I used to really like reading and writing prediction roundups this time of year. Then I started reading and writing them. They all tend to include most or all of the following elements:
1) Predictions based on events or trends that already happened in the previous year (Facebook’s mobile usage will take off in 2012!)
2) Financial predictions that can be expressed by plotting past performance on a chart and extending it another year (The past four New Year’s Days through this week, AAPL shares went from about $100 to $200 to $300 to $400, so you’ve probably read predictions that Apple’s shares will hit $500 this year)
3) A couple wacky, outside of the box examples of either of the above to show that the writer has some original thoughts that have no grounding in reality (AAPL will reach $1,000! Facebook will launch a new line of hand soap!)
Learning from previous events to plan ahead may not be as exciting as claiming psychic powers and telling fortunes, but there’s value in it nonetheless. That’s why a lot of my so-called predictions for 2012 are really extensions of the previous week’s roundup of everything that happened in 2011. Read that for added context, and read more below about what to expect for social media this year. You may not be shocked or even awed by this modest list, but it should lay the groundwork for all of our work ahead.
Which company had the biggest impact on community management in 2011? Facebook and Twitter evolved and grew, but the real change agent has been Google. First, Google+ became a social network whose greatest value will likely be what happens outside of the Google+ site, and then YouTube transformed from a distribution tool to a community. These changes will influence how community management works with other marketing disciplines. There goes another silo.
Gamification will be exposed for the gimmick it is, but marketers will still benefit from selective uses of it. There are so many companies that either openly promote gamification or couch it as something related like social loyalty, such as Badgy, Bulbstorm, Bunchball, Crowd Factory, and CrowdTwist. The g-word is mercifully in decline. It’s akin to how we no longer discuss widgets, but there’s still a place for distributed content.
Despite my issues with the aforementioned g-word, it played a big role in the consumer health technology market over the past year, with services such as Lark, Striiv, and Jawbone’s Up using game mechanics to help consumers achieve wellness goals such as sleeping better and being more physically active. My personal favorite is Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012 for Xbox Kinect, which constantly reminds me how far ahead Jeremy Epstein is in burning calories. These social hooks will keep consumers more hooked.
Not only did millions learn their Klout score in 2011, but some learned their Kred score (ugh), and their PROskore (double ugh), and their ranking on the Empire Avenue index (please, make it all stop). More importantly, so much effort has been made into creating new definitions of influence. For instance, an influencer on Crowdtap is very different from one on Expo TV or Circle of Moms. In 2011, influence got really messy, in the way that your home gets really messy when you’re sorting through everything, right before it’s all put back together in a more orderly manner. It will take more than a year to meaningfully reassemble the influence puzzle, but expect plenty of effort expended here.
Local hooks tie in seamlessly with mobile marketing, but it’s bigger than that. Brands, publishers, technologists and others need to figure out how to use location in fun and useful ways. One of my latest gaming obsessions is Life is Crime, an Android app that’s basically Mafia Wars using real locations. My wife is a little worried about how proud I am that I’m the kingpin of a Chase bank branch and a health clinic in our neighborhood. It’s the real-world angle that makes it so exciting.
The one milestone to note here is that Facebook is on the cusp of having more than half of its users accessing from mobile devices. As goes Facebook, so goes media. Ready?
Pay attention to the professional services space. Whether it’s a network like LinkedIn, a content platform like SlideShare, or productivity tools like Rapportive, Boomerang, and Buffer, there are ways for you to use social media right now to do your job better. Master them now; don’t wait to catch up when you’re actively job hunting later.
Social commerce became a known entity in 2011. Now it’s here, so what should marketers do about it? This will be one of those years where the pendulum swings back from gimmicks to fundamentals, whether through marketers making better use of their social channels for explicitly commercial purposes, or through new uses of emerging mobile social shopping services.
In many ways, TV powers Twitter, and Twitter drives TV ratings. Apps like Shazam, IntoNow, and GetGlue are creating new kinds of interactions. Accessing real-time content relating to what’s on TV will be far more meaningful than the fleeting fad of check-ins. Meanwhile, regardless of what Apple does in the TV space this year, Microsoft already has tens of millions of people using interactive and increasingly social TV experiences through Xbox. This year, Microsoft is in the best position to transform how we think of social TV. Regardless of which platforms and apps win, TV is already extremely social, and some of the best untapped social marketing opportunities right now are in the living room.
If that’s not enough to get started with for 2012, you must be planning for 2020 already. Happy New Year.