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Crystal ball Français : Boule de cristal

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This is as good a time as any to look ahead to the next 12 months to ponder some questions, and then provide my crystal-ball answers. So without further ado:

  1. How soon will it be until the mobile user experience equals or surpasses the laptop experience for social media users? Facebook and others have planted a stake in the ground and declared that mobile is their most important growth area. But as a user, I’m still much more satisfied with my full-featured social media experience (powered by Max OSX) than my mobile experience (powered by the much less robust iOS 7.0). The computing capabilities of mobile devices will have to catch up to the capabilities of PC operating systems for this transition to occur.
  2. Will wearables still be the hot new thing a year from now? There’s already some waning enthusiasm for fitness trackers, as they still require a significant investment of time by the user. Example: My Spinning instructor was all excited about her new Nike FuelBand 3 months ago, and she has already stopped wearing it. Hardware manufacturers are going to have to sharpen their value-add if they want to make the leap to mainstream acceptance.
  3. Will Apple be on the rise or on the decline at year’s end? I’ve pointed out before that Apple has never introduced a breakthrough product without Steve Jobs at the helm, and it has now been 2+ years since he passed away. That means whatever product pipeline he put into motion before his death has pretty much been used up. 2014 will be a crucial year for Apple: They will either prove once and for all that they don’t need Steve Jobs to bring innovative new products to market, or they will reveal that they are out of great ideas. If the latter, what happens to Apple next is anyone’s guess.
  4. How much longer will the listicle trend last in content marketing, and what’s coming next? Numbered lists have become ubiquitous as a sure-fire way to write content. This can’t go on forever, at least not in B2B (the media is hooked, I’m afraid).  But they are easy to write and easy to read, making them irresistible as the go-to structure (for example, this very post). If listicles become passé, what will replace them? Slideshows? Short videos?
  5. What is the mobile equivalent to blogging as a baseline content strategy? Blogging has emerged as the starting point for most any content strategy. Everything – tweets, podcasts, videos – can start or be promoted on a blog. There are early examples of powerful mobile content apps such as Instagram, but really, is a snapshot and a quick caption rich enough to communicate branding, messaging and positioning? Can you imagine recommending an Instagram-based campaign to say, a healthcare provider or a financial services firm? I didn’t think so.
  6. Will mainstream business executives bridge the gap between their aspirations to create content and actually posting and participating in conversations relevant to that content and their brand? Envisioning and starting content is relatively easy, but finalizing and posting it on the Internet requires more work. The benefits of content marketing only accrue to those who actually take the time to post and participate. When will a broad cross-section of business executives prioritize this in their daily activities, or will they ever? And if not, what’s your content strategy now?
  7. Will Congress push the U.S. to the brink of default again? I don’t think the public at large appreciates what a catastrophic economic disaster that default would be. U.S. Treasury notes are considered the absolute gold standard of the global financial system, because until very recently, it was inconceivable that the U.S. would renege on its debts. Not only would the world economy suffer, but America would also lose its prestige as the safest economic system in the world, forever. Luckily, the Republicans in Congress seem to have figured out that this a losing political strategy, both with Wall Street donors and Main Street voters.
  8. With Obamacare guaranteeing health insurance despite preexisting conditions, thus severing the link between receiving insurance and big company employment, will we start to see an exodus of corporate employees moving into other pursuits, or a trickle? This is relatively important to content marketers, because there are almost no barriers to entry in our business, so those of us in consulting could soon find ourselves with a slew of new competitors.
  9. Is this the year that all-electric cars enter the mainstream? Several models of all-electric cars are on the market, but they remain an oddity and a niche product. Hybrids were in a similar position a couple of years after launch, and then they took off. Will all-electrics follow the same path?
  10. Just for fun: In the Super Bowl, I’m going with Denver over Seattle. Peyton & Co.’s experience will be too much for the still up-and-coming Seahawks. In the markets, I predict the Dow will lose 1,500 points this year, dropping to 15,000, only because it has been on a five-year winning streak during which it has gone up 250%. Atmospherically, I predict that the Midwest and East will experience an early Spring after a brutal Winter (we can hope) while the West will live through a serious drought year.

What are your predictions for 2014? Please share, and Happy New Year!

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