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Big data and Facebook: two behemoths that became a much bigger part of the marketer’s lexicon in 2011. Large brands, particularly, invested more time into better understanding the enormous quantities of rich social data about their consumers. And, it’s no secret that advertisers will continue to pour greater resources into social networks, both in an effort to reach existing customers as well as the vast universe of potential customers with whom they’re associated.

Case in point: eMarketer reports that global ad revenues for Facebook alone will have increased 104% to $3.8 billion and Twitter is predicted to have tripled its earnings by the year’s end.

Yet it’s apparent that brands have barely scratched the surface in terms of how they harness big data and effectively reach consumers over social media. In 2012, marketers will tap massive data sets to gain deep consumer insights that would have seemed inconceivable as recently as a year ago. Insights, that, not surprisingly, will make a tremendous and lasting impact on marketing budget allocation throughout the year and into 2013.

With all of this in mind, here are four predictions regarding the 2012 social data evolution.

The Social Filter will re-define how we view paid, earned, and owned media

There will be a dramatic evolution in how brands measure paid, earned, and owned media. This shift will be driven, to a great degree, by how consumers interact with brands over social media. One example: we will have more advanced reciprocal and cross-channel systems of measurement that evaluate consumer influence and interactivity, such as converting the value of a Facebook fan to Twitter terms. With this understanding, we will also begin to see more clearly the relationship between a brand’s social media efforts and its advertising campaigns, or “paid media.”

The social ecosystem will become less siloed

In 2012, every brand will be social. This will enable greater collaboration in the social ecosystem across Twitter, Facebook, and the entire web resulting in dramatic innovation. Ads will no longer look like ads, but instead will be relevant endorsements, recommended content, and information. The new importance of cross-channel integration will affect high level business decisions, pushing Twitter and Facebook, for instance, to acquire larger companies and drive innovation in other media, particularly television.

We will understand the power of a socially engaged customer

Over the past couple of years, large brands have incorporated “social” into their marketing efforts in a fairly rudimentary way e.g. setting up Twitter accounts and Facebook Fan pages. However, in the coming year, companies will move to the next phase of managing their brands online, which will include more sophisticated ways of increasing favorability and managing brand perception. For instance, brands will discover methods to push highly relevant content, recommendations and messages in ways they couldn’t previously. The focus will evolve from basic customer service management to true lifetime value analysis and social CRM.

Social data will impact offline marketing like never before

Large data sets gathered from social interactions – e.g. via shared links – have helped to guide how and to whom marketers advertise online. However, we are on the brink of having data inform offline marketing campaigns more so than online: predictive insights gleaned from understanding social customers, their graphs, and their behaviors, will guide how marketers deliver messages over TV, print and radio.

Eric Wheeler is the CEO and co-founder of 33Across, bringing 20 years of experience leading successful Internet businesses to 33Across. Prior to 33Across, he was the CEO of Neo@Ogilvy and Executive Director of Ogilvy Interactive North America. Eric’s career includes leadership positions at CNET, Young & Rubicam, and Anderson & Lembke in San Francisco.

 Top photo by dieseldemon/Flickr

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