The one component that holds most businesses back from getting involved in new media (besides muttering under their breath the wrongly held belief that, "This is the way it has always been done") is the concern about going after what is "real" versus what may well be just a fad.
While many companies have capitalized on short-term trends (look no further than the fashion industry), the more traditional businesses would rather be the slow followers. It's almost laughable that there are still some businesses that believe that the Internet is just a fad. It is not. Don't believe me? Look around you. How many consumers, businesses, peers and competitors do you know who are not online? How many of them do not have both high-speed Internet access (at work and at home) and are using some kind of mobile device (from the hipper iPhone to a more standard cellphone)? How many of them, when asked by their spouse to book a vacation, do not go online to do research, but rather place a call to a travel agent and wait for their phone call to be returned? Pushing this idea further, if the Internet is a fad, do you think that tomorrow when you wake up, the only way you will get the news is from the newspaper on your front porch or the six o'clock news on TV?
The Internet and social media have changed everything. They are not fads. They are a new way for people to connect, gather information, share, collaborate and build their business.
Along with those shifts to new ways of doing things does come many different trends. Some of them stick and others fall by the wayside. In the past couple of years (and looking into the not-so-distant future) here are four trends that will become fixtures of the successful new business models....
Four Trends That Will Change Marketing Forever:
- Touch: From the iPhone and Google Nexus One to the iPad, the coming plethora of touch-tablet computing validates that we are moving away from fixed computer work stations. Along with that, the constructs of using a keyboard and mouse will quickly go the way of the dodo bird. Some are saying that kids today will learn to type on glass, others (my hand is raised) think that kids will soon be learning to type on air, and that all manipulation and creation of media and information is going to be multi-touch in a simple and intuitive way (see the movie Minority Report for more). Get ready for the humanization and personalization of hardware as we begin to touch way more than type.
- Analytics: Walmart's success is driven by its data. As the Internet creates multiple touch points where any individual can report and publish to everyone else (think Twitter, Facebook or blogging), imagine what real-time analytics are going to do for business. Think about how we're going to be pushing well beyond static data into understanding the social side of information as well. What are we talking about? It's not just about knowing who is doing what on our websites, but it will be about knowing who those people are, who they are connected to, how much of an influencer they are and what that could mean to our businesses - all in real time. If you thought we were already drowning in data, prepare to be swamped with valuable insights on top of that.
- One-line: You will no longer be "online" and then on your mobile device. It's just one-line. Many businesses still divide how they develop, strategize and execute on the Internet with what's happening in the mobile space. Yes, the iPad is one kind of link between a desktop or laptop and a mobile device, but the bridge is extended even further as all devices become untethered from wires and fixed locations. The "online experience" is just that - something you can experience in front of a big screen at your home or office, or in the palm of your hand. How we adjust our websites for this coming shift (and coupling it to trend #1) is where the rubber will meet the road.
- Location-aware: The recent hype and excitement over Twitter and Foursquare is really more about mobile and location-aware online social networks than whether or not Jesse James is actually following one of Tiger Woods' mistresses on Twitter. The ability to not only publish information, but to receive and engage with content based on where you physically are changes everything. From the value of the content while you're "on the ground" to how search, information and referrals are displayed to you based on where you're presently situated. Whether or not Twitter and Foursquare become as irrelevant as Friendster and Second Life is secondary to what these platforms really offer the business world - the ability to connect and publish to those who are physically close to us and interested in what we sell.
So, while most businesses are still busy pulling their hair out and trying to figure out how to get a video to go viral on YouTube or more people to follow them on Twitter, you can spend some quality time strategizing over what the next 18 to 24 months are going to look like as these trends become the foundation for how businesses boom.
What current trends do you think will become business and marketing standards going forward?
The above posting is my twice-monthly column for the Montreal Gazette and Vancouver Sun newspapers called, New Business - Six Pixels of Separation. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure, but you can check out the original versions online here: