A decade ago, if you had suggested that the majority of people would be sharing every boring detail of their lives, often publicly on the Internet, you might well have been laughed at. The fact is however that billions of people are updating their Facebook status, posting on Twitter, and uploading pictures of their lunch to Instagram every single day.

Social media is going to be the focus of marketing trends this year. To be ahead of the game and find those individuals that you want to market to, it is necessary to go through the morass of social networking data. You need a way to monitor which videos are hot on YouTube, which hashtags are popular on Twitter and Instagram, and which posts are getting the most likes on Facebook.

This may involve some expensive software tools, but if you are going to engage your audience you need to know where their minds are at right now, especially as trends change from week to week, sometimes daily or even hourly.

When it comes to social media, banner clicks are usually low – they are considered an annoyance to users who are trying to focus on real content, so how do you market to this crowd? You are going to need to create some genuine content, and have legitimate offers available to draw the attention of someone who’s just dropping in to check on their friends and associates – you need to learn what works on each particular site.

Marketing is also about finding people with an audience – one video blogger may have a tremendous following on YouTube, but very few Twitter or Instagram followers. Another socialite may be hot on Pinterest, but behind on their actual blog site. What this ultimately means is that finding different audiences across a number of social media sites will help you to improve your market.

Finally, you need to be able to prove that there are tangible results from what you are doing – if you can prove that your social marketing is resulting in unique hits, you have a marketing plan that will be desirable to businesses. Marketing is about reaching people – and social networking is where people will be in 2013.