December 27th, 2012
After reviewing my 2012 predictions/wish list written last December, I have come to the realization that 2012 was a “Blah” year in Digital/Social. What do I mean by that? Other than the meteoric rise of Pinterest, nothing else happened to materially change the predicted trends. If anything, it seems like some of the strong have weakened, thus opening the door to new offerings which should make 2013 a lot more interesting. Here’s some highlights:
- LinkedIn continues to strengthen its position by focusing on its point of difference and adding tools that benefit its audience.
- Google continues to create news by manipulating user statistics and spinning news about every product prototype or research regardless of how it fits, or doesn’t, its positioning. While it seems to have averted an FTC consent decree they seem to still be gun-ho on being the gatekeeper (toll-taker) of every ad served digitally (World domination anyone)?
- Amazon continues to strengthen its position as a global retailer and master integrator.
- Yahoo may still rise from the ashes – as predicted due to its strong e-mail user base which has been the first service updated by the new CEO.
- Twitter, again, what’s your raison d’être ? Yes I know that it is a public forum. Yes I know celebrities and Media love to post and create interactive “second or third” screen chat – but tell me- is this a long term, user retaining money making proposition? Or is it just a many to many IM (instant messaging) service?
While, in my opinion, there was no major breakthrough, a couple of players have somewhat fallen from the pedestal I had placed them in. Here’s a friendly warning for Facebook and Apple.
- Facebook’s new public status seem to have changed their long term user driven positioning to short term user-unnerving monetization at any cost (which could very well be loss of users). Part of what has made Facebook successful is the ability to communicate with friends and family and share your life “timeline” with all you deem appropriate. Picture sharing and album storing, for example, not only creates customer satisfaction in using the service, but also creates a major barrier of exit for users to leave Facebook (talk about having some skin in the game). If overnight you decide that these pictures are yours to use as you seem fit and not the users (hear this Instagram) you are in essence breaking down one key barrier that’s keeping your users loyal to your service.
- Apple, dear Apple. What’s happening to your Customer Service? As a consumer, I have spent about $10,000 over the past 2 years in your products, services and accessories ecosystem, mostly through your online and retail stores. I would say that while not enterprise spending level, it is a pretty sizable amount for an individual customer. Why do you chose to ignore service calls and provide only one choice for service; that of having to deal with “always-late-to-appointment-time/leave your-Mac-for-a-whole-week-to-repair” Genius bar. Please, If you decide not to invest as heavily in customer service then, increase the quality of your product features at launch time. The sub-par performance of Mountain Lion and Apple Maps is just two examples of flops this year. I still have faith in you Apple, do not disappoint me further.
Stepping down from my soap box now, I see some key 2013 implications and advice for marketers:
- Prior to any investment (time or money) in digital – look under the hood, kick the tires, make sure that whichever medium you choose is true to your end customer – keep any barriers of exit low until you see that there is no risk of being “guilty by association” and prevent monopolistic pricing (are you really getting better returns from that ever increasing key word CPC)?
- Do not fear Big Data, embrace it – the only way you will be able to understand who and where your customer “hangs out” and how they interact is by processing those numbers that are now freely available in the digital world. But be very aware of the point on privacy below.
- Privacy issues will continue to grow- be preemptive and err on the side of caution. Correct handling will put you closer to Amazon type of performance, mishandling it will bring the wrath of customers à la Instagram, Google and others.
- Continue to be weary of buzz words and fragmentation of one tool into multiple strategies – there is no such thing as Social Media versus Mobile versus Location Based Marketing – it is still good old Marketing with various digital tools and channels to better reach, acquire and retain customers. Do you really want to loose sleep at night to create a “SoLoMo” (social local mobile) Marketing Plan? The 2012 integration of all major services and networks with mobile versions and application should more than proof this point : One strategy -> multiple channels execution.
- If you are a B2B marketer, by all means leverage and get the most out of LinkedIn. In my opinion it is the only “major” that knows what is doing.
- If you have anything to sell – identify how you could integrate Amazon as a channel – I don’t think their train will slow down anytime soon.
- Last but not least – redirect all traffic to your own website. In the end the “Twitters” and “Facebooks” may come and go but the customers you have acquired should remain with you – where best to create this community than in your own property?
As always feel free to comment to your heart’s content. I appreciate each and every one of your insightful comments, and I promise to pay extra attention to any opposing point of view. Feel free to reach me if you would like to review my thoughts in a more quantitative and practical manner. You can contact me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @zeusofmarketing and Facebook: Zeus of Marketing. You can also find additional contact information via LinkedIn:http://www.linkedin.com/in/jrgrana.
Have a wonderful New Year and successful 2013!!!