Digital & Social Media Trends for 2011


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2010 was a year of big change for the social web & everyone who works in & around it. New platforms, new technologies, new was all big & shiny & new as social media became truly mainstream.

In this report, BOTTLE PR Head of Social Communications, Paul Sutton, takes a look at ten of the key trends we might see in social and digital media in 2011.

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Digital & Social Media Trends for 2011

  1. 1. Digital Trends 2011 what to expect from the social web in the coming year
  2. 2. Introduction 2010 was a year of big change for the social web & everyone who works in & around it. New platforms, new technologies, new was all big & shiny & new as social media became truly mainstream. Typifying the way social media exploded was its undoubted king, Facebook, which introduced new features such as Questions, integrated new technologies like Places, enhanced its analytics, toyed with profile layouts, tweaked its systems on an almost weekly basis & reached a phenomenal total of well over half a billion users. Keeping up with Facebook alone was almost a full-time job, let alone tracking expanding social platforms such as Foursquare, Tumblr, Posterous, Audioboo, Evernote, & Path (among others). So what does 2011 hold in store? In this report, our Head of Social Communications, Paul Sutton, takes a look at ten of the key trends we might see in the coming year. We hope you find it informative & useful!
  3. 3. 1. extension of the buying phase Going back a year or two, if I wanted a new TV I’d look at ads, read a couple of reports & make a decision based on that information. But in 2011, if I want a new TV I’ll Google for suggestions, ask my networks on Twitter or Facebook for recommendations, read online product reviews, research websites, go back to my networks for opinions on my shortlist & only then, once I’ve chosen a product, will I research the best price I can find. The ‘investigation phase’ has extended & will continue to do so, facilitated by the social web.People investigate credibility, emotions, service & product issues via social networks & this is where social media marketing can make a big impact. Key Outtake: Use the social web to influence potential customers & clients specifically during the buying phase through social networks
  4. 4. 2. consolidation across platforms We’re only a few days into the new year & yet ‘the next big thing’ is already being hyped in the form of Quora, a Q&A social platform that is tipped to rival Twitter & Wikipedia. Whether or not Quora takes off (and there are signs that it will), it joins an ever-growing & unsustainable list of social media platforms. 2010 saw web 2.0 stalwarts such as Digg, Delicious & MySpace coming under threat & we can expect to see more falling by the wayside in 2011 as users start to congregate around the most popular & useful sites. Social media is reaching saturation point & in this environment, new networks such as Path & the much-hyped Diaspora may find it hard to gain a foothold. Key Outtake: Focus is key. Investigate where your online communities hang out & concentrate on using a few platforms well rather than many platforms poorly. Don’t believe the hype.
  5. 5. 3. the decline of the website Yes, I did say that. In a report that is all about online trends, it would seem a little odd to state the case for websites going the way of the fax machine, right? But it’s happening. In a world where half a billion people use the ever-changing Facebook & a quarter of a million people use the ceaseless stream of Twitter, the rather static website struggles to compete. The web is becoming more & more social by the week, where information is updated in real time. To encourage repeat visitors, websites have to start to have some of the appeal of social networks. In line with the increase of the investigation phase, websites are becoming the end point rather than part of the journey, which now takes place on the social web. Key Outtake: At the very least incorporate social features into your website, such as blogs, Facebook & Twitter widgets. Give people a reason to return.
  6. 6. 4. the rise & rise of mobile computing Yes, we did all say this last year. And the year before that. But this time I think this is really true. 2010 saw smartphones hit the mainstream & everyone now seems to have an iPhone or an Android device or a Blackberry. But whereas 2010 saw thousands of innovative but ultimately useless apps being developed, 2011 will see a focus on the mobile web rather than applications. The mobile web itself isn’t something new, specifically. It’s just how people access the internet now. Companies will become better at delivering true web experiences via mobiles & tablet devices, especially as HMTL5 takes off. But apps themselves may prove to be expensive indulgences, especially with the likes of the iPad& the Samsung tablets gaining huge traction. Key Outtake: Your website or e-commerce site must be suitable for smartphones & tablets. End of story. With mobile browsing increasing rapidly, any site that isn’t mobile-friendly will suffer.
  7. 7. 5. location, location, location The concept of a localised web made big news in 2010 & is set to become even more prevalent in 2011. Foursquare is the current leader in the geo-location arena, but the launch of Facebook Places brought this technology out of the closet & into the mainstream. The addition of new features & benefits to Places in 2011 could see it challenge & dominate Foursquare, which already seems to have itself beaten off the challenge of Gowalla. 2011 will be the year when geo-location finds a real purpose, something lacking from last year’s services &, combined with Google’s focus on localisation, the social web is heading towards regionalisation. Key Outtake: Geo-location is still a relatively new technology, but the opportunity for businesses to integrate offline & online marketing, creating networked opportunities across locations, is something to be taken very seriously.
