Social Media Crystal Ball 2012

photo provided by UTC.edu

2012 should be a pivotal year for social media and human history. We’re reaching the peak of the bell curve and social media is getting closer to mass adoption. More human beings are starting to embrace the social web globally. This year started off with the promise of sCRM or better social CRM for brands, especially smaller brands. We’re not there yet but better software is being created every day.

In 2011 we also saw the birth of Google+, Google’s social layer not social network. The year is ending with a bang as we witness major redesigns on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook Timeline. Amidst the slew of redesigns, we also witnessed a ripple in the social fabric with version 2.0 of Path. Up until now, mobile had one kind of “feel” when it came to social apps. The user stream has always been a critical part of, “what did my friends just do and where?” With Path 2.0 we have seen the next level of UX design with an emphasis on mobile. Path 2.0 raises the bar for what users want from a mobile experience. Apple took a different tack with the mobile experience with the addition of SIRI. Now you don’t have to even type anything on your phone, you can just say it.

Technology continues to evolve rapidly in every facet of our lives. ATM’s rolled out 30 years ago, but now you can just take a photo of a check with your phone to deposit it. And smart appliances will be one of the fastest growing segments of technology. Imagine telling Siri to start preheating your oven to 350 degrees as you drive home.

Here’s the Bakas Media prognostications for social media in 2012:

+ The Social Media Revolt - Brian Solis raised this point with his new book, The End of Business As Usual. Over the past 3 years businesses have reluctantly adopted social media because they had to. But many businesses immediately focused on fluffing their followers and fans rather than focusing on quality interactions. Through various gimmicks like contests or promotions many brands built a faux following but still haven’t committed to true engagement. Did you know 90% of people who Like a brand on Facebook never go back to the page after liking it?

We’ll likely see a push back from consumers who may start unliking and unfollowing brands who provide no value to them.

+ Political Impact Takes on Different Feel From 2008 - President Obama harnessed the power of social media in 2008 and used it to win the election. In 2012 Obama will surely build upon his significant social footprint while the Republicans bicker over who’ll be their candidate. Once the Republicans get their candidate, Obama will have already created momentum with his massive email database, Facebook engagement and Twitter following. But unlike 2008, consumers and voters have more history to draw from. They are more savvy to the fact that Barrack wasn’t the one talking to them over the past 4 years on Twitter.

Social Media will still be a factor of course for data and polling, but it won’t have the same magic as four years ago. Back then Obama had clarity of message. His campaign wasn’t fighting for attention on social sites like he will this time around. Now, there’s many more brands also working to get the same mind share. Ultimately, the conversations leading up to the presidential election will mirror most political conversations that are too black and white. You either support this candidate or that candidate, and you can’t wait to tweet all sorts of venomous things about the other party.

This time around, social media may have its biggest impact tapping the important young voters and different racial groups. We’ve seen how social media impacted governments around the world, but here at home things can get too hot which becomes a turn off.

+ Mobile Commerce Will Emerge - Major shifts in human behavior, especially as they relate to technology take time to develop. Mobile commerce will be significant and it’ll be huge which is why it’ll take a while to happen. The groundswell for mobile commerce has been building for a couple of years but a few key factors have held it back.

First, the phones available on the market aren’t equipped to handle seamless mobile transactions. That’s where Square saw an opportunity and created a little adaptor to plug into iPhone headphone jacks. Second, privacy hasn’t been perfected. According the Forrester, consumers’ #1 fear of mobile commerce is that their private information could be compromised. Third, data has yet to be standardized. Our true forecast for mobile commerce to really reach mass adoption is 2014, but in 2012 it will emerge with a big foot forward.

+ The Convergence of Media - If you’ve watched any television this fall you may have noticed NBC, FOX and ABC are starting to put the hash tag to the show on the screen while you’re watching. While I watched The Biggest Loser and X-Factor this season, I noticed the faint tiny hash tag text in the lower right hand corner of my television. During the show people can go on Twitter and join in a conversation about the show using the hash tag. And X-Factor leveraged Twitter for voting throughout the season. Unfortunately, these ideas fell short because the television networks and shows still don’t get the concept of responding to people and having 2-way conversations. In 2012 I see an improvement in community management from shows on TV.

So there you have it. These are just my predictions for the coming year. At the end of 2011 I said Nimble would become a major player but that didn’t happen so who’s to say if any of the above visions will happen. What do you think?

WHY Wineries Might Prefer Google+ Brand Pages Over Facebook’s Pages

In case you didn’t hear, Google+ rolled out brand pages last week. This is one of the biggest developments to happen in social media in a long time. But what does it mean for businesses using Facebook?

