Back in the beginning of January 2011, I made some predictions about things I thought would be important in that year.
Well, that year is over. Let’s see how it went.
I talked about the power of the personal brands. If you look at last year, the Personal Brand was in full force. From the Kardashians to Steve Jobs, to Zuckerberg to you. Yes, you. Due to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs, you are out there as a brand whether you like it or not. Everything you do is being looked at and scrutinized, to a degree, by others. You are, in essence, forming a relationship with the world. Individuals are looked at as much as their companies are. Even with mass movements – individuals and their tweets and status updates stand out. YouTube has given millions the ability to become brands with nothing more than a video camera. And these brands are making money … lots of it. Take Randall and Honey Badger for instance. I happen to know he has an agent and a brand.
Another was the Power of the iPad. OK, so the iPad was an easy guess. But just how much of a game changer is it? Well, it’s now replacing airline flight manuals. It’s used in hospitals, restaurants and offices everywhere. It’s the new children’s book. It’s the new art gallery. It’s the new canvas. It’s every presentation. But more important, it’s what the next generation will grow up on and that is the real game changer. iPad kids will have a whole different perspective on what mobile is and will be in the future.
One of the things that will play this year as well is Real-time Interactive experiences that went past the computer and into the real world. Take a look at these wonderful examples of that. This year, the HYBRID of real and digital will continue to grow.
Then there was Crowdsourcing. It’s not just for advertising anymore. It is now helping us discover new products and help get them on the market. It’s also helping to publish books. But, best of all, it’s working toward discoveries in health care and science.
I talked about how digital still wasn’t getting what TV has mastered. And that is still the case in my book.
Digital hasn’t figured out how to showcase its great content. And, in many ways, still isn’t providing great content to showcase. Digital needs to look at TV and learn some things. TV spends the money on content. TV promotes content. TV makes content an event even with TIVO. And TV still has more resources. But most of all, too many digital agencies spend their time talking about usability, wireframes, click-through metrics and half a dozen other digital buzzwords. That’s all well and good, but I am going to spend two minutes on your Web page if you are lucky. Meanwhile, I will spend more than four hours watching TV. Stop bullshitting me and put more on the Web that I need to see as much as I need to see the season finale of Homeland.
We were all wrong about Foursquare. I don’t use Foursquare much anymore and I don’t do a lot of checking in. I have also tired of watching my friends check in from different dive bars. So, from my perspective, I have lost interest in Foursquare discounts and I don’t want to be an imaginary mayor. Plus, my coffee place went to a frequency card.
It looks like Foursquare only figured out consumers and it didn’t even figure them out that well. It left companies to figure out the business portion.
And since the economy is getting better, the companies decided they don’t care about Foursquare as much either.
The consolidation battle between Facebook and Google rages on and on and on. Who will win your soul? Google. No, Facebook. No, Google. It’s hard to decide. Consumers seem locked in to Facebook. However, Google keeps throwing stuff against the wall hoping it will stick. Maybe something that helps individuals stand out more will be the key for Google along with all the customizable friend and privacy settings.
But the best prediction of last year was the Power of the Disenfranchised. The Occupy Wall Street set and whole countries decided they didn’t like the way things were going for them and moved on it. Social media was a conduit for these movements. This has empowered a great many to think they can cause the CHANGE that politicians have been inept at bringing. And if these movements get more organized with stronger leaders and missions, the sky is the limit. This may be the new system in 10 years. It’s pretty obvious the current political party system DOES NOT WORK (see Herman Cain and a host of Republican contenders).
However, the banks will never change. Greed wins over common sense the majority of the time.
All in all, not a bad year. So, what about 2012? Here are some thoughts on what will be more important in the coming year. (Not in any particular order.)
