Here are a few top picks for trends and technologies that marketers should be on the lookout for. They’re not the obvious predictions, like using social media to engage external audiences or the growth of mobile apps:

The Rise of Employee Engagement. One key way that brands will distinguish themselves from competitors will be how they use social media to activate their own internal audience. Companies must build social strategies that leverage their most important asset – employees. Engaged employees are more productive, innovative, loyal, and help recruit new talent. McDonald’s, for example, has set up communities for crewmembers where they can gather, share information, and talk. Seventy percent of McDonald’s employees said the initiative made them feel better about the company and motivated them to come up with new ways to improve operations.  WOW! That’s employee engagement having a true business impact.


Digital Couponing Will Skyrocket. For the consumer packaged goods industry, digital coupons are providing significantly higher redemption rates and the ability to connect with customers when and where they want to be met. Customers can quickly and easily redeem digital coupons using their mobile devices or by simply printing them out online. No more clipping and fuss–just satisfied customers who are more likely to keep coming back for more. If you’re a CPG marketer working to increase sales and loyalty or integrate mobile into your plans, a digital couponing strategy is a no-brainer.
Moving Beyond Measuring Social ROI and Focusing on Real-Time Analytics. Marketers have been asking “how do I measure social media ROI?” for years while still applying traditional ad models to their reporting. But it’s not about CPC or the number of followers on Twitter. It’s about CPE (cost-per-engagement) and how you interact with followers to ultimately drive sales and influence brand reputation.  Since there’s no industry standard for measuring social ROI, organizations must set their own goals based on the specific business outcomes they want to achieve and then analyze progress in real time. The world of social moves fast. Monthly analysis alone won’t cut it. Business intelligence and analytics solutions from companies like Radian6, Sysomos, or Crowd Factory can help marketers measure the real-time impact and make course corrections. In 2011, organizations that invest in these solutions will set the pace in their industries as competitors measuring results on a quarterly basis struggle to keep up and figure out what went wrong and why.
The Decline of Print Leads to the Rise of Corporate Journalists. If you’ve come across sites like Paper Cuts or my good friend Paul Gillin’s blog Newspaper Death Watch it’s pretty astounding to see the hits that the print industry has been taking over the past few years. Archaic business models have led to nearly 200 newspaper closings and buyouts and more than 20,000 newsroom employees being laid off since 2008. But there’s hope for these journalists yet. I’ve been seeing more and more former reporters getting scooped up by big brands and agencies and put to work as content creators. With built-in readerships and unrivalled industry insights, I think 2013 will be the year of “corporate journalists” as organizations realize just how much of an impact these ex-journos can have on their brand reputation and industry thought leadership.
That’s my list. Now I’m interested in hearing from you. I hope you’ll connect with me on Twitter (@thelarryweber) so we can talk about any of the unique opportunities or challenges you’ve faced in your industry. What are the trends and technologies on your mind?
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