Over the coming weeks I will be showcasing a selection of guest posts from my own personal Gurus of Social Media and Online PR.
This week we are privileged to present Three Predictions for 2012 by Robert Tyson @TheTysonReport.
1. 2012: The year Google starts to decline?
With the Investor’s Business Daily recently naming Google CEO Larry Page ‘CEO of the year’ for 2011 and noting how ‘in the past two quarters Google blew away analyst views while boosting revenue by 32% and 33%’, this may seem an odd time to say this. But I think 2012 will be a make or break year for Google, and if I had to bet it would be on things starting to unravel.
Google’s so massive that no decline would happen overnight. But it seems to me that they’re facing some very significant challenges, not least in the law courts, where numerous legal challenges to its behaviour and dominant market position are likely to come to a head in Europe and America.
Google’s big cash cow is pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which accounts for something like 95% of revenues, and where it’s been cleaning up for years. But those super-normal profits have drawn the attention of Amazon, which is stepping up its rival PPC service, and WordPress, the world’s number one blogging platform with millions of users. These are heavyweights with the footprint to put a real dent in Google’s PPC dominance.
Perhaps most significantly though is the suggestion that, in pursuing commercial imperatives (notably the Google+ social concept, on which the jury is still out), Google is seriously compromising what made it successful in the first place, namely its core search function. If consumers cease to trust Google search to throw up reliable results, they’ll desert it, taking the PPC money they generate via clickthroughs with them. People like Google’s services but the brand isn’t loved a la Apple – in fact there’s a pretty strong undercurrent of distrust towards Google that’s largely of its own making. So I wouldn’t bet on tremendous brand loyalty amongst consumers at large if a realistic alternative develops.
On the face of it, Google’s never been stronger. But it’s also been the king of the net for a good few years now, and history tells us that no-one stays on top forever. I wonder if 2012 could be the year that we start to see the decline begin?
2. The ‘boutiquisation’ of business will accelerate in the West.
I believe we’re witnessing a sea change in how individuals in developed economies earn a living.
Plugged into the internet, you are in fact plugged into the world. And with online tools becoming cheaper and easier for the layman to use, it’s never been easier for individuals to set up in business and exchange money for their labour and unique skills.
With more redundancies and anaemic job creation likely as developed economies continue to struggle, expect a boom in home working and small businesses in general, as people turn to their laptops to survive.
The work of the future will be about lots of small ‘boutique’ businesses that specialise in niches, and the most successful will have personality-driven brands as technologies make it easier and easier for individuals to ‘be’ in lots of different places at once, without actually having to leave the home or office.
3. Quality will be king in content, x 1000.
Linking in with prediction two, we’re all becoming ‘prosumers’ – that is to say, consumers and producers at the same time, consuming goods and services but also producing content and sharing it on websites and social networks. At the same time, the idea that you need to produce content to have any hope in online marketing is becoming well known.
Now anyone with an internet connection can start a blog, and more and more of the content production and distribution process can be automated – look at paper.li for example. In fact, this month’s Wired magazine reports how computers are already ‘writing’ passable (if uninspired) news content for the financial press based on the raw material of regulatory announcements.
The upshot of these trends will be a tidal wave of very average, anodyne content. Your only hope in cutting through? Quality, delivered with personality.
Advice? Write one weekly must-read blog post over five daily won’t-read posts, and work on building your personal brand regardless of the type of organisation you’re associated with now.
Robert Tyson is editor of www.TheTysonReport.com which provides small business marketing articles. Go to the site now to download your copy of Robert’s free ebook and newsletter and get shortcuts to building a successful online business.