As we round the corner into 2012, it’s time to gaze into the crystal ball and boldly predict what the coming months will bring. Specifically, let’s take a look at five key tech trends that will drive the ways in which you’ll engage with customers and promote the growth of your business in the year ahead.
Facebook will continue to dominate social media.
If you want to engage with your customers online, you must find them where they live. And in 2012, by and large, that place will continue to be Facebook.
If this prediction seems more like stating the obvious than going out on a limb, let’s all take a moment to remember the glory days of MySpace when everyone thought it was the end-all, be-all of social networking.
In the ever-evolving world of social media, the only constant is change. Well, change and Facebook. Tech New Master
They’ve successfully extended their reach far beyond their own home base throughout the Web (primarily through Facebook Connect and Open Graph). As a result, Facebook remains an integral part of online life and not just another destination.
While it’s fine to branch out and experiment with other platforms, don’t neglect Facebook just because it’s no longer the newest, coolest kid on the block. Your customers are still there, which means you should be, too.
Google+ will survive but only as a niche network.
On the flip side of the social media coin, we have Google+. Once hailed as a Facebook-killer, Google+ will continue to grow, but it’s ultimately destined to be relegated to a niche network.
The best thing Google+ has to offer is its integration with other components in the Google toolbox. Use Gmail, Google Docs and Reader? Google+ makes a nice complement to them.
But beyond that, Google+ brings nothing new to the table. It’s not necessarily awful, nor is it awesome. It just is. And as a result, it doesn’t have the magnetic pull necessary to lure users away en masse from their established online homes.
So if you’re plotting how to allocate limited time and resources to social media this year, you don’t have much to lose by keeping your focus on more proven, well-established platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
The future of online communication hangs in the balance.
Depending on who you talk to, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) is either necessary legislation critical to combating the loss of millions of dollars in revenue, or it’s the greatest threat yet to freedom of speech online.
No matter which camp you fall into, there’s no denying that SOPA represents a major step towards having sweeping government intervention in our online affairs. At the risk of waxing political, mixing our unwieldy, slow-moving, filibuster-loving government with a fast-paced, innovation-driven Internet environment seems like a recipe for disaster.
Fighting piracy is vital, and the protection of intellectual property deserves new and creative solutions. But if SOPA is signed into law in 2012, the rules of content, copyrights and social interaction online will be wiped clean and rewritten.
Today we stand at the tipping point…the only question is, which way will the scales fall?
Online sales will continue to climb.
The 2011 holiday shopping season is officially over, and all indications are that it’s been a groundbreaking year for e-commerce.
According to NPR, as of December 21, online holiday retail sales had already reached $32 billion – a 15 percent increase over the same period in 2010. In the midst of these challenging economic times, those are encouraging numbers indeed.
Furthermore, “couch commerce” is on the rise. An estimated 8 to 9 percent of the shoppers that contributed to that staggering $32 billion figure did so by making purchases on their smartphones or tablets.
So what does this mean for your company in 2012?
First, if you don’t have an online store, you need to establish one ASAP. Do your due diligence to ensure that every aspect makes it easy and pleasurable to be your customer.
Second, make sure that your website – and your storefront especially – is optimized for mobile users. With the proliferation of smartphones and tablets and the subsequent rise in browsing and buying on mobile platforms, you simply can’t afford to be behind the eight ball on this one.
Content will remain king.
If Benjamin Franklin were alive today, he’d undoubtedly put “good content” alongside death and taxes on his shortlist of life’s certainties. Master the art of publishing great content, and your business will grow.
In an ever-changing online landscape, content will always be king. Even as the delivery mechanisms constantly evolve (desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets…what’s next?), it’s content – not the platform through which it’s conveyed – that engages.
Content is the catalyst that tears down the walls of communication between your company and your customers. It’s what transforms your brand from a logo to a living, breathing entity that human beings can relate to. It’s what keeps people coming back to your site time and time again.
If you conquer only one area of business promotion in 2012, make sure it’s publishing top quality, original content that’s invaluable to your customers.