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As we enter 2011, we look back on 2010. What a year it was for Social Media. From Facebook‘s undeniable online dominance to the emergence of Location-Based Services, Social Media continues to grow and evolve. So what does 2011 have in store for us? One can only guess, but here are 11 Social Media predictions for 2011.

2011

  1. Mobile
    The emergence of smart phones has changed the way we surf the web. People are now posting updates to Facebook or Tweeting via their BlackBerry and iPhone. Now that users can access Social Networks from anywhere, their time on these sites is bound to increase. With this trend emerging we will begin to see an influx of Location-Based Services, deals and GPS based applications on Social Networks.
  2. Location-Based Services
    Without mobile, we wouldn’t have Location-Based Services. I wrote a post earlier this year about the emergence of Location-Based Services such as Foursquare, Gowalla and SCVNGR. Despite all the hype, they are still quite a niche – but with the growing popularity of smart phones in 2010, these services will boom in 2011. And it’s not just these sites specifically – other dominant Social Media sites have added location services to their lineup. For example, Facebook Places. In 2011 more people will check in to more locations more often. Count on it.
  3. Video
    Everybody loves video. It’s engaging, entertaining and easy. People are lazy. They would much rather watch a 5 minute video on YouTube than read a page long blog post. Generally when you think of video in terms of Social Media, you instantly think of YouTube, right? Well, YouTube is here to stay, that’s for sure. But how are people finding these videos? Well, Google dominates of course, referring more traffic to video that any other source. But there is a new number 2 in town: Facebook. And they’re gaining ground fast.
  4. Group Buying and Deals
    I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Groupon. And LivingSocialSocial Buy and BuyWithMe. While Groupon owns this sector of the industry, with a 79% market share, Group Buying is on the rise. And guess who’s jumping on board? Facebook. They recently introduced Facebook Deals, which incorporates both Location-Based Services and Group Buying into one application. There are 4 different types of Deals that Facebook offers. But the Friend Deal is the most important one here. With Friend Deals you can decide to offer a deal to people who visit your business with 5 other friends, for example. By setting a friend number minimum, it encourages more people to visit your business. Expect Groupon, Facebook Deals, and other Group Buying sites to take off in 2011.
  5. Social Gaming
    Not unlike videos, people love games. It started when we were kids playing Duck Duck Goose and Red Rover on the playground. As we grew up we played Monopoly and Trouble, and as we entered the 2000’s many gaming websites gained popularity bringing back old arcade favourites PacMan and Tetris. Recently however, these games have gone Social, and are now available on sites such as Facebook. Farmville proved to be among the most addictive as it became blame for hours of procrastination. Now you can play pretty much anything on Facebook, from Wheel of Fortune to Snake. But in 2011, I predict that businesses will use games on Social sites as a marketing tool – not unlike MacDonald’s famous Monopoly game. Create a game, get people hooked, and you get traffic to your site. Gaming will be huge in 2011.
  6. Social CRM
    Originally, businesses used Social Media as an outlet to market to their audience. But as the industry grew and evolved, so did the way that businesses interact with their consumers. Now it is not only a platform to market, but also to engage, monitor, listen and help. Social Media is not just marketing anymore. It’s customer service, PR, customer relationship management and a forum to generate ideas and solve problems. Don’t shout. Listen. Ask. Engage. Solve Problems. That will be key in 2011.
    Think about the old system. You buy a product and you are unhappy, so you call customer service. Your blood boils as you sit on hold for 25 minutes. Finally somebody picks up, and if you’re lucky, your problem gets solved. This conversation usually stays between yourself and the customer service representative. And then maybe you tell 2 or 3 friends about your discouraging experience. But now we have Social Media – an open forum – complete transparency. Say you post a negative review on Twitter or Facebook. Most old school marketers would freak out – thousands, or even millions of people can see this! What a nightmare! No. It can be a blessing. Fix the problem for one person, and show millions of others that you care, and that you are willing to help. It’s easy and effective. 2011 is about Social Customer Relationship Management.
  7. Monitoring Made Easier
    Monitoring has always been a key issue when it comes to Social Media. Over the past few years, Social Media Monitoring tools such as Radian 6 have allowed businesses to track everything that is being said about their brand and products online including the source, sentiment of the posts and frequency. It is truly amazing the advancements that have been made. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the budget for Social Media monitoring. So what have the Social Networks done? Integrated monitoring and tracking into their sites. Facebook has an incredibly detailed Insights available for administrators of Pages. YouTube also offers Insights that show views, location, demographics and likes. Even set yourself up with Google Alerts. All of these are free, easy and effective. Monitoring your brand doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. Expect more monitoring services integrated into Social Media sites in 2011.
  8. Social SEO
    We’ve all heard time and time again about how important it is to optimize your website, and blog for Search. But what about getting found for your Social Media profiles. Can potential fans and customers find your Page on Facebook? Or your Channel on YouTube? With so much emphasis on being present in Social Media, getting found there will become increasingly important. Search Engines will improve their ability to crawl and index Social Sites, and similarly, companies will begin to do a better job of optimizing their Social profiles. Social SEO will be a huge trend in 2011.
  9. Social Good
    Earlier this year I wrote a post about Social Good which explored how Social Media can be used to make the World a better place. We saw this trend grow immensely in 2010 with Social Media driven charitable efforts such as Blog Action Day and Movember taking center stage and making headlines. Look for more charities using Social Media to raise awareness, recruit volunteers and drive donations in 2011.
  10. Audience has the Control
    You can no longer ignore Social Media. As much as you may want to avoid creating a Facebook Page, or a Twitter account, you must. Traditional marketers will tell you that they control the consumer. Ever seen an episode of Mad Men? The show examines the lives of powerful Ad men in New York City in the 1960’s. Back in those days, they would have a product, and just tell you that you wanted – no, needed it – and it worked. Well, consumers are a lot smarter these days. Marketers need to work hard to gain the trust, respect and loyalty of these elusive customers. So if you want to turn a blind eye to Social Media, you’re signing your own death certificate. If you don’t manage your brand online, others will. That’s playing with fire.
  11. Facebook remains King, MySpace slowly dies
    Conventional wisdom tells us that Facebook will remain atop the Social Media kingdom. They have everything. 500 million users, profiles, pages, photos, videos, messaging, chat, places, deals – and even a movie. Once they tighten up their privacy issues, they will be golden. MySpace on the other hand is in decline. The once Social Media champion has plummeted year after year as Facebook took over. Even with their acquisition of music sharing site iMeem last year, MySpace will fall further off the radar in 2011.

There you have it – our 11 Social Media predictions for 2011. Are there any trends that you think will take off in 2011? Let us know!