Last week it was time for all the “Best of 2009” summaries, this week it is time for the New Year’s predictions in marketing and social media.

So instead of another “Top 10” or “Best Ever” list to add to the mix, here are a few topics that have been trending in the marketing world that look as though they will become widespread in the coming year.

Location-aware and geo-tagging

Location-based software (LBS) and location-based applications for your iPhone are currently all the rage in the blogosphere, Twitter and many other social media sites. Being aware of where your friends and colleagues are physically located at any given moment will become something that we all are more familiar with in the coming year.

For example, Foursquare and Yelp currently offer geo-tagging of restaurants and venues so you can share your reviews with friends. Twitter is also upgrading to become smarter about where you are tweeting from.

For small businesses whose client roster is highly location-based, this will offer a bounty of opportunity to become known within a specific locale for a specific topic. For example, if you are an estate planning attorney, you could focus your Twitter status updates on relevant and local issues so you become known as the expert in Poughkeepsie on estate planning.

More media online

The continuing decline of the printed newspaper is not newsworthy, but the uprising of local online newspapers is showing promise. A few examples of “public media organizations” are the Voice of San Diego, MinnPost and Texas Tribune, which are all member-supported. Once again, these focus on the shift to local, location-based thinking. These are great for small businesses to find resources, local events and also often offer effective, more-selective advertising opportunities.

Online content shifts from free to fee

The initial purpose of the blogosphere and content providers was to drive traffic to the site and either provide an audience for their advertisers or present themselves as an expert. Now that many of these sites are established, they are considering a more effective revenue strategy, which is already proving to be controversial. A few major magazines and newspapers have recently developed an online store for their content and more are watching to see the response. Continuing to provide free content on your site may soon seem like a great deal for your followers.

Slowing down

Information overload is threatening to become the latest common malady. We have all been victim of thoughtless Facebook updates, self-serving Tweets and the ever-loving spam emails. A backlash trend has been developing within the idea of slowing down, unplugging and value in communication. A Twitter-parody site, Woofer requires a minimum of 1,400 characters per post and Email Addict from Google Labs forces a 15-minute break from email by freezing the user’s email window.


A sub-trend of slowing down will be the re-emergence of handwriting as an important skill and art form. Learning to type is also a critical skill that previously seemed more administrative. However typing is becoming more common and required while handwriting is getting left in the dust. If you can’t be bothered with the hand cramps of picking up a pen, then at least download and install this gorgeous font that will beautifully approximate the idea.

Integration across channels

There were probably others before it, but Lost was the first show I saw that cleverly integrated the internet into its TV show. Offering additional features and information online and message boards allowed interested viewers to become evangelists. In 2009, we also saw the critical role that Twitter played in the newscasts during the Iranian uprising. The integration will continue and build in 2010 with real-time live chatting, Tweeting and blogging of events.

Take advantage of the opportunity to integrate your company or firm throughout as many channels as possible since each offers a different communication style and audience.

(photo Gerard Fritz)


  1. “Online content shifts from free to fee”

    Free vs. Fee content has always been a very interesting issue on the web. While I’m not sure we’ll see a large migration to fee-based content this year, I do think that higher quality content will increasingly be “walled-off”.

    To me, the fee vs. free content distinction has more to do with market segmentation than anything else. Publishers will always need a way to convince “window shoppers” to become subscribers.

    Generally though, I believe you are correct. I anticipate we’ll see more ESPN Insider type models.

  2. John Thomas says:

    If the legal environment continues to be anemic, I would expect increased pressure to have marketing expenses directly help the firm’s bottom line in 2010, i.e. more focus on outward facing BD and less on $200K website upgrades, retained marketing consultants etc.

  3. Diana D'Itri says:

    A good marketing company must always help their client’s bottom line or why bother?
    I believe the shift will be seen more in how an attorney participates in his or her own marketing. With the advent of socials, the attorney has a huge challenge in adjusting current business model (charging by the minute) to reflect open forum, all the while knowing that the clock is ticking. With time being an attorney’s greatest commodity, boundaries and objectives must be clearly identified for attorney and their online audience.

  4. John Thomas says:

    Diane–Agree with what you said. Obviously, marketing wants to help the bottom line. I should have clarified. I believe more immediate ROI will be expected– i.e. which specific clients did we gain because we spent $200K on a website upgrade, Twitter project etc.

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