It is that time of year when predictions for 2011 abound across the web. It’s always tough to make predictions about technology due to the speed of innovation, but that hasn’t stopped the blogosphere from throwing opinions against the wall. Outlined below is a summary of some the most talked about and interesting predictions for 2011.
- Online video viewing continues to grow and results ensue.
- Photo sharing gains in popularity.
- Social shopping gaining momentum.
- Location sharing is (still) not going away.
- Consumer influence continues to grow online.
Online Video Viewing Continues To Grow and Results Ensue
Prediction: More Companies/Brands Using Video to Sell. Every minute, 20 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. In four years, more than 90% of internet content will be video.
Online video viewing is now more than just cute kittens. The kittens might get the most views, but consumers are actually just as interested in interacting with brands via videos as they are in laughing at pet tricks. Brands that engage consumers through video demonstrations are seeing the results on their bottom lines. Zappos, as one example, added simple videos of people holding shoes and moving them around to its sales pages and increased conversion rate from 6% to 30%. Based on that success, by the end of next year, Zappos will have ten full working video studios, with the goal of producing around 50,000 product videos by 2010, up from the 8,000 videos they have on the site today.
Toyota is another example: its “The Swagger Wagon” music video garnered over seven million views, only three percent of which were driven by advertising.
And, Travelocity was the first brand to jump on the Chatroulette fad early in 2010 when they placed their signature gnome character in front of the webcam holding signs with clever travel messages. Over 40 days and nights, the Roaming Gnome generated 350,000 impressions on the site, engaged in 40 conversations, and generated over 19 million media impressions for the brand.
In the next year, we will see more brands using video to sell their products and services.
Prediction: More Mobile Video Sharing. Smartphones with video recording abilities are not new to consumers, and even the ability to record HD video is not new. Up until this point, however, we have not seen mobile video capturing and sharing take off. This is most likely a result of the difficulty in uploading and sharing video instantly due to bandwidth limitations. In the next year, we will see wireless providers improve bandwidth, allowing friendlier video uploads and we will devices improve video compression without sacrificing quality that will assist with immediate sharing.
With this in mind, businesses might consider encouraging consumer use of videos to share their brand and product experiences. Providing customers with back-drop and props, allowing access to a wireless connection to assist in upload speed, and giving them a place to share their videos with other customers are all ways to promote brand-specific videos.
Photo Sharing Gains in Popularity
Prediction: More Mobile Photo Sharing. Mobile sharing services will hit critical mass as smartphone users install apps in order to keep up with their friends. The iPhone photography app Instagr.am, which launched less that three months ago, claimed this week to have surpassed 1 million downloads. Services like Instagr.am have become so popular because they emphasize simplicity and make it easy to share your photos on social networks; Instagr.am, in particular, is liked for the filters it offers, the community they find there and the ease of cross-posting Instagrammed photos out to other networks like Flickr, Facebook and Foursquare.
With tools like these, average users can look more like professional photographers and they want to show off their work. And, although people already post photos to Facebook, we will probably see an improvement in their photo sharing features that include integration into their Places app that launched in 2010 so that users can share their work with a broader audience of people who also visit that “place.”
Expect to see photo sharing increase in the next year. Businesses can capitalize on this trend by launching promotions that reward customer participation by photographs or gives customers a forum for sharing their amateur photography with others.
Group Shopping Gaining Momentum
Prediction: More Ability to Share Purchases Through Social Channels Allowing Customers to Become the Advertisers. When you add in a reward component, like with Groupon, there are many more people willing to share their individual purchases (or purchase intent) through their existing social platforms. Groupon was introduced to the central Arkansas area in 2010. It is a daily coupon for a local business that only becomes active if enough people purchase it that day. “This creates the incentive to share the deal with friends and family, until ‘the deal is on.’ It’s great for local businesses because they can set the parameters for the offer and they know a minimum for how many offers they will have sold in advance.” Businesses establish the offer and people who have signed up for Groupon receive the notification. If the user decides to buy the offer, they have the option of telling their friends about it – through Facebook or Twitter, thereby spreading the word to their networks, too. Groupon gets its offers in front of buyers via the word of mouth of its 13 million subscribers.
