What Does Digital Revolution Mean for Your Business? Matt Appleby Looks at the Growth of Social Media during the Past Year, and What Trends Businesses Might Expect in 2013

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IT will come as a surprise to nobody that we are an increasingly digital population in Wales. Social media in particular has driven a revolution in the way in which businesses interact with their customers and stakeholders. With two thirds of the UK population now on Facebook these are networks which have become entirely mainstream and should feature in any business's marketing plans.

Despite still lagging behind the rest of the UK in the take-up of broadband, this has not meant any less appetite for the adoption of new technology for consumers or businesses in Wales.

We saw a 14% increase in mobile internet users last year with four in 10 adults going online with a phone handset in the first quarter of 2012. The take-up of smartphones saw roughly the same level of growth. Wales has also adopted e-readers faster than the rest of the UK - 13% of adults had them at the beginning of the year and they featured highly on many 2012 Christmas lists with a flurry of new models released in time to fill festive stockings.

Further evidence is in the strong community of creative social media groups which have grown up around Wales' cities - everything from the Cardiff Blogs network and Wales Blog Awards to popular hyperlocal news blogs and a new Centre for Community Journalism at Cardiff University.

This shift has meant fundamental changes for businesses in the way they communicate and this year in particular has seen businesses in Wales reacting to these changes and adopting new marketing strategies.

Reacting positively to these changes offers huge benefits to business - allowing them to more effectively engage with customers and attract new business.

It creates instant communication channels between customers and employees, making a business more personal and potentially allowing it to offer better service.

A more porous business - where there is less of a barrier between customers and staff - can be a challenge to corporate structures.

But it gives organisations an opportunity to become more transparent and more human - both key to success in social media.

Showing a more human face is particularly important. In the social world, we seek to gather in communities, to find people with similar interests and we want to share, talk and create with them. Businesses that understand this and adapt their behaviour accordingly are the ones that will succeed.

They are some of the trends we've seeing in successful campaigns this year but as we tip into 2013, here are a couple of social media trends to look out for.

Mobile Carrying a powerful GPS-enabled smartphone in our pockets every day has created new ways for us to interact with the web and social media networks. By using location-based social networks and apps we are continually blurring the lines between the online and offline worlds in a way which has massive potential impact for businesses.

While the traditional online mantra has always been "content is king", context is rapidly becoming as influential - now you can reach people when they're in the place where you want them to take a desired action, whether that's choosing a restaurant, playing a game or buying a new gadget. …