I’m not much for status quo. I imagine you aren’t either. Lucky for us, we’re in an industry of constant and unexpected change. I had an opportunity to share some observations about where digital communications are headed, at a recent Social Media Breakfast in Calgary.

You can watch the edited version of the presentation below (less then 30 minutes), or see the whole enchilada here. I would love to see what you think and whether you agree or disagree with any of the ideas presented.

Here is a short synopsis of the presentation:

 

Complexity is the Enemy

Facebook has substantially grown in complexity since it was first launched, with new features being added on an almost weekly basis. It’s grown into a monster where user experience is suffering in order to boost stock price. It’s no better on brand side either, where only about 16% of the fans we already EARNED see our updates.

FourSquare is feverishly rolling out new updates as well in an attempt to make itself more palatable to local businesses and in turn investors. Twitter is planning on some serious changes as well, moving closer to Facebook in functionality and aiming for the mainstream media.

These are just the big players. It seems that everyone in this space is jockeying to become the next AOL of our online existence. Each wants to become the hub… all the while engagement is dropping and both users and marketers are growing more frustrated. The introduction of more complexity, which they all seem to be gunning towards, is never the answer, as complexity is the enemy of usability and in turn… fun.

 

Red Ocean of Social

A few years ago, it would have been a significant competitive advantage to be on a social platform. Be one of the first movers. However, it’s harder and harder to stand out these days in an overwhelming sea of sameness. There are thousands and thousands of businesses all vying for a more and more limited supply of our attention.

These days a new social platform doesn’t even get a chance to breathe a while before we, the marketers, jump in and try and figure out “how to leverage” it. Problem is that we, the humans on the other end, don’t want to be friends with more brands then people. That’s ridiculous… and unhealthy.

To stand out, a brand now has to look for the digital blue ocean and until that becomes less foggy… I have a suggestion. Look for the Pain In The Ass Factor. Do things that your competition would think twice about committing human or financial resources to. That could mean producing a series of in-depth interviews, or a daily podcast or even commissioning a cartoonist to illustrate your blog posts. Raise the bar for your industry. In order words, zag.

 

The Tech Threat

The future of intelligent digital marketing is mobile. Not in the sense of building apps and whatnot, but in the sense of rapidity of communication. Someone can walk down the street and send a tweet to your and three other companies – whoever replies first gains an advantage. Mobile is not about apps… it’s about real-time communication where speed and responsiveness are the currency that counts.

Siri and similar technology has the potential to be a serious disruptor in the marketing space. If we no longer have to look at our phone in order to get an answer to a technical question, find out where to have dinner or who the best IT supplier is in the area – all SEO, video pre-rolls and display advertising go out the window. The battle ground then shifts to reputation (data will still have to get pulled from somewhere), community building and strategy beyond social.

 

The Solution

I outlined a three point suggestion on how to sail through the post-social storm that’s coming in the video above (last 5 minutes or so), along with some thoughts about audience size and engagement metrics. Give it a look and I’d love to see what you think, in the comments below!