By Joe Pulizzi published December 21, 2008

42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2009

Some people hate them, but I’m a sucker for prediction articles. The switch over to the next calendar year always provides the perfect scenario to decide what the fate of marketing will be.

We reached out to the Junta42 community, as well as the Junta42 Top 42 bloggers, to get their take on what the new year would hold for content marketing and social media.  As you will see, lots of opportunity amidst great uncertainty. Just the way we like it.

Thanks to those who contributed. Some truly outstanding expertise (and frankly, free consulting from some of the best). If you don’t agree or would like to add yours, please do – and pass this along to any marketing folk you know.

The Junta42 Top 42 Bloggers

Name: Paul Bradshaw, Online Journalism Blog
Prediction: Marketers will get cheap. Budgets will be tight, which will make for more creative experimentation and rough-and-ready projects. As a result they will realize that polished product doesn’t work online. They’ll also be more concerned with analytics and measuring success, and we may see the development of more uniform models of measurement than we’ve had so far.

Name: David Meerman Scott
Prediction: Unfortunately, I have a bit of a dire prediction. But first some background.

Many marketers have now discovered Twitter. That’s a good thing. And many marketers are using Twitter in very interesting and useful ways.  However I’m seeing more and more Twitter feeds created not with a person’s name “Mary Smith at Acme Products” but instead the feed is created with the company name instead “Acme Products”.

While I’m sure that some people may want to follow their favorite company, I’m seeing many of these feeds as a derivative of spam because they just prattle on about their products and services all day.

Twitter is not an advertising tool.

I predict that in 2009 there will be a backlash against company Twitter accounts and either the Twitter community will need to self-police or the good people who run Twitter will need to make rules.

Name: Frank Martin, Marketing Magic
Prediction: Brand marketers will be exploring or building their Social Media presence in an attempt to further their messages and to boost the cost effectiveness of their marketing expenditures. They will continue to struggle with the lack of control over the content, which will push them to preach “living the brand internally. NOT a bad thing!

Name: Cimarron Buser, Texterity
Prediction: Combining traditional media with electronic media will increase. For example, in the print magazine world, the print magazine, website, newsletters, and digital editions for desktops and mobile devices will all be used to increase engagement with the reader. Interactivity is growing: not just “user contributed content”, but also allowing polls and commenting to seamlessly interact with a site or digital magazine, and then show up (again) in a print version.

 

Name: Giles Rhys Jones, Interactive Marketing Trends
Prediction: Distributed Eventing
The creation of an event to reach a few people, then the filming and merchandising of that event nationally, regionally and globally through both broadcast and digital channel to reach a much broader audience.

Name: Marcus Grimm, Nxtbook
Prediction: We’re a digital magazine and digital collateral provider, so it makes sense that I’d predict continued growth in that arena. But aside from my own bias, the stars are well aligned for that prediction: In a tough economy, dollars will always flow from expensive projects with unclear ROI to less costly initiatives with a well-defined ROI. For marketers, digital magazines and collateral do just that.

Name: Paul Dunay, Buzz Marketing for Technology
Prediction: I think you will see more companies acting like Media companies and even launching their own media properties based off of blogs, communities, and wikis they set up over the last few years.

Name: Scott Monty
Prediction: Content will be more focused around conversation than messaging. Brand marketers will begin listening to what their customers are saying and will be able to reply in an authentic engaging manner.

Name: Sally Falkow, co-developer of PRESSfeed
Prediction: News articles with images and video syndicated in RSS feeds should be a big part of brand marketers’ strategy in 2009.  The most clicked items on a Universal search results page are images and news. Americans are showing more and more interest in RSS.  ‘What is RSS?’ is on the top ten list of questions searched in the Google Zeitgeist list for 2008.  Brand marketers should take advantage of this increasing interest in RSS.

Name: Michael A. Stelzner, author of ‘Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged’
Prediction: Social media is the new frontier for marketing.  I predict a “gold rush” will take place as businesses quickly secure their spots in the social media frontier.

Many will rush to put up their Twitter sites and attempt to leverage LinkedIn and Facebook groups to further interact with their clientele.

These sites will be used to drive traffic to free content offerings, such as white papers and ebooks.  DON’T MISS OUT.  Get your social media plan underway now! You still have a first-mover advantage.

Name: Scott Howard, ScLoHo
Prediction: In 2009 the smart brand marketers will reach out via text offers and Twitter offers to the college aged crowd, money saving offers that they can use repeatedly to build brand preferences for the future.

