As 2010 winds down, businesses are already looking ahead for what to expect in 2011. Our recent webinar shared seven big trends expected to shape social marketing – or should I say, marketing in general – in the coming year.

Here are three of the webinar’s trends to expect in 2011. Is your business ready to capitalize on these next year?

1. Facebook as a meaningful marketing tool.

An Experian study found that nearly one in five consumers search their social networks for information before making a purchase, up 17% from a year ago. Expect that number to grow in 2011. Marketers obviously recognize the need to reach potential customers on social networks like Facebook – it’s smart to want to fish where the fish are. But Facebook users are adverse to advertising – 96% have never clicked an ad on Facebook – and empowered to ignore it – users can choose which brands to follow. Therefore, meaningful marketing on Facebook means earning users’ engagement.

Target engages users around charitable holiday giving in their “Give Joy” Facebook campaign.

Target is earning engagement effectively this season by enlisting fans to participate in and promote its holiday “Give Joy” Facebook campaign. Users create a wish list of recommended Target items to gift to a new featured charity each week, and for each user-generated list, Target donates $5. Users’ lists are published to their wall and friends’ feeds, promoting the Target brand to their friends in the context of a charitable holiday gift. Our client Benefit Cosmetics allows users to read and submit reviews on their Facebook page, engaging customers around their products in a social way.

2. The convergence of social and search.

User-generated content (UGC) can have a huge positive impact on SEO. The webinar highlighted a few reasons for this.

  • Freshness. UGC is a stream of continuously updated content. Allowing users to submit UGC on your site effectively crowdsources content updating, providing a scalable way to keep pages fresh.
  • Volume. UGC usually outnumbers “traditional” marketing content by 20 to 1. In fact, SES magazine reported in 2009 that 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 brands were links to UGC.
  • Relevance. UGC is written in the customer’s words, which is more likely to match a search query from another customer. Google reported in May this year that 54.5% of queries are greater than three words, and 70% have no exact matched keywords. UGC helps capture long tail searches, as well as common colloquialisms and misspellings, by using the same words customers are searching for.

3. Mobile empowerment.

Each recent year has been (prematurely) anointed the “year of mobile.” 2011 may not be the year mobile shopping takes over, but mobile will definitely play a much bigger role in our average purchases than ever before. Glen Senk, CEO of URBN (the umbrella company behind our clients Urban Outfitters and Free People), predicts that mobile online research while in-store shopping will soon become the norm in retail.

The ubiquity of mobile research and shopping is certainly on the rise – one in five cell phones sold today is a smart phone. Mobile will allow businesses to un-silo their channels in 2011, making all of their online information available in-store. Smart businesses have already started. Our clients Best Buy, Sephora, and Golfsmith, among others, include customer rating and review content in mobile apps, allowing customers to check reviews while in-store to better inform purchases.

Debenhams customers can scan product tags in-store to read information and customer reviews on their iPhones.

Innovations in mobile like QR code and barcode scanning make apps like these work harder, finding relevant details for exact in-store products without requiring customers to search. Our client Debenhams used RedLaser’s open SDK to add a barcode scanning feature to their iPhone app. Customers can scan product tags to instantly view product details, read customer reviews, and add items to their wish lists.

These are just three of the seven trends from the webinar, which also shared examples from Burberry, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Rubbermaid, and Dell, among others. For the full webinar, you can download our free recording here.

5 Responses to “3 social trends your business must know for 2011 planning”

  1. Nice post to start out the new year. I’m constantly telling people that a good social media program starts with a good plan and strategy. And, I think this is true regardless of the size of the company. If you don’t have a plan or a map to where you want to go, you are destined to get lost along the way. Plus, you need to measure so you can judge the success of your efforts toward achieving your goals whether it was to increase sales, leads, contacts, engagement, customer service, or whatever.

  2. Interesting insight Tara.

    I see search being replaced by social to some degree. Search engines