In the wake of research suggesting British businesses lag behind their counterparts in the emerging markets when it comes to adopting and using social media, I have outlined 3 key changes I believe UK organisations must adopt if they are to boost performance in 2012.

Focusing on the need to build better relationships with increasingly savvy consumers, I predict that 2012 will be a year in which the lines drawn between consumer and corporate use of social media will become blurred. I predicts that:

  1.  The rules of the game will change

As the use of game mechanics to attract consumers’ attention and generate debate will rise. We will begin to see industries applying intrinsic motivators in the form of games to encourage much greater brand engagement. Businesses will start to take notice of fast growing mobile social networks like Instagram that are blurring the boundary between content production and consumption.

  1.  Wide-scale debate will replace command and control

Social media laggards within businesses will reluctantly accept that non-participation in social media is no longer an option. They will gradually facilitate more communication channels. Ignoring a problem doesn’t mean it will go away. Given the impact that public enquiries have had on a variety of industries in recent months, UK plc will accept that the rules have changed and conversations can no longer be controlled. Firms will come to acknowledge that, only by being authentic, can they expect to appeal to customers tired of corporate spin.

  1.  Transparency will become the norm

With increasing calls for greater corporate transparency in the wake of the financial crisis, companies will recognise that opening themselves up to scrutiny via social media makes business sense. When it’s clear that they have nothing to hide they are much less likely to be on the receiving end of public criticism and are perceived as trustworthy.

It is naive to think that social media has no place in the business world. With multiple channels available to consumers in the shape of smart phones, tablets and laptops, the businesses that will do well will be those that can adapt and adopt. Anything less risks closing off routes to market at a time no business can afford to turn opportunities down.