Today’s the day when lots of Scottish companies return back to work, so to help them ease back in (and because we were quite decent in our 2010 social media predictions), here’s some thoughts – over two posts – on what may pop up in social media over the coming months., so feel free to go get that cup of tea and delay checking your inbox for another ten minutes…
Social media is about engagement and while a lot of the chat may be about the tools of the trade, ROI and so on, many people are moving past this, even beyond talking about it as PR/sales/marketing/customer relations. Instead, they are spending their time looking at areas more related to psychology, NLP, HR and legal issues.
This is good because it shows a maturation of the field and true integration into the wider communication channels and networks of the 21st century.
Despite the above, many will still use it as a poor extension of their current normal comms and while that’s fine – after all, there’s not just one way to use digital communications – it’s a shame as it’s so much more rewarding to use it two-way and converse with people.
Facebook’s going to take some tumbles over the year – I think we’ll see the media tag an incident ‘the world’s first Facebook murder’ in 2011 where something done on Facebook leads to a real-life tragedy – but overall and globally, the site will continue to grow. People will continue to trade away privacy, sign up for games, share pictures and video. And some more people will invest. And all of this will be ahead of a late 2011 announcement of an IPO in 2012. And then, once we see who plans to invest, expect some real scaremongering – most of it without factual basis – over who can access your data and relationship information.
See above, but it won’t stop people using it. The Facebook replacement for the mainstream isn’t here yet, but will Facebook hit 1billion users in 2011? Yes, I think it will, just in time for the IPO announcement.
Facebook may or may not launch a search engine like Google/Bing – I doubt it will – but using search within Facebook will grow incredibly over the coming 12 months as more and more people use it exclusively as their web. Not their web portal, but their web – they just go onto Facebook and nothing else. As a result, expect to see a lot of articles about Facebook SEO and how to game the rankings/results.
Yes, Quora is getting a lot of buzz and it may do well in 2011 (I’m still unsure. We’ve had Q&A sites before so it seems to lack a USP to me, but I wish it well) but most companies will stick to the tried and tested channels. “No-one ever got sacked for Tweeting/Facebooking” will become the new “No-one ever got sacked for buying IBM”. We’ll also see more companies jump into gaming by either sponsoring or paying for games, so that their brands are in this sphere.
Lots of people are saying blogs are dead and being replaced by micro-conversations on the likes of Facebook and Twitter. I’m not convinced for a few reasons: one, they are a great hub for social media activity; two, they allow for depth and variety of content you can’t get elsewhere and three, blogging may be down for individuals but for many companies it is still early days in the adoption cycle. Also: you can’t replace a press release with a tweet.
Newspaper circulations will still go down – though I hope this is year that Scottish papers become available as apps – but won’t die. They aren’t going anywhere for a long time. That won’t stop plenty of people blogging otherwise.
Geolocation has uses in certain occassions but it’s hampered by signal strengths in phones and lack of good reason to do it (past that of fun, which wears off quickly). In many parts of Edinburgh for example you just can’t login to the likes of Foursquare which puts people off. If they can’t do it quickly, then people will become disgruntled. Similarly, if you want people to do it, give them a good reason. If it was tied into CRM software for example, it would be a great way of seeing how devoted a customer someone is to your brand.
We mentioned this last year, the point still stands. Video now is like when everyone got their first DTP package and you had letters with bold, italics, underlines, sans serif, serif, cartoony typefaces – all in one paragraph.
2010 was the year Twitter especially showed a great use as a side-channel to TV shows. Whyte & Mackay whisky (disclaimer: client) used it to great effect to tell people how to get water and people home safely when a darts final in May 2010 was cancelled after spending months engaging during TV sport shows and there was no other way of getting information out there quickly on the night. The likes of BBC Question Time make a point of letting you know how and where to follow the chat related to the TV show.
We’ll see TV shows make more of this in 2011 with more involvement and engagement – STV should do well here with the likes of the ridiculously talented Mary Harper on their digital side – and we’ll see people record shows and then read through the livetweets from the show. As the use of illegal torrents continues to rise, this will be an ongoing thing across time zones.
It used to be people said “don’t tell me the score” or “don’t tell me what happened” when trying to avoid finding out about an event as they were recording it, we’ll need to add “don’t tweet to me about it”.
Sad this but it’s that kind of world. For some it won’t be an issue as they’ll be good at other stuff. Others will try and convince that they are good at it when they are really chancers and they’ll still charge big fees and just wing it.
Scottish prediction: The Big Partnership will do really well across the UK in social media/digital communications and engagement. The team they have in there is first-rate. Allan Barr, Mike McGrail and the others know their stuff. It’s the first big Scottish agency to really put money – and more importantly, time – into doing it right and I think they’ll reap the rewards. Hopefully they’ll get some strong competition though to keep everyone on their top toes.
Some of the parties will do well in using digital, some won’t. No doubt someone will dub it a digital election, but it won’t be. Scotland is still – especially outwith the cities – still a country where digital struggles. As I’ve joked before, even the geography with all the hills and remote islands works against digital take-up. What chance do you have when even the landscape is against you?
This kind of touches of Pat Kane’s Play Ethic but people more and more want to enjoy their work. They accept that work can be hard – and I think 2011 will see people putting in very long hours to try and retain their jobs – but they also want it to be interesting as they find the interesting bit to be fun. And if they can’t get that in Scotland, they’ll move, causing a brain drain of the very people we should want to keep.
There’s continual buzz over how the likes of phones and tablet platforms will save the more traditional press but I think there’s huge assumptions being made there. I mentioned this before and there’s two reasons I think people suddenly expecting all traditional text like text and books to contain extra information are going to be disappointed: lots of people like just having text and don’t need lots of shiny graphics, video, audio and so on. Sometimes you don’t need all that extra data, you just need relevant data.
The second point is more pertinent in these recessionary times: graphics, video, audio all cost – they cost to record and edit, they cost to produce and there’s costs to integrate it all together. A book shouldn’t need a programmer, a video guy and a sound engineer and if it did, would they all want to take payment the way an author does – very little up front and then a miniscule royalty per book? Let’s say the average royalty for a new book – a £8.99 publication – is £1 to the author. Suddenly that has to get split three or four ways, making it less rewarding to create the work.
That’s my call on 2011 anyway. I’m sure we’ll see plenty of surprises too – will there be any great stunts around the mobile phone chargers all going micro-USB? Will Scottish game developers bounce back after a rough 2010? Will blogging dads be seen as important as blogging mums? What date will Stephen Fry quit Twitter this year? What will be the surprise hits of the year (most thought the iPad would do well, but few realised it would kick-start an industry)? Anyone out there fancy putting down their predictions?