ReadWriteWeb has published a very useful list of 10 ways social media will change in 2011
. I want to examine some ways that the items on their list might effect your business. Social media is a fluid landscape and best practice for business is emerging slowly. It is hard to know the best thing to do now let alone how to plan for the future, but preparing some strategies to take advantage of emerging trends can be a huge advantage. This list is a good basis to build some forward planning on for your business.
So let’s take a look at the predictions and what they might mean for your business.
- Social media will be supersized
- Companies will integrate social feedback into their decision making process
- Mobile will become our gateway to the world
- Video will be everywhere
- The next big Online Social Network will not be a network at all
- ROI will be redefined
- Psychology is shifting
- Citizen activism brings back purpose and power
- Social business intelligence will heat up and so will privacy
- The role of the social media strategist will be changing
What does this mean for your business?
Social media will be supersized
Service providers will start bundling services together. We will see
providers producing services that integrate social networks, video, cloud storage, analytics and messaging with their priority services. Everyone will be trying to provide a one-stop-shop solution instead of the single purpose platforms that now dominate the landscape.
This may well mean that as users of a service you will find a provider that offers all the services you need in a single package, so rather than using three or four services you may be able to consolidate your needs in a single service. In terms of reaching out to your customers and clients this could make things much more complicated as you may have to find ways to reach out to more networks to maintain your social media reach.
If these new services are well implemented, and there is no reason to believe they won’t be, it should be possible to feed data out from them into other services automatically. This could be a key feature for businesses using these supersized networks. It will be important to ensure that your all the information you post to social media has strong metadata, titles, tags and descriptions.
Companies will integrate social feedback into their decision making process
More and more companies will be using the improving analytics data that can be derived from social networks to inform their decisions. Services like Salesforce are giving companies access to deeper data than ever before about what people are thinking and feeling about their businesses, their competitors and their sector in general.
The key change is that more companies will be listening to this data and using it to inform their strategic decisions. This will lead to big increases in the accuracy of customer focus and even improvements to internal working environments. There are two vital stages to preparing your company for this shift, the first is to get access to this information and the second is to think about how you can use this data to inform your business both in the medium to long-term and increasingly in the short-term too.
Mobile will become our gateway to the world
Smartphone use is spreading like wildfire and with many companies planning to produce iPad competitors a whole new kind of smartphone/netbook hybrid is gaining popularity alongside the “traditional” smartphone. Next year may well see a tipping point of more users interacting with your online presence thorough mobile devices than on their computers.
This will offer a crucial opportunity to companies to seize market share by having their sites and services optimised for mobile use. Apps for iOS, Android and Mobile Windows will become key tools for companies. There are many possibilities in this area, shopping on the go, paperless transactions, augmented reality, mobile content creation and QR codes will all gain prominence.
Video will be everywhere
Video is experiencing a huge increase in usage both in terms of consumption and posting. People are watching more and more video and they are also posting more videos online. This is in part driven by the increasing quality of video viewing and creation on smartphones. Many phones can now handle HD content very well. As ReadWriteWeb says, “In October alone, 5.4 billion videos were viewed - 2 billion of these on Facebook.”
This is a fundamental change in how the web works. The web is becoming increasingly populated with moving images. There will be a rise in the use of timestamped tagging in video to mark particular moments making video more relevant. Video will also increasingly be shared on platforms that are not traditional video sites. Video is not just for YouTube anymore.
Consumers will increasingly expect video content to be available to them. The rise in smartphone use means that they are not expecting TV quality but they want the rich content. Being able to accept the posting of video into your online platforms will also become increasingly important.
The next big Online Social Network will not be a network at all
Networks will become smaller and more focussed but people will belong to more of them. The current dominance of large general networks encourages a generalised discussion. Smaller networks delineated by discrete interests will allow people more authentic, deeper discussion as well as increasing the ability to control their privacy.
This will provide some companies an opportunity to create custom branded networks delivering an engaging experience on their own websites. People’s expectations of functionality have been raised by platforms like Facebook but they will seek smaller expert communities of shared interest.
ROI will be redefined
2010 was the year that the discussion about social media ROI began but it is in 2011 that social media ROI will come to prominence for most companies. There has been enough benefit to be garnered from a social media presence for many companies to simply be happy to be there. This will change as more companies become better at using social media channels to actively drive revenue into their business.
The key will be an increase in actionable data that smart companies will be able to derive from their presence. This will allow those that are better at extracting and interpreting the data to flourish and progress quickly.
Psychology is shifting
The way our lives have progressed online is beginning and will continue to effect our psychology. People are becoming more inclined to and more effective at airing grievances, both big and small, online. We are learning how to communicate without the real-time visual cues of conversation and we are becoming better able to cope with the fluid changing world we are creating online.
While this change is seen across the online population companies that are better able to understand the subtleties of how people act and express themselves online will flourish. It has been enough to think in terms of simple behaviours like the decision to buy or not, but more qualitative information will become the difference between an adequate and an excellent customer relationship.
Citizen activism brings back purpose and power
People are becoming better and better at grouping together to effect change. This is more than just protest. Wikipedia is an expression of a desire to share knowledge facilitated by thousands of contributors. People are increasingly seeking to change what they don’t like.
This presents a huge opportunity for organisations to engage with these powerful groups potentially supporting them or listening to them and realigning their efforts in the light of their work.
Social business intelligence will heat up and so will privacy
As a corollary to the increase in the availability of social media data there will be an increasing concern with privacy and ethical handling of data. There is a thin line between using data effectively for targeting marketing messages and intruding on individuals privacy.
The increase of location aware apps makes this issue even hotter. Our physical whereabouts can now be tracked online along with our posts, images and videos. There is a fine line for companies to tread here. Accurate targeting of marketing can be of great benefit to both companies and customers, but the perception of intrusion will damage a relationship irrevocably.
The role of the social media strategist will be changing
Social media strategy will evolve radically in 2011. Not only will there be a need for social media strategy to be based on actionable data but the quality of a company’s presence will become increasingly important.
This year we have moved past the stage where mere participation in social media is enough for business. As we move forward the quality of the presence will increasingly matter.
Companies will prosper that can,
- Understand and use the emerging networks effectively
- Make sense of and react to social media feedback
- Deliver relevant content to and receive content from mobile devices
- Use video effectively
- Create and maintain niche networks
- Understand social media ROI
- Engage meaningfully and effectively online
- Harness the desire to make the world a better place
- Respect privacy
- Put together a comprehensive social media strategy
This coming year will see many things change for companies online. How prepared are you?