The maturation of the social networking channels may well prove to be the tipping point for attracting a majority of mainstream small businesses who have yet to jump into this pond.
One can understand the reluctance, especially as the noise level on the social networks continues to approach the breaking point.
#1 – The Quality of Online Content will Rise to Meet Expectations
When markets get cluttered – quality stands tall.
The predominant trend this year is that the quality of online content will rise to meet the higher standards of both consumers and search, and it is going to express itself in several different ways.
People now demand more – and that is what Google wants from you as a business marketer.
The launch of Google+ this past summer provided a wake-up call for other social media channels – and it deserves your attention too.
Google+ provides a flexible interface with generous control over the quality of your content. The combination of that with personal customer support effectively forced Facebook and Twitter to step up their game.
In Google+ you can edit what you publish, share it selectively or publicly, and accompany it with nice multi-media content. This clearly contributed to the introduction of Facebook timeline – the new format that better orders your content, while also creating a cover banner for one large, high quality image.
Social networking helped businesses get used to working with these new channels. Now the emphasis is quickly moving from pure networking to a higher level of publishing – making your small business a media company.
Of course, the role of a publisher and broadcaster brings new responsibilities.
The smartest thing now is to strategically plan for how this can work for your business. What are the steps to take now to be well-positioned 3, 5, and 10 years ahead?
You should first consider the educational information your community is hungry for, as well as what they will appreciate in terms of inspiration and entertainment.
After all, it is still social media, so it should be engaging. The only difference is expectations are moving to a higher level.
Just envision yourself as a great filmmaker, television producer, author, or speaker, and you will be on the right path.
#2 – There Will be an Explosion of Quality Photos and Videos
You can now capture nice images with a relatively new camera phone. And you can take outstanding photos with a $600 – $700 camera. So, the task at hand is capturing more photos that educate, entertain, and inspire your communities.
By now you should have a pretty good idea from Facebook and YouTube as to what type of photos and videos are the most engaging. Go back and check some of your YouTube statistics – you may be surprised.
Use your social media analytics to learn more about what your audience most wants – and give it to them.
Google+ and now the Facebook Timeline position photos and videos prominently. Use them well to attract attention, capture a moment, and tell a story.
Incidentally, if you are still undecided about what is the right photo to profile on that huge banner known as the Facebook Timeline Cover, here’s a tip.
We’ve all seen plenty of sunrises and sunsets – both real and digitally enhanced. So, if you really want to engage your friends and fans, understand that people are most interested in people.
#3 – 2012 Will be a Breakout Year for QR Codes
For some time now, we’ve been hearing that the QR code is dead. I’m not buying it.
In fact, I’ve learned that when the masses begin to gather into a herd, the next thing is a stampede – in the wrong direction.
In situations like this, you have to do your own thinking, and sometimes that means being wrong to be right.
It’s undeniable that QR codes are popping up everywhere. It’s also true that many of the applications are poorly planned and executed. This is the opportunity!
The problem isn’t the QR code, it’s the lack of education and planning for using them well.
Despite what was published in AdAge this week, I predict 2012 will be the year in which businesses start doing QR right.
There is no question the interest is there. The reason for the tepid response is due to the fact that marketers are not taking the time to think this through – and do it well.
Last year I wrote an article – How QR codes Can Grow Your Business. It was first published at Social Media Examiner – one of the top business blogs in the world. And it proved to be the #3 article in their Top 20 Most Popular Articles for 2011.
This is telling us the interest is out there. What is needed next is leadership.
Start with the aforementioned article. The follow up to that one is 5 Best Practices for a Successful QR Code Campaign. It includes commentary form experts around the world, as well as links to quite a few related articles.
If you still reluctant to invest the time to create quality content, here is my promise.
Take the time to create quality digital content and you will discover more time in your business, because you will begin to attract the customers that have thus far been alluding you.
When you consistently create quality online content, you get better at it.
And as it begins to accumulate, it starts to work while you are not.
What could be more encouraging than that?
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Until next time, Jeff