The Business of Social Media Beyond Web 2.5
  17. Enter the Social Business Expert – Britopian
  18. Connected leaders and employees will create sustained competitive advantages through a culture of sharing. –
  19. Broken Meetings are Changing – CMSWire
  20. From Teams to Crowds – CMSWire
  21. A more operations-driven approach to social dynamics – Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad
  22. The year of culture! – Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad

Business Intelligence

  1. Analytics and business intelligence (BI) becomes standard fare. – DachisGroup
  2. Social business becomes less art, and more science. – DachisGroup
  3. We’ll finally figure out that social’s value is measured by existing process metrics – @Greg2dot0’s Blog
  4. Big Data struggles with unstructured information – @Greg2dot0’s Blog
  5. Social Analytics – Ideatrotter
  6. Social Insights over Social Data – the Digital Influence Mapping Project
  7. More insistence on accountability, measurement and quantification – Uprising
  8. More companies will consider use of social monitoring and analytics – Uprising
  9. More data crunching and analysis and more strategic and targeted responses. – Uprising
  10. Big Data – The Business of Social Media Beyond Web 2.4
  11. Big Data – CMSWire
  12. Integrated Analytics for Market-Driven Insights – Business2Community
  13. Social analytics in real-time will become the new standard for success. – Attensity
  14. Customer Data Needs to Inform Decision Making – Salesforce

Community Management

  1. Community management goes pro. – DachisGroup
  2. Community Managers Rule – Ideatrotter
  3. Comprehensive Content Strategy – the Digital Influence Mapping Project
  4. 2012 will be the Year of the Online Community Manager – Online Community Manager
  5. 2012 will be the year of social media management – Messaging Wire
  6. Perfecting Post Timing – Mashable
  7. Community Management will rightly start to be seen as a subset of Content Planning. – Restless Communications


  1. Social shifts to mobile. – DachisGroup
  2. Mobile will move to center stage in social – Uprising
  3. Mobile – The Business of Social Media Beyond Web 2.3
  4. Mobile Cloud – CMSWire
  5. Optimizing for Mobile – Mashable
  6. The Year of Mobile – Business2Community


  1. Convergence Emergence – McAfee
  2. The average large company will have no less than 4 social networks…unintentionally – @Greg2dot0’s Blog
  3. Visualize it. – Sandy Carter
  4. Surprise Innovation. – Sandy Carter
  5. Users are going to rapidly gain a sense of comfort with the idea of Facebook as a marketplace – Uprising
  6. Marketing technology will continue to converge – Uprising
  7. Cloud Computing – The Business of Social Media Beyond Web 2.0
  8. Web-Oriented Architecture (WOA) – The Business of Social Media Beyond Web 2.1
  9. Simplicity – CMSWire
  10. Enterprise scale – CMSWire
  11. Integrating instead of adding – Bertrand Duperrin’s Notepad
  12. Spam will make a comeback – with a vengeance – Messaging Wire
  13. Death of the web (the approach of app internet) – Forrester Research
  14. Enterprise versions of Google+ and Facebook will bring social business tools (if not thinking) into the mainstream – Restless Communications
  15. Toolset/ CRM Integration – Business2Community
  16. Companies will implement multi-channel tools that integrate social analysis with other enterprise systems. – Attensity
  17. No Uniform Solution for Multi-Channel Strategy – Salesforce

Vendors & Platforms

  1. Smaller social business vendors continue to get rolled up. – DachisGroup
  2. We’re going to see some very complicated but useless new online community tools – Online Community Manager
  3. Apple will get serious about the enterprise – Messaging Wire

Online Community Takeaway

Online communities will continue to grow toward becoming a strategic imperative for most businesses. 2012 will be one of those moments in business where companies have an unprecedented opportunity to differentiate themselves, keep customers engaged to raise customer satisfaction to record levels, and use consistent streams of market data to create the next generation of highly profitable products.

With the impact that social business strategies bring to organizations comes an ecosystem of processes and professionals that must also be designed, nurtured, and supported – from strategy and online community software to community management and optimizing your customer community using the analytics to improve its performance for your company. How you develop and integrate this ecosystem will be a critical success factor in 2012.

So, I leave you with questions.

  • What trends can you see based on this list?
  • Which trends are missing?
  • Which predictions are most important?
  • Which points put organizations most at risk if ignored?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joshua Paul
Joshua Paul is the Director of Marketing and Strategy at Socious, a provider of enterprise customer community software that helps large and mid-sized companies bring together customers, employees, and partners to increase customer retention, sales, and customer satisfaction. With over 13 years of experience running product management and marketing for SaaS companies, Joshua Paul is a popular blogger and speaker on customer management, inbound marketing, and social technology. He blogs at http://blog.socious.com.


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