1. The Need for Privacy
Simply put, we don’t have any. Facebook, Google, your iPhone and the nation’s security issues have taken most of it away. With Facebook’s suicide button, you can report a friend who seems too depressed. How far away is that from reporting a person who seems like they might commit a crime? With Facebook’s Timeline, you can look into the history of friends and coworkers. You can look at a relationship status. You can stalk. It’s a window that is always open. With Foursquare, everyone knows you are out while your valuables are home alone. Your iPhone is tracking your movements. Cameras are everywhere. Phones can take a picture and post it to numerous social networks in seconds, tagging you forever. What happens when local cameras are automatically linked to phones? Watch out, terrorists. And what about the social index that can map when large groups are happy, sad, hungry, etc., from their social interactions? Can’t the same be done searching the key words used by individuals? Maybe I want to be sad ALONE.
It seems nothing is sacred anymore. We recently put a campaign together within Vegas asking people to Protect their What Happens Here, Stays Here moments by tweeting and posting discretely when on vacation here. It’s just the beginning. In the next couple of years, the privacy issue will provide a host of apps and a ton of conversation.
2. Transcending YouTube
YouTube celebrities have been showing up in the mainstream for a long time. Someone gets a ton of hits and you see them on a talk show or they get a TV deal. This year, however, brands will hook on to them like fine cheese at the wine tasting. Because the sheer number of fans is so appetizing. From Randall for Emerald Nuts to DJ Dave for Hyundai, the brands are taking notice of the number of hits on their videos.
As well they should. The tie in to Web videos for the brand should be easier since that is the original home of the celebrities in the first place. And if you think there are only a few of them getting the really big numbers of viewers, think again. For instance, try Nice Peter’s Epic Rap Battles – millions and millions of views. Just one of the many.
3. Putting a Brand Worth on Friends/Followers
What are those 600,000 Facebook friends really worth? What kind of ROI can I put to them? How can I spur them into action? How can I turn then into Brand Ambassadors, Brand Evangelists and, eventually, Brand Instigators? Because, as we all know, the key is not those people, but the people they will eventually influence. As more companies start building these groups, they’ll want to know what they’re really getting for the money. They can look at sales, do surveys or follow an online promotion setup for that very measurement, but this is really a small part of the picture. A lot of this is on the “come” as they say. Your Brand Instigators could have already influenced someone to use your product or service – someone who will never become your brand’s friend or tell you how they were influenced on a survey. That’s the nature of social and why it is so successful. Social still feels like an authentic suggestion from a trusted friend. How often is that happening and converting to sales? It’s a big question that will be on more companies’ minds than ever before.
4. The Online Content vs. Risk Dilemma
As more companies get a digital knowledge base, they will take less risk online. The Web is becoming less new and ambitious and more usability and content-driven. This has been happening for the last few years. That isn’t to say there aren’t wonderful sites to see. There are. They just happen to look and feel like what already works. The new mentality is that we will work on original content instead of originality. This is not a bad thing as long as the content is great. If it isn’t, then you just have another site. What does this mean for next year and beyond? Two things: 1. Content is going to get more and more competitive. 2. True originality will stand out like a sore thumb for better or worse.
The bottom line is that originality moves things forward while content makes what is working watchable and engaging. Originality will take a back seat this year on the digital front.
5. Screen Integration
Putting the TV screen, iPad screen and smartphone screen together will be paramount this year. Apps like Yahoo’s IntoNow listen for the audio signature of the show you are watching on television and provide you a unique second-screen experience to go with it. Well, a somewhat unique experience. In other words, the experience could use more content. Content is the key again here.
First off, the app is 100 percent accurate when it listens to identify what you are watching. Better than Shazam by a mile. And if you like to watch TV in a social manner, nothing will beat this. You can discuss with others who are watching the show, watch tweets connected with the show, get information about the episode and season, even buy the show ION iTunes. It’s all on one screen. If you are watching a sporting event, the stats are right there along with a lot of other great information.
What the app lacks is extra original content from the network. However, this will come in the near future. Think of the extras that can be made available to someone watching a show like LOST.
And that’s just the beginning of shared-screen experience. There’s already an app where you can paint over what you’re seeing on your iPad’s camera screen. It’s called Composite.
