It's going to be a great year for agile folks who aren't married to yesterday's successes. The driver in 2014 is reinvention: What was brand new a short time ago gets transformed again, or else swept under the rug for even better applications. So here eight predictions, followed by two mandates:
1. Only Facebook enjoys the ability to interrupt a mobile phone user, without suffering backlash, via their news feed ads. Facebook is beating their next closest competitor in mobile, Google, by three times. It will continue to set the pace for the foreseeable future. Your top priority for Facebook ads is how your prospects take the very next step using their smartphone.
2. Facebook's revenue in the third quarter of 2013 was $2 billion. Facebook will sell $6 billion of ads in the third quarter of 2015. The rest of the world does not 'get' this yet, but mark my words, by late 2014 Facebook advertising will be brutally competitive.
My students who jumped ahead of the AdWords curve enjoyed years of superiority over everyone else -- and still do. You as a small, agile marketer now have six months to leapfrog the Facebook ads learning curve. Do it now while it's easy. Consider yourself warned.
3. The venerable, hoary "back link strategy" for search engine optimization is wheezing like a dying animal. Social media is the new SEO. Inbound links are easy to fake. Likes, tweets and shares by key influencers are almost impossible to fake. Stop theorizing about Google bots and just make the humans happy. That worked in 1998 and it still works now.
4. Forget trying to build an "authority site." Post your content on existing authority sites. If you're a blogger, blog on a major site, not your own. It's why sites such as Huffington Post, Patheos, TechCrunch, CNET and major newspapers have so much gravity. It's why I'm blogging on Entrepreneur.com right now. Want to get ranked? Write your authority site blog post for target keywords.
6. The "free exposure via social media" myth is just as dumb as the "free SEO" myth of 10 years ago. Earth is strewn with carcasses of chumps who lived and died by "free." Pay for play is the name of the game in social media. In 2004, the hot strategy was you tested your ideas in Google ads, then scaled up. In 2014, you test ideas in your news feed, then pay for them to go quasi viral. Expect to pay for all your fans to see your posts. Expect to pay for new customers.
7. The growth industry in 2014 is turning hobbies into businesses. Social media is making that possible like nothing else before. Since 10 percent of the people in the world produce enough to feed and furnish 90 percent of our "necessities," hobbies are not trivial. They are golden keys to the entrepreneurial future.
8. In the next five years, Minecraft, the 'virtual Legos' my 9 year old obsesses about, will replace AutoCAD as the standard software for designing and building anything. The lines between gaming and real "work" are blurring. Engineers and architects will use Minecraft to design everything from toasters to skyscrapers. The skyscrapers of 2033 will be unrecognizable, because the spatial capabilities of our 29-year-old architects then will be exponentially greater than the old-school architects of now. The growth industry of 2033 will be redesigning entire cities and countries. That, and remediating the environment.
Related: 5 Social Media Predictions for 2014
Finally, two mandates. Act now or risk a bellyflop.
9. Obamacare is already a failure and nothing short of a total reboot can save it. Ditto with the website. How forthright politicians are about this fact will cast their fate in the 2014 elections. Meanwhile, as noble as the desire for universal health care is, Obamacare was the wrong answer to the wrong question.
The root problem with U.S. health insurance is people are not legally allowed to buy health insurance the way they buy all their other kinds of insurance. When you change the oil in your car, you don't send the bill to your auto insurance company.
Our insurance bureaucracy is bloated because one, since the 1940s, individuals have never been allowed to simply buy the coverage they wish to have, and two, corporations get a tax deduction on health care but individuals don't. This is why the market for individual insurance is so paltry. Adding more red tape only compounds the problem. Fix those two original bugs and the huge bureaucracy begins to unravel. Then the grand vision of healthcare for all will suddenly become far easier to attain.
10. The business you thought you were in five years ago is almost never the business you're in now. Today is the age of the serial entrepreneur and alchemist. The number-one skill of the serial entrepreneur is crafting great unique selling propositions. One USP after another. You can no longer coast on one USP for 50 years or even five years.
Any interesting or odd request from your customers could be inspiration for a re-invention. Decide today to be a serial entrepreneur even within the same company. When you learn how to create new USPs on command, the future is your oyster.
Related: 3 Major Retail Predictions for 2014