Name: Jason Falls
Prediction: While I’m not optimistic many will catch on to this in 2009, some will. Creating and distributing branded content will have to focus around something other than the brand to be optimally successful. Whether it’s a lifestyle, peripheral niche topics or by championing a cause or position, innovative brands will start to provide engaging content that allows them to intertwine the brand rather than push it as the primary selling point.

Name: Jacob Morgan
Prediction: It’s no secret that social media is going to be a killer way for brand marketers to distribute and create their content.  I think the main challenge is going to be how to measure the value or “ROI” on social media efforts and how to replicate social media successes.  I am hoping that 2009 will bring about the integration of traditional media, social media, and search.  Once a company can master the integration of all three, they will have a killer campaign.

I think we are also going to see Twitter blow up in terms of users – be prepared for a lot of spam and a lot of junk.  The quality of Twitter and it’s ability to filter spam is definitely going to be tested.  We are already seeing some of this now.  Truth be told, 2009 is going to involve a lot of testing and trial and error for brand marketers.  There is no formula for social media success.  However, we are also going to venture into an exciting time where companies and brands are going to try new things that will hopefully lead to case studies and examples that can be applied across the industry.  Will we see a television commercial mention a corporate twitter account?  We’ll see.

I’m hoping that in 2009 companies and marketers will really see the value in building relationships with their users and customers through social media.

Name: Karthik Murali H
Prediction: Embracing Web 2.0  with social networking and bookmarking sites will be the route most brand marketers would take and it seems the most obvious economical choice in the current scenario.

Name: Toby Bloomberg, Diva Marketing
Prediction: I hesitate to make predictions so instead here are a few “I hope the brand marketers get it” wish list for 2009.

I wish that brand marketers would realize that building relationships via mobile is not pushing ads but providing valuable content that can be customized a la iPhone apps.

I wish that brand marketers would understand that to build trust means to participate with customers within the social media communities/blogs. It’s not “social” until there is an exchange.

I wish that brand marketers would take the time to develop internal communication processes (that crosses silos) to support social media strategies before they launch social media initiatives.

Name: Dan Thornton
Prediction: Social Media Marketing will become a more mainstream approach, with a better understanding of how ROI is driven both directly and indirectly – this means an influx of brilliant examples, but also of the worst examples of jumping on something without investing the time and resources to understand it properly first.

Technology wise, Twitter will be officially mainstream, and will have monetized in some way, so I’d expect a rush of companies using whatever appears as a short term, low effort way to get into the buzz around micro blogging.

I’d also say video will continue to become more and more utilized – both as a publicity tool, but also as an interaction tool using sites like Seesmic, 12 seconds or mobatalk as ways to actually engage with people and provide a way for conversations to form via video.

Name: Mark Brownlow
Prediction: 2009 will see more brands providing opportunities, tools and experiences that allow or encourage others to create and distribute content on their behalf. It takes a leap of faith to let go of control of the final content or message. But that control started to decline from the day someone said, “hey, let’s connect these two computers together.”

Name: Marc Meyer
Prediction: I think  brands will take more ownership of the content they create this coming year, but I think they still don’t understand how to best reach the consumer. As many strides as we have made with social media this past year, much needs to be done for 2009. With that said, look for more cross promotional content creation this year as well.

Name: Rick Liebling
Prediction: This may be more of a hope than a prediction, but I’d like to see more marketers empower employees across the company to be content creators.  If I’m a fan of a car company, I want to hear from designers, engineers, assembly line workers, sales, you name it. Have them participate in a group blog network, or on Twitter, whatever, the platform doesn’t matter so much, it is the passion of the people that work for the company that really make the brand. Push that passion out to the consumer in an authentic manner and you’ll create fans.

Name: Becky Carroll
Prediction: I believe that brand marketers will put more resources into having their customers help them create and distribute brand content. As consumers are tuning-out traditional advertising and marketing efforts, they are turning to their peers for advice and recommendations. Brand content that is created and distributed by peers who are evangelists for the brand can have significant impact not just on branding but also on sales and customer loyalty.

Name: Patsi Krakoff aka The Blog Squad
Prediction: In 2009 we’ll see more brands developing a personality or a persona to represent the core values of the company. This ‘persona’ will be responsible for most of the brand’s blog content and social media messages.

Cutting edge companies like Razer, the computer gaming hardware developer, have been using their founder, RazerGuy, as spokesperson for years. Other brands will find or create a persona to embody the spirit of their company. How else can companies connect and build relationships unless there is a person with a real personality?

