One of the best things about the start of a new year is that we get to predict what the future will bring. Here are my top 10 tech predictions for 2012:
1. Mobile e-commerce The U.S and the U.K are two steps ahead of us on this one. Starbucks and Pizza Express launched campaigns last year that saw consumers using their mobile phones to purchase products in-store. My prediction is that not only will Australia catch up on this global trend – but forward thinking brands will tie in advocacy through real-time mobile loyalty programs.
2. Geo-targeting I see this feature really taking off in 2012. As mobile Internet technology diffuses I predict real-time geo targeting will play an important part in e-commerce/location-based services as-well as clever marketing campaigns and use of social. It will be interesting to see how online recommendations are accessed in real-time by location and how this affects sales.
3. Google+ Vs Facebook With 62million users gained in December last year, Google+ is slowly building a core base of users. Analysts have predicted if it continues to grow at its current rate it will have hundreds of millions of users by next year. Whilst I’m not going to tip my hat to Google+ as my favourite just yet, I predict Facebook will definitely have a fight on their hands. Just how fair a fight it will be remains unseen. Analysts have predicted Facebook will hit 1billion users by Aug 2012 so Google+ will have some catching up to do.
4. Shallow friendship backlash the race to get the most ‘friends’ on Facebook and other social networks will slow down as people begin to resent their newfound ‘virtual’ friendships. My bet is there will be a resurgence of ‘real’ friendships as people return to using the phone and ‘in-person’ contact. That’s not to say Facebook use-age won’t continue to grow – I do think though that people will attempt to rely on the social network less.
5. Mobile social networks first growth social networks were created well before the diffusion of mobile internet. I see this year as a pivotal year for mobile social networks to emerge; old networks will upgrade software to make them more mobile-friendly and there will be a plethora of new networks that come to the table specifically for use via mobile.
6. Social convergence social networks have pretty much reached saturation point. How many social media accounts can one brand/consumer have? 2012 will be about brands selecting ‘quality’ and ‘relevant’ social channels for their brands rather than trying to have a presence across ALL platforms. The move from quantity towards quality will see social mature as a channel and I hope to see this reflected in the effectiveness of campaigns.
7. Facebook sharing Zuckerberg announced Facebooks plans to integrate ‘auto-sharing’ via the new Timeline platform late last year. This could see you sharing pretty much everything you do in the online world – without you even knowing about it. Now I don’t’ know about you – but I find this a bit creepy. I predict a major backlash from Facebook users who get humiliated by auto-sharing in 2012. Beware of hitting the ‘Add to timeline’ button as this will auto-share your behaviour without your consent! (check out the full implications of timeline here)
8. Social media measurement As clients begin to invest more in social media, so too will the need to improve measurement. I predict that 2012 will see a more streamlined effort to measure social media. The ideal would be to see a benchmark emerge – one that is robust enough for clients to justify their social media spend. Whether or not it will happen that quickly is another matter (we recently wrote about social media measurement here).
9. Search driven by the people With the launch of Google+ last year, the Google+1 button functionality slipped somewhat under the radar. As people start to use the +1 functionality to recommend online content we will start to see search being effectively powered by people’s recommendations. I can’t wait to see how this diffuses in 2012.
10. Content is king Some might say this is hardly ‘new news’ with Bill Gates predicting it back in 1996 – but the adage has definitely come true: content is king. In order for social campaigns to be effective they require a solid content strategy that engages users to become advocates. As the social media landscape becomes more saturated by brands in 2012, marketeers will need to focus on high quality, unique content to cut through. Consistency will also be key with brands committing to a long-term content strategy through their social channels.