Social and Digital in 2011 January 14, 2011

Written by: Digitally Approved
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At the beginning and end of each year, recaps of the previous year are always prevalent.  Lists of best songs, movies, and books are the norm in blogs, newspapers, and magazines.  So too are predictions of what is to come, especially in the technology and marketing/advertising space.   At Fanscape, we also have our opinions about what we expect to see in the coming year.  What we’ve compiled here is a list of our predictions along with a few others we’ve seen that we completely agree with.

1. Smartphones as common as the toaster. 2011 is the year smartphones take over. With an expectation of smartphones nearing 50% penetration in the US, Verizon adding the iPhone, and tablets taking over, we’re all going to be walking, talking, emailing, playing, and sharing while we chew gum. Mobile extensions to your social marketing plans are a must. Optimize your messaging for iPhone, iPad, Galaxy, Blackberry, Droid, et al.

2. Companies will integrate social feedback into their decision making process. In 2011, we will see a growing number of companies finally go beyond using social channels merely for building awareness and providing support. Expect to see a rise in companies who, by end of year, will be recognized for socially-informed innovation, customer focus and work environment, much like Zappos and Amazon were a few years back. (Predicted by Ravit Lichtenberg on Read, Write, Web)

3. Social Commerce. People like their Facebook, that’s where they spend most of their time online.  Facebook would prefer you didn’t leave.  So, why not buy all your stuff right there? Right now on Facebook you can book your Delta Airlines flight and buy your buddy a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream.  We’re definitely going to see more of this transactional business directly on Facebook this year.  And then we’ll start seeing it in other social platforms, not to mention on our phones.

4. Website Evolution. Websites will continue to become more social. Should I have a website or should I just be on Facebook?  You need both.  In fact, you need to be in more places: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress/Tumblr/Posterous.  And this list will grow.  Start by making your website more social.  Integrate Facebook open graph; allow people to “like” and rate the content on your website.  Overarching plan: give people a reason to return or else they’ll grab your store hours or client list and never come back.

5. Groupon: here today… Prediction is that we’ll burn out on the current incarnation by year’s end.  But that doesn’t mean it is going away.  Let’s call it what it is, the digital version of the guy with the sandwich board handing out flyers.  Retailers have more opportunities to drive people into their stores than ever before.  Ask a retailer if they liked their Groupon (and similar) experience and about half will say no.  Consider this a brilliant innovation or a retail marketing disrupter, but we’ll see more of this.  Google wasn’t going to spend a fortune buying Groupon for their health.  This is the evolution of targeted advertising.  Foursquare had you check in, Groupon had you buy a deal, expect a merging of the two: meet your friends at the local bar, the whole table gets a discount.  Reward the loyal and those who return, not just the lookie loos.

6.    The Digital Talent Pool The real talent—the ones you really want—are entrepreneurial and creative, and they’re not waiting around in your lobby to get a job. They’re trying it on their own.  Media outlets will find future talent on YouTube, iTunes, or other popular audio/video on-demand sites like BlogTalkRadio. NBC Universal announced an initiative last week where they will select 20 popular “tweeters” in each market to create content for their websites, broadcast segments, and other distribution channels.  (- Jessica Northey on Social Media Today)

7.    Video, not just for looking at babies and cats. YouTube is the number 4 most viewed website and guess who just cracked the top 20?  Netflix.  (per Alexa) Most of the sites on the rest of the list serve up plenty of video too (Facebook, Yahoo!, CNN, etc.).  Pay attention to sites like eHow and Howcast if you want to know how to build a table, bake a cake, or change a car battery.  People like visuals.  Show and tell is easier than ever and again, it’s what people want.  And going back to mobile, people can watch this on the go now too.

8.    Digital and Social immersion. Merge radio frequency identification (RFID) with smartphones and social networking and you complete the loop of total immersion in connectedness.  One word: EpicMix.  See what they are doing at Vail ski resorts and you’ll get it.  Your ski pass is embedded with a unique ID.  It knows where you are, how many miles you’ve skied, it tells you where your friends are, and it provides a platform to add photos and video.  You unlock badges that automatically update to your Facebook page.  You don’t need to do anything.  Imagine the extensions to shopping, dining, and travel.

9.    Cause Marketing. Expect brands to integrate a little extra feel good into their strategies.  Over the last two years charity started at home, but we’re starting to loosen our purse strings a little bit.  When it’s apples to apples, we’ll lean towards the more socially conscious product.  And technology is making this easy through things like text donations for NPR podcasts and fundraising apps such as kickstarter.  Remember this term too: Crowdfunding.

10.    Social Search. We put this at the end because it really started last year.  We just don’t believe everyone quite understands it yet.  At least not its implications for brands and their products.  Realize that when people now have conversations about you via open social networks (i.e. Twitter – for the moment), that filters into the search query.  Immediately.  So when you are looking up where to buy a barbecue, you’ll see real time conversations about the exact same thing!

Innovations and honorable mentions, a.k.a. things to keep an eye on this year: Quora, Social Scrapbooking, Social news on your tablet (e.g. Flipboard), near field communication (i.e. mobile payments, mobile ticketing, QR code reading, etc.), entertainment check-in apps (e.g. GetGlue, Philo, Miso), and of course, web-enabled televisions.