As The Blog Squad, my partner Denise Wakeman and I have realized the importance of ‘persona’ to connect with people and to represent what our company does. Fortunately, we’re real people. I pity those companies that are going to have to invent a persona because that will never work as well as authenticity.

Rohit Bhargava hit the nail on the head with his book Personality Not Included. I predict that 2009 will be the Year of the Personality!

Name: Brian Solis
Prediction: Brand marketers will continue to experiment with existing and emerging forms of social media, concentrating their efforts substance and distribution and not frequency (maybe that’s a wish and less of a prediction). Content syndication aka Social Syndication is key for rising above the noise and connecting with the very people who can benefit from your words, thoughts, ideas, and passion. Social syndication will also require aggregated monitoring of all activity in order to not only “push” content at people, but also provide a hub for viewing, analyzing, and responding to their feedback, where those individual conversations transpire. We will also see integrated dashboards such as PeopleBrowsr and 8hands tightly intertwine the distributed web to enable true participation and cultivation of genuine relationships across diverse communities. The social web will expand and contract in 2009, but we will also gain access to the very solutions that will make the real and online world a much smaller place.

Name: David Reich, Reich Communications, Inc.
Prediction: Marketers will continue to experiment with social media in 2009, although they may not get into it as deeply as they might have hoped before the financial meltdown.  But tight budgets might work in favor of trying social media, since programs on various platforms, especially blogs, need not be costly to be effective at reaching and engaging customers.

Name: Rick Burnes, Hubspot
Prediction: In 2009 brand marketers will

  1. create more, higher-quality content
  2. become more respected as a source for content

Name: Neil Perkin
Prediction: 2009 is going to be a hugely challenging year for everyone, but the transition of all media streams to become social is a permanent change meaning that more and more brand owners will need to adopt distributed networked models over destination models. The challenging environment will see more focus on ROI, a desire for greater definition, and the rise in new forms of context.

Name: Ann Handley, MarketingProfs
Prediction: In 2009, an increasing number of journalists find themselves out of work at traditional newspapers, which continue to struggle with sustaining their business. Good news: the writers find a home as “content producers” and “content managers” on the corporate side, in companies of all shapes and sizes.

People who are trained as journalists are specifically geared to helping companies execute on their 2009 marketing strategy, which is to become trusted sources of information within their specific industries. They can help companies see the wisdom of talking less about the company itself, and more about solutions they can help their customers with. They are wonderfully creative in developing interesting and compelling content.

Advice: If you are thinking of increasing your content play in 2009, hire a journalist.

Name: Mark Nagurski
Prediction: 2009: The Year Small Business Comes Out to Play

If 2008 was the year that social media went mainstream, then 2009 will be the year that small businesses and micro-brands start using those very same social media  tools to make and distribute their content.

Take a sneaky peek outside the online bubble and for a sizable chunk of the small business world, the term web strategy still refers to a 4-page brochure website and a Hotmail address. And the small business world is a sizable chunk of the bigger business pie.

But the growth of social media and the importance of search have helped to democratize the tools needed to go beyond static sites and create and distribute content. Blogs are free, YouTube hosts your video for you and RSS makes syndication really simple.

So as individuals become increasingly familiar with these tools in their own personal lives, they will begin to play and experiment and otherwise dip their toes in the content creation waters in their business lives too. Some will take to it and some will prefer the seeming security of the status quo beach.

Either way, just as the trend junkies and early adopters begin to sound the death knell for blogging, podcasting and anything else established B.T. (before Twitter), 2009 will see us welcoming the early majority to the party.

It should be some party.

Name: Paul Gillin
Prediction: I believe 2009 will see the beginnings of a new approach to corporate blogging that is more genuine and open. Corporate Blogs 2.0 will admit that fallibility is not a sin and will trust their customers to help them make their businesses better.  The few businesses that have taken a risk and bared their souls have found that their transparency engenders sympathy, trust and support.  The business world will experience a great deal of pain during the first part of the next year.  There is no better time for them to ask customers for help and understanding.

Name: Heather Lloyd-Martin
Prediction: 2008 was the year of big brands sticking their toes into the SEO content waters.  More than ever before, companies were building out blogs, articles, FAQ pages, white papers and robust product descriptions in an attempt to gain better organic search engine ranking and capture market share.

Although many companies did a fantastic job (@zappos being one), other companies created what they called “content for the search engines.”  Unfortunately, this content was keyphrase-stuffed without regard to direct marketing principals. In essence, their content was written solely for the search engines without regard to their readers’ experience.

