Hot Trends I’ll be Watching in 2012

by on December 28, 2011 · 26 comments

2012

One of my favorite things about this industry is how quickly it changes. There is so much creativity – I love learning new things and figuring out how they will apply to me personally, and to other small business owners.

2012 is certain to be a huge year for change, and here are some of the trends I’m watching and think will continue to accelerate next year, and the opportunities they represent.

SoLoMo – Social Local Mobile

SoLoMo stands for Social Local Mobile, and represents a growing category of apps that make it easy to share photos and experiences with friends from your mobile device.

These easy sharing applications involve friends (social), location (local) and smartphones (mobile)

For example, Foursquare has over 15M users now and gaining 1M per month. Instagram, a clever photo sharing app for iPhone, is even growing faster.

Think Instagram is not for business too? Take a look at some of the creative ways brands are using it to engage with others: 23 Brands Using Instagram and What They’re Doing Right

Opportunity:
It’s interesting to think about how these services are changing things for us and what opportunities the represent. Get Foursquare on your phone and put it in Explore mode. Walk down main street in your town and look at all of the businesses that are listed there but have no clue about Foursquare. Get Instagram and experiment with it. You’ll be amazed at the ideas that come to you.

Mobile websites

85% of small businesses don’t even have a mobile website yet. Why should they? Many big brands don’t even automatically detect mobile devices (leaving you squinting at their regular website on your mobile device.)

At the same time smartphones are practically ubiquitous, and all the trends point to explosive mobile device use to find local goods and services.

2012 is the year when lots of businesses will wake up to this, and find practical ways to participate that contribute to their bottom line.

Opportunity:
Be there for them. Set up your clients on Foursquare. Mobile enable their website. Set them up on Google Analytics and show them how much of their traffic is from mobile visitors.

p.s. Our SmallBiz Theme allows you to turn on touch-enabled mobile landing pages with Call and Directions buttons by simply checking a box.

Kindle, Nook and eReaders

I was amazed when I learned that Amazon sells more electronic books than printed books now. And it’s impressive how Barnes & Noble has adapted and delivered it’s own fantastic eReader called the Nook (vs Borders, who is now out of business).

ePublishing is literally cracking open the publishing model for authors, making it a real possibility to publish books and make a living outside of the traditional channels.

Creative publishers are even publishing mini-series; bite sized stories for .99 or 1.99 that are continued over time.

Opportunity:
This is a space that will continue to evolve and open up opportunities for smaller authors. I picked up a Kindle Touch for $99, and am considering making some of my Expand2Web content available on Kindle to experiment with the platform and learn about it in more detail. If you’re a publisher, check it out: Kindle Publishing.

The Cloud

Small Businesses everywhere are getting rid of their file servers and email servers and moving their operations to the cloud. Google Apps, for example provides email, calendar, intranet, and a full suite of office apps, along with 99% uptime and phone support for $50 per user per year. This same functionality used to cost IT departments $700+ per user per year.

Tons of services are moving to the cloud because it simplifies administration and enables users to access their content anywhere on any device.

In addition to email, documents, and storage, many applications are getting smarter too. Evernote is an amazing app that provides the best user experience on whatever device you happen to have (PC, Mac, iPhone, Evernote, Browser) AND gives you access to all of your data in the cloud. Dropbox is the same way.

We’ll be seeing more and more apps deliver on this software plus services vision, and more and more services moving to the cloud.

Opportunity:
Learn more about Google Apps and how you can set up your clients on it. Look at other services that can be delivered through the cloud and help them clean out their old servers and save a ton of money.

Contextual Voice Control

Take a look at Siri on the iPhone 4S. This combination of contextual voice control and artificial intelligence allows your phone to answer questions and performs tasks without requiring typing or searching.

Even though it is not fully baked yet, it provides a very compelling example of how we will interact with our devices in the future. XBox Kinect has brought voice control into the living room as well. My kids control Netflix by talking to the XBox now.

Opportunity:
Get ahold of an iPhone 4S and try this out. Go to the Apple Store if you have to. Read this article for more details: How Siri is Changing Local Search.

Ok, there are many more things to watch. But these are a few that have caught my attention and represent loads of opportunity in 2012.

What about you?

