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David Armano Managing Director, Edelman Digital Chicago @armano

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN… It’s that time of year again – time to take a stab at what’s going to matter in the year ahead as technology continues to influence how we work and live. In the previous years, I’ve looked at trends under the social lens because, from a macro perspective, it has been the major disruptive force both in creating new opportunities as well as threats. This year I am using the umbrella term ―social-digital‖ to broaden the focus. First, a quick re-cap:

While I didn’t specifically connect it to the election, it was the behavior of social sharing that many of us felt during the entire election year. You couldn’t get away from Facebook posts of friends who were all too happy to leverage their networks to talk politics, often sharing posts and memes in support of their calendar – Big

bayonets anyone?

bird, binders and

Social TV has continued to gain steam, though interestingly enough it has been TV itself that has been fueling much of the trend. For example, the popular series ―The Walking Dead‖ has been experimenting with simple Twitter hashtags for each episode in addition to the official one connected with the series. Social entertainment platforms, however, like Get Glue, which was recently acquired for 25 million in cash, have yet to enter the mainstream.

What has mainstreamed is the micro-economy powered by once unknown entities such as Kickstarter – it is now not uncommon for individuals to raise thousands and even millions of dollars without a middleman, thanks to the crowd-funding platform.

On the flipside, gamification has either lost some of its luster or taken a backseat to useful functionality. A recent Gartner study urges us not to ―believe the hype‖ – and indeed I may have been caught up by the promise of making experiences stick via serving neuro-rewards vs. utility. Meanwhile, the cult of influence continues to attract a following with new digital influence measurement services like Little Bird receiving funding, followed by studies crowning the most influential CMOs. So what can we potentially expect to see next year?

In no particular order,


THE CONTENT ECONOMY Content just might become your company’s most valuable asset in 2013 for several reasons. For years Google has been refining its algorithm, cracking down on the individuals and organizations that benefit from unsavory tactics often compromising the quality of search results. Now, it is the most compelling content that dominates search results, and organizations will scramble to produce this. Some already have, including companies like Coca-Cola and Intel, which launched corporate entities focused purely on content. Separately, Facebook is making its own changes, forcing companies to rely on both creativity and spending (promoted posts) to ensure their content is seen and more importantly shared by users. Brands like Oreo may have unwittingly set the bar for content creation for other organizations by pioneering a form of ―content marketing,‖ putting out one piece of timely, relevant and highly creative content every day as part of a campaign. In 2013, content

will not only be king – it will be the queen, prince and jester.

CYBORG CENTRAL Think your mobile phone is making you part computer? Now it has accomplices. From ―fuel bands‖ to bracelets and Google Glasses, these are just a preview of what we’ll see more of in 2013 as we begin to look part-human, part-machine. There are already ski goggles that display a tiny screen allowing you to not only sync to your mobile device but help you determine where you are and how fast you’re going. As


move into the next year, the phrase ―personal computing‖ will begin to take on another meaning.

THE SMOBILE WEB Social + mobile = ―smobile.‖ While there’s no real insight in pointing out that both mobile and social are going to be big in 2013, they are increasingly becoming co-dependent – and most businesses aren’t ready for it. A smobile Web means your customers, coworkers and colleagues are increasingly spending time with apps, and digital experiences optimized for mobile and social sharing and, as a result, spending less time tethered to a PC or television. In addition, technology is still evolving. NFC technology, for example, allows you to transfer data to your mobile device via touch versus scanning a cumbersome code, making mobility seamless. While Instagram developed for smobile before the traditional web, Facebook’s platform is still playing catch-up, but by the end of 2013 it may become one of the leaders. Will


you be ready for the smobile

SENSORY INTELLIGENCE Sensors will get smarter and become more pervasive. We already have cars that can help us parallel park or sense if we are too close to an object by letting us know with a beep or a vibration. Then there are thermostats, which learn based on how you use them – essentially selfprogramming and adapting along the way. In 2013 there will be sensors built into athletes’ helmets that measure the impact of blows and provide real-time data outputs, thus potentially preventing further injury.

Sensors will

be everywhere – in our homes, transportation, technology and clothing. They will become a part of our lives by tying into our existing devices and networks. If our plants need water, we’ll get a text or tweet, and even a note of thanks. Now that’s smart.

SOCIAL COMMERCE In many ways, social has mirrored the original digital revolution with the exception that digital was built in information and social, relationships. But when digital took on transactions and financial exchanges, things really began to accelerate. So it will go for social as we begin to buy each other gifts through social networks or even set up a storefront. The idea of social commerce isn’t new, but signs show that it’s picking up steam and 2013 may be the year it actually begins to coalesce.

DATA SURPLUS, INSIGHT DEFICIT As I write this, Facebook has already begun rolling out its ―Photo Sync‖ feature, which automatically downloads photos from your mobile device to Facebook (privately). Some see this as a land grab for data, but it’s not the only one – it’s often described as ―the cloud,‖ ―social data‖ or the

While it’s true that more of our data is being collected, mined and stored, people don’t necessarily know what to do with it. There’s now an infinite overhyped macro label ―big data‖.

surplus of data out there but not enough qualified human beings (analysts, sociologists, strategists, anthropologists etc.) who know what to make of it or what to do with it. But this won’t last for long – 2013 may be the year we focus less on data capture and start thinking about how to understand, interpret and make good use of it.

Whether it’s content, data, sensors, smobile or feeling like we’ve become one with technology—2013 should be an exciting year for the social-digital revolution.

What do you think will be

TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2013? Tell us at #EDTrends2013



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Insights & Intelligence Social Conversation Analysis Influencer Identification Survey & Focus Groups

Social Business Planning Organizational Design Policy & Governance Technology & Workflow

ANALYZE • • • •

Conversation Analysis Social Media & Brand Monitoring Listening Programs Measurement Framework



COUNSEL • Online Engagement Counsel • Issues Management • Crisis Preparedness

• Strategy • Education & Certification • Program Planning & Integration

CREATE & DEVELOP ENGAGE • Community Management • Online Influencer Engagement • Social Search Optimization

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Design & Development Mobile/Tablet App Dev Digital/Social Advertising Digital Creative Content Technical Development

For more information on Edelman Digital, contact: Kevin King, Global Practice Chair, Edelman Digital,

Six Social-Digital Trends for 2013 - Edelman