I see many companies shifting their content approach to one that’s less about search engine rankings and more about blending direct response writing with SEO principals.  Companies implementing SEO copywriting strategies in 2009 are focusing more on creating a dialogue with their customers.  In-house teams are stressing messaging and conversion – and less on gaining a particular keyword position or per-page keyphrase density (thank goodness).

Companies are also starting to put more value on SEO copywriting training – whether that means sending their team to conferences, building in-house training initiatives, or planning ongoing educational opportunities.

It’s a very exciting time.

Name: Valeria Maltoni
Prediction: Execution is the new strategy!

I strongly believe this. With the speed at which things are changing in today’s business environment, it will become critical to do and adjust as you learn while doing. Yes, strategy and planning are important, but doing is and will be critical.

This will especially be important when creating content. In many companies and businesses, there is way too much planning and way too little creating. My prediction is that success will come to those who do and edit on an ongoing basis. The year of the “doer” is here – now repeat after me “can do”.

Name: Ardath Albee
Prediction: In 2009, content will help companies become ubiquitous in their area of expertise. Instead of only sharing their expertise with people who come to their websites and fill out a form, B2B marketers will start spreading (syndicating) their content across the Internet to intersect with where their customers and potential customers hang out.

Marketers will employ content to attract interactive dialogues. They’ll learn how to have meaningful “social” conversations and come to understand how to use storytelling content to build relationships that more easily progress to sales opportunities.

Instead of one-off content developed for a specific company event, or campaign, marketers will develop their content using an overarching story as a thematic guide to map content to buying stages. And, they’ll start to personalize content to address specific target segment needs as they get better at reading virtual behavior and responding to the interests that prospects indicate.

The result of this shift in the creation and use of marketing content is that companies will attract more prospects who opt in to dialogue and that, by using content to create momentum in the buyer’s journey, salespeople will be focused on selling to opportunities, instead of qualifying leads.

Name: Joe “Giuseppe” Zuccaro
Prediction: Obviously through social networks that provide transparency and authenticity.  Video will play a larger role.  But the authenticity may have to come through a person whose role is more like an “ombudsman” than a brand manager or PR flack.

Name: Chris Moritz, Campbell-Ewald
Prediction: Social channels (for real this time) – talked about a lot in 2008, but low participation when compared to what will happen in 2009. Microblogging, syndication and aggregation via RSS, email newsletters wedded to social network profiles – this will positively explode in ’09.

A mixture of company-, user-, and agency-generated content facilitated and directed by a dedicated content strategist, powered by antediluvian content management systems (for the unlucky) and b
logging-style publishing tools (for the fortunate).

Delivery of content may be seen more often via API-powered Javascript widgets/gadgets like Google’s OpenSocial. Allows for quicker deployment without the need for manual coding or complicated back end modifications.

Name: Neil Marshall
Prediction: Consider this both a prediction and a plea from someone in marketing and a consumer of content …

Let’s make 2009 the year of true 1:1 content distribution.  Send me the content I want, when I want it, in the form that I’d like to consume it.  Let the challenging economic times inspire challenge to convention … drop the one size fits all newsletter in favor of on demand delivery of targeted 1:1 messages driven by variable content.  Lose the plain text marketing pieces in favor of interactive video.  Use email, RSS, widgets, and portals as distribution points, and let me choose which of those work for me.

From Junta42 Content Providers and Content Agencies

Name: Kari Rippetoe – Social Media and Content Strategist
Prediction: Businesses are still catching on the phenomenon of blogging and realizing the value it holds for their brands.  I think more brand marketers will be including it as an essential part of their strategy, and budgeting for content development/management and community building/management.  With all the talk about social media measurement and how to prove ROI, blogging will be the best way for the late adopters to ease into social media and content marketing.

Name: Diane Evans, Sunlit Communications
Prediction: Word of mouth — with a different twist.  In geographic communities, local businesses build as word spreads of high quality work and reputable service.  The Internet brings together a different kind of community, where people “know” one another according to common interests and/or intersecting fields of work.  Either way, word spreads when work is done well, on time and for a fair and reasonable price.

Name: Paul Barron – Publisher & Producer
Prediction: Webinars & live or pre-recorded Video events

Name: David Crew
Prediction: Podcast & Video Podcasts

Name: Scott Frangos
Prediction: Many will use the suite of Google tools to create presentations, surveys, slide shows, and even plug in lists using web published spreadsheets.

