And we’re back! On behalf of the whole research group we wish you an interesting, joyful and above all inquisitive 2012! Ofcourse a new year can’t start without all sorts of trendlists, top 10’s of great things that will happen on us in the coming year, and even lists of these lists. Fear not, we will not pile on these lists with our own predictions. There’s enough of that already and as the late great Peter Drucker once said, the best way to predict the future is to create it. So let’s work on that the coming weeks and months!
But I want to share a little nugget I found in all these predictions and lists that struck my attention. I am a heavy user of various digital tools. I try a lot of them. Just to see what it does, if it’s worth it and what future uses could be. Just so I can have a clear view of what is out there. Granted, ten years ago this was a lot easier. We only had blogs, usenet and IRC. But just take a look at a site like Betalist. On a daily basis, a few new startups emerge there with all sorts of plans to conquer the world, beat Facebook and end worldhunger. Well, maybe not the last two but you get my point. It is just too much. And I think that’s great. I think it’s a great development that you can even learn how to code in a playful manner and with that knowledge, you can start your own company from your dormroom, bedroom or favorite lunchroom.
On the other hand, this tidal wave of startups doesn’t really give you any sense of direction on where you should be looking. What are the great apps or sites you should pay attention to, can make a difference in your work, can help you in your campaign. And on top of that, a lot of these startups don’t really need gazillions of users. Kevin Kelly once wrote the famous article 1000 True Fans. A great narrative on how you only need a 1000 True Fans, who believe in you, to make a living. His article is definitely worth a read if you’re planning a startup
When I teach in front of 18 - 22 year students about marketing, digital media and online strategy, I always embed some sort of assignment where social media must be used. These days, you can hardly work without it. What I always find amusing is the patterns that emerge, year in year out, on what social media will be used in these assignments. Well actually, it’s just a few: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and maybe some Hyves for the Dutch market. But that’s it. Students, most of the time, don’t look any further than just these three. Why? Because they use it themselves, because that’s what they are told are the biggest media outlets for any brand to be a part of.
I think it’s time to look beyond that. Brands, organizations, they should and could take a look beyond the Big Three and see what else is out there. There are a lot of interesting apps, new tools and ideas spreading like wildfire, just take a look at the aforementioned Betalist.
I understand that any brand wants the biggest bang for their buck. Ofcouse you want to have as many eyeballs as possible for the smallest budget. And ofcourse, tools should follow goals and strategy. But I want to present a few tools that are still relatively unknown. “Relatively” because they are not really unknown to the larger public. Some of them have growth rates like Facebook had 5 years ago. You might call these tools Social Curation tools. There you have it, the new buzzword for 2012! Social Curation. What blogs were in the late nineties, Delicious.com somewhat at the start of this century, tools that make it possible for you to share your hobbies, expertise and knowledge to a larger audience. Curated, not collected. Don’t collect and show everything on your David Hasselhof collection (please don’t), but curate it. Pick the best and present them in a meaningfull manner. You can find a great timeline and some examples on this blogpost.
Here is a small selection (curated!) of tools that can be of interest for you, your coworkers or your clients.
- Instagram - The vintage photoapp that was a big hit in 2011. Big brand Levi’s had some presence on Instagram last year and this year, they use the app to find their next big star for their new campaign.
- Path - I stated this late last year: Twitter is my Facebook, Path is my Twitter. After 5 years of Twitter, it has become a big public and very welcoming cafe for me. Nice, but big. I follow a lot of people, but also have a lot of followers. No matter how you put it, this changes the way you communicate. I had a few tweets pulled out of context, misinterpreted and badly commented on. No need to whine here, but sometimes I missed the old days of Twitter. Where at the end of the day, you could read back what the Dutch Twittercommunity talked about. We even wrote an emailapp called Twitter-a-day (Dutch language) where you got an email at the end of the day with all the tweets from your friends. It was possible back then. Anyway, Path is my new Twitter. It has the same viewpoint, share what you’re doing.But there is one very crucial exception: It is private by default. You choose who can read your updates. You need to have a reciprocal link to follow updates from someone else. This made me rethink my use of the app. Who do I want to read my Path updates? It turns out, just a few people. Just some good friends. That’s it. Path is mobile-only and has a gorgeous iPhone app. Definitely worth a look.
- Pinterest - Also a big hit in the last months of 2011. Especially with women! Techblogs who report on Pinterest always get the same comments from men: “I know what it is, because my wife told me about it. She uses it.’ What is Pinterest? Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. It’s avirtual pinboard on any topic you want. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. I think Pinterest can be a great resource for brands in the living/styling/decorating space.
- Shoudio - I will start with a disclaimer. Shoudio is build by a friend of mine so this might come off as prejudiced. But take a look at Shoudio and you have to admit it is a great niche he found. Create, publish and distribute audioblurbs through your cellphone. Audiogmented Reality. I see a lot of potential in crossmedia campaigns here, especially since they released a new feature: a way to upload audio content and create curated collections.
- Quora - I fell in love with Quora again late last year. I don’t know exactly why, but I just love to browse through this growing encyclopedia of human knowledge. You can ask questions and get great answers. You can add your own answers to topics you have knowledge about. How is it different from Wikipedia you ask? Well, take a look at the answer on Quora and give it a try.
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