Couple that with augmented reality and who knows what will happen when you hold your iPad up to a television someday. Hidden characters? Hidden clues? Where to buy the outfits they’re wearing? Alternate endings? What’s to the right of picture where the screen ends? Games? Think of the possibilities.
6. The End of Talking to Anyone But Siri
Talking is out. It is a lost art. Texting allows you to interrupt at any moment. You don’t have to stop what you’re doing to do it (well, driving, finally – you have to stop driving – or you should stop driving). It allows you to put something out there with less risk of rejection. It’s casual even when it’s serious. It’s immediate. There are no awkward silences. When you text, you can attribute those silences to anything. Maybe they got hit by a bus or their phone went dead or they’re in a meeting on a bus that hit someone. No one ever has to believe that they are the reason for the silence. And, most of all, it’s just easier than talking.
Siri is perfect for the texting age. Siri is also immediate. Now you don’t even have to type. You can teach Siri to text someone. You can teach Siri who your wife is or who your best friend is.
And Siri is easy to talk to. She basically just does what you say. The only awkward silences are attributed to Siri not working. Which has happened to me a couple of times.
As Siri learns more and more apps learn to work with Siri, the dream of never having to talk to anyone real may become a reality. I look forward to the day when Siri starts to want stuff from me. Then I will know she is really learning.
For those on the constant search for authenticity, this will be the year of backstories. In the world of art, the backstory is everything. The “provenance,” as it is called, should be able to trace the past of any great painting or sculpture. Companies and their products will start telling these stories more and more to today’s untrusting consumer. You will see the Web filled with videos showing how boots are made by hand; inspiration that led to that craft-brewed beer you like; the history of your jacket, and the individuals behind it all. It’s the year of pulling back the curtain. Even bankers will give it a shot, but who will believe?
8. The Gospel of Jobs and the Spread of Apple Innovation
The Steve Jobs love affair is just beginning. Pretty much everyone has read the Steve Jobs book (not me yet, but I have it on my iPad at the ready). They have seen his rules for innovation. They have felt his world-changing power. Now they all want to be a part of it. They like spreading the gospel of Jobs. They want to be Steve Jobs. For all the people who say there will never be another Steve Jobs, there are millions of inspired people and companies that will be trying to become the next Steve Jobs. And that will lead to Apple innovation and simplicity in a host of new and exciting products that cover a wide spectrum of our lives. Like the one below.
I think there will be a number of Steve Jobs in our future. If not, at least some products he would be proud of.
It’s not new, but it will become a bigger story this year. With search engines, blogs and the ability to target consumers like never before, the ability to make your brand part of breaking stories is easier than ever. Ad campaigns will follow closer to trends and often be built around them. In a world where “there’s an app for that,” marketers will have to move fast. These days, consumers have a thought and they want it taken care of. They want things that make sense for the times because they live current and interconnected. The river of information is in constant flow. It can’t hurt to jump on one of the big logs so that someone might notice you before the falls.
10. The Clouds
Consumers will discover the cloud this year. If you asked most of them last year, they would say, “What is that?” or “You mean the fluffy thing in the sky?” Most consumers look at the cloud as one, main place. This year, they’ll understand the cloud is Amazon, Dropbox, Facebook, Evernote, iCloud, Google and many more. The cloud is about as fragmented as it can be. As more consumers start to understand the cloud and what it means, they will look for ways to consolidate their information. This is the big hope of Google. Google has a place for all your stuff in the cloud under one account. Right now, it may be the easiest, but Apple is close behind with iCloud. And then there’s the personal cloud where you own the memory and the location of your personal server and access your information from there (R&R client Western Digital plug here).
If you’re using the cloud, get ready. Because the cloud wars are just heating up.
I hope some of this has been interesting to you. I certainly don’t know everything, but I would like to. So if you want to tell me what I’ve missed, argue one of these points or just call me an idiot, feel free. I am @arnied on Twitter.
Have a great 2012.