Name: Marilyn K. Dayton, EOTO Custom Publications
Prediction: As we at EOTO Publishing look ahead into 2009, we can foresee the potential effects of both the recession and the associated drop in overall marketing budgets. We predict an approximate 10% drop in overall ad spending, especially in Corporate America. Depending on the industry, small business may find a need to cut ad/marketing spending at a higher rate than Corporate America. To compensate, there will be emerging opportunities that will increase the replacement of traditional media spending with e-Commerce, in the form of:

  • email blasts – a fast, quick method of personalized marketing
  • e-newsletters – frequent informational deliverability
  • e-magazines/e-brochures – due to segmentation potential

There will be less tactics and more strategy and innovative, fresh thinking to connect and interact branding with consumers. We will see increased collaboration through cross marketing opportunities with web ads as well as an increase in bartered marketing. However, the growth of eCommerce marketing listed above will be overshadowed by increased paid searches and social networking techniques.

Name: Anna Prokos
Prediction: Marketers will reach out to custom media providers who specialize in digital magazines and online applications—a more cost-effective and fast way to get their content into the hands of readers.

Name: Michael Blumberg
Prediction: The big challenge for brands is going to be reaching consumers without appearing to be selling anything. Consumers can smell ads a mile away, and tend to avoid them when they can (witness DVRs and extremely low click-through rates on online search and display advertising). People do not like brand messaging with a hidden agenda.

However, giving high-quality content as a gift with no strings attached is likely to increase consumer appreciation. I therefore predict that brands will shy away from ads and toward sponsoring more independent editorial. They may also increase direct response tactics that appeal to consumers’ wallet, like offers, promotions and sweepstakes.

Name: Russell Sparkman
Prediction: In 2009, there will be continued enthusiasm for online user-generated Content and Social Media. However, there will be increased recognition that UGC/Social Media isn’t a fit for every communicator’s needs or goals, leading to an increased awareness of, and demand for, professionally produced content in online corporate communications.

In particular, 2009 will herald the widespread emergence of marketing and public awareness communications content that sits at the nexus of corporate communications and journalism. As more and more non-media organizations begin to think and act like publishers there will be increased emphasis in quality and professionalism in content creation.

Corporate, non-profit and government websites will become more and more like online magazines or channels. And those who recognize the importance of compelling, authentic storytelling content in their online communications will see the greatest long term ROI from their content investments.

All sectors that are engaged in marketing communications activities will be influenced by this trend. This includes not only consumer product manufacturers and retailers but also non-profit organizations and governmental organizations.

A by-product of this trend is that professional writers, photographers, videographers, illustrators, animators, etc., — many of whom are wary of the “anybody can publish” world of free UGC/Social Media – will see increased demand for their professional services.

Name: Paul Conley
Prediction: I expect brand marketers to begin buying media properties — particularly well-established brands with both Web and print products — from traditional B2B publishers. The economic crisis in publishing offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for marketers. I expect them to act on it.

Name: Simon Kelly, Story Worldwide
Prediction:

  1. Media will end before advertising. The collapse is well under way. Consumers will need to get information elsewhere.
  2. With nowhere to go, advertising will follow very quickly. Consumers won’t care.
  3. Story listening will become prevalent as brands realize they have to do that before telling their story.
  4. Social networking will continue to proliferate and P+G will not spend any more on ads on facebook.
  5. Clients will start to create their own private social networks – as brands turn into media channels, social media will lead the channel delivery.
  6. Large agencies will collapse. See point 2. They will try to drink from ever smaller (digital) pools and realize they have neither the skills nor nimble approach to survive

Name: Tammy Wise, The Wise Group
Prediction: As mainstream media pares staff and traditional media readership declines, opportunities for brand marketers to get out their message will evolve dramatically. No longer needing to persuade mainstream media gatekeepers, brand marketers will realize the critical need to provide relevant, quality content. Marketing messages will follow a less-advertising, more journalistic approach that offers relevant stories that show impact, offer counsel and demonstrate fairness. Target audiences will seek content, particularly online, that fills their need for relevant, useful information.

Name: Gordon Plutsky, King Fish Media
Prediction: Traditional media companies will continue to lose ad revenue from companies who are now creating their own content to own their own media channel.  However, smart media companies will prosper by offering innovative lead generation programs for companies to distribute their content to new audiences.   Content creating companies and media companies will create win/win partnerships to leverage the relationship’s media brands have with their audience to marry with company created original content.  The combination will result in a positive environment for content marketing.

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Did we miss any?  If so, add yours below.

If you liked this, check out 10 Content Marketing Tips to Start Now for 2009 or Content Marketing on the Rise for 2009.

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Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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