Thursday, January 19, 2012

Seven Trends You Must Pay Attention To (and Three You Can Ignore) in 2012

There's a lot of information about what will and won't happen in 2012, particularly on the Internet. Even if it's accurate, some of it isn't differencemakers and other eGurus. So here's my list of the things you must pay attention to, and the things you can ignore.

1. E-Books

Amazon.com is selling more Kindle books than paperbacks, and its Kindle Fire tablet is a huge best-seller, selling over one million per week over the Christmas period. Printed books still have credibility, but e-books have also gone mainstream. This is the year for you to jump on board with e-books.

2. Google+

Google+ keeps growing, with one estimate suggesting it will have more than 400 million users by the end of the year. I think that's a gross over-estimate. But regardless of its size, here's the one thing that matters to us as business owners: Google+ is owned by Google, and what you do on Google+ affects your search engine ranking on Google. That alone should make you sit up and take notice.

3. Video

Video is a natural medium for presenters, but until recently it hasn't been easy to produce, watch or consume. That's all changed now. Although it still takes high bandwidth (especially on mobile phones and tablets), there's no doubt that Internet users flock to video sharing sites. Last year, YouTube alone boasted over 1 trillion plays (about 140 views for every person on the planet). If you don't yet have an active YouTube channel, you're missing out!

4. Webinars

Webinars continue to grow in popularity among business owners - particularly among non-presenters, who see their value as a powerful marketing tool. In fact, many professional presenters shy away from webinars because they are perfectionists, so they never get started. That's a mistake! Start using webinars now, not to replace your existing presentations, but to complement them.

If you want to start learning about webinars, visit the Webinar Smarts Web site.

5. E-Learning

On the same theme ... Organisations and individuals are looking for education that's more flexible, more convenient and more accessible. Now is the time to add on-line learning to your face-to-face presentations, coaching and consulting. There was a time when this was an unexpected bonus; now it's fast becoming the norm.

6. Tablets

Apple's iPad, Amazon's Kindle Fire, and a slew of Android tablets will continue to spread among consumers and business users. If you don't have one yet, you might be missing out on the productivity, convenience and flexibility they offer. You'll also discover just what all those people in your audiences are using, and how you can tap into that in your presentations!
(Image courtesy of Courtbean on Flickr)

7. Your Web Site

Although all the hype and buzz is about social media and apps, the humble Web site is still as important as ever, because it's the last place people visit before they decide to do business with you. Build a clean, simple, fast-loading Web site that positions you as an authority, promotes what you do, and makes it easy for people to get in touch with you.

You Can Ignore: On-Line Advertising

There's nothing wrong with on-line advertising itself, and it works for some businesses. But it's not the best option for us. Don't spend your time and money on on-line advertising (and yes, that includes search engine optimisation!). Instead, focus on what you need to be positioned as a leading authority in your area of expertise, to the people who will engage your services and buy your products.

You Can Ignore: Social Media Marketing

Social media is important, but social media marketing is a low-return activity for most eGurus. Yes, it's possible to market directly using social media (for example, by running competitions, promoting stuff directly, and trying to generate buzz about events), but it's not easy, and not the most effective use of your time. Use your time on social media to share your expertise, broaden your network, converse with peers, and strengthen your existing connections.

You Can Ignore: iPhone/Android Apps

The iPhone and Android app markets are booming, but most of the apps people download or buy aren't the sort of apps we differencemakers would create. So don't try to create the perfect app that goes viral or makes you a gazillionaire. Do consider building a mobile Web site that's a hub for your other on-line activities.

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