2013 Social Media Predictions

Some trend analysis for your oculars…

Earlier this year I was tasked with doing some analysis that ended up not being used, so I’m printing them here. They’re not really Social Media predictions per se, more consumer/industry/technology focused trends.

Either way, have a read and let me know what you think in the comments –

— 2012/13 Technology Trends & Predictions —

The outsourcing of community management to emerging markets

The online/social-media-based customer care business is booming. Social network CMS platforms, such as Buddy Media, are being bought and sold quickly to larger and larger businesses and, as a result, more investment is going into building highly-powered software to monitor and measure the social media interface between brand and consumer. This is not news.

However, what is news is that brands will soon realise exactly how much they are spending in this area. First on their agencies, handling it for them. Then internally, when they start training up their existing customer care staff. Which, in turn, points to a time when brands (large and small) will soon outsource their social media customer care to indian / emerging market (read: cheap) ‘call’ centres. Easily equipped with 140 character long scripts, this new group will gladly speak in the authentic voice of the brand for a mere fraction of the price of the existing agency/care dept.

This will happen.


2screening + Advertising

This is an immediate + obvious choice. The growth of this particular area, as consumers become more and more accustomed to seeing hashtags on their TV screens (related to the content they’re viewing), means that advertising will soon follow suit.

Super targeting is one thing, but soon smart media-planners will force Twitter to allow time-sensitive promoted tweets, with time-focused twitter ads designed to populate at specific times – down to the very minute. Whereas the traditional consumer used to put the kettle on, today’s viewers are now turning to Twitter (and away from the ads), the industry won’t put up with this for long.

This trend will travel.

Hashtags will appear in store, and on shelves. A walk through a furniture store, for example, will soon see shop owners proudly display the amount of likes (or Pinterest shares) each sofa has gained over the past week – encouraging sales and driving further online/offline integration.

Finally, as we’ve seen with Xbox SmartGlass and Wii-U, 2screening will cross over into the gaming world. Unifying the under-the-TV box into one, core multimedia system. Zombie-U, from Ubisoft, has sections in the game where the player must ‘view’ the TV content through their second screen, highlighting previously unseen areas and bonuses.

Speaking of bonuses, this gaming innovation also will also make way for a hidden benefit: broader consumer acceptance of augmented reality.


4G networks spurring further innovation

The USA has had its version of 4G for a little under a year, while the UK has even yet to discuss licensing. Like the future, 4G is already here, it is just not evenly distributed. As mobile growth continues at an exponential rate across the globe, mobile networks will look to ‘leap frog’ in strong 2G markets where the jump to 4G will not only be immensely attractive to consumers but will also come with tax deductions from the local governments.

Again, we see emerging markets being a core area here, especially Russia, and Africa, where the large expanses mean that a single 4G tower can provide high speed downloads for the many who live nearby. Coverage isn’t an issue when each connected device can itself turn into a 10MB internet hotspot.

The end result being that previously unconnected nodes suddenly gain access to the worldwide web, allowing all kinds of new connections and data points to become accessible. Questions such as ‘What is the price of meat in the next village?’ or ‘What are the whereabouts of our town’s first aid packages?’ and ‘How’s uncle?’ will be answered quickly, confidently and, in some cases, visually – with video calling.


Bonus round: [App] Eco-systems within [app] eco-systems

Foursquare apps within apps. Spotify apps within apps. Facebook apps within apps.

Eco-systems are IN and they’re only going to evolve. Internet fridges are a joke, but linked up technology, software and – dare I say it – the Internet of Things really aren’t that far away.


Your thoughts are welcome –

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Author: James Whatley

Experienced advertising and communications strategist working in brand, games, and entertainment. I got ❤️ for writing, gaming, and figuring stuff out. I'm @whatleydude pretty much everywhere that matters. Nice to meet you x

11 thoughts on “2013 Social Media Predictions”

  1. OK Whatleydude I will throw in my one prediction: Brand pages / accounts will stop growing organically and may even shrink.

    For a few years now we have watched most brands add thousands if not millions of fans / followers / subscribers to their varying corporate accounts, some spending vast sums of cash to do it.

    But ignoring the whole value of fans / followers argument: Most people actually don’t interact with the pages they’ve followed, most forget they have even done so and at some point people are going to start going through their online profiles and cleaning house “Why the heck did I follow that company, do I really ever buy their stuff? No, unfollow, unlike, unsubscribe”.

    We’ve already seen this happen with friendlists as people (many of my friends included) have started to actively limit their friend numbers on FB for example, but it’s going to happen to brands too, and I fear it will come as a shock to them. But truth is few brand pages (on any network) add a lot of value to their fans / followers, most now simply blatantly push for “engagement” for no good reason “like this if you prefer red to blue” and crap like that…

    James Reply:

    I like that Tom, and I think you’re right too. Intrigued to see which brand ‘breaks cover’ to admit when this plateau takes place. How long do you think? Next year? This time next year?

    Do many people really unlike brands? Now there’s a presentation I’d like to see: ‘How we sold X buy losing Y likes’.


    …thanks for reading.

    Sam Brown Reply:

    I’ve been thinking exactly the same for the last 9 months or so, Tom.

    2013 will be the year of the unlike/unfollow as more and more people start to curate their networks to include only the people hey really want to hear from…as well as thinking ‘Why the hell do I care what this soup company has to say on a daily basis?!’

  2. I just don’t buy the 4G hype.

    There is a pool of available spectrum, this spectrum supports a data rate.

    If you have long distance coverage from one mast then this data is spread over a large area.

    Celular coverage uses small cells in densely populated areas to get the spectrum reuse.

    Enough small cells using one of the range of 3G technologies will give a better experience for users than a few longer range 4G cells.

    After the early adopters are joined by the masses the 4G experience will be as bad as 3G in a crowded area.

    Don’t believe the hype !

    James Reply:

    I get your POV but I’ve sat in meetings re 4G rollout across these markets and, while your logic stands up, I think it might be a different story once the [multiple] cell towers start being switched on.

  3. Interesting post.

    I’d like to comment on your first point –

    Over the next few years, I think we’ll see more brands connect social media with their existing CRM in a big way. So, if I phone up to discuss a complaint, my records will show that I tweeted the company a few days before with an issue. I’m a little dubious about the process being farmed out to foreign markets though – I don’t think brands are confident enough with the channel and process to ship it away from their central office just yet.

    And I don’t believe that agencies should be handling the CRM in the first place, but that’s another bag of weasels.

    James Reply:

    Great point, Tom. I 100% agree.

    From a customer care perspective, the more linked-up the backend the better. Creating an enterprise solution that fixes/connects all of this may well be the road to the next billion dollar buy out.

  4. 1. I agree outsourcing to emerging markets will happen for a lot of companies who don’t place the correct value on a high level of engagement. So the companies doing it will suffer because relying solely on the cheapest outsourced supplier won’t guarantee quality.

    2. Already happening and agreed it will increase. I remember suggesting similar practices a log time ago…

    3. Possibly, but technology doesn’t always lead to innovation – there needs to be a consumer need for that innovation for it to become adopted and survive.

    My own prediction, based on what I’m seeing every day, is that more companies will start to move towards optimising for conversions and revenue from search/social media, rather than rankings and numbers for the sake of it.

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