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Millions of businesses throughout the world have begun to embrace social media as a great way to gain customer information and gather insights that will help their firm for years down the road. But like everything else in the business world, social media is continuing to evolve and give companies even more of an opportunity to take advantage of the tremendous values that it can present to the enterprise.

Customer demands will increase in 2013
Customers are going to be the same way as business owners; they are going to want to receive some type of compensation for the all the work they are doing on social media. Whether they are checking into a restaurant on Facebook, using hashtags to talk about a business on Twitter or sharing their location with their followers on Foursquare, consumers are going to want to see a return on the time they are spending using social media.

"In 2013, we'll see more users start to expect, if not demand, some tangible benefits in exchange for all the time they spend online and the personal information they're sharing," said's David Mattin for the magazine's special report on How (and Where) to Make Money in 2013 (and Beyond).

If businesses want to meet the needs of their customers and continue to add to their client base, they are going to have to adjust to the wants of their social media followers and present them with opportunities that are mutually beneficial for them to interact with the firm.

"Consumers are starting to understand the value of their information and asking to be compensated, whether with badges, rewards, preferred pricing, or discounts and perks," added Howard Tullman, CEO of Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy, for the report.

Social media will evolve entering the new year
The world of social media will continue to change, and it will be interesting to see the new trends the develop throughout 2013. While no one knows where the social media will head entering the new year, a recent article for Business 2 Community provides some predictions for how the social sites will change customer interaction in 2013.

•Mobile apps will become more integrated: The mobile app world is relatively new, and in upcoming years, it is going to be necessary that companies supplement the customer experience with mobile apps. As these apps evolve, the mobile and social world will begin to mesh, and customers will be able to interact with a company even more right from their smartphone.

•Big data streams grow in importance: For some business owners, big data is a foreign term that sound complex and complicated. While it may be tough to master big data, social media provides an endless stream of information about a company, and companies are going to be missing out important data that can help improve the business. The insights mined from big data streams can help business owners make the decisions that can take their firm to the next level.

•Social, local and mobile: As Americans continue to check in to places and share their location with their followers, businesses are going to take advantage and offer nearby customers money saving opportunities to purchase products and/or services from the firm. The information that customers put on social media will give companies more opportunities to personalize their offers to particular consumer segments.

•Offline opportunities to provide feedback: Customers who enter businesses are going to have even more opportunities to say what they liked about their experience and what they didn't like right from the store. This feedback will help firms alter their offerings on their social networks in an attempt to make the largest possible amount of people interact with their company.

2012 was a big year for social media
As consumers and business owners begin to prepare for 2013, a quick look back on the past year in social media can provide a point of reference for how social media changed throughout 2012. An infographic produced by The SEO Company chronicled the year by month, and listed some of the biggest moments in social media throughout the year.

A few of the highlights provided by the infographic include when Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion in April, findings in July that show 51 percent of social media users connect when they are at work, and in September when LinkedIn released data that shows that site gains 175,000 new users each day.

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