If you thought 2010 was disruptive, wait until 2011. This year we saw major game-changers emerge -- the iPad, a flurry of mobile apps, the rise of social commerce, C-Suite fixation on enterprise social-media -- and more. This coming year we'll see even more dramatic change. Keep your eyes on the following:
Rise of Defensive Branding: While 2010 kicked off with high levels of almost irrational exuberance over social media, this month's Twitter-powered Wikileaks attack on MasterCard, Visa and other major brands primed 2011 for higher doses of brand and corporate paranoia. Influencer management will go miles beyond sampling "power moms" to smarter segmentation of activist groups. Highly adaptive "sense and respond" listening infrastructure will move from "nice to have" partner to social-media engagement to reputational table stakes. Marketing and communications departments will tear down more walls between them -- there's no choice!
QR Codes Everywhere: Thanks to smartphones and mobile innovation, QR codes have landed at the beaches and are storming the marketing hills. Expect a torrent of innovation, with QR codes linking to everything from instant promotions to just-in-time "how to" videos. Along the way, we see a fresh new crop of startups on the heels of others already out there, such as SPARQCode and Stickybits.
All the World's a Service Desk: Get ready for anywhere/anytime customer service, from the usual suspect brand stands --Twitter and Facebook -- to vastly improved online communities and real-time chat. Aided by better measurements, brands will come to appreciate that efficiently answering questions and solving problems for consumers not only pays out, but also leaves a viral media annuity. Think Apple Store's Genius bar across multiple channels. We'll also have vastly improved ROI models around such investment. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh's book "Delivering Happiness" will sit on lots of desks in 2011.
Media Blending: 2011 will see more than just media optimization, we're all going to get much smarter and more sophisticated with "media blending," a form of digital chemistry revolving around the P.O.E.M. inputs (Paid, Owned, Earned Media) framework. We'll get smarter about maximizing earned media dividends from paid and owned inputs, and we'll even start to dial up investments in service operations to get better "earned" dividends. TV buys will no longer be looked at in isolation of social-media echo effect.
Sharing Takes a Chill Pill: We're about to get beyond the age of innocence in sharing, and we'll have much better data in hand about the cost and consequences (and occasional liabilities) of over-sharing. Of course we'll still share, but our tell-all blast mentality will narrow significantly in 2011. Services like Path will gather steam because they keep the sharing stream limited to a smaller, arguably more trusted circle of familiar.
Local Loco (Anywhere/Anyplace Shopper Tools): Aided by mobile, shopping behavior will continue to take dramatic turns. It's already happening -- location-based shopping, proximity based shopping, shopping cartels (Groupon, Son of Groupon) and more. Large and small retailers, often in partnership with manufacturers, will arm their shoppers with new tools and apps to find and navigate their store as well as their lifestyle. Retailers may also start opening up their databases to consumers via apps in order to remind consumers of previous purchases or develop smart shopper lists against pre-established goals (e.g. losing weight).
Mood Check-Ins: While location-based marketing is all the rage, 2011 will also see like-minded consumers coalescing around particular moods or mindsets (e.g. Pete checked into "a state of Nirvana.") We've already started checking in to TV Shows or even topics like the "writing implement" on the likes of Get Glue, and new startups such as score.ly are keeping a portfolio of all our badges and digital trophies.
The End of Resumes: Resumes will become increasingly irrelevant to the job-recruitment process. With or without formal policies, more recruiters and employees will lean on the web as a primary form of candidate due diligence. On top of this, new models of Myers-Briggs work-type analysis will emerge from non-survey based means. Concurrent with this development, companies will continue pushing employees as an advertising channel, recognizing that employee advocacy in a digital/social environment is highly effective and even comes in handy when the going gets tough.
The Rise of Speedbacking: Expect more highly adaptive sense and respond behavior by marketers. We'll see more listening war rooms along the lines of Gatorade and Dell. Responding to consumers in near real-time will become increasingly common. As brands engage across social-media venues, expect them to bring a decent chunk of monitoring and measurements in-house. War rooms similar to what Pepsi's Gatorade brand created will become increasingly common.
Hispanic/Latino Marketing Hits a Tipping Point: Yes, I know we've said this before, but the Hispanic census number will slap us in the face in 2011, motivating real action and investment by brands. The "media blending" success of the 2010 World Cup on Univision will push marketers to even smarter Spanish-language cross-platform integration. Banks will no longer be the only player opening up a dialogue with consumers asking language preference.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR