Understandably, the first businesses to make the most of social media have been those of a more web-based frame of mind, the last few years have seen this expand to include major businesses in many sectors. Perhaps more importantly smaller (and medium) sized businesses have begun to flex their social media muscles.
This is a significant change. Whereas once upon a time the size of a business (and therefore its profits) was in direct relation to promotion/advertising budgets, the world of social media has significantly levelled the playing field.
2011 may well be the year that the small and medium sized business really takes social media to its heart and uses it to claim a foothold in the arena previously reserved for the big players.
Beyond this, there are a number of areas where social media can expand in 2011.
Mobile/Cell Phones. Let’s face it, no matter how some people rail against their ubiquity, the vast majority of people are seldom separated from their mobile devices. Perhaps more significant is the face that more and more people are leaving their laptops at home and looking to their phones to provide the day-to-day communication that the web and social media offers. Because of this, social media will expand into the mobile market with areas such as payments (such as paying for an item in store via a phone) being the next step forward.
Grouping Together. Sites such as Groupon are already making waves. The idea is a simple one: that if you get together with your friends (be they physical or virtual friends) companies can offer greater reductions. This is a sector of social media that is set for a great expansion as social networks can group together to gain significant savings.
Cross Platform Tools. Finding a way to manage all of your online efforts in one affordable, and easy to use system is increasingly in demand. This will be further exemplified in 2011, and designers will surely be busy building the proper systems to join together many more social networking sites on one master platform.
Consumer Attention. Perhaps the most important facet of social media in 2011 will be the acceptance of the importance of customers to the whole online business model. In the past, customers have been important because they spend the money that keeps the business going. Of course, this will continue; but in addition to this, businesses will be looking for a much greater degree of depth to the customer interaction process. There will be a greater dialogue to the customer-business relationship with a much greater level of feedback and more opportunities for customers to influence products and services before they become available. Building relationships, and working to appeal to potential brand advocates will be the true goal of many small and large businesses in 2011.
Money, Money, Money. Abba’s hit song could well be the unofficial anthem for the social media world in 2011. The need to make money from what are essentially free services (such as Twitter and Facebook) will only become more acute as time passes. It is therefore more than likely that services such as these will introduce some elements that will need to be paid for by customers. It is tricky ground and will need to be rolled out in the right way, but over the next year we should see the first few steps taken down a road that will help monetize social media.
Old and New. Like many new movements, social media has blazed a trail over the past few years leaving the more traditional marketing sectors looking as outdated as 1960s fashions. Now that it has sown its wild oats, social media may well look to a more integrated approach with traditional sectors to create a combined force. Think Mad Men with smart phones. This integration between the old and new may well mark 2011 out as a turning point in the history of social media.
What are our thoughts about social media in 2011? Share with us in the comments below!
Carla Sanchez is a freelance writer for Omniture. Omniture is the world leader at marketing automation and marketing analytics services. Software that enables you to better understand your customers and increase your sales. Visit their search engine marketing blog to learn more.