Every year, SmartBrief on Social Media reaches out to a leading mind in social media marketing for their take on the stories and ideas that mattered most in the year we’re finishing — and the can’t-miss trends that will rock the year to come. The following e-mail Q-and-A with Lori Randall Stradtman, author of “Online Reputation Management for Dummies,” has been lightly edited for flow.

Looking back on the year in social media news, what were the game-changing stories for social media marketers?

The anti-SOPA campaign was huge. It demonstrated the power of ordinary people and organizations to influence big media, which used to reign supreme — a huge message to government and the established power structures. Destabilizing. Power to the people!

What were your favorite social media campaigns of the year?

Inspiration Day, by Kotex. They singled out 50 influential women on Pinterest, which was the brand new social media powerhouse, and created style boards brought to life. All the ladies had to do to receive these gifts was to share about them, and the viral miracle was born.
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I absolutely adored everything Campfire Creative did for HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Their ability to captivate fans and either introduce them or take them deeper into the world of “Game of Thrones” was absolutely brilliant. It gave people a fun, memorable experience that made this fictional world seem almost real — a fantastic escape and opportunity to meet others who shared their passion for the series of novels whose author has been called “America’s Tolkien.”

Red Bull blew me back because it was so smart — hard for most brands to duplicate, though. I’d like to know what their return on investment was for that PR stunt!
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What were the biggest social media mistakes your saw corporate or personal brands making in 2012?

Mass media approaches — depersonalizing social media doesn’t work.

Also, compartmentalizing social media into a “Chief Digital Officer” kind of position. I love to see organizations paying attention to social media in a more serious way, but a healthy social media strategy functions more like a central nervous system than an arm or leg. It carries the flow of information at the speed of electricity to your audiences and back to you. Great for market research, recruiting, customer service, sales, marketing, crisis prevention and management.

What social media tools, trends or ideas are you most excited about, as we head into 2013?

Big Data tools: I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on a social media monitoring tool that can dive deeper than we’ve ever seen before into the dark waters of Big Data and surface with real-time treasures that show segmented information so that brands can find “their people” and create approaches that appeal to them specifically. This will also be huge for crisis management. The best way to deal with a social media meltdown is to nip it in the bud by paying attention to what’s happening around your brand.

What’s the single best thing a person can do to improve their personal brand through social media in the coming year?

Listen to what people are saying about you and your work.

At the very least, monitor more than your brand mentions, using search.twitter.com, Google Alerts and either HootSuite or TweetDeck. Most people, even executives from global brands, are shocked when they discover that Google searches miss a lot. It’s a common misconception.

If you can afford more comprehensive platforms, make them a vital part of your strategy.

In 2008, Lori Randall Stradtman founded Social Media Design, where she teaches businesses how to use social media and blogs to build their markets and increase revenues. Much of her current focus is on helping business owners enhance and protect their online reputations; her clients include entertainers, C-level executives, entrepreneurs and directors of charitable organizations.

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