There's no doubt that 2009 was the year of social media. Everyone, from small business owners to multinational brands, wanted to talk about it at every opportunity. I've never seen more excitement and interest in digital marketing than the response to social media. From small chambers of commerce meetings to large marketing events, that was everyone's number one marketing topic.
The biggest challenge for most companies is what to do with social media. Right now, many treat social media as another siloed channel. There is a lot of discussion of how to change this, with terms like social business design, enterprise 2.0 and SCRM flying around. They all offer very complex solutions, solutions we may not see for a number of years.
I think, instead, we'll see more examples of smart hybrid marketing in 2010. Think of hybrid marketing as you would a Prius. The beauty of the Prius is that it's not simply a combustion engine and it's not solely a battery driven car. In the experience of driving, it's hard to tell where one starts and the other ends. The two parts build upon each other into one, remarkable experience.
Social media has enabled digital marketing in a way nothing previously has. It's clearly shown the value of two-way communication, using technology to enable the dialogue. In hybrid marketing we'll start seeing that dialogue, through social media, enabled in all sorts of traditional marketing.
While things like QR codes and augmented reality (AR) seem really cool, we should start seeing these tools integrated with "old" media to make connections with social media. We'll see hybrids. The big challenge with hybrid marketing is that the experience shouldn't feel like one part of the marketing stops and another begins. An example of that is when you see a Web address on a TV ad and someone calls this "integrated marketing."
No, instead look for things like the effort Nordstrom's implementing with its BP youth brand. They found out that most of their customers take pictures of themselves trying on clothes, and then posting the pictures to Facebook to find out what friends thought. Nordstrom has now built that into the changing room experience itself. The mirrors function as cameras and outside the rooms there are editing stations to crop the pictures and post online.
Where does the trying on clothes experience stop and the social media start? It doesn't. The experience is completely a blend. It's hybrid marketing.
Watch for more of this in 2010. The really smart marketers will use this to create powerful experiences.