As this year begins to unveil its windfalls and ills, we need to think ahead of the possible events of the year and how the events of 2011 may impact our lives in 2012.

Importantly, social media soared to a new height in 2011; it wove itself into traveling, learning, shopping, entertainment etc. Facebook surpassed 800 million users; Google Plus rose to compete with Facebook; and Twitter users began to increase again. Also, cloud technology became increasingly adopted by several businesses, and mobile communication began a powerful uptrend.

Though no one can accurately predict the future, here are 7 predictions to help your business planning and budgeting.

1. Shift of Business Focus from Social Media Awareness to Social Marketing

Last year, businesses focused more of their attention on creating awareness of their presence on social media. In 2012, business owners are expected to start focusing on using social media to improve their businesses and channeling their efforts towards sales and revenue generation. That means more businesses are expected to focus on content marketing, social commerce and so on.

2. Intelligent Reporting on Social Media

Already, a lot of confidence has been placed on the evolution and growth of Klout, Kred, PeerIndex and others to provide solid social influence reports in 2012. Businesses are expected to start using these tools to know “who is who” and decide the best persons to do business with. Definitely no one expects the emergence of a perfect reporting tool, but we expect to get more insights from these tools.

3. The Emergence of Social Television

The level of technology last year signals the convergence of social media and television in 2012. The integration of several gadgets – TV, computers and mobile devices – to give better social experience to users is expected to become a reality before this year comes to an end. Already, people are getting comfortable with watching videos via the Internet. It should not shock you when web and traditional TV merge to give integrated social TV experience.

4. Emergence of the Real Social Commerce

Social shopping is an experience Internet users have been waiting patiently to properly explore. In 2012, many brands are expected to begin to use Facebook as sales channel. When each purchase is shared with friends, it becomes an automatic endorsement from every buyer; and this is good for business. Also, the fact that visitors will be able to see previous buyers from their networks is an idea that most businesses would buy into.

Already, SERPs have incorporated social networks; and Google recently launched “Search, plus Your World”. In 2012, search engines would have to put more social parameters into consideration to provide better search results. This will have a huge impact on search engines algorithm, and businesses would have to consider social media optimization to enhance their search engine optimization strategies.

In addition, if Facebook eventually revamps its “search”, as predicted by some people, Facebook search will become a really powerful tool in the hands of marketers.

6. The Intersection of Social and Mobile

The use of mobile devices is towering; and the amount of social media visitors via mobile devices is soaring. We do not expect this trend to slow down throughout 2012. More people will be using different mobile devices to visit their favorite social networks and other websites. Also, shopping via mobile devices is set to for another height.

7. The Growth of Location-Based Marketing

As the use of mobile devices continues to rise, many businesses will turn to location-based marketing to drive coupons, promotions, advertisements etc. The web that once served us “undistinguishably” will now serve us individually.

In the final analysis, social media is likely to be a strong focal point of Internet marketing in 2012. Many other marketing channels would have to integrate with social media to give better experience to consumers.