  8. 8. 6. a return to real life So the mobile web & checking-in to physical locations via your smartphone are the new big things. But what about the real world? Are people getting fed up with life being lived via tweets, status updates & check-ins? My feeling is ‘yes’. 2011 could see a return to real-life values; conversation around the dinner table without others ‘interrupting’ to tweet or network. As social media has exploded, so has people’s addiction, but a kick-back against this is brewing. 2011 will see people assessing what the real benefit of social media is to them and rejecting anything that has none, rather than simply using it as a plaything. Key Outtake: We now carry our networks around with us 24/7 via our mobile devices, providing significant marketing opportunities. But the key to leveraging this is to be useful & invaluable, to add something to people’s lives.
  9. 9. 7. content is once again King Social media was all shiny & new in 2010. It was fun to enter video competitions on Facebook & talk directly to AlexandrOrlov of CompareTheMeerkat on Twitter. But towards the end of the year, people seemed to grow a little tired of this. It’s no longer enough to come up with a competition for Facebook & expect people to make the effort to enter, no matter how great the prize. The ‘what’s in it for me’ factor will become prevalent & we have to switch away from asking people to do something for us (produce our content) to doing something for them (produce our own, beneficial content). 2010 saw a huge amount of discussion around who should ‘own’ the social media space, digital or PR specialists. With a return to content rather than ‘seeding’ as a core competence, it’s the creators (PRs) who hold the cards & who need to be smart. Key Outtake: Be creative, be engaging, be beneficial. Focus on what you can offer your community, not what they can give you.
  10. 10. 8. speak less, say more Twitter has taken on what texting started & Facebook’s new messaging service promises to continue: brevity. Whether or not you like the trend toward communicating in as short a space as possible, it’s a trend that is here to stay & something that must be adopted. Even a 420 character Facebook update now seems too long. In line with this, multimedia communications will become even more popular in 2011, with platforms such as YouTube, Flickr & Vimeo set to boom even more & others like Audioboo& Instagram set to take off. A picture does indeed paint a thousand words & using images, audio & video to convey messages on the social web will become increasingly popular as the year progresses. Key Outtake: Focus on communications & the tactics of getting it right. The best strategies & creative concepts in the world won’t work if people have to invest too much time in them. And “too much time” is becoming less & less.
  11. 11. 9. a technological prediction: social television Let me be clear about this, I’m not talking TV on your computer or on the internet, I’m talking the social web on your TV. Major events such as X Factor, the World Cup & the general election attracted huge, live-as-it-happens conversation on Twitter & Facebook in 2010. But whereas, at present, you need to go somewhere else to join the conversation (a mobile, for example), by the end of 2011 we could see Twitter streamed directly into the viewing experience via a special TV ‘desktop’; web-enabled television. Think it sounds far-fetched or even horrific? The BBC, Virgin Media & others are already looking into it & it’s only a matter of time before someone trials social TV. And when it happens, it will be big. Very big. Key Outtake: As this is a technological prediction, there’s not much you can do at present. But you can be prepared by engaging in & understanding the social web now.
  12. 12. 10. ROI goes all psychological I’m going to throw this out there & you may disagree, but 2011 could see the endless discussion & demand for ROI fade somewhat as people come to understand social marketing. Going right back to trend number one in this report, the true impact of social media marketing & therefore the true ROI is on influencing intention to purchase. It’s a long-term, brand-led message, not a short-term, sales-led message. And that makes it very difficult to measure. Social metrics such as number of followers, RTs & the like don’t yield any ROI for the bottom line. Likewise, business metrics like website visits & click-thros don’t necessarily result in conversions. So are we all trying to measure the wrong thing? Maybe we should be looking to measure behaviours & brand opinions, if we can do so cost-effectively? Social media has more emotive power than any other form of marketing & as people realise the influence of digital branding, the demands for firm but ultimately meaningless metrics may decline. Key Outtake: Think differently about social media. Think about ways of measuring customers’ attitudes to your brand & social media’s impact on this.
  13. 13. Summary The next 12-18 months are very important for social and digital media, and for marketers using it. Whereas 2010 was all about new social platforms, metrics and trying to gain an understanding of social media, 2011 promises to be much more focused on behaviour and the psychology of social media in a bid to influence people’s decision making. The explosion in platforms and services will settle down and marketers will become more targeted. Social media will mature.
  14. 14. Join us now to stay informed about social & digital communications
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