Seven Predictions for 2013

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January 2, 2013 by dannybishopcreative

2012 is done and dusted, and now that we’re ready to take on 2013 I thought it would be right to put my thoughts down on where I see the future taking us.

1. Facebook will become less important

Facebook has been the frontline for most social media marketers. With more than a billions user accounts, including more than 12 million Australians, and a highly engaged audience it’s been the perfect game so far for the Big Blue F.  Brands have been able to generated hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions, of fans that were happy to receive your messages inside updates from friends and family.

But with changes to EdgeRank and the sheer overwhelming amount of ‘noise’ on Facebook that’s now changing.

The social media managers I keep in close contact with are all telling me the same story: That the golden era of Facebook (for them at least) appears to be over. The sorts of interactions they saw in 2011 are gone, and that as 2012 progressed the situation got worse and worse.

Facebook Edgerank Formula

Facebook Edgerank Formula

The anecdotal evidence also suggests that perhaps this is in part due to the way people are using Facebook, not just the changes in algorithms and Facebook’s desire to get money for promoting posts. There’s a fair bit of chatter around that more and more users of Facebook are less engaged with the platform than they were 12 months ago. That more and more users treat is as a necessary evil.

No matter the cause, there’s little doubt that we’ll see a shift in focus from many of the big brands and the more switched on social media managers. The spread is coming.

2. Twitter will become more important (to some)

Twitter is massive. But at the same time there’s a big hole. Ask anyone not on Twitter what they think of it and mostly you’ll get very negative responses. In Australia numbers suggest than less than 2.5 million people are using the platform, compared with roughly 12 million who use Facebook.

But Twitter have a plan. They will be opening a new office in Australia early this year and staffing it with local people. The aim will be to improve the lines of communication between brands and Twitter HQ as well as improving Twitter’s visibility in Australia (and revenue – 90% of income is derived from the US currently)

@Celtics on the court

@Celtics on the court

More than 12 months ago the Boston Celtics painted their Twitter handle and hashtag onto the parquetry floor of their home court. It no doubt has helped the Celtics to gain followers and engage fans every time the TV cameras show a game. In Australia that sort of promotion has been lacking. Twitter obviously want to change that. With staff on hand there’s no doubt many of the big organisations will put more effort into their Twitter accounts thanks to the ideas and support they’ll be given.

On top of prediction 1, and I see many social media managers putting more eggs in their Twitter basket than ever before.

3. Niche will be the new battle ground

One of the classic questions I hear asked regularly at conferences is “what’s the next big thing?”.  The standard industry answer I’ve heard over and over is that if any of us knew we’d be out building it, rather than doing the job we currently are!

However, I think we’ve already seen the rise of the next phase of social, that of niche networks.

In many regards this isn’t new. Bulletin boards which cater to people interested in one particular topic, such as a football club, wine or the internet itself have existed since the earliest days of the web.

However we’re seeing more and more platforms being built around the niche idea. No longer are the brightest minds hoping to build an answer to Facebook. Instead they’re hoping to deliver a platform that meets the needs of those who are passionate about something in particular.

Machinima - Entertainment for the gamer lifestyle

Machinima – Entertainment for the gamer lifestyle

Possibly the best example is machinima, a network with millions of followers that seemingly no one outside the gamer lifestyle knows about. Pinterest is another good example, with a focused methodology that is perfect for those women who would traditionally have cut photos from Harpers Bazzar, Vogue and Elle.

There are also moves to make your neighbourhood a more social place, with nextdoor.com one of the early startups aiming to make it easier to make your street a nicer place to be.

4. Commerce will become increasingly important, and clever

This is something I’ve been talking about for the last two years at least. Lets face it, if your social media isn’t making you money then why are you devoting resources to it?

Commerce, from unabashed promotion of products, through to commerce platforms working within social networking sites, will become more and more common.

The smarter brands will harness the growth of niche and marry it to ecommerce in a way that will deliver stores that cater to brand advocates like never before. The stores won’t just be a way to take money, but a way to foster brand loyalty and create a new breed of brand advocates.

Essendon Football Club's Facebook Shop

Essendon Football Club’s Facebook Shop

5. Mobile will be the main battleground

In 2011 I was speaking at a conference on Social Media when the topic of Mobile was raised by a member of the audience. At the time the data available was suggesting that mobile would overtake desktop as the primary vector of accessing the internet in 2015.  I made a bold claim (for 2011) that 2015 wasn’t going be that date, instead I said  that the switch would happen in 2012 or 2013.

Mobile v Desktop

Mobile v Desktop

Thankfully I’ve been proven correct in India, with other data showing that 2013 is still on target for the rest of the world. For the most part, however, the digital people responsible have yet to understand fully what this means for them.

A quick review of most of your favourite websites will reveal many without mobile native layouts, and some with functionality that means visitors are unable to access key features of the site on their mobile device.

While the big organisations already have their mobile sites and native apps, 2013 will be the year where everyone has to be mobile ready. The drop-off in traffic will be too significant to ignore should your site not work perfectly on a tablet or smartphone.

6. Organisations will employ more digital staff

In the second half of 2012 I was presented over and over with the same statement from clients: “We’re hiring a digital person…”

The general position description was almost always this heady mix of skills;

  • Social media management
  • Website CMS experience
  • Video production from shooting to editing and export
  • Marketing/Communication proficiency including writing news
  • Email marketing skills
  • Knowledge of HTML

That’s a serious range of skills! People like this do exist, but they shouldn’t be being paid the peanuts I’ve occasionally seen offered. If your organisation is hoping to place someone into a role like this – and I think there’ll be a lot of organisations in 2013 who do – then $80,000 is a good guide for someone who has a few years of experience. If you’re hoping for a real gun then $80k would be seriously cheap. Remember, these people will be the first point of contact the vast majority of people have when interacting with your organisation. You want someone good in this role, not a kid who doesn’t know the difference between their and they’re!

You only get one chance to make a first impression

You only get one chance to make a first impression

7. The beginning of the end for “Social Media”

No, I’m not suggesting that Social Media is on the way out.

On the contrary, I think social media will become even more important in 2013.

What I do think however is that in 2013 increasingly we will see social media become less independent within organisations.

For many organisations they’ve utilised unique staff to control their social media, believing it required a unique set of skills to manage their Facebook or Twitter accounts. That was true when social media was still something a bit left of centre.

In 2013 I think we will see many more job postings where social media is a requirement of the job, but not the job itself.  We’ll see more marketing and ecommerce roles where the successful applicant will be someone who’s previously had the title “social media co-ordinator” or similar. The role they’ll move to in 2013 won’t have “social media” in the title anymore, despite the fact that social media will still be integral to what they do.

2013 should be the first year since MySpace first hit the headlines where no one advertises a role for a “Social Media Guru”. And that won’t be a bad thing.

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