Facebook is like a gated community in some ways. They’ve never given Google access to the community which was okay because with 800 million users, Facebook didn’t need Google. But now that may be an achilles heel for Facebook. Google search is the starting point for so many things that relate to business. Google search practically is the internet. Just about anything and everything goes through Google search. Now that Google+ brand pages are live, brands have more direct access to Google search and more importantly, SEO.

According to TechCrunch, the biggest brands on Facebook with over 100,000 fans are seeing healthy traffic to their brand pages, but the mid-sized and smaller brands are seeing a smaller CTR rate. For brands and wineries with over 1,000 fans the average CTR of 1 click per 424 fans nets out to .00236 clicks per fan.

chart provided by TechCrunch

The Novelty Has Worn Off

Facebook brand pages seem like a good idea. But 90% of the time fans never go back to a Facebook page after liking it. Crafty landing pages, contests or other gimmicks used to boost a brand’s fan page following don’t replace the core reason the page exists—to have two-way conversation with fans. Upper management from the companies behind the brands tend to focus on the number of fans rather than the quality of the interactions. I believe we’re going to see a pushback from consumers in 2012 where people will start unliking brand pages they aren’t getting anything from.

If a winery or a brand has invested time building up their Facebook page and it doesn’t directly affect Google search outside the FB ecosystem, is the Facebook page still valuable?

 

In my opinion, not entirely. Now that brands can have their own Google+ brand page I see much more value for brands to invest time into these new pages. Brands can set up their Google+ pages by going here.

 

Why Google+ Brand Pages Over Facebook Brand Pages?

This article is targeted at brands who don’t have over 100,000 fans on Facebook. Based on the data above, your Facebook page isn’t providing much value anyway. Sure, there are exceptions. If you’re reading this and you think your Facebook brand page is working and fans are engaged, then you are probably doing something right. Google has said they didn’t set out to create a new social network, but rather create a social “layer” to their services. Google+ tools can be found here.

The key benefits for investing time in a Google+ brand page over a Facebook brand page are:

1. Google Direct Connect - now in Google search you can put a “+” in front of a brand name to go directly to their page. See the video here or try typing +Pepsi in Google search. Once your page is live, adding a short bit of code to your site will enable it.

2. The +1 Button - Not much unlike the Facebook “Like” button, but the +1 is 4x more valuable. That simple little button will have a direct impact on SEO going forward. The +1 has infiltrated the internet, and every time it gets clicked it adds more social mojo to search engine optimization.

3. Google’s Other Services - Most wineries have a Google Place page, Google Analytics, YouTube or any combination of offerings from the web giant. They all tie together — not perfectly yet — but soon. Mobile commerce is particularly interesting as Google maps is a key component to most location-based apps. Did you know the #2 search portal in the world is YouTube? Not only is Google search a major factor, but the integrations with YouTube ensure the two biggest search portals in the world are feeding the G+ ecosystem.

4. Google’s Acquisitions - Is Google going to buy Twitter some day? Who knows, but it is possible. We’re only a few months into the existence of Google+ but adoption is growing. This conversation is going to evolve as the site does.

photo provided by Google

At the end of the day, wineries only have so much time to dedicate to online marketing efforts. I’m not suggesting Facebook pages completely go away, but rather dedicate more time to Google+ brand pages. If we were looking at a pie chart showing how much time to spend on each social site, I’d like to see even sized pie pieces for Twitter, email, G+ and Facebook…for now. The investment of time into G+ will pay dividends from now on or as long as Google search exists.

Mobile Commerce and the Partnership with Presspay

A few weeks ago I shared news that I’ll be joining PressPay as the VP of Marketing. The most popular response has been the question, “What does that mean for Bakas Media?” Good question, and the answer is nothing. Bakas Media and all the projects remain unchanged. I was looking for a tool to add to the toolbox and this one is a a big one. Social Media strategy will continue to become focused on mobile, and this was the one remaining tool that I was looking for to convert attention into action (purchases).

Mobile Commerce (m-commerce) will find its way into our daily lives as mobile devices get better and consumers understand how it works, however, we have a long way to go in improving mobile transactions. Currently, the abandonment rate for mobile transactions is almost 100% which means virtually every mobile purchase does not get completed. People give up and don’t finish the transaction. PressPay was designed to reduce the abandonment rate and make it easier for consumers to get through their purchase easily and make sure their info stays secure.

How it works

The thing that really got me excited about working with PressPay is the technology that keeps user data secure. Keeping private data safe is one of the primary barriers standing in the way of mass user adoption. Some well known finical sites have been hacked this year and private information has been compromised, which makes the average consumer question how their data will stay secure during a mobile transaction.

PressPay has a different approach. Consumers don’t upload their credit card number or personal info to a server—it stays on their phone. During the setup process the user will enter in all their info, but it doesn’t go anywhere. That information will remain on the phone, and is only accessed during a transaction.