Predicting social media marketing trends for 2011

Search and internet marketing agency ClickThrough Marketing’s Head of Digital Marketing, John Newton, looks into his crystal ball to predict some major social media marketing trends for 2011, including site integration, email + social, platform wars, and the power of Internet Tablets.

Published: 21 Dec 2010

Search and internet marketing agency ClickThrough Marketing’s Head of Digital Marketing, John Newton, looks into his crystal ball to predict some major social media marketing trends for 2011, including site integration, email + social, platform wars, and the power of Internet Tablets.

“The crossover between Social and Search is undeniable – both help people be found, and heard online, and the Social Media Marketing Trends outlined here reinforce that fact,” said Newton. Trends expected in 2011 are as follows:

1. Increased Social Media Integration on Websites

Social search has become an importance part of a holistic Internet Marketing campaign – how easily can your social profiles be found online, and how can they be used to help secure additional SERPs shelf space by exploiting the power of social network domains.

For that reason, a number of companies with limited web development budgets or capabilities have spent the last 12 months throwing their energies into building their social media profiles and communities.

Now, as budget freezes start to thaw, it’s time for them to consider how to integrate social media functionality (for example, incorporating the power of Facebook comment boxes onsite to provide a feedback loop for consumers) onto their main site. Sites will become a hub to aggregate and explain activity on social networks, and add long-form value.

2. Email and Social Become More Integrated

Some etailers and affiliates have made developing their email database their top priority, and to date it’s been a strong strategy. However, as email open rates continue to decline some marketersare left watching this powerful resource diminish, wondering how they can reignite this audience.

Thankfully, social platforms such as Facebook offer a way to create a more regular and sustainable dialogue with consumers than email – the trick is understanding how to migrate consumers across from your email database to these platforms.

We have developed a range of techniques inhouse here at ClickThrough to help with this process, but there are also publically availabletools such as Flowtown which help you find the social profiles linked to email addresses within your database.

Once marketers see considerable overlap between their social and email audiences, expect to see more cross-platform campaigns that use the unique qualities of social + email to create campaigns that are more than the sum of the parts.

3. Internet Tablets Mean Even More Social “On Time”

This Christmas has been an explosion of inexpensive Android powered Internet tablets hit the UK, stocked by retailers as diverse as the fashion retailer Next and the toy superstore Toys R Us – and starting from £85.

These quick-loading, use-anywhere tablets bridge the gap between the immediacy of mobile and the size and power of laptops and netbooks – increasing the amount of time consumers are active on social network, or “on time”. Most come pre-loaded with apps for the major social networks. Cheap Internet Tablets willundoubtedlylead to a measurable increase in social media use in 2011, especially around the major networks around which the largest number of apps are built.

4. The Social Platform War Continues

One thing we always advise clients to do is secure social profile names now, so that you can avoid social cybersquatting. However, that task has become so arduous that tools such as Namechk and Knowem have sprung up to help consumers and businesses secure names across nearly 500 social networks.

However, 2011 might just be the year that the number of social platform plateaus, andconsolidationbegins – and by that we mean victors … and casualties. Consumers havedefinitelybegun to tire of certain non-vertical platforms and have congregated around a few key networks and in particular Facebook – I don’t see this trend ending.

5. For Some Marketers, Social Will Mean Just Facebook

The massive worldwide user base of Facebook, powerful FMBL development tools, integrated PPC marketing program and array of tools for offsite integration mean that in 2011, some marketers may decide to double-down on their Facebook strategy to the exclusion of all other social platforms. Risky? Well, there are some things that other sites do better (document sharing, video) but for sheer scale and engagement, Facebook is a better bet than any other platform. However, we’d always advise conducting a full marketplace and consumer evaluation to get your strategy right.

6. Businesses Continue to Unlock Existing Collateral, Socially

How many businesses have fantastic, product-led or educational materials (e.g. PDF brochures, PowerPoints, offline videos) hidden on their corporate file server? Tools such as Scribd, Issuu and Slideshare allow marketers to get their materials online quickly and fast, passing bandwidth costs over to the social platform, and use tags and descriptions to help consumers find your content quickly. The number of visitors to these sites have doubled over the past year, and they will start to become a very viable way for businesses to reinvigorate existing materials in 2011.

Slideshare and Scribd Showing Growth

7. Social Commerce Grows

Money followers audiences – this is true in advertising planning, and is also true with ecommerce. In 2011 more marketers will start to harness the growing ecommerce integration opportunities within social platforms, and especially within Facebook.

Retailers will seek to replicate their stores from within their social profiles. For an example, take a look at the shop developed for Roman Originals, which empowers their Facebook fans to browse their top products, and elect to buy from within their Facebook profile.

8. Marketers Will Wake Up to Location

If 2010 was FINALLY the year of mobile, then mobile will make 2011 the year of location. Proximity marketing through mobile tools such as Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla will allow offline businesses to finally give staff at individual locations (think stores, branches, depos, salons, hotels, restaurants etc) the power to use social medialegitimatelyin their working lives, by offering hyper-targeted offers and promotions to consumers using location based social media.

9. Measurement Will NOT Get ‘Solved’ in 2011

Alas, we don’t believe there will be aconsensuson what marketers should measure when performing a social campaign. Why? Because every campaign is different! For marketers who are just starting with social they will focus on followers and fans.

Those with more mature social media campaigns will be looking at how they can work with that user base as a reliable source of feedback, drive repeat sales and keep both existing and potential customers satisfied. Brand owners will want to track sentiment and mentions on social networks. Measurement won’t get ’solved’ as it isn’t a single problem, and it needn’t be a problem at all if you first determine what the goals of any activity are upfront, then decide on metrics.

There are countless other trends, and these represent some of a few of the trends that ’stick out’ at the time of writing.


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