My pick of the top social media trends of 2011

2010 paved the way for all things social media with viral campaigns and crowd sourcing tactics popping up left, right and centre.  Last year saw 550 million people on Facebook, 65 million tweets posted on Twitter every day, and 2 billion video views every day on YouTube, all contributing to the positioning of social media as an integral part of our personal and professional lives.  But what’s in store for 2011? Here’s my pick of some social media trends that I think will really shine this year.

Mobile-our gateway to the world

This year saw the impact of social media upon technology primarily in a design sense within the mobile space. For the first time sales of smartphones outsold desktops and laptops. iPhone and iPad applications were downloaded more than 7 billion times and research shows e-mail access is on an all-time rise on the iPhone in comparison to a massive low on computers. We are abandoning our laptops for our phones.

Checking out our Facebook profiles, our latest tweets, searching the internet or buying online – this is all now part of our daily lives. Soon the stream will move towards mobile payments and accepting payments via an app on the phone.  Any candidates wanting to cash in on the development side of mobile will really need to up their game this year as new technologies such as HTML5, Ajax and CSS3 are booming. Android developers are finding work easily and are constantly in demand. However, there is a huge shortage of developers who are on the cutting edge of their field with only 3% referencing experience with the software on their cvs.

Location-based Marketing

Location based services will be useful for businesses this year with local information, reviews, coupons, loyalty programs and more will be tied up with your social graph. A great way to get together with friends and use the brands at the same time. Foursquare and Facebook Places are big rivals at the moment but both will play a big part in location-based marketing in 2011 adding to the mobile boom as well.

Social Commerce

Social what? You can now not only communicate with your friends on Facebook but also buy products letting your friends know of the items you bought. Through your friends and their friends of friends you/they will see what you or they have bought. Even if a business doesn’t have an ecommerce site the ShopTab on your Facebook page can showcase your products on your page through the social network. Social Commerce connects people and their friends when they buy helping others to buy where they connect. This is a new period of shopping that is collaborative and social, where people influence peers and brands based on value, experience and word of mouth through the social networks. It’s a way of engaging brands with customers in a social context where decisions made by friends through relevant information, interaction and participation are shaped by the media and social networks.

Social Commerce will be huge this year because people trust products and services purchased and endorsed by friends. According to Bazaarvoice, 67% of shoppers spend more online after recommendations from online community of friends (Internet Retailer, September 2009). With online retail sales booming, it will also see a rise in traffic, engagement, conversion, sales and ROI for many companies both big and small. I think companies will really step up their interests and get involved in social commerce.

Group Buying

Sites like Groupon, Keynoir and KGB Deals have made a big impact over the past year which is easy to understand, very simple to use and there is something in it for everybody. Group buying sites are one of the hottest trends online right now but this is mostly due to the incredible rise in social media and the ability that people can share great deals across their social networks online. The most popular and ‘one to remember’ is of course Groupon where their valuation is at around $1 billion. The idea of group buying is brilliant, and is such a simple idea, it’s definitely one of those ideas and great inventions that make you want to kick yourself that you didn’t think of it yourself.

I’m one of tons of people who are already using group buying but there are many out there who don’t know of it or delved into it yet. The idea of group buying isn’t complicated at all. All you have to do is bring tons of people together to achieve massive discounts by bulk buying. Each deal is based on your local city and can be on anything from restaurants, spas and events. It’s a great way to do different activities without having to spend a ridiculous amount of money. I’d expect that group buying will be huge over the next couple of years but will really boom over the coming months especially when mobile is also stepping up a notch.

Engagement & content is king

Engagement and content will be king this year. It’s the way consumers choose to do business and businesses should make brand engagement their number one priority. By capturing the attention of your target market, sharing news and tips that are helpful and practical, asking opinions and encouraging discussions amongst the online community enriches the users social media experience. More and more people are daily becoming more aware of the content built on social media channels and it is the best way to acquire customers going beyond just advertising, preaching and pushing products into their faces. This is big news for anyone working in PR, we’ve already seen a dramatic rise in the number of PR pros skilling themselves up on social media – their numbers have risen by 17% since January 2010. This figure is only set to increase as does their demand from clients wanting to establishing themselves online and infiltrate communities with their own branded content.

If you’re looking for a new job in social media, digital or the creative marketing industry, check out Major Players where we have over 15 years experience to help you find the right role for you. We believe a career is a journey (the most important you’ll ever make) and we’re in it with you for the long haul.

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