Tis the season for resolutions and predictions…especially in business. We picked out some of the trends that are feeding these; edited and summarized a few we thought would be of interest.
Personalized Social Networking
As consumers incorporate social media more into their daily lives (data shows that the time we spend social networking beats out the time we spend on the internet either emailing or gaming), alternatives to the “big three” in the form of niche groups and location-based social networks are gaining in popularity.
Path is an an example of a social network limited to 50 people. Fast Society is a new iPhone communication service that allows the user to create small groups to text with on the fly, and the groups last for three days. Facebook’s Groups feature enables you to segment your friends into personal, professional and interest-based communities, and engage in conversations not meant for your relatives or colleagues to read.
Smarter, More-Focused Networking
Lots of small business’s websites boast a mass of social icons pointing to thrown-together, underutilized pages on these networks. What will happen this year is for businesses to be more discerning about their use of the networking sites and rather than spread themselves thin, analyze where their customers actually are and how to thoughtfully engage them. And that doesn’t mean just talking about their products and promotions, but creatively engaging their “fans” to become a close-knit community centered around brand loyalty.
A Greater/Better Online Presence
Small businesses will increase their online marketing spend, with websites taking the lion’s share of that budget. A survey found that 54% of respondents currently have websites. Unfortunately, most of those websites contain nothing more than general information, and less than half of them incorporate customer service features.
Those making valuable upgrades to their online presences will increase functionalities revolving around e-commerce, reservation systems, corporate blogs and social media integration. In addition, people are looking for better web design that will really showcase their company/product and tell their story as well as engage their customer. This includes making the site easy to navigate and the content interesting and informative… in general, design that is more mindful of the person who is using the site.
The importance of being easily found on the Internet has still not been fully recognized by small businesses, but increasingly, smart entrepreneurs are realizing the importance of Search.
Smarter Use of Smartphones
As more consumers gravitate to smartphones, businesses will inevitably initiate mobile technologies including e-commerce, tweeting tips on the go and promoting location-based services. Sites will need to “work” on smartphones, not just in a smaller version of the original site, but in a version designed to be viewed on the phone, keeping the functionality simple and the content edited.