1) Less Mass Infection, More Outbreaks:Viral videos are the dream of every marketer, and folks are spendingtime trying to manufacture them. It's great if you can, but most viralefforts will fall flat, and I suspect there is a strong negativecorrelation between the size of the brand and the likelihood of goingviral. Why? Try getting the right viral idea through branding, legal,regulatory, privacy, PR, senior management, etc... Even if nobodyoutright kills it, I'll bet 10 to 1 that it will die a death of athousand cuts.
Instead, what people should be focusing on are "outbreaks", which Idefine as pockets of infection as opposed to viruses. Do you need 23million people to watch your video, or can you get great results ifonly 100,000 of the right people watch it?Â Traditional media buyinghas biased us toward huge numbers, but The Tipping Pointand others have shown us how powerful smaller numbers of influentialscan be.Â Figure out what really resonates with your influentials, andinfect them.
From a budget standpoint, that suggests that brands should not drop$3 million on a single social media campaign. Instead, think aboutusing that same budget on 30 campaigns that each cost $100,000. You'veincreased your overall likelihood of success by 30x while lowering theROI bar for each campaign.
2) Content Aggregation, with Filtering: I've been a big fan of content aggregation for a whileand we've seen (and done) some examples in 2008. But people arecomplaining about noise and overload (justifiably), so brands incertain spaces can take a thought leadership role simply by keepingpeople up on the latest industry news.
You can do it in an automated fashion (as we did here),but I think those who add a layer of human filtering will reallybenefit from it. So build a great automated platform, but add theability to manipulate the results.
It's doable (we can already do it), it's quite cost effective, andit adds great value to the end user. Not a bad program to have yourbrand name associated with, right?
3) Mobile Social Emerges: Mobile marketingmade huge strides in 2008, with App Stores for multiple brands changingthe way we think about our phones. That's not likely to slow. But otherthan mobile apps for desktop properties (TwitterFon, Facebook Mobile,Flickr), we haven't seen the real start of the mobile social app. I'mexpecting that to be a part of 2009.
By that I mean applications that take full advantage oflocation-based services while giving you a true two-way marketingexperience. Target's Christmas Wrapped Gift Globeon the iPhone was a cool marketing app (with a great tie-in to theireCommerce back end), but it wasn't social. Look for someone to combinethe two concepts in 2009.
4. The Return of People.Â For at least thelast decade, reducing headcount has been a corporate mantra, but youcan't do social media without social, and too many companies are nowtoo lean to be human. Zappos and others are showing that being humancan be a tremendous marketing advantage, freeing them from $20m, $40mor $100m advertising budgets.Â That pays for a lot of staff.
Dell is another organization using *gasp* people to improve theirbrand. They actually allow real people to engage on Twitter and talkwith other real people.
If I'm right about trend #1, than it will take people to managethose 30 campaigns. That suggests some additional internal hiringand/or continued growth of social media agencies.
5. Fewer Shiny New Tools. Back in July, I predicted that some early movers would run their course, and we've seen the shuttering of Pownce, Podangois allegedly about done, and more.Â The near daily litany of Tweets,"Testing XXXXX new service, come add me..." started drying up sometimelast summer. With the economy in its current state, I don't expect thatfaucet to come on again full blast.
Those new tools that do get created will likely either combinefeatures of single-trick tools and/or they will solve a naggingproblem. Tools that improve friend portability across networks, forexample, could be a huge hit.
As social media geeks, we'll never have enough tools. But as social media marketers,we've got more than enough to run with for now. The limitations at thispoint are less technical and more creative: how do we use the widearray of two-way tools to do something really special? That's ourquestion to answer.
Hopefully in 2009, you'll find your answer to that question.