Groupon’s effectiveness is evident in its claim that it now has 35,000 companies clamoring to be a part of the service offerings and only one in eight applicants is accepted. The companies that register with Groupon must already be getting good reviews at online review sites like Yelp, CitySearch and TripAdvisor, and the deals must offer a substantial discount from normal prices and not be similar to other promotions regularly offered by the vendor.
In the next year, consumers will become increasingly comfortable sharing their purchases and getting their friends on board to make the same purchases. Businesses should make this easy for their customers to do. With tools like Facebook Connect and linking to Twitter accounts on their websites, companies can encourage customers to share their purchases through their existing social media tools.
Location Sharing Is (Still) Not Going Way.
Prediction: Location Services Will Continue to Grow in Popularity. People will get more comfortable checking in to a business when they realize they can get deals and coupons for doing so. Additionally, with options like privacy blocking, enhanced security will ease the transition.
“Relevance will distinguish [location] services from each other as the two biggest players, Facebook and Google, have the most powerful social graph data to customize deals for consumers. Don’t count Groupon out, though. It more than makes up for its comparative lack of technology with brand equity and scale, as its massive sales force will remain dominant in 2011 by further monetizing local commerce beyond the recently launched self-service platform.”
If you are a business owner, it is “time to acquaint yourself with sites and applications such as Foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla. These sites will help you better target prospects’ likes and interests, pique interest and influence purchase decisions by offering discounts, promotions or giveaways when they ‘check in’ to your business.”
Consumer Influence Continues To Grow Online
Prediction: Consumers Get More Selective With The Brands They Allow In Their Social Streams. In the coming year people are going to be much more diligent about curating their own content into a more manageable form. While following a brand on Twitter or Facebook is getting consumers good coupons and deals, it is also turning their streams into undesired and overwhelming advertising channels that drown out the social sharing from their friends. “Therefore, what’s happening in Facebook is that consumers are turning off brands posting to their walls, using friends lists to pay close attention only to their ‘real’ friends, and commenting on or sharing only when something is really juicy. In Twitter, a company called Cadmus aims to change the way we view our streams by determining what content is most relevant to you based on your Twitter usage patterns. Other tools, such as Paper.li and Flipboard (for iPad), also curate Twitter, primarily based on content popularity, and make that content much more reader-friendly.”
It is no longer enough for companies to be in these channels generating regular content. The content that brands and companies post is going to have be worthy of consumer curation into their social streams. “If your content is truly compelling and share-worthy, it’ll get noticed and Liked, it will generate Comments and Retweets, and you’ll be okay because it will have legitimately earned its way into people’s streams. If not – you’ll have to have a combination of search optimization savvy [and] fans in high places (influencers).” In the next year, as consumers get more selective in their follow habits, brands will get more creative in their ploys to make into the social streams.
Source: Social Media Explorer
Prediction: Online Influencers Are Celebrities. Consumers want to be heard, and more importantly they want answers. Consumers are already scouring the social web and polling their friends and followers to decide where to eat, shop and stay. Websites dedicated to customer reviews will dominate the social media landscape. Sites such as Groubal.com, consolidating common user-submitted complaints and presenting those petitions to businesses, demanding answers for their wrongdoings.
As consumers are doing all of this, brands are desperately trying to insert themselves into those relevant streams by analyzing Twitter, blog posts and reviews to understand not only who has the largest audience, but how much influence individuals have. These influencers become well-known locally, regionally and nationally as their content is commented on, retweeted and linked to, driving them higher in search results. The past year also saw some brands go full throttle on Foursquare’s game-like geo-location platform, attempting to reward mayors and creating custom badges for the network’s power users. To measure the relevant influence of these online “celebrities,” tools like YouTube’s Partner Program is being joined by new services such as Klout to create an official layer of social credibility.
We will see brands doing more research on their social consumers in the next year as they figure out ways to influence the influencers.