It's going to be one of the most interesting years ahead. Their are disruptive marketing trends ahead and this list starts to build on the platform of sharing, something I'm very interested in and will be focusing even more on in 2015. I will focus on sharing platforms (not just social networks). More specifically, I'll be focusing on how, why, when and where we share and how it will change the way customers do business with people and brands. Here we go:
Video Becomes Experiential
This shouldn't be anything new to hear, but the growth that will happen in video marketing will take off in ways we've never seen. Again, Facebook is planning to outperform Youtube, and I believe it will. Video gives us the most context around people, companies and things over any other online medium. But start thinking about video as experiential. This is where 3D glasses and video start to give us the ability to play with video and experience stories, shopping and interactions in a new way.
You will start to see shared experiences integrate into our lives because brands will have to partner with potentially unexpected people to offer a unique, delightful experience that's personally tailored to the user. Brands will also be coming up with new, innovative ways to socially share this personal experience in real time. This won't be accomplished overnight, but I think it's getting there.
The reports, white papers and research papers we produce take a long time to create and have a shelf life. The only difference from year to year is that a human has to go in and relay the story in-between the numbers, delivered in the same template. Narrative science starts to solve that problem by analyzing numbers and building the story on it's own, in real time. For instance, if numbers have changed over one hour, one day, one year, narrative science will reflect that analysis back immediately if asked. I don't believe there is any way for a system like this to pre-determine a storyline when it comes to making a gut based decision, but in these cases, we are all looking for ways to build on research and release it with confidence in minutes versus days, weeks or months.
I hesitated putting this one down here, but it's becoming a thing more and more. It turns out being despicable to people online is a growth trend and, for aficionados of the discipline, the potential returns are substantial. Because individual brands now carry as much weight as company brands, some people have found a living literally arguing with people across social channels as a form of amplification and impression-building. The trickiest bit about invective marketing is that you first must establish a foothold in the media landscape somewhere and build a large following. Whatever you say must be nasty, argumentative and controversial enough for people to want to respond impulsively - i.e. it can't be directed at people who everyone agrees deserves public scorn. Most businesses will not do this, but it is becoming a thing with a lot of notable people with a voice to combat vs converse. Remember this before you respond with an opinion to something controversial online, you could be falling into the sleazy trap they've set to selfishly profit from.
The story is everywhere now, it's not something we just see online, or in the lobby waiting for our next appointment, or on the road, or on a social network. The story is everywhere, yet as marketers we are designing the story for each individual channel. I think we'll see this changing next year, where the story is continued and pieced together as a transmedia thread, giving us bite-sized pieces of information while entertaining us at the same time. It's how we respond as humans. For as poorly as the movie business is at leveraging social media, they are actually really good at snippet storytelling in many diverse places. Watch how the upcoming Star Wars movie surrounds you, making you feel like the movie is just a small piece of the experience they've conceived for you to have.
Personalized (Human) Marketing
Think about how much email you receive that has nothing to do with you. The variable data email says "Hello Bryan, we thought this would be of interest to you...." and you realize right away it has nothing to do with you. It's automated. This is lazy marketing and it's killing your conversions. It's also a facet of the technology systems and what they will allow. I've talked about this before; if we use personality trait mapping and develop right-time marketing messaging to individuals, it will make the recipient feel like making a connection with you is a real human experience.
The Narrowing of API's
This is going to be a hot topic in the social and open source software systems. I've always been a proponent of open source, because it has helped marketers steer toward the single dashboard we have always desired to capture in one centralized place, the numerous pieces of software we use to track data across our organizational channels. Software brands have loosened their open API reins and continue to do so, but I think in 2015 some social networks and software will start to pull back. Why? Well, let's take Facebook for instance. They want to deliver your analytics directly to you and won't want to share that through 3rd party software. This gives them the ability to drive a single source dashboard through just them and control the outcome and ability to market all on their platform. I think closing APIs may start to give brands like Facebook a competitive advantage, or more ways to add revenue. Everything is cyclical.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Sharing will be at the epicenter in 2015. We have the tools and technology right now - the challenge will be to exercise our own human ability to change the paradigm of how we tell stories, tolerate inhumanity online and exercise discernment in how much we let technology lead or control how and what we communicate.