Social media continues to move forward toward business integration. Majority of businesses I talk to plan to increase social media spending, while many of CEO's and operations people label social as a high priority.
Part social network and part social search, Google Plus has people scratching their heads, wondering if Facebook will be given a run for their money or if the service evolves into something complimentary in a highly social Web.
Foursquare still enjoys a niche audience of highly active participants who enjoy telling the world where they are and post pictures to prove it. It is however worth noting that Facebook recently acquired location based network Gowalla, so continue to watch this space. With “Check in” and geo-location targeting now a feature of Yelp, will four square loose ground to this giant?
So what can we expect in 2012 in a world that seems to grow ever connected by the hour? Here are some predictions to ponder, in no particular order:
Convergence Emergence. For a glimpse into how social will further integrate with "real life," we can look at what Coca Cola experimented with all the way back in 2010. Coke created an amusement park where participants could "swipe" their RFID-equipped wristbands at kiosks, which posted to their Facebook account what they were doing and where. Also, as part of a marketing campaign, Domino's Pizza posted feedback — unfiltered feedback — on a large billboard in Times Square, bringing together real opinions from real people pulled from a digital source and displayed in the real world. These types of "trans-media" experiences are likely to define "social" in the year to come.
The Cult of Influence. In much the same way that Google has defined a system that rewards those who produce findable content, there is a race on to develop a system that will reward those who wield the most social influence. One particular player has emerged, Klout, determined to establish their platform as the authority of digital influence. Klout's attempt to convert digital influence into business value underscores a much bigger movement which we'll continue to see play out in the next year. To some degree everyone now has some digital influence (not just celebrities, academics, policy makers or those who sway public opinion). But for the next year, the cult of influence becomes less about consumer plays like Klout and more about the tools and techniques professionals use to "score" digital influence and actually harness, scale and measure the results of it.
Gamification Nation. No we're not taking about video games. Rather, game-like qualities are emerging within a number of social apps in your browser or mobile device. From levels, to leaderboards, to badges or points, rewards for participation abound. It's likely that the trend will have to evolve given how competition for our time and attention this gaming creates. Primarily, gamification has been used in consumer settings, but look for it in other areas from HR, to government, healthcare and even business management. Perhaps negotiating your next raise will be tied to your position on the company's digital leaderboard.
Social Sharing. Ideas, opinions, media, status updates are all part of what makes social media a powerful and often disruptive force. The media industry was one of the first to understand this, adding sharing options to content, which led to more page views and better status in search results. What comes next in social sharing is more closely aligned with e-commerce or web transactions. For example, Sears allows a user to share a product or review with their networks directly from the site. Sharing that vacation you just booked, or recommending a product, or service from any site to a social network is where sharing goes next. We probably don't know what we are willing to share until we see the option to do it.
Social Television. For many of us, watching television is already a social act, whether it's talking to the person next to you, or texting, tweeting, and calling friends about what you're watching. But television is about to become a social experience in a bigger and broader sense. The X Factor now allows voting via Twitter and highlights other social promotions, which encourages viewers to tap social networks while they watch. Another way media consumption is becoming social comes from a network called Get Glue which acts as something of a Foursquare for media. Participants can "check-in" to their favorite shows (or other forms of media) and collect stickers to tell the world what programs they love. Watch for more of this this year as ratings rise for socially integrated shows.
Wow. What a year ahead. One thing I do know is that we are evolving evermore and allowing digital media into a main stream lives everyday, we are now swayed by opinions and not just the biggest ads and companies. Traditional media advertising has changed and consumers are demanding more from the companies that they do business with.
Here are my favourite predictions for 2012:
"Right-time" multichannel marketing. Watch for new tools that will help business owners better analyse complex customer behaviour and comments on various social-media platforms. Then, you'll use that data to monetize your business's social-media presence with tailored marketing campaigns that reach the right customer at the right time with the right message.
More cheap online ads. Marketing will centre around a move to low-cost online tactics such as paid search.
Customers in charge. More businesses will involve customers directly in merchandise and marketing decisions. How? Here's a hint: If you aren't doing online customer polls yet: Facebook makes those insanely easy to set up.
Mobile purchasing grows. Those retailers not optimizing their website for mobile phones need to start as soon as possible. Research firm eMarketer adds that m-commerce more than doubled this year to $6.7 billion, and expects it to quadruple again by 2015.
Daily deals die down. Experts agree: The daily-deal space is oversaturated with competing offers. Also, many business owners lost money doing daily deals. Expect a shakeout, both in the number of deal companies and in the types of deals offered.
With the world economy shacking and consumer confidence low, many people no longer feel secure working for big companies & corporations. They are now looking to venture out and start their own businesses and become self reliant.
This is great for small business, the Australian economy and Media service but it leaves big gaps for these large corporations as they start to loose good talent and the talent pool starts to get smaller.
Big companies are going to have to change the game and start creating atmospherics like small companies where there is a lot of flexibility, its exciting and people don't have to wait around to be promoted their talent will get them promoted. They have authority to make decisions and make them quickly. They don't have to pay there due's and "play the game".
This is going to be a huge sea change for big corporations as confidence in the economy grows and good talent become entrepreneurs. Big companies are going to have to look deep inside and make some serious decisions to improve their culture.
Only brave new companies with a focus on delivering what there employees want & need will survive into the next growth phase.