What has you most excited for next year? What big changes do you see happening? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan December 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm

For our business here in Costa Rica, we’re looking at how to provide text message marketing services for businesses here. We’re struggling to find a company to provide the service, but businesses are ready for it. Hopefully somebody will come through for us. Seems like EVERYONE here has a smart phone and mobile usage is exploding here. These people may not have a car or internet at home, but they have a Blackberry or iPhone in their hands at all times!

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Don Campbell December 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Susan,
When you say “text message marketing services” how do you mean? Allowing customers to sign up to be notified of specials via texts on their phone? I’m just curious what scenarios you have in mind that aren’t being addressed.

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Susan December 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

Yes…for example, we have a business contact (local graphic designer) who knows a donut franchise of 50 stores that WANTS to send out specials via text messages to their customers, but haven’t found anyone to provide this service. We’ve contacted Trumpia about it, but didn’t get a definite “yes” from them. Something about the short codes being US based and may have limited deliverability. That or a UK based long code for $500 per month. :/ Any suggestions?

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Roger D. December 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Hi Susan,
I don’t know if there are geographic limitations, but have you tried Izigg?

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Jesus December 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Quick question Don

Are saying that your Small Biz Theme can create a mobile version of a regular website by simply checking a box??

If the answer is yes, can I see some mobile site created with SBT?

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Don Campbell December 29, 2011 at 9:07 am

Hi Jesus,
It will create mobile landing pages for you, not encode the entire site. Based on the research, mobile visitors are very goal oriented and spend less time on your site, and visit less pages.

We found that the best conversions happen when you automatically detect the mobile device and deliver a touch-enabled page for that device with clear call to action such as Call Us or Get Directions.

You can create as many pages as you want of course too.

If you want to check some out, you can see many mobile websites created with SmallBiz in the SmallBiz Gallery (toward the end.)

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Jesus December 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

GREAT Don Iยดm in the process to decide what mobile site builder to buy for my mobile website consultant plan for 2012. So thank you very much Don!!

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Vinny O'Hare December 28, 2011 at 11:35 pm

These are some good predictions. I am in total agreement with publishing books for the kindle. I have a few up right now and I am liking the results.

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Kathy December 29, 2011 at 4:47 am

I will be watching trends in Mobile Marketing, Social Media Marketing and any kind of way of implementing the trends that we are following into our businesses.

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Julie Larson December 29, 2011 at 5:14 am

QR codes in the US & Canada!

With business going mobile, QR codes are definitely a trend you’ll want to include in your marketing strategy. A study performed in April of 2011 shows that 71% of smart phone users do a mobile search because they saw an ad. Why not make it easy for the user by adding a QR code to the ad so instead of having to pull up their browser and type in a search, all they need to do is scan your QR code and “Boom!”, you’ve got the right where you wanted them!

The Expand2Web SmallBiz Theme is also a perfect fit for QR code marketing because once the business owner starts adding QR codes to their marketing, they will quickly see the reason they need a mobile formatted page. With the SmallBiz Theme, it’s simple to get them set up with mobile pages!

It will be fun to look back at this post a year from now and see all the changes Don Campbell has spoken of as well as the usage of QR codes in the US & Canada!

Happy 2012!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Marcus December 29, 2011 at 5:31 am

I have to concur with much of what you say Don. Local mobile search is definitely going to explode…however, having played about with various mobile plugins for Wordpress, it’s not all roses. My website code was thrown into confusion, and my sites rankings dropped quite alarmingly….so i guess if you are going to get a WP plugin, get an expensive one, or alternatively crate your mobile website outside your own. What’s the coding like on your site?

RE Google Apps…hmmm…with Google it’s always the best of times and worst of times…lots of very good reasons to use Apps…but try redirecting your mail to apps from your domain host…not easy…

try getting some answers from Google…impossible. (there is a reason why it is a $50 service)

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Julie Larson December 29, 2011 at 7:28 am

Marcus, with the SmallBiz Theme, you don’t need a plugin to create mobile pages. It’s already built in to the theme.

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Marcus December 29, 2011 at 8:24 am

I also think the biggest trend, which is so obvious that its easy to overlook, is that Google are radically shaking up the way they index stuff….so an seo sea change really, but more importantly, there is a bigger picture here..

