I know, I know, I know – I'm making your brain hurt. But not only is there a lot of stuff coming online in 2012, I also anticipate a big push into a lot of new technologies and behaviors. So without further ado, here's my final list of what to look for in the new year:
Now-Writers and condensed content:
I mentioned this in a presentation recently, and CEO Peggy Nordeen of the Starmark agency said wisely, "Much like a new AP Style guide for the social professional!" The perfect summary to what I envision. I see that bloggers, Tweeters and social media professionals are crafting a unique writing style. Taking core content and truncating it for quick posts and easy digestion. "So why do you write so damn many words Justice?" - Shhhhh. Nobody puts Baby in a corner.
Brand ambassadors & “trust agents:”
Many of you have heard me speak about "brand ambassadors" (blog link). So if brand ambassadors were business owners, than "trust agents" would be their staff. Or at the very least a temporary team of like-minded folks who are willing to speak on behalf of your product or service.
Marketing folks would call them "street teams" and other such titles. But trust agents go beyond passing out fliers and dressing pretty to distribute tchotchkes. Trust agents are people who have an understanding of your brand, either through education from the brand owner, or through a pre-existing loyalty. It's your job to encourage and exploit this to increase goodwill and awareness of your brand. These could come in many forms such as (but not limited to):
- Bloggers who are enticed to write about a product, service or familiarization trip
- Niche social celebrities
- Temporary fans incentivized to carry your message at trade, live or show-based events
- Limited promotional messaging
- Incentivized conversational contest or rewarded behavior
Mobile social gaming, social commerce and gamification will continue to grow:
For those of you who read any of my posts on gamification, you all know that I'm indeed a big fan. And while I cannot put my finger on exactly how it will be different, I feel the space has been relatively untapped. Therefore I invite all businesses and trades that read my lunacy to step back from each project and ask, Is there an opportunity to make this product or service more engaging with a sense of play? I think there are more and more opportunities to come in the space.
The rise of mobile messaging:
While many people simply see SMS - as one of the many mediums they digest on a daily basis, the platform has far more options than are currently being tapped.
- Customer Service (in real time) - Much like companies use Twitter as a customer service channel, I expect the same thing to happen with SMS. Watch as savvy businesses start giving people a way to text their service channels for a more personalized approach.
- Local business deals (retail) - More and more businesses see the need to create larger cell-phone connections to their clients rather than relying on simple e-mails. Because e-mail addresses are as disposable as shoes these days, and many accounts are set up to circumvent business contact with a real person. With SMS, you know that you made your connection!
- Tracking and alerts - Be on the lookout for business that use SMS for alerts, tracking and scheduling for their contact medium of choice.
- Business, meetings and and trade shows - SMS presents marvelous opportunities for businesses and organizations to connect, survey and keep in constant contact with their potential and current customer base.
Less travel, more business:
In an ongoing push to reduce offices and ramp up the “virtual staffer,” tech toys are gaining in popularity and new ones enter the market.
- The usual suspects: AIM, iChat, SKYPE
- The upstarts: Google Hangouts
- Crowd-sourcing: Live streaming
- Event Camps (Simultaneous events; multiple locations) - This idea seems interesting from a cost-control standpoint: Allow many people to geographically interact and have similar experiences.
Watch how interactive televisions get in the game sooner rather than later, and you'll be interacting with friends and family in real time, right from the living room. This will take a little getting over for some. But with the advent of front-facing cameras on most computers these days, I don't see it as a very intrusive jump. Well maybe not the bedroom TV – or maybe that's the first place you'd put it! I don't know, nor am I here to judge you. But I do like your style.
Social Metrics find their way into Annual Reports:
How social metrics haven't made a splash in annual reports and subsequent New Year’s planning is beyond me. It blows my mind that with the rise of technology and personal computing, businesses are still so resistant to adopt these into their planning and reporting structure.
You can argue that social media might not be this way next year. Well, I can assure you that you’re right about that. It WON'T be the same! But the speed of business is correlating itself to the speed of technology. Therefore the days of "that's just simply the way it is and always will be," are gone. That is dead, antiquated thinking that will kill business models of the past.
I'm not going to bore you to tears with trying to prove my point here. By exploiting online and digital technololgy, progressive, cost-sensitive media budgets are seeing more bang for the buck than ever before.
