Social media experts project the year to come. These are the best of the best social media predictions for 2009.
The annual ritual of prognosticating is in full swing, and there’s only a few days left before the deadline. We’re trailing slightly behind, but we’ll be sure to catch up. These are the best of the best of what we’ve seen so far.
Junta42 featured a long list of 42 social media predictions from many thought leaders in the space. These are the 10 best, complete with color commentary:
1. Patsi Krakoff aka The Blog Squad: In 2009 we’ll see more brands developing a personality or a persona to represent the core values of the company. This ‘persona’ will be responsible for most of the brand’s blog content and social media messages. As The Blog Squad, my partner Denise Wakeman and I have realized the importance of ‘persona’ to connect with people and to represent what our company does. Fortunately, we’re real people. I pity those companies that are going to have to invent a persona because that will never work as well as authenticity. I predict that 2009 will be the Year of the Personality!
Max Gladwell (MG): Max Gladwell is the personification of an ethos and an ideal that’s grounded in the principles of entrepreneurship, social media, and green living. It’s a brand persona, and since we’re totally transparent, there’s no issue with authenticity. A persona just enables us to engage on that level when it comes to the social web. There’s no reason why companies can’t do the same thing. Which leads us to the next prediction.
2. David Meerman Scott: Many marketers have now discovered Twitter. That’s a good thing. However, I’m seeing more and more Twitter feeds created not with a person’s name “Mary Smith at Acme Products” but instead the feed is created with the company name instead “Acme Products”. While I’m sure that some people may want to follow their favorite company, I’m seeing many of these feeds as a derivative of spam because they just prattle on about their products and services all day. I predict that in 2009 there will be a backlash against company Twitter accounts and either the Twitter community will need to self-police or the good people who run Twitter will need to make rules.
MG: There’s no reason why a company can’t have an authentic and valuable Twitter stream that’s also branded. Individuals can spam just as easily as companies. It has entirely to do with the person or people who are managing it, together with the larger social media strategy for which the Twitter steam is a part.
3. Paul Dunay, Buzz Marketing for Technology: I think you will see more companies acting like Media companies and even launching their own media properties based off of blogs, communities, and wikis they set up over the last few years.
MG: Today, every company is a media company. Most just haven’t realized it. We help our clients to essentially free their inner media company and operate more like publishers. This is a tremendous opportunity, and there is a lot of work to be done.
4. Jason Falls: Creating and distributing branded content will have to focus around something other than the brand to be optimally successful. Whether it’s a lifestyle, peripheral niche topics or by championing a cause or position, innovative brands will start to provide engaging content that allows them to intertwine the brand rather than push it as the primary selling point.
MG: This is all about being relevant. Your product or brand is not an island. It fits into a bigger picture. When it comes to creating content, whether it’s branded or editorial, it has to be valuable and relevant. That’s how you’ll win. Social media cause marketing will also be big in 2009, thanks in part to the tone set with Obama and the Millennial generation.
5. David Reich, Reich Communications, Inc.: Marketers will continue to experiment with social media in 2009, although they may not get into it as deeply as they might have hoped before the financial meltdown. But tight budgets might work in favor of trying social media, since programs on various platforms, especially blogs, need not be costly to be effective at reaching and engaging customers.
MG: Despite the hurdle of precisely measuring ROI, executing on most social media strategies is cost effective no matter how you measure it, especially compared to most of the alternatives. After all, Dell figures it generated $1 million in revenue off of its Twitter alone.
6. Ann Handley, MarketingProfs: In 2009, an increasing number of journalists find themselves out of work at traditional newspapers, which continue to struggle with sustaining their business. Good news: the writers find a home as “content producers” and “content managers” on the corporate side, in companies of all shapes and sizes.
People who are trained as journalists are specifically geared to helping companies execute on their 2009 marketing strategy, which is to become trusted sources of information within their specific industries. They can help companies see the wisdom of talking less about the company itself, and more about solutions they can help their customers with. They are wonderfully creative in developing interesting and compelling content. Advice: If you are thinking of increasing your content play in 2009, hire a journalist.
MG: We’re journalists by trade. The best PR firms have always recruited journalists, and now marketers are waking up to the value of using top-notch storytellers to tell their clients’ stories. It’s a tough time for journalists, so it’s good news that they (we) will play a key role in the new new media revolution, where all companies are media companies.
7. Ardath Albee: In 2009, content will help companies become ubiquitous in their area of expertise. Instead of only sharing their expertise with people who come to their websites and fill out a form, B2B marketers will start spreading (syndicating) their content across the Internet to intersect with where their customers and potential customers hang out.
MG: This “intersect” is the essence of the beacon approach. It’s about sending signals into the Web by way of content that crosses paths (or intersects) with people who are predisposed to the message and listening for it. They follow the signal back to the source, and you’ve got some potential sales.
8. Michael Blumberg: Giving high-quality content as a gift with no strings attached is likely to increase consumer appreciation. I therefore predict that brands will shy away from ads and toward sponsoring more independent editorial.
MG: Again, it goes back to being the most relevant brand in your category. If you’re Subway, you want to be producing editorial around nutrition and fitness that has nothing to do with your actual products. But it has everything to do with the relevance of your brand.
9. Russell Sparkman: In particular, 2009 will herald the widespread emergence of marketing and public awareness communications content that sits at the nexus of corporate communications and journalism. As more and more non-media organizations begin to think and act like publishers there will be increased emphasis in quality and professionalism in content creation. Corporate, non-profit and government websites will become more and more like online magazines or channels. And those who recognize the importance of compelling, authentic storytelling content in their online communications will see the greatest long term ROI from their content investments.
MG: Unlike advertising, valuable content can earn long-term residual returns. The barriers to creating and distributing content have come down to the point where it’s just as cost effective to create your own media channel as it is to advertise on someone else’s.
10. Gordon Plutsky, King Fish Media: Traditional media companies will continue to lose ad revenue from companies who are now creating their own content to own their own media channel. However, smart media companies will prosper by offering innovative lead generation programs for companies to distribute their content to new audiences. Content creating companies and media companies will create win/win partnerships to leverage the relationship’s media brands have with their audience to marry with company created original content. The combination will result in a positive environment for content marketing.
MG: First there was advertising. Then came advertorial. The next step is branded media channels within existing media companies that brands own and control. The brands will essentially pay rent for the space in which to publish their content and gain access to an existing audience. The final step, though, is that the brand no longer needs the media company.