The French astronomer Nostradamus is still famous — 500 years after his death — for predicting the future.
I’m guessing I won’t be famous for that… 🙂
But I do have a sense for what’s coming down the pikes online in 2022.
At the end of every year, I blog about how I see the State of the Internet for the coming year…
What are the trends that are redefining the way online business and internet marketing are being done?
Where are the landmines?
And where are the goldmines?
This year, I found 7 distinct trends that may just change the internet as we know it, so if you want to make 2022 your best year yet, pay close attention because one (or more) of these trends may just hold the key to unprecedented growth.
Trend #1: The Rise of the Facilitator
It used to be that everyone you met was an author, speaker, influencer, artist or personal brand…
We chose labels for ourselves that described a mostly one-way flow of content and inspiration — from us to our audience. And that just reinforced the Web 2.0, guru on the mountain approach to building a business and a following.
But, now that we’re drowning in content (and the value of information continues to drop), people will start seeking out facilitators — who are focused on designing experiences that facilitate real conversation, community and transformation at scale — rather than content creators.
Years ago, one of my students drew me a picture that said, “I am not a teacher, but an awakener,” which sums this trend up perfectly.
At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have to say or share, it’s about what people do with what you say or share. How do they integrate that content into real-life results or transformation?
You can breathe a sigh of relief because the factory approach to pumping out and multicasting content on every platform all the time is no longer winning the game.
More is no longer better. Because who has time for that?
In 2022, only better is better.
Trend #2: Breaking the Third Wall
You may have heard of the Third Wall. In a book, movie, play or other live performance, it’s the so-called “imaginary barrier” that separates the characters from the audience.
And when you “break” the Third Wall, you’re bringing awareness to the fact that they’re reading a book or watching a movie or performance.
You’re making the brushstrokes obvious.
As the guru is being taken off the pedestal and facilitators are becoming the new heroes of the online business world, I see a trend towards breaking the Third Wall more and more in webinars and virtual events and really inviting the audience to become active participants — or even heroes — in the action.
While webinars, teleseminars are online events that used to be primarily a one-way stream of content and information — perhaps with a Q&A at the end — they’re becoming more personalized and interactive from start to finish.
I call this “choose your own adventure” marketing and education — and like to call my company, Live Your Message, a “choose your own adventure business coaching and training company”.
My friend, Roger Hamilton, says that as markets become more sophisticated, the most successful businesses shift from being product-focused to being market-and-customer-focused. In other words, meeting the changing demands of their customers and cultivating higher “lifetime customer value”.
These first two trends are part of that shift, as online business has become the new normal.
Trend #3: Microverse vs Metaverse
With all the talk of Facebook changing its name to Meta and the rising Metaverse that will consume all of our lives, I’m also seeing a return to the small and local — or what I’m calling the Microverse.
I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in Austin, Texas which has become a mecca for online business owners and entrepreneurs who are tired of spending their lives in front of a computer and want to prioritize real, in-person community and connection.
Because Zoom Fatigue is growing… and regardless of how immersive the Metaverse is, humans just aren’t designed to spend all their time online, regardless of how “connected” we actually are.
That’s why local chapter organizations such as Women Entrepreneurs Inc are thriving. They’re being sponsored by online giants such as Birchbox, Yeti, GOOP and THRIVEGlobal who understand that local and in-person will always have a role to play.
Back in my days as an undergraduate in the Semiotics Department at Brown University, I learned about something called “the shadow of the giant,” which basically means that the larger something gets in our lives, the bigger the shadow it casts.
While COVID has caused a massive migration online, it’s also causing an equal and opposite effect — the desire for real, in-person connection.
Trend #4: The Death of the Mass Market
As major corporations move 57% of their ad budgets online (increasing by 39% in 2021 and 36% in 2020), it’s shifting supply and demand, and the “little guy” can no longer compete.
As ad costs skyrocket, more and more small businesses are being pushed off Facebook and onto smaller platforms and smaller markets.
But small is the new big.
And the easiest way to compete (or at least get started) today is through micro-targeting — or finding smaller and smaller segments of the market to serve.
Gone are the days of trying to “reach the masses” and — while I used to hear that phrase all the time when I asked entrepreneurs who they served, I’m hearing it less and less.
Reaching the masses is the modern-day equivalent of Don Quixote tilting at windmills, so wear your “small pants” proud.
Trend #5: The End of Pure Direct Response Marketing
Alongside the trend towards facilitation, personalization and micro-targeting, comes the end of purely direct response, wham bam thank you ma’am marketing.
Direct response marketing is where you try to get prospects to take an immediate action — such as clicking, opting in and buying.
While that will ALWAYS be a part of any kind of online marketing and the goal will ALWAYS be to turn a stranger into a buyer as quickly as possible, more nurturing is needed. Whether that’s a retargeting campaign to put the desired action in front of your prospects over and over again. Or — even better — phone sales or sell by chat.
When it comes to transformation-based products over $1000, fewer and fewer people are willing to hit the “buy now” button without some form of personal connection or conversation. And hard-selling is frowned upon.
According to the Edelman Trust Barometer, misinformation is rife and trust is in crisis. So in 2022, we’re going to see more multi-touch marketing campaigns that balance automation and scale with nurture, follow-up and good old-fashioned sales (even if that happens in not-so-old fashioned channels such as chat and DM). 🙂
There is no more lazy “one-size-fits-all marketing” or “push button success while you sleep.” If you want to win the game of online business in 2022, you need to create two-way sales and marketing channels.
Trend #6: Artificial Intelligence Replaces Up to 80% of “Average” Human Effort
This summer I hosted an adult slumber party in Big Sur and demo’d Jarvis.ai to my friend over a glass of wine, which bills itself as the future of writing marketing copy.
He proceeded to say, “No way can that thing replace my depth of knowledge and experience when it comes to JV partnerships.”
And so we typed in the term JV partnerships and lo and behold, the AI quickly churned out 5 blog posts that were surprisingly good.
I saw the look of shock and oblivion come over my friend’s face as he realized that 80% of his knowledge was instantly replaceable — by a machine that, rather than having 40 years of direct personal experience, had access to millions of humans years of indirect experience.
And I had a similar experience this summer when my business (and life) partner Murray and I rolled out our Course Name Generator — a “little” AI we built to help our students name their online courses, products and programs. And when I asked for suggestions around my area of expertise — which is driving record-breaking levels of engagement and customer success with online courses — it coughed up “The Cure for the Common Course.”
It was so clever I wanted to smack it… JK.
No AIs were harmed in the writing of this article. 🙂
The truth is, I’m a firm believer in the Pareto Principle, which says that 20% of efforts get 80% of results…
And my sense is that — in most cases — AI can only reproduce the 80% of human effort that gets 20% of results… and that 20% is going to become more and more valuable.
Especially when you know how to break through any limits on your abilities. Because while most people will remain average, YOU don’t have to settle. You can beat the law of averages becoming truly extraordinary at WHAT matters to you and your business… leading to a more fulfilling life.
So it’s time to cultivate your direct personal experience, creativity and ingenuity — especially when it comes to designing experiences at scale and transformation at scale and breaking the Third Wall — so you can come out victorious in the battle of man versus machine.
I still place my bets on YOU.
Trend #7: WII.FM Gives Way to WII.FU
Ever since I got into online business, I’ve gotten the advice to set my marketing channel to WII.FM (the “what’s in it for me” channel).
And while everyone still wants to know “what’s in it for me,” more and more we’re also starting to ask “what’s in it for us.”
Whether it’s just the natural pendulum swing from individualism to collectivism and back again, or the shared struggle we’ve all experienced during the pandemic, social entrepreneurship and “us marketing” is back in favor — and I believe it’s here for good.
So if you want your marketing to be seen and felt on another level, don’t forget that we’re social creatures who want to make a lasting impact on the world.
Money, fame and glory are so 2021… 🙂
So that’s it for the 7 trends that I believe will change the internet in 2022:
- Trend #1: The Rise of the Facilitator
- Trend #2: Breaking the Third Wall
- Trend #3: Microverse vs Metaverse
- Trend #4: The Death of the Mass Market
- Trend #5: The End of Pure Direct Response Marketing
- Trend #6: Artificial Intelligence Replaces Up to 80% of “Average” Human Effort
- Trend #7: WII.FM Gives Way to WII.FU
Let me know your thoughts about one or more of these in the comments, as well as what trends you’re seeing.
And in case you’re curious, I just published my trends posts for 2023… check out what’s coming down the pipeline.
While trends and predictions are super valuable to know, your business won’t grow if you don’t take action. That’s why every January 1st at 1pm PT/4pm ET, I hold a FREE LIVE workshop – Best Year Yet – where, together, we’ll create the exact Game Plan you need to reach your wildest business goals. Join me!