It shouldn’t be surprising that Apple (the first company to e-mail me a receipt after purchase) would create an app with which I can make purchases in person. Bing-bang-done. This does more than simply empower the user and take stress off the retail employees. It also can be completely entrenched within the buy-flow process of the chosen brand. This will make up-sell and retention far easier to obtain. I see this as an amazing leap-frog tactic for users in the future to "put the store in your hand" and make the experience literally line-free and seamless.
It's really enlightening when people stop using the term social media and start advocating "social business." Social media is just that, the social distribution of media in whatever form we choose. But that's not all of your business. Think of that as the window shopping, or the reasons that someone walks in and speaks to you. The social aspect of what got the consumer to you in the first place should now permeate that brand experience, follow through the buying cycle and create a lasting relationship with long-term, active, engagement messaging. It will take some time for retailers and commercial users to move beyond thinking of social media and social business as synonymous – but they are not. I can advertise and fill a restaurant full of people. But if the food, service and experience is bad, it's worse than if the patrons never came at all.
With any new technology that seems beneficial, there will always be someone out to take advantage of it. I predict that "cloud-jacking" and virtual data theft will be the neo-crime of the decade. We all know that Norton's Anti-Virus has nothing to do with the “strain of the month” that explodes in the media – the strain they subsequently save you from (wink-wink). So will be the mantra of all cloud services, who purport to protect you from the perils of the would-be hacker who is hell-bent on downloading all your family photos, PhotoShopping your head on the body of gay porn stars, and circulating them through your church's email list.
Home phones will die:
I don't see this requiring much, if any, definition.
Facebook will still be the 1Billion pound Gorilla:
There's no denying the truth. You can be on the Google+ train, the Twitter bandwagon or under a rock – but Facebook is still top dawg. It's not to say there will not be an ebb and flow over the coming decade. I see great promise in Google+ and other start-ups, but Facebook's infrastructure and preparation for IPO in 2012 will make it THE powerhouse by which all others are measured.
Here's what we know:
- An IPO prep that could value the company at 100 billion dollars. And when I say that, I'm doing so with a pinky at the corner of my mouth, Dr. Evil-style. At that point, I see only one choice for America: Kidnap Mark Zuckerberg and get a king’s ransom for his safe return so we can right this economy. I think the right team can pull off this trick over a weekend. Preferably sometime after the Super Bowl and before the NBA playoffs, assuming they are still on track. And yes, please feel free to print up your "Justice for President" bumper stickers now.
- 1 billion users - Like a planet in and of itself. At this rate, we'll all have ex-girlfriends and boyfriends finding our profiles until we die.
- The industry baseline: No matter HOW you want to draw the lines, Facebook will be what all social networks model themselves after for the foreseeable future. "Oh, we should do this like Facebook. But not that! I hate that!" Etc. The term is simply ubiquitous on the tongues of all start-ups and socially-driven technology companies.
Electric Vehicles/transportation will skyrocket:
Lastly, I'll circle the wagons and hunker down, preparing my Faraday cage for the impending EMP attacks with this: electronic transportation. You may wonder why this is on the list of some social media / creative guy. Well, we need to address the factors that will affect us in the coming years. As these technologies take shape, so do the platforms that we integrate into that experience, as with hands-free architectures and so on.
That being said, as better batteries - enter the marketplace and more e-bikes, and electronic transportation options come to pass, so does the need for digital convergence. This hybridization of digital lifestyle demands that how we get where we are going is almost as important as what we do when we get there. We must approach our transportation methodology with consideration for safety and sustainability.
Here are some additional resources I found and used in the writing of the these articles I think you might find interesting:
- http://www.2012predictions.net/science.htm (this is a must read list if you're a nerd like me)
This platform will be the new world remote-control war machine - no doubt in my mind (if it's not already). The speed, minimal expense and UNMATCHED responsiveness and maneuverability makes it the perfect future weapon. Scary, I know.
As Porky Pig would say, "That's all Folks!" Until this time next year, when we rendezvous back here again and see how I did (if I remember). Or we won't and I'll just keep shooting my mouth off about shit I only partially understand. Enjoy the remainder of 2011, and may you have a blessed holiday with your friends, fans, followers and most importantly, "Family." It is the best social graph of all. Please share these articles, and spread the love around. Peace.
See you next year kiddies.