What to expect in 2010.

My email has been brimming over the past few weeks with recaps of the past year and insight into 2010. Salon magazine captures the best viral videos of the decade, reminding me that you can do more on a treadmill than just sweat off those extra holiday pounds. The New Yorker’s quiz on the year’s bizarre political events reminded me of a few incidents worth forgetting. And according to a Marist poll, the most annoying word or phrase of 2009 was not “tweeted,” or “octomom” but “whatever.”

The past year also saw social media come into its own. Facebook grew from 100 million users in August 2008 to 350 million just one year later. Its fastest growing demographic was the 40+ crowd. Although Twitter’s growth has slowed somewhat, it is still growing by seven million new users each month.

Certainly not all status updates are newsworthy, but as information and ideas flow across the web it has altered the way we spend our time over a cup of coffee each day. Search has evolved alongside the rise of social media, with real-time Twitter newsfeeds now flowing into search results on Google and Bing. Facebook fan page updates are soon to follow on both search providers as well. Google’s introduction of their Social Search option reflects a growing appreciation of the influence of social networks. Referrals and online customer reviews make an enormous impact on purchasing decisions. For businesses, these real-time newsfeeds offer a real opportunity to respond with timely, useful content that can be picked up and shared across the Internet. This is nothing new, really. It’s just the technology that’s changed and given our words and opinions greater traction.

I purchased my first iPhone this past year and, apparently, I’m not an early adopter. The iPhone has already sold more than 57 million units worldwide, the fastest uptake in the history of technology. As smartphones become faster and less expensive, they will continue to change the marketing landscape. According to the Mobile Marketing Association, the total U.S. dollars spent on mobile marketing will grow from $1.7 billion this year to $2.16 billion in 2010. While smartphones are still a small niche, mobile is giving advertisers unique ways to reach their audience, with geo-targeting and an open platform to develop branded applications. Who doesn’t love their handy level or restaurant reviews?

With so many options for reaching out and touching someone, the art will be integrating digital media with traditional media. Consumers are blurring the boundaries of their media consumption patterns, accessing the web over their mobile devices, viewing TV online, and reading newspapers and magazine in both print and digital formats. With good planning and consistency of message, you can maximize your marketing efforts across every medium for the greatest outcomes in 2010.

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