Friday, January 06, 2012

A Look Ahead to 2012

As I'm swinging into gear after a long holiday season, I'm reading a lot of articles with predictions about how marketing is going to evolve in 2012. I've linked to two below.

I agree with a lot of what these two authors wrote, but I think they leave out the continued integration of sales and marketing, via the social media content development process.

Marketing Predictions for 2012, Jeffrey Hayzlett, Huffinton Post

1. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile.

Throughout 2011, you heard me saying "mobile, mobile, mobile". In 2012, I predict the mobile wallet will be the next big thing. With more and more online companies like eBay, Amazon, PayPal, using the mobile device as a platform to make instant online purchases, we're now seeing technology built into smartphones that allows customers to swipe their phones rather than their credit cards at retail outlets. Banks are really taking advantage of this technology and offering their customers a new level of service. This is a space marketers need to not only be aware of, but be involved in.

2. Social - Crowdsourcing vs. Friendsourcing

Crowdsourcing is a cool tool for spot surveys, quick answers, and general engagement, but friendsourcing is about trust: reaching out your most valued advisers -- the people you really know -- and finding out what they think. These people can be your close friends, colleagues, or mentors. However, they can also be your brand ambassadors--the social media friends and followers you've built those relationships of trust with over your social media network.

3. On-Line Qualitative Market Research

2012 will be an exciting year for the research industry. It is clear that the shift to on-line qualitative research has begun and likely to accelerate in the coming year. The need for deeper and richer insights to support making better marketing and business decisions is critical. Companies must be prepared to act fast. This category is rapidly growing and the corporate researchers that make the move will be best positioned to be the winners in this new game. It is a business imperative in my opinion.

Search and Social Media Marketing Predictions for 2012, Alex Wall, Business 2 Community

2011 brought us Google+, Siri on the Apple iPhone, the Internet cloud, the Panda updates, and widespread changes across every major search engine and social platform. With all of these new technologies at our fingertips, the only thing that remains uncertain is what changes and challenges the New Year will bring. With that in mind, here’s our forecast for search engine and social media marketing in 2012.

Prediction #1 – Search and Social Will Become Irreconcilably Intertwined

Bing took a bold step when it upped the ante on social signal integration in May 2011 and pooled data resources with Facebook. You may have noticed that when you search through Facebook, beneath your standard Facebook search results is a listing of Bing-powered Web results.

By the same turn, Bing began to incorporate social signals from Facebook, creating a more personalized search experience for its users. It’s important to point out, however, that this isn’t a seamless integration. You have to sign in to Bing and use your Facebook log-in credentials in order to see the effects.

This integration is similar to – and, in fact, nearly mirrors – Google’s integration of Google+ social signals and +1 indicators. By using likes, retweets, and +1s as votes of confidence, these search engines are pooling the collective intelligence of your trusted social connections to influence the search results that you find.

As social media plays an increasingly larger role in the search algorithm, social media marketing will become a necessary component of SEO, likely to the point that they will nearly be indistinguishable.

Prediction #2 – Customer Interaction as a Vital Marketing Strategy Component

In 2012, Facebook will reach 1 billion users, and social network profiles have become an extension of modern identity as much as, if not more, than our cars, cell phones, and homes. Social signals have become a part of search, Google has started to index Facebook comments, and Google+ has started to play a native role in search engine results pages.

If search and social are indeed wedded for life, the companies that will outperform will be those who find a way to manage customer relationships while balancing perceptions. This is a bigger task than a marketing department can handle alone, and calls employees and brand loyalists to influence consumer perceptions of brands, services, and products through the creation and sharing of organic Web content.

So what are savvy SEOs and inbound marketers to do? Stay engaged. It’s much easier to say than to put in to practice, we know, but in terms of staying power, long-term strategy will trump a viral YouTube video any day of the week, for not only brand recognition, but also for conversion.

Prediction #3 – Mobile Search and Social Will Grow Exponentially

Try though you might, you can’t keep hardware out of the picture – tablets have fundamentally changed the game of content consumption.

Studies have reported that as many as one-third of American adults use smartphones, a number that’s expected to grow. An entire generation of teenagers and adolescents are growing up using smartphones and tablets, so companies who optimize their strategies for mobile devices will benefit the most.

Online purchasing has been moving in an irrefutably mobile direction – Google has estimated that 44% of last-minute shopping searches originate on mobile devices. Click-through rates are already higher on mobile devices than they are for their personal computer corollaries, and location-based services like FourSquare, Gowalla, and Yelp continue to expand as they battle one another for geolocation supremacy.

Whatever changes 2012 has in store, the path to success will be one that integrates strategic search and social campaigns, and we expect that 2012 will also be the year of refined social ROI tools so that marketers can effectively and efficiently monitor multiple channels of interaction.