At this time of year where everyone seems to be either recapping the year with a “Best Of” list or forecasting 2012 with “Top Trends to Look Out For” we’ve decided to roll the two together to let you know what we thought made BOTH the biggest impact in 2011, and will continue to be important in 2012.
Just what is this weird word? SoLoMo is the abbreviation of social/local/mobile and refers to the nexus of where these media functions intersect. The name and concept really came to be recognized as a growing trend in 2011.
- Social media = the ability for communities to easily connect
- Local media = the geographic range for a community as small in scope, usually no more than 10 miles
- Mobile media = defines the delivery system for the media as coming from a portable device
Why is this important? You’ve probably already done or at least can appreciate the following: you’re out running errands and get a craving for tacos, but you’re not sure where you can get one. Pull out your smartphone and search for tacos. Voila! Because your smartphone is GPS enabled, you will immediately see choices based on your location, and perhaps a coupon too. But a business has the responsibility of making sure their listing is complete and correct. Also important to consider:
- Smartphone growth – half of all Americans will own a smartphone by 2012
- Mobile search has increased 4 times since 2010 and 95% of smartphone users have searched for local information
- The 23 million small businesses in the US will benefit the most by being able to directly connect with prospects and customers by being able to be found on mobile device searches. And a whopping 60% of searches yield a visit or call to a business after a successful search.
So what’s coming in 2012?
- Proliferation of new mobile websites for these small businesses
- Improvement of online business information listings
- Increase in mobile PPC marketing
There should also be an increase in providers offering these services to businesses that don’t have time to implement their SoLoMo program themselves.
This has been popular over the last few years, with hundreds of providers looking for their share of the pie. Groupon’s recent IPO also raised awareness and enticed first time consumers to get into the game. But the model is not without its flaws:
- Consumers benefit tremendously with valuable discounts, but can get burned if they can’t redeem the coupon…and the fine print in most of the deals exonerate the couponer from having to make good on the offer if the merchant fails to deliver.
- Small businesses can also lose big time if their offer is too successful and/or the margins are too small to make a profit. Mega-couponing can also bring in the “wrong” (those that are unlikely to return) customers, damage the brand’s reputation and fail to collect any customer data for future marketing.
- The group coupon companies themselves are very difficult and expensive to run, and there have been many former employees exposing shady dealing, outright deception and terrible working conditions.
So what’s coming in 2012? 2012 should be the make-or-break year for the group couponing model – the kinks really need to get ironed out so all parties feel comfortable about doing business together or the entire segment could wither and die.
The only thing to really be said for Google+ in 2011 is that it was born. But it really hasn’t grown. Not really. Yes, it has over 40 million users and has been the fastest growing social network in history, but in the six months since rollout, even social super-users aren’t as engaged on Google+ as other networks and there have been few major updates to the service. The one exception is the introduction of Google+ for businesses, finally allowing entities to stake their claim in the space. Unfortunately there are few features or benefits yet and quite a few limitations that make the service clunky. Like only allowing one admin for the site, or not offering an easy way to manage followers. But the potential is huge. Gigantic. ENORMOUS – especially for businesses. Considering Google’s near-domination of online search activity (both paid and non) there are so many opportunities that no one else could ever challenge their position. Just recently, Google began populating search results pages with Google+ pages for some brands. And that doesn’t even take into account the secret, non-core products from Google like self-driving cars, elevators to outer space and robots. So what’s coming in 2012? Google+ is promising streamlined and more robust functionality, and with all the time they are taking to build and launch these new features, it should be significant. Then again, it could go the way of Google Buzz. RIP. Only time will tell. Happy New Year!