Social Media Marketing - Trends for 2011
Social Media Marketing – Trends for 2011

In the first of two posts, 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.

Last week, Dr Dave Chaffey, predicted 11 Search Marketing Trends for 2011. This week, I felt it was worthwhile outlining some of the key Social Media Marketing trends for next year, and why we think they will matter.

As evident in Dave’s earlier post, 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.

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 marketers are 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 available tools 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 will undoubtedly lead 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, and consolidation begins – and by that we mean victors … and casualties. Consumers have definitely begun 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.

In the second half of this post, I will explain why location marketing, social commerce  and document sharing will grow in importance, and why agreement on social media measurement will continue to elude marketers.

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About the author:

John Newton has 14 years of strategic marketing experience across Online Display, Search Marketing and TV and Outdoor Advertising, in companies which include Yahoo!, ITV and TNS Global. John has written on blog monetisation for Web Designer magazine and was the editor of ClickThrough’s two books. John is a CIM Chartered Marketer.