It's the time of year when many people offer their predictions for the New Year. As the CEO of Strutta, a social marketing platform, I have had numerous conversations recently with clients and partners about what to expect in the coming year. As I've been gazing in to my crystal ball to see what the next twelve months has in store for the largest social networking sites, I've seen some winners and some losers. So without further adieu, here are five predictions for 2013.
Facebook Regains its IPO Value
Facebook stock has rebounded quite a bit since it fell below $18 per share in September. I was a buyer of Facebook at that time and I remain a shareholder. While the company still has a ways to go, I believe that it will once again reach its original offering price of $38. The first reason why I am bullish is because Facebook has acted quickly to begin monetizing the enormous mobile opportunity. The second reason is the potential for Facebook to sell advertising across a network of sites beyond its own. While not without its challenges, I believe the launch of an ad network will have a significant positive impact on Facebook's future revenue.
Twitter Becomes a Must-Buy Media Property, Files to go Public
Twitter has become an essential communications platform for many individuals, companies and organizations. More importantly, after years of questions about its business model the company has begun to deliver real revenue. The company has rolled out a number of ad products in the past year, positioning Twitter to become an integral part of media plans for major brands as well as a very accessible channel for small business. On the heels of major revenue growth and international expansion, 2013 is likely to see the long anticipated S-1 filing for Twitter as well.
LinkedIn Completes its Evolution to a True Social Network
For years LinkedIn was simply a professional networking site for job seekers, without much social beyond the underlying graph of relationships. In the past year the company has rolled out a slew of changes to make the site more social. Some of these features like the "news feed" borrow heavily from Facebook, but kudos to them for emulating what works. The recent addition of personal endorsements provides users with the ability to take a one click action akin to a Like on Facebook but in doing so provides a much richer and more specific social validation than a generic Like. LinkedIn recently announced new improvements to user profiles as well and I think 2013 will see more and more people turning to LinkedIn as a place to build their personal brand, connect, and share, even if they aren't actively seeking a job.
Google+ Goes On SEO Life Support
I thought about making the bold prediction that 2013 will witness the death of Google Plus, but I think it may just be "too big to fail" completely. I do, however, believe that the next year will see a widespread recognition among marketers that the only real value of being active on Google Plus is to benefit search results. That, however, is a powerful chip that Google holds. And that alone will be the mechanism by which Google Plus holds on to mind share. I'm not saying that Google will, or should, throw in the towel on social. On the contrary, they've made a big bet on social with their acquisition of Wildfire. And Hangouts are one of the cooler features on any social network. But I think that consumer usage of Google Plus as a destination is a lost cause and the company must rethink its approach to social.
Pinterest Tries and Fails to Court the Male Demographic
We all know that men comprise a very small percentage of Pinterest users, with reports claiming anywhere from 58% to 97% of the site's users are women. While the company may be embracing that reality, at some point in the next year Pinterest will launch a major campaign to attract men to the site. Likely it will partner with a brand that targets male consumers (e.g., sports, beer) and make a push to get men pinning. Sadly I don't think the response will be strong and I've already got my #fail board ready to pin the results of this experiment. Whether the company can succeed by catering to its current demographic alone and whether it can find a revenue model to support it will be questions that are hopefully answered in 2013 as well.
So there you have it. Please leave your comments or share your own predictions below.