As 2009 comes to a close, I can’t help but reflect on what I’ve seen this year, and consider what will be top of mind for 2010.
The Social Web has been a bit of the Wild West for 2008 and 2009, but with a growing number of legal cases being decided in this area, and a continuing risk aversion amongst corporations, I predict privacy will be top-of-mind for many of my clients. The recent FTC decision about blogger engagement, in which marketers can be held legally liable for the behavior of endorsed bloggers, means that fewer companies will be willing to take that risk—large companies in particular. No amount of blogger buzz is worth an FTC action.
Due to generational differences between Boomer management and Millennial workers, boomers will continue to not understand the draw of social marketing, and sell-in will continue to be a need for the first half of 2010. No one, and I mean no one, is helping boomers understand the cultural changes driving social media adoption, and consequently, they largely remain unclear on the benefits. Addressing this disparity between the “lenses” was one of the focuses of my talks in 2009, and I imagine the need will continue for the coming year. Arming marketers with Reasons Why will help them get buy-in and hopefully knock loose some spend.
Social Media is Mainstream
When I saw CNN put their Twitter handle on the bottom of the Headline News screen in April 2009, I knew Twitter had finally gone mainstream. 2009 was the year of Social Media media hype, and fortunately it has waned as people have tired of hearing about Facebook and Twitter. But the early adopters will move on this year and the masses will continue to move to social sites en masse. In mid-2009, a perusal of the Help a Reporter Out media request list showed a regular list of reporters wanting to do stories on social media. By the end of the year, this fizzled to nearly none. So the hype will die out, thankfully, and we’ll move on to more interesting issues.
Corporations Find Their Voice
Organizations will begin to take back the conversation in 2010 after a few years of being caught off-guard. A recent example of a blogger attacking the TSA and then getting publicly humiliated by their response shows that organizations will start to push back against consumer railings. Corporate inertia and lack of internal processes will keep things slow but I predict by the end of 2010, we’ll see plenty of examples of companies holding bloggers publicly accountable for their postings.
The Real-Time Web
In 2009, we saw the Iranian elections turn into an explosion of real-time social content. While moving and sad to watch, it brought home the concept that the Real-Time Web and consumer journalism are here to stay and will only get bigger. The Mumbai terrorist attacks, the American student arrested in Egypt, the Flickr photos of the plane landing in the Hudson—content will increasingly be sourced from consumers, and publications will find themselves in growing legal hot water when they commandeer that content without proper approvals.
In 2009, there were 26 million smartphones in the US. As that number grows, so will the innovation around site-specific and augmented content. Point an iPhone at a store and see its content. Move your smartphone around a museum and see the land as it was before the building was there: a window into the past. See the Zillow information on any house as you point your phone and drive past. It won’t be the year of Mobile Advertising (a dead model, in my opinion), but it will be the Year of Mobile Content.
All in all, it’s going to be an exciting year for Social Marketing as we move from “what’s this new thing” and “is this a fad” to “a fan page is so 2009.”