Wednesday, December 12, 2012

5 Things Likely To Shape Social In 2013

1. Whose Data Is It Anyway? 

2012 saw Facebook undergo a large investigation by the Irish Data Protection Commissioner (DPC), due to the fact that their global HQ is in Dublin. This led to it having to rewrite what used to be called its Privacy Policy (it now goes by the much more sensible name of its Data Usage Policy). The DPC is likely to play a big part again next year, particularly as it has objected to the most recent changes, allowing data sharing with Instagram.


2. Anti-Social Media

There’s probably not a court in the developed world which hasn’t witnessed the ongoing Apple vs. Android battles* over the last 12 months. But more recently, we can see a similar battle playing out in Social. First, Twitter told the eco-system of apps that had grown around it since its launch, that it was going to start controlling who used the data from its API and how.

3. Wisdom Of Crowds, Or Mob Mentality?

When a prank call by an Australian radio station ended in tragedy, with a nurse taking her life, I think most people would agree that it was probably time for some thought and reflection.
Instead, large numbers of people took to Twitter and Facebook to bombard the DJs in question with abuse and even death threats. In 2012, this sort of chain of events (the anonymous hordes taking to Twitter to vent their fury) became the norm.

4. Integrating Paid, Owned And Earned

When Facebook updated its ad formats earlier this year, I suggested this meant that it was more important than ever that strategies around paid, owned and earned media should be fully integrated. In 2013, this will stop being an option, and become a must.

In the last couple of months Facebook has made a number of anouncements about how it is going to start plugging in its ad products, and the data it holds on users, into external technologies and networks.
And, with recent reports that Facebook is in discussions to buy the Atlas ad server from Microsoft, it seems inevitable that 2013 will see Facebook launching its own ad network, essentially turning the Open Graph into an advertising platform.
Get ready for a socially powered version of AdSense.

5. Expect The Unexpected

The worst thing about making predictions is how often they prove to be wrong. And if the last twenty years or so of the Web has taught us anything, it’s that you can’t take anything for granted other than the fact that, more often than not, you’re likely to be caught on the hop.

Pinterest, Instagram and many others all suddenly exploded, though Pinterest was a slow-burning “overnight sensation,” having originally launched in 2010. Equally, many apps and platforms, such as Gowalla and Quora, that were expected to take over the world, have since seen stalled growth, or even disappeared entirely.

As marketers, it’s important that we keep up with overriding trends in consumer behaviour and the technologies that power these. But we should be careful about getting swept up by hype and piling into the “next big thing.” So, we need to stay nimble and open to new opportunities; but, we equally need to be realistic about what deserves our focus and attention.

Because whilst there’s always a new big thing, it’s more than likely that the “next Facebook” hasn’t even been built yet, and with the increasing difficulties involved in scaling on mobile – which is quickly becoming the defining consumer access point — it may well never be.


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