Google are essentially re-configuring the way they ascribe authority, trust reputation and rank, and as a consequence, the entire infrastructure of the web is changing…(given that Google are the authors of web indexing)

The upshot is that they are creating a much less spammy, much more authentic web…and they will probably follow it up with themed Google search Apps…”Google Local business” “Google Academic” etc etc etc etc for smartphones

I did a brief blog post on it…really as a discussion starter

https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/106244799836141286312/

I literally have just skimmed the surface….

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Don Campbell December 29, 2011 at 9:08 am

Totally agree Marcus. Google+ and social signals are changing the face of SEO. This is another area to watch as it develops more in 2012.

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Jesus December 29, 2011 at 8:56 am

Could we see a mobile site created with Small Biz Theme??
THANKS in advance!!

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Julie Larson December 29, 2011 at 9:09 am

QRDivas.com
CloudBloomers.com

Jesus, these 2 are set up with just checking the mobile formatted box. We’ll be adding more mobile pages to QRDivas shortly. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Laura December 29, 2011 at 9:10 am

Here is a great example of the mobile site made with smallbiz. http://qrdivas.com/qr-getlinked-the-engaging-qr-code/

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Marcus December 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

Very nice site Laura…although i would like to see the arrow bottom right lead into either the desktop site, or a modified version of it…

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Jo Shaer December 29, 2011 at 10:01 am

Did it eat my comment?

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Jo Shaer December 29, 2011 at 10:02 am

Grrrr! We were at the SoLoMo Google conference in London recently where the term came into popular parlance.
Like Susan, I have only just found someone who can provide a text message service here in the UK – now I just have to persuade my clients that it is not an invasion of privacy to invite their customers to use a discount voucher if they have an afternoon without appointments.

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Susan December 29, 2011 at 12:17 pm

Jo, I’d love to know you you found. Maybe they’ll work here in CR. It’s been such a frustrating process to try to find someone that will provide SMS marketing software.

As for your clients, remind them that their customers have to “opt in” to get those messages, effectively raising their hands and saying they WANT to get those messages. Does that seem to be a big barrier there in the UK? Mobile and social marketing here is SO different than in the US, but then again, people drive around with huge speakers on top of their cars broadcasting (at high volumes) different promotional messages.

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Jo Shaer December 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Sobs, it ate another two comments ๐Ÿ™

Susan, permission here is considered given just by entering your mobile number on any promotional material. I asked twice! My guys used to be based in the US so will see if they can give me any clues on CR. Remind me in the New Year? You can find me on FB, G+ or Twitter since I seem to be unable to post my website address ๐Ÿ™

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phil December 29, 2011 at 9:33 pm

Don,
you’re so right about the mobile trend. Google has a video on this trend: http://youtu.be/9GalBu_cEkM.

I’ve been looking at creating custom app as an add on service for clients. I’m seeing about having apps on business’ desktop and mobile websites so that visitors can then download the apps to their desktops & mobile devices so that they can easily ‘access’ a business at any time from their desktop or mobile device.

As for previous post asking about mobile texting companies. There’s quite a few: iloopmobile, anchor mobile, yep text to name a few. I’m beginning to research them to see which offers the best opportunity. Trumpia is one of the bigger ones & told will be expanding into other countries. Already in Canada.

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Jesus December 29, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Don I have been looking around your site to know more about your Small Biz Theme and now I have a question:

Why the local business site, like the one for chiropractors, made with SBT are so so simple? Is that for any SEO reason or something like that?

Thanks!

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Don Campbell January 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Hi Jesus,
There are a lot of example sites built using SmallBiz theme – some of them simple, some of them with pretty cool designs. You can see examples of websites, Facebook Pages and Mobile sites in the SmallBiz Gallery.

Our philosophy is to make it easy to build an effective website out-of-the-box, and also make it powerful enough to customize as much as you want. It just depends what you are looking for.

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Mike Maggs January 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

I wholeheartedly agree that SoLoMo is the hottest trend for 2012. I’ve been building mobile websites for a few months now and it has grown to be one of the main focuses of my business. Check out the Clients page on my site to see some examples of my customers’ sites.

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