The effective strategies for conducting online business marketing are fast changing, from search engine optimisation to social media marketing and beyond. Most search engine optimisation methods now incorporate social media strategies for winning and retaining target customers for online traffic and sales.

This underlines the fact that social media is fast becoming the way of the future, and any online business that refuses to embrace social media marketing and tools could very well be left behind.

The last few years we have seen major changes in the growth and development of social media which has, and will continue to change the face of online business activities and methods.

What Is Social Media?

Without getting too technical, social media is the interactive social websites where people post their business and personal profiles in order to connect with other businesses or people with the sole aim of sharing views, making comments, giving answers and making business and personal friends.

In another words, social media is all about online social communities (including personal blogs, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube) where people seek to connect with other likeminded people on business or personal issues, with the sole purpose of furthering one another’s interests.

To really understand this, imagine all the friends and family connections that you have on Facebook and how you connect with them to meet social and business needs- this is a typical example of social media, where you connect and associate and communicate with other people or business owners.

How has Social Media Changed in 2012 and What Does it Mean For Businesses in 2013?

Networking, Networking and More Networking

Social media has changed in the area of networking and many businesses are tapping into this new feature. You can now search for any contacts online using integrated search features on these sites to seek and connect with any contact with the main aim of networking.

Forget Email, It’s all About Instant Messaging

Apart from networking, social media has also developed in the area of instant messaging. This has become a powerful tool for business owners and their target consumers. With the instant messaging function, you are now able to chat instantly with anyone and promote your business using these features.

Social Media: On the Move

It would seem that people like their social media like their coffee: to go! 2012 has seen huge changes in the way people are using their mobiles, and this has had a major impact on the way social media is being used by businesses. In fact, statistics show that more and more people are accessing social sites with their mobiles so businesses need to ensure that their content can be successfully viewed on smart phones or they could be quickly dismissed by social mobile users.

More (Social) Options Than Ever

As new features, or apps grow in popularity it’s become more important than ever that businesses ensure that they have a meaningful presence where their target audience is. This may mean businesses have to venture outside of the traditional (social) realm of Facebook and Twitter, into other social sites such as Pinterest, YouTube and Google+.

The Power of A Picture

As we head into 2013 we see a bigger push for social sites to become more visual. This can probably be accredited to the ever growing popularity in image-rich sites such as Pinterest, Instagram and Polyvore, and already we have seen a massive overhaul of Facebook’s photo (and photo album) setup. If they aren’t already, businesses really need to embrace image sharing through social sites and they can do this by getting creative with the images they share and the way they share them.

Push for Paid Advertising

2012 has witnessed a massive push for paid advertising on Facebook, with new advertising options becoming available to business pages. This push has come in light of the realisation that many posts (of a business page) are barely making it to their fans newsfeed. 2013 will see a huge shift in the use of paid advertising to gain more exposure and reach to Facebook users and businesses would be wise to consider integrating some form of paid advertising into their social media plan.