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Five Potential Digital Futures

Despite the fact that the fun of digital communications is living in the ‘now’, it’s a wise idea to watch new ideas transform themselves into the next big things on the web, and then determine the perfect moment to adopt and learn them. But when you’re slap-bang in the middle of the industry, it’s an even wiser idea to map out the potential digital futures well ahead of time and start warning the rest of what to expect. In my post today I will be presenting five potential digital futures based on some recent topical posts.

# 1. Digital Future One – A future of #Fails

In my last post I discussed Ethical #Fails and how many social media users in particular, were choosing to use unethical tactics to win sales. As we all become more comfortable with using digital platforms, there is tendancy to misuse them because we can. One potential future is that unethical practices like spamming other pages will ‘muddy’ the once ‘clean’ channels that we use daily.

  • This in turn could cause potential customers and networkers to abandon these platforms and look elsewhere.
  • As people, we will become less trusting of others’ online intentions and ‘up’ our security.
  • That means no posting to business Facebook pages, blocking posts, having to accept all requests that are currently accepted automatically, checking and editing all blog comments, and vetting our contacts.

To some this may seem ugly and extreme. To digital platform providers, this could end two-way engagement as we know it and lead to a retraction of services as interaction dwindles.

Related: Time to be Decent, Legal, Honest and Truthful

# 2. Digital Future Two – Here a Celeb, There a Celeb, Everywhere a Celeb, Celeb

In January I blogged about the Rise of Social Celebrities and how businesses influencing the digital world were gaining a kind of celebrity status online. Dubbed as ‘power users’ and ‘digital heavy-weights’, these celebrities have extensive networks, gain much media hype, are called on to host and speak at events.

A prediction is an online world full of social celebs, paid to ‘tweet’ or ‘share’ messages on behalf of weaker users or businesses. Not unlike brand ambassadors or endorsers.

These celebs could create serious online sway as online personalities to endorse products and if they prove that their status can amplify messages AND increase conversions, then I believe marketing personnel will be using them as part of their marketing strategies.

# 3. Digital Future Three – Anyone in Need of a Specialist?

When we see growth within one sector and the rate of adoption soars, it’s a natural progression for others to set up their own versions. Of course, duplication as a mirror image is pointless (you just can’t compete). That’s where spealialist sites come into play – these sites appeal to a smaller market group (customer segment) or focus on a particular niche area.

Some popular examples are Pinterest and Foursquare. Pinterest is based on the idea of ‘pinning’ a collection of images and videos to a pinboard and sharing with friends. Foursquare is all about places and keeping up-to-date with where your friends are in the world.

A possible future is one where specialist sites rule. A place where the internet is inundated with sites catering to all sorts of passions, uses and hobbies.For digital marketers this would be heaven:

  • as you can plan your marketing activities on sites which cater perfectly to your target audience.
  • You can select the best sites to market your business, based on your strengths.

    Social media sites in general use sticky content, and this makes them extremely powerful.

    Related: How Pinterest Can Increase Your Website Traffic

    # 4. Digital Future Four – Feeling Ha-appy?

    According to recent resarch, there are five billion mobile user. 40% are tablets. Mobile and tablets are the fastest growing tech tools and sales are now over-taking PC purchases. Power brands across the globe are investing in mobile apps to reach a growth market or appeal to take part in ‘local’  marketing communications.

    Imagine a world where every brand had an app to engage you, or an app that was triggered by your proximity and an offer popped up on your phone screen when you drove past? Well this world is becoming a reality as more and more businesses look to apps as a way of harnessing modern usage. A few  popular apps are Facebook, Instagram, Angry Birds and Shazam.

    Some are mobile-friendly sites, some games and some are handy little apps like scaning and finding your favourite songs or saving on mobile calls.

    Related: Starbucks Inspired Use of Modern Technology

    #5. Digital Future Five – Gamification and Interactive Living (my personal favourite)

    This future centres around mini games and interactive marketing…anywhere. From billboards to mobiles, social sites to video – everywhere is an opportunity to create an interactive experience. At a Google event in January,we were shown a small video snippet of interactive marketing – a virtual Tescos shop in a Subway station in South Korea.

    • After a long day’s work, commuters can simply scan their purchases with their phones and travel home to await delivery.
    • This is the perfect way to influence on-the-spot decision making and create a competitive edge, steered by technology.

    QR codes are a low-key example where you can scan codes via your phone that show a website or Vcard information. QR codes can be printed on business cards, product packaging, T-shirts, on tattoos and invites. There are countless examples of campaigns and ideas like these on amillionpagesofinspiration to tease your interactive appetite.

    Related: Gamification: The Next Big Thing in Marketing?

    Do you think any of the above potential futures will come true? Perhaps a mixture, or none of the above. How about sharing your own predictions.

