What’s been going on and what can we expect to see over the next 12 months?

So, in 2012 we saw some economic recovery and had some fun… We saw the rise of Pinterest, several IPOs and acquisitions, an aggressive political ad war, Facebook’s 1 billionth user, and (close on 1 billion at the time of writing) watched one Korean artist turn into a global phenomenon thanks to YouTube.

The media also saw a great deal of debates (outside of politics) that spread wide (globally) and quickly (in seconds), such as Facebook’s IPO, NASA landing a car-sized robotic science laboratory on Mars, The Summer Olympics in London, The Queen’s diamond jubilee, the sudden death of singer Whitney Houston, WikiLeaks saga continuing, British monarchy without clothes (Kate Middleton topless and Price Harry’s Las Vegas romp), Hurricane Sandy and gun control following the senseless Newtown, Connecticut shootings.

The actual media saw changes, Newsweek had to do something to ensure its survival – they stopped their print copy and went virtual.  Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. phone hacking scandal resulted in closures and restructures, and Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway company strengthened it’s position in print media while pulling in a profit.

How has social media changed our society?  Well, its not all good – a study by OnlineCollegeCourses.com tells us that social media is harder to resist than sleep and sex. Sleep! And sex! And 1 in 3 under 30 year olds who are looking for work value social media freedom over salary…. Yes really!  In fact 56% of this demographic would not take a job if it did not allow access to social media.

That all said, what do we at NettResults think we can we expect in 2013?  I’d like to say we can see 13 trends for 2013, but we’re not that insightful.  Instead hare are our top three:

LinkedIn is going to move from personal networking to marketing. More companies will use LinkedIn to monitor conversations and connect with customers and influencers. New and enhanced features on the site, such as its "endorse" capability and new profile and company page designs are encouraging users to spend more time building their personal brands with LinkedIn's tools. Companies, particularly in the B2B world, will increasingly recognize its marketing potential. Also, as adoption and activity on LinkedIn surge, journalists will spend more time using the platform for research, identifying sources and breaking stories.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  We’ve long promoted that every press release and every news media push should have imagery.  We think this trend will continue and strengthen. The rise of infographics, photo sharing, and visual storytelling will push companies to deploy messages visually in order to compete in a crowded content market. All Things D reported that in August, smartphone users spent more time on Instagram than on Twitter for the first time since Instagram launched in 2010. This is indicative of a broader shift toward visual content in the digital space.

Who controls social media?  Well the PR department of course! The debate over which corporate discipline "owns" social media is practically as old as social media itself; PR, marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service (just to name a few) all have skin in the game. As more businesses recognize the opportunities (and threats) that social media present to their corporate reputation, and the demand from stakeholders for direct engagement, they are reaching out to PR agencies and practitioners for support. PR pros, who have long been responsible for managing the dialogue between an organization and the public, will emerge as trendsetters in the social space by providing valuable communications counsel and achieving results that directly impact clients' bottom lines.