3 Digital trends driving the recommendation economy in 2011

You may well be thinking I am a month late to writing a trends for 11" post - and you are right, I am, for good reason. When everyone else jumped on the new years prediction bandwagon we got a lot of interesting perspectives, but it's kind of hard to see the wood for the trees when that happens, so after settling in nicely to 2011, February brings with it some clarity, and a better position to think about the year ahead - because if you Jan was anything like mine, I am sure you are still wondering where it went! As you would expect if you have been to my blog before I am pretty sure that 2011 will be the year when the Recommendation Economy (read more about that by clicking on the tab above) will graduate into something far more tangible, and I think it will manifest itself in a number of ways:

Deals, Deals and more Deals

Facebook Places and Gap

With the launch of Facebook Deals now in the UK and rolling out across Europe we may just see social commerce and social recommendation of offers, deals, coupons and discounts become the next big movement not just by brands but in society in general. We are on the cusp of sites like Groupon becoming truly mainstream and particularly with the economic situation here in the UK still looking fairly bleak who wouldn't appreciate a discounted Spa treatment once in a while.

Check out checking in

The "Check In" - A curious little beast, but one, very much coupled with deals and social commerce is set to become yet another social norm, mostly popularised by Facebook. Of course to many of us who have been avid Foursquare fans for some time (or you few Gowalla nuts out there) the concept of broadcasting to your friends and colleagues where you are has been a novel, and for the most part quite a self gratifying little addition to our online lifestyle. However now with the ability to check in to a spot in the pockets of the 30 million UK Facebook, 2011 may be the year where the concept of saying "here I am" to your friends becomes just another daily activity for the online crowd.

Gamification galore

Gamification is something that has been creeping in through the backdoor of our daily lives for nearly a decade now, but is beginning to rear it's head as we enter 2011. A trend that has come out of the online gaming world where nearly 3 generations have been acutely trained and prepped to understand the concept - perform digital actions, get digital rewards. Whether you are the Frogger, Super Mario Bros 2, Halo or Call of Duty Black Ops generation - this will probably come as no surprise to you. The sense of elation and satisfaction rolled into one as you spend those hard earned points from fragging Spetznas operatives on upgrades and content that too all intents and purposes do not really exist. For all of you who may not be console nuts I just have to say the word FARMVILLE and you will get the picture.

SCVNGR | How To Build from SCVNGR on Vimeo.

However 2011 looks to be the year where we will see the ideas of digital redemption and virtual currencies come far more mainstream. The likes of "EpicWin" the iPhone app that rewards you with characters in a virtual game for completing your every day to do list, through to the collection of SuperSwarm badges on Foursquare or completing routes and treasure trails on the location based game SVCNGR (yes that's Scavenger) - the gamification of your life is well on it's way.

Turning conversations into cash: The Recommendation Economy & Social Commerce

For those of your currently snowed in and "working from home" (AKA PG Tips + Countdown + Sofa + Webmail) who may be in need of some intellectual stimulation you are in for a treat. I had the pleasure of giving a webinar for the PRCA as part of their Digital PR training series on the topic of The Recommendation Economy and Social Commerce - as I promised the participants I share now with you the deck from said presentation - which may be of interest!

In it you will see that I outline what I see as the three key styles of doing social commerce at the moment:

Social Intelligence

- This one is nothing new but is taking new forms as we see consumers getting more and more savvy about the way they shop by leveraging the recommendations and review of their peers to shop smarter - basically making conversations into cash

Social Capital

- Also nothing new but is finally beginning to see a financial benefit for the brands that give people assets that they can leverage as social capital - chiefly because now through things like in video adverts, foursquare rewards and Facebook deals we can link content to cash

Social Buying

- This one is new! You may jump straight to thinking of the likes of Gilt Group and Groupon (particularly given the rumours of the past couple of days about Googles possible acquisition) - but it goes beyond that. Things like F-Commerce - using Facebook based shopping portals are taking social buying into new and different ways. This one is turning cash back into conversations - that in turn can turn back to cash!

SocCom RecEcon

As I told the attendees this morning I don't think that any of these operate in isolation, but when used in conjunction can finally begin to move towards answering the WOMMA problem of ROI - lets start making our social communications work harder for us!

Over to you...

Have you seen any great example of social commerce in action?

Do you think that people will really begin to migrating to shopping in the social environment?