Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

5 Things I Think About Digital In 2013

Crystal Ball

Before we turn the crystal ball on and look toward 2013, let’s see how I did in predicting what would happen in 2012. After all, if you’re going to go on record about something, you should be held accountable for your words.

  1. “We’re going to see a great deal more consolidation in the social services and software space a la Radian6 and Salesforce. This will lead to fewer options, less innovation, but greater adoption by corporate organizations.” Nailed this. From the acquisitions of Buddy Media (SalesForce), Vitrue (Oracle) and Wildfire (Google) to the partnerships between SymphonyIRI and Visible Technologies, the social media software world get very small.
  2. “The 3 social platforms I’m doubling down on are Get Glue, Pinterest and Google+. They have the right intersection of features, natural consumer behavior, and simplicity to generate scale and enterprise adoption.” Depending on how you look at it, I was right on 1 or 2 of these. Pinterest became a huge player. No one would question that. The world remains divided on Google+, but I’m taking it as correct prediction, given the linking Google is doing between Google+ and search. Get Glue was a bit of a swing and a miss, though the recent merger between them and Viggle, shows why I was betting hard on social TV. The right prediction would have been Nielsen’s partnership with Twitter.
  3. “Conversely, 3 platforms that have gotten a lot of attention, but I’m not bullish on for the enterprise are tumblr, Path (though personally, I love it) and Oink.  They’re all too niche or lack many of the necessary features needed by the enterprise to justify interest, dollars and adoption.” Nailed this. Oink disbanded. Path hasn’t grown. Tumblr, is still not widely adopted, if for not other reason than they don’t seem interested in working with clients to shape the platform for the enterprise.
  4. “More and more organizations will hire “heads” or “leaders” of social to help them take advantage of the space. This will be good for the industry. These heads will hopefully bring balance by eliminating hype and keeping people who thrive on hype, honest.  Additionally, I’ve seen other prognosticators indicating an end of the “Social Media Strategist” role and I couldn’t disagree more.  While, that role may eventually change, morph, and probably fold into the “Marketing” or “Digital/Interactive” role, make no mistake companies like buckets and definitions. Social still being new, will lend itself to being put into manageable buckets by organizations. Those manageable buckets require titles and organizational structures that clearly define boundaries.” Nailed this 100%. Everyone is hiring or has hired heads of social, even if companies have no idea what to do with their new hires.
  5. “Facebook is going to see serious backlash from marketers. They will no longer be able to simply rely on the fact that they are the biggest social network out there. The lack of data transparency, real analytics and their constantly changing platform that’s skewed toward making your purchase ads to create visibility, will lead marketers to consider, “what is my Facebook exit strategy?”” Total homerun on this. It wasn’t just marketers though. When Facebook went public they street even offered some backlash.
  6. “We’re going to see a large number of companies launch in the social insights space. Our problem isn’t having enough data. If anything we have too much data.  What we lack are insights from the data.  Companies like Crimson Hexagon are in a great position to take advantage of this trend.” Nailed it, though I wish I had used the word “big data” since, that’s basically what these companies are claiming to solve for.
  7. “There will be an unfortunate amount of companies trying to socialize everything. This will lead to poor user experiences, bad marketing and jump the shark moments like GM/Chevy crowd sourcing their Super Bowl spot.” Yep, predicted very accurately. From Wal-Marts Black Friday partnership with Facebook to McDonald’s using Hashtags in commercials, we have seen the socialization of just about all areas of marketing communications.
  8. “There will be a backlash similar to what we observed in 2001, where companies will no longer accept half-baked and poorly thought out strategies.  If you will, we’ll see serious curbing of of social ideas for social sake…or to check a box. There will be great rigor being applied to the evaluation of ideas.  Those companies speaking in a language of likes, followers and impressions are destined to earn raised eyebrows and clenched pocketbooks.” Tough to judge this one. There isn’t an official scorecard/evaluation of this prediction, but given the number of agencies like Victor and Spoils that couldn’t make it as standalone buzzword throwers, and were either acquired (like V&S) or simply folded up shop, I feel good about this prediction and I’m calling it a correct prediction.
  9. “The social media “old boys club” will finally see real cracks. It will no longer be acceptable for social media thought leaders to simply pat one another on the back. As competition increases in this space, it will become counter productive to not call BS and hold others accountable for what they say, think and write.” We saw this one come out in full fashion, especially as companies hired heads of social and digital, who were very seasoned. There were more questions about social media “gurus” than there were compliments. What did this lead to? Well, MANY, of these folks who were part of the old boys club, ended up joining larger companies. Speculation would be they plateaued and/or realized they were not going to be successful on their own.
  10. “We will see a major class action lawsuit or congressional inquiry into the privacy, or rather, the lack their of of social networks. Facebook will draw the lion’s share of attention, but companies like foursquare, Google, twitter and others will also come under fire.  People…the customers…the members will take back their privacy.” Happened. Happened. Happened again. The most recent version of this was the lawsuit brought upon Instagram after Instagram chained their TOS.

Last year, I predicted 10 things I thought would happen in Social Media. Given my success rate was 90%+, I’m not pushing my luck in looking toward 2013, so I’m going with 5 predictions. Here’s the 5 things I think I think about digital in 2013:

  1. We’re going to see less emphasis on hiring heads of social and digital and more emphasis on hiring heads of analytics and insights. Now, let me clarify this one. Many companies have a Chief Information Officer or a SVP of Insights. Few companies have a head/lead who is focused on taking structured and unstructured data and turning it into meaningful insights. We’ve heard the word “Data Scientist” thrown around in the last year. We’ve also heard “big data.” These two phrases are generally linked. Unfortunately, usually the role of understanding the data is ignored, outsourced or left to software. Companies who really want to know if what they’re doing is working and who want to invest smarter, will start looking for their own Jonah Hill character from the story Moneyball. Get ready to see lots of active recruiting for Chief/Lead/Principle Data Scientist.
  2. We will see a run of acquisitions by older/established organizations on startups or young organizations. What do I mean? We’re going to see something like Nielsen buying Viggle/Get Glue or Wal-Mart pulling another Kosmix purchase. You’ll see this also in the product space. For example, I think you’ll see someone like Gillette purchase Dollar Shave Club or Pepsi purchase Soda Stream or USA Today purchase Pulse.
  3. There will be too many companies trying to solve the “social TV” question. They will all offer different metrics. The lack of standardization will cause a big problem and set us back. At the end of 2013 or the start of 2014 we’ll see one clear winner.
  4. Twitter will file for IPO. Simple as that.
  5. Facebook will become less friend and more frenemy. To soften their transition toward frenemy, they will offer a tiered structure/classification that will essentially become a pay for access/feature model. Lots of words, I know. Here’s a good example of what I think might happen. Facebook will offer a premium Page Analytics platform that’s only available to brands/companies that have pages with X number of “Likes” or who pay Y dollars a month. In the case of needing X Likes, this is in essence pay for access, because many brands will need to launch Like acquisition campaigns to get the requisite number of Likes needed. You may see something like a fee for API calls to for Facebook Connect or paying X dollars a month will net you premium account management support.

While not a prediction, something I would like to see happen is Apple buy Sprint, create their own cellular network, stop offering iPhones on Verizon and AT&T and then really take it to Samsung. It’s doubtful, but it would be awesome to see happen. If 2012 was a predictor of my own prognostication, I’ll nail at least 4 out of 5 of these predictions. We’ll see how I did, come next December.