I’ve been watching prognostications about social media in 2011 and, since 2010 is almost over, I’m going to weigh in now. One of the best things I’ve seen is this discussion of interactive from eMarketer. It’s broader than social and well worth paging through . I’ve adapted the first three of their trends and added a perspective of my own. So here goes—and your comments and opinions are welcome!
If you need proof of the wisespread use of apps, consider these two recent eMarketer charts. Retail shoppers (Dec. 15) use them to find bargains. B2B purchasers (Dec. 29) are using them to find information, with only the oldest group being a real hold-out. The same report says that 27% of this sample feels comfortable making a business purchase on a mobile device.
Footnote: a lot of us talked about 2010 being “the year of mobile.” In a sense it was, but that’s not because of the devices themselves. It’s because apps made them so useful to so many people in so many places.
• 2011 will be about content, not advertising. We’re coming to call it “content marketing” and its aim is to engage and entertain as well as to inform. The writer adds that we need “curation” to help customers separate the signals from the noise. Lee Rainey of the Pew Foundation says that all this content has “created a Bermuda Triangle: Markets are fractured, the marketplace is roiled, metrics haven't kept pace, and there's too much noise, so it's easier for things to get lost in the shuffle.” He has more interesting things to say about the megaphone that is the Internet in this report of a recent speech. Content curation can provide powerful assistance to customers in an era in which we’re all inundated with information.
Writing in the eMarketer newsletter Geoff Ramsey ( December 2, 2010) has 5 useful questions for those of us who create content:
• Is the content unique?
• Is the content useful?
• Is the content well executed?
• Is the content fun?
• Does the content make good use of the channel in which it appears (e.g., social, mobile, video)?
I would add, “Can the content be repurposed for other brand channels?” There’s never enough good content! The eMarketer webinar points out that “Consumers engage seamlessly with content across multiple platforms.” That’s a huge challenge for marketers—the right content in all the places the target audience would like to find it.
• 2011 will also be about location, which I’ve recently written about (1, 2). Venture capitalist Summet Jain belives that location and social commerce will be the driving forces in the year to come and Foresquare will be the driving platform. Take a minute to understand this quote:
Part of the new evolution of mobile commerce will be new developments in near field communications, which involves the use of proximity sensors to guide mobile users through stores and malls. These proximity sensors, said Jain, will be deployed more widely among small businesses in the coming year to allow users to locate specific items down to the very aisle and shelf.
That sounds good, but I wonder if small businesses will be that quick to mimic deployment of this technology in large malls. Small businesses have a lot to cope with just keeping up with their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts!
My Perspective – Converging Trends
When two powerful trends converge, the impact changes the marketing landscape. Here are my two nominations for that powerful force.
• The Ubiquity of Mobile and Use of Social Media. That goes back to apps everywhere on all sorts of mobile devices. When marketers combine that with the growing—almost complete—reliance of younger adults on digital media it creates a phenomenon that cannot be ignored. This is a good presentation on upscale younger adults. Their use of digital, even for content like newspapers, is fascinating and predictive, I think.
• Prominence of Younger Adults and Use of Social Media. Prof. Olivia Mitchell of UPenn is being widely quoted on the number of baby boomers turning 65 starting in 2011 (10,000 a day!). The fact that many boomers are ill-prepared for retirement may retard the rise of younger people in business and professional ranks, but they will continue to gain power there. They are the young B2B purchasers in the eMarketer chart using mobile devices to get information and even to make purchases. As the Gen Y study shows, they are the people who communicate on Facebook and get their news on the Internet. Marketers must be there to meet them.
This is only my selection of the issues I see as being most important in social media marketing in 2011. It's not comprehensive, but I hope it’s thought provoking!