With 2012 approaching, many are making predictions for what will happen in the coming year. While most of us can’t fully see into the future, 2011’s predictions featured quite a few interesting looks into what we thought the year might hold. This year we once again reached out to some of our friends and colleagues for predictions. Here are their thoughts on what the 2012 may bring in the world of marketing strategies, marketing tactics, mobile marketing, social media, leadership and management. Take a look below and add your predictions in the comments section.
Big Moves by Big Names
1. Buy, Not Build. There will be a slew of top brands that start to buy established niche media properties instead of starting from scratch.
2. Google will undergo FTC scrutiny for trying to corner the market on the purchase funnel…they buy one too many media companies (i.e. Zagat in 2011) that finally sets off some opposition from social influencers.
3. Facebook indeed surpasses $100 billion in market cap after going public (probably not a stretch, but worth saying… since Facebook is the only company that scares Google).
More Social Media Integration
Many companies have treated social media like a special new thing that has to be handled separately than all of their other marketing initiatives. In essence, we have created the social media silo that operates independently and have created “special” social media campaigns. In 2012, I believe we will start to see social media strategies and tactics integrated throughout their entire marketing and public relations plan. We’ve seen some of this from brands with big budgets, but I think it will become more mainstream. I’m hoping that social will be treated as a supportive tool to help other strategies succeed. This integration will lead to greater overall success and an increase in return on investment (ROI). Smart companies will take a sledge hammer to the walls of the social media silo and figure out where social media is best suited to move the entire marketing plan forward.
Consumer Engagement Will be Necessary, Social Media Channels Will Multiply
As more and more of the world’s population becomes a part of the online population, virtual engagement with consumers will become a necessity and no longer an option. In 2012, companies will have to work harder to connect with customers online and create engaging content as competition for user attention dramatically increases. Content marketing and customer relationship management will become an essential part of every company’s integrated marketing strategy. More companies will hire specialists to maintain their social media outlets as the number of social networking Web sites and emerging media outlets reach an all-time high.
In 2012, the ultimate social networking showdown will begin as Google+ gives Facebook a run for its money. According to ComScore’s 2011 Social Report, 1 in every 5 minutes online is being spent on social networking Web sites. Google began its vital social networking venture this year with the launch of Google+. Google has already began making its Google+ social networking experience increasingly similar to that of Facebook with the introduction of Google+ brand pages. This year, Facebook and Google will go in a head to head battle for users’ time and advertisers’ money in the race for social supremacy online.
Bring on the Onslaught of Voice Automation
The promise of voice automation has always been “just around the corner”. The ever-listening, ever-helpful computer waiting for you to give it a voice command is like something from the Jetsons. Well, at least it was. With the advent of Siri, true voice automation is here, and it’s conversational. Now we sit back and wait for what I predict will be the landslide of new voice automation in 2012. The end of 2011 has already seen a lot of movement in this space, with Xbox bringing Kinect to the table, and Google acquiring companies in the voice vein. The prediction is less about the fact that we’ll start to see voice automation popping up everywhere, and more about the fact that it will be good! It won’t be “command based” where I command a single process using my voice. It will become more conversational and more intuitive, more contextual to understand the meaning behind what I’m saying, not just listening for a command. And marketers need to pay attention to how these interactions will take place. Realize that when you do a Siri search, your PPC ad is not showing up, and you need to get in bed with local search. Understand how to facilitate the use of voice on your website, and how you may need to embed a voice widget in your brand’s mobile app. Voice is finally here, and the snowball is building.
Expansion of Social Media Fatigue
During a recent idea exchange hosted by the State of Maryland’s Division of Marketing & Communications within the Department of Economic Development, one wise participant dubbed social media as “the office water cooler for independent contractors.” While I’m fortunate to work on teams with amazing clients, at least one fabulous PR agency, one excellent strategic marketing firm, and many creative partners, I spend lots of my working hours in my home office without an opportunity to see my colleagues on a daily basis. Thus, as a strategic communicator who gets my energy from groups, I wholeheartedly engage in social media as a means of connectivity and community. In particular, I’m a huge fan of Twitter and can’t imagine practicing PR today without it. Nevertheless, I expect that in 2012 we will see an expansion of social media fatigue. The launch of Google+ highlights the stampede of different social media sites, all promising unique features and more levels of sophistication but in reality offering little to distinguish themselves from the rest. In addition, there is a certain amount of content redundancy among the networks. If you check each of them, you’ll often encounter the same posts, “shares,” and comments. Furthermore, the ever-increasing flow of ads on these sites (not to mention “spammers”) and the faltering privacy protections even further detract from the original appeal. While I will continue to leverage social media and to embrace my strong online connections, I cherish the “real” conversations and communities (both online and off) that rise above the noise, the ads and the blatant self promotion. In 2012, I look forward to working with my strategic partners to help our clients “keep it real.”
Customer Engagement Will Continue to Evolve
Advances to the digital landscape, such as social media, mobile, and content marketing have presented new marketing channels. There are larger windows of opportunity to engage with our customers. And, as marketers, we’re now presented with more chances to collect information about our customers. In the year to come, we must tap into the available data to make better informed decisions moving forward. We can track the effectiveness of our website, optimize landing pages, improve on/offline ad campaigns, test email marketing efforts, just to name a few. It’s necessary to take this information and provide value to our customers as the engagement continues to evolve.
With the new channels and information that can be collected, it’s critical for the marketing team to analyze this data to develop integrated marketing campaigns with adaptable messages to improve the customer experience as engagement continues to evolve.
Location Based Marketing Will Hold Its Own
My predictions for 2012 are that Location Based Marketing (LBM) will continue to hold strong sway over search results which are geocentric, Facebook will begin to incorporate augmented reality with facial recognition, and geofencing will become opt-out rather than opt-in.
2012: The Year of Too Much Information
2012 will be the Year of TMI, when the race to socialize all manners of personal data makes unintended consequences and high profile repercussions a virtual certainty. A “socially hip” politician or celeb will check in somewhere and be ambushed by a mentally deranged follower, or a child could be kidnapped because her parents didn’t know about, much less monitor, dangerous activity on the tweens social network du jour. Legislation has lagged because politicians haven’t been able to keep up with the pace of technology, so they will move quickly and decisively to rectify this obvious oversight. New legislation is going to clamp down hard around privacy and personal data, and social media marketing agencies will scramble to adapt their business models to a new reality where their shiny new tools have the power cord clipped off and they’re back to using hammers and nails. The industry will realize, belatedly, that some restraint and proactive self-regulation could have anticipated and softened the blow from the strong arm of the law.
Oh, and the Baltimore tech scene will EXPLODE.
Now, it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? What are your predictions for the upcoming year? Share your comments below.