6 Predictions for 2012

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WELL, it’s that time again when we look at our predictions for the coming year, but first, we thought it would be interesting to revisit some of last years, to see how we did.

Last years predictions were pretty good actually. We said that Twitter would start to advertise everywhere they could and this was true to the extent that was possible, before the redesign a few weeks ago. Now we have the new design, and based on initial impressions, we expect to see this increase significantly in 2012.

We also predicted that the separation of social audiences would become important. Google Circles and the subsequent changes to Facebook’s subscriptions were bang on this one – we also predicted a change to Twitter lists to make them more interesting, which kind of happened with the redesign.

We thought that there would be a rush to emulate Groupon. Within a single year, many companies like Facebook and Google have been in and then out of this market again, as the numbers didn’t stack up for them. We thought that an IPO would be the next step for many internet companies, but this was a little premature. Prevailing market conditions meant that Zynga, Groupon and others waited until later in the year to float. Interestingly, the gold rush and subsequent bubble hasn’t happened yet, though this doesn’t mean that it won’t.

We expect that Facebook will IPO in the spring and this will be well received. This will then lead to a flurry of interest in smaller web based companies too, particularly those with a social lilt.

So leaving 2011 behind, what do we think will happen in 2012.

1. The IPO trend will continue as the US economy strengthens.

This will be against a backdrop of slow growth or even recession in Europe. We have lots of problems on this side of the pond, not least that we have little private financial and governmental support for good ideas and startups. You only have to watch Dragon’s Den to see how we Brits view the investment process – develop an idea, test the idea, pitch investors, endure criticism, be publicly ridiculed, give away half your business for fifty grand. Not exactly Facebook, Twitter, Apple or Microsoft is it?

Not only this, but in 2012, there will be a whole new generation of multi-billion dollar US based companies, who can invest in or acquire smaller companies and technologies – meaning there is a large incentive for entrepreneurs to develop an idea or startup business. It looks like our own UK based startups may also be funded by US investors, though once the intellectual property is acquired, it will eventually be used to further enhance US based companies dominance in the space, rather than incentivising our own startup businesses.

2. Social networks will become a much greater source of new customers and also a tool for retaining them.

This is because the networks are looking to (and need to) make money from introducing customers to suppliers and this will have to work or they are fundamentally bust before they begin. Now they have the attention of our eyeballs much of the time, we expect they will now convert this to advertising, sales and revenues. We are predicting a major redesign of Linkedin, as it still looks a bit like it did when it started, despite being the most functional and useful social network in many ways.

As adoption continues to increase, we will have less and less opportunity to ignore social networks to engage with our customers and prospects. In 2012, companies who have ignored social networks will have to get on board, but thankfully, it’s still early days.

3. Increasing use of business analytics in data driven marketing.

IBM have made a prediction that companies will be using data more and more, to make decisions within their business. They do have some bias here, as they are a major player in the business data analytics market. However, in the same way that Tesco have pioneered data analysis in the UK consumer market and grown market share in a saturated market, it is inevitable that smart companies will need to be making the most of their best asset – their customer database.They will then use the intelligence gained to drive their second most valuable asset – their prospect database!

The fact is that many companies have been doing this for decades already, but like Apple, IBM never miss an opportunity to relaunch existing ideas to a new audience.

4. Google will make Google+ MUCH more integrated with their other products, while also making their products MUCH more integrated with Search.

We think that Google has a range of products which are used individually by millions or maybe billions of people and this is their point of leverage. The Google challenge in 2012, is to connect these products together, so that they all become more important to the user and customers start to use them together.

Expect to see Youtube, Search, Google+, Apps, Talk, Places, Products, Maps, Android and Chrome overlapping their functionality and then this to be focussed towards increasing their focus on search – which is where Google make virtually all of their revenue.

5. Economic negativity will continue to drive innovation.

Four years ago we blogged that recessions drive innovation and we think this trend will continue apace. More and more real world products and services are being replaced by online equivalents and this is now extending well beyond e-commerce. You can now book a room in someone’s house rather than a hotel and actually you can do most day to day things on a mobile.

Books, music, films, storage, games and anything else which can be digitised, is moving to mobile and the cloud. What is interesting, is that subsequently, lots of these different media can then be integrated together or socially enabled, leading to whole new ways of media interacting with people as well as other media. Expect the move to mobile, cloud and integration of these to continue in 2012.

6. Second screen technology.

Question: What do you do if your market is saturated?

If it’s the food market, you grow the market by growing the people by 50%, to allow them to buy more food. and yes, we mean grow as in size. Think about it, if we all reduced our food intake by 25%, there would be mass collapses in the food industry!

Question: What do you do if your product and therefore your revenue, relies on screen time and people’s eyeballs are already occupied 100% of the available time?

Simple, you just increase the number of screens your customers are viewing at any one time. We think this will be a big growth area in 2012. While you are watching TV, you will also be interacting socially using an iPad, iPhone, netbook or something else. You might visit imdb to see reviews of a movie, visit Wikipedia to find out how old the actors really are and also click to Amazon to buy the boxed set of the show you are watching.

We expect that this is the start of a major trend in 2012 – consumers multi-tasking all the time. Watch this one, as like obesity, we think it’s a major cultural shift, this time in the overconsumption of media!

We love your feedback, so please feel free to add comments below and tell us what you think of these predictions.

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About the Author:

KnowledgeBank work with Companies to develop their data driven marketing solutions to generate profitable new customer relationships. We also deliver social media training, consultancy and strategy to hundreds of businesses across the UK. If you would like further information about how you can develop your own marketing activity or social media, please contact us on 01772 978 101.