    Image: “Futuristic Screen/Shutterstock

    Christina is a complete geek, hence a perfect web + online marketing consultant. After ten years working with Premier Recruitment Group, LA Fitness, Monarch Airlines, Thomson Travel and a host of other companies, she now owns CG Online Marketing ( in Ireland and is an associate of the Ahain Group. She's qualified in most things online such as web server management, digital design, Google Analytics and SEO. Specialties: Social Media Marketing, SEO / PPC,Google analytics (qualified in GA IQ) Web trends + insights, Data segmentation and targeting, Customer Behavior analysis, Digital design, Writing, Ethical marketing Green marketing / Sustainable tourism and Hotel + travel online marketing

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    •  Hello Anton,

      I’m hopeful too that the balance will be restored should we stray from the ‘golden path’.
      #5 is one hellova future and what’s great is that the options already out there are customer-driven,  location-based and highly relevant to that market. It sure is exciting being a trend scout!

      The ‘point and buy’ technology was showcased at a recent Google event. It really places an emphsis on mobile use, with card information being stored. They’ll need to ‘up’ the security big time though.

      Tks for your comment!

    • Hi Christina, I’m with Anto and you on this one, #5 is the way to go but I also think #3 has already got some legs, I see specialist sites has having a big future but I also think integration will be key in that they will all fit together, kinda like pieces of a digital super site.

    • Hello Niall, Yes #5 is making waves already (reminds of the film Minority Report with Tom Cruise). I would say the bigger brands are leading this change and in time small businesses will adapt and adopt these ideas and techniques.

      A digital super site – What a phase…imagine! I challenge any business to aim for this.

    • Hi Christina,

      Great post, another fan of #5 but think we’re a couple of years yet from brands and consumers really starting to use existing technology to its full potential.  I think #3 offers potential if you’re a marketer with a very finely tuned target demographic but I think it also holds a lot of challenges if your marketplace is to become increasingly fragmented. 

    •  Hi Debbie,
      There’s always stages of adoption and the early adoptors will lead the way for #5.
      Yes, #3 has evolved and has huge potential. There’s a great deal of choice out there and selection  + strategy will be key success on these sites.

    • Like all new tech, it gets invented or evolves from something else, then early tech adapters show the rest of us how it’s done, then the early user adapters take it in board, and finally the general user population gets on board.

      There is always a delay for a new technology to become widespread, and with this falls the cost of production and the cost to the user.

      I know someone who researched the mobile scanning of shopping, and decided not to pursue it as a business as the market was already saturated (obviously not in Ireland) so that technology already exits, is being used, but not accessible to the general population as yet.

      And such is tech evolution. I think all your predictions are viable Tina, and like 95% of users, I will just adapt each one as it becomes “not cool” or “bad business sense” NOT to adapt 🙂

    • Hi Elaine,

      You’re spot on – there are stages and it’s only really the widespread adoption stage that brings it to the mainstream. Glad to hear that the mobile scanning is taking root, as you can see from the Tescos video, the eastern market is using it well.

      Everyone has a choice to ‘evolve’ or ‘stand still’, although those that stand still will find that their techniques quicky become dated and unused. In some ways it’s a shame that technology is this fast-paced, but it does push us to constantly think about new ideas and ways of reaching our audience.

    • Choosing the right person for the right job is very important for any business. Because if business owners hire someone who does not desire that profile. That goes wrong for your company

    • Janine Gilmour

      Hi Elli. Great article about the evolution from an owner/operator mindset with the scope to be present in all facets of the biz, to a more mature biz model requiring effective delegation, processes and risk control.

    • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

      Very true, William. One of the ways a business owner can become clear about what the “right” person might look like is to write out descriptions of the culture of the small business and a job description. This process helps frame the conversation with the candidate.

    • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

      Janine, thanks for reading and commenting!

    • ElliStGeorgeGodfrey

      Jayden, thanks for your comment. It certainly is a balance for the leader to guide his/her employee effectively.

    • Richard Perfect

      It can be hard starting out when you don’t have any customers to ask questions in the first place.

      If you don’t have any customers and want to find out what they are thinking then…

      Your target customers will buy books on your topic. You can find out what they’re thinking by reading their reviews in something like the Amazon Bookstore.

      I heard this tip in a podcast from Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers.

    • Thanks for the mention and a holistic answer to the initial question. it struck me that answering questions in our blog posts are a valuable extension of Customer service to begin with . We all do it with FAQs so why not expand the concept with blog posts that provide relevant solutions to our stakeholders

    • Hi Anika, it’s great to hear about your experience and how it backs up what I was saying in the post. Thanks a lot for sharing here at Tweak Your Biz.

    • Ni Niall, content creation is always a hard one. In the past I have used Google Trends to evaluate a product or service. Now I use it for blog post idea generation.

    • We invite people to post questions on our facebook page and find that not only does it provide us with ideas for content but I feel if one person is putting ‘pen to paper’ and asking the question, others will be wondering about the same query. Finding questions on twitter is a good method too.

    • For sure, Lorna, Social media is great for crowdsourcing content ideas, I’m surprised more people don’t use it.

    • Hi Chris, that’s a great tip, thanks for sharing.

    • Great tips Niall, I always learn from your expertise. And you explain really well 🙂
      I agree with Lorna, if someone takes the time to ask, you can be guaranteed they are represented a much larger group.
      Very well written, thank you!

    • Thanks Elaine, glad you found it useful!

    • These are great tips Kanika. Thanks for sharing them with our readers. I look forward to your next post for us.

    • Glad, you like the post! 🙂

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