A Future Perspective – Social Media Trends for 2011
9th February 2011
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‘We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.’  Erik Qualman

Having spent the last year fully absorbed in social media practice and keeping my ear to the ground to capture emerging trends, I believe that for most of us, 2011 is the year for developing practical social media strategies that will help us to sustain and improve our return on investment . However, you might like to jump ahead and try out some of these new ideas, concepts and gizmos. 

Social Media Strategy

If 2011 is all about strategy and how we justify and benefit from our time spent on social media, strategists who claim to help us towards that end will need to concentrate on more practical tasks such as identifying and piloting new tools, integrating social marketing with PR, marketing, advertising and customer service, developing protocols and measuring the right things. A key objective will be to effectively educate and integrate social-based thinking into business processes and culture.

With more users on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, more videos, apps and devices, a growing number of organisations will go beyond using social channels merely for building awareness and providing support.

It’s a question of thinking less about technology and more about what social media can do, what the real risks are and how our new-found connectivity can be used to shape the future in the most beneficial way.

Listening to People

The ability to make informed decisions is a natural gift of social media.  Rather than searching for ideas on Google, new thought-leaders such as bloggers and those who dominate social networks will become key influences in our decision-making process.

With 78% of consumers trusting peer reviews when only 14% trust advertisements, it is essential to be involved in your online community, to build a good reputation and know what people are saying about you. To do this effectively you need to engage in conversations, monitor the outcomes, join the debate, help others and show customers you care as a means to building a loyal network.
Social media dashboards or keyword-alert services such as Radian6 and Objective Marketer and free management sites such as Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow users to monitor and participate in live conversations.  Setting up Google Alerts is a good starting point to find out if people are talking about you and/or your business.

Empowering Employees

Supporting employees to understand social networking from a business perspective, and encouraging them to find their voice and demonstrate their passion for a business and brand, is a key trend for forward thinking organisations. It’s a fantastic approach, placing trust in employees, teaching them well and allowing them to get on with it.  As organisations understand the power of collaborating in this way with their employees and customers, they will use things like crowdsourcing as a way to create new ideas, address issues and pool suggestions for improvement.

With this in mind, true social media knowledge will have a high value in 2011.  There will be a rise of people who do it right and do it well and organisations will need them. Any fakers who get it wrong will be exposed and there will be a growing divide between those who get it right and those who get it wrong.

Location-Based Marketing

Applications such as Foursquare, FacebookPlaces and Gowalla will help to better target prospects' likes and interests, stimulate interest and influence purchase decisions by offering discounts, promotions or giveaways when they ‘check in’ to your business.
Location services will grow in popularity as people get more comfortable with finding and checking into a business from their mobile phones. This will be the result of enhanced safety features such as privacy options that block locations from public view and the development of ever more enticing brand offers.

Mobile Marketing

Last year for the first time, smartphone sales overpowered the sales of desktops and laptops with iPhone and iPad applications downloaded more than 7 billion times.  In 2011, mobile users will interact with content, companies and the internet more on their phones and iPads than on their computers. 

As the mobile arena grows, small businesses will continue to move marketing campaigns to mobile phones with text messaging sites like MessageBuzz and Enowit offering tiered levels of service and free demo accounts that allow you to test a mobile-marketing campaign.  This service will be improved with the new 4G mobile phone speed that allows marketers to get their message out faster with quicker download times. It’s a good idea to jump on this early and incorporate it into your 2011 marketing plan.

A Means to an End

The fact that this started as an extremely long post, with many trends left out which I will post here another time, it goes to show that we can’t ignore the fact that social media has become an integral part of the world we live in. With 600 million Facebook users, it has already won.

The thing to remember is that social media platforms are purely a means to an end, a route to greater connectivity, a think-tank of interconnected minds, an infinite and free opportunity to find your voice, raise your profile and communicate with people you want to know and do business with. I would suggest this should be our key priority for 2011 and the years to come.

Join our Social Network

To find out more about how to develop a social media strategy that will help you to reach out and connect with your local community, why not come to The Unisey Hub Seminar on 23 March in West Bromwich. Meet keynote speakers, exhibitors and professional members who are using social networking to raise their profile and promote their business. Further information and booking details can be found at Eventbrite or please feel free to send an email to sue@unisey.com.

Thank you!

About the Author

Sue C

Member since: 12th July 2010

My vision is to help everyone experience the remarkable benefits of Social Media, my mission is to actively promote and instil the positive spirit and protocol that‘s built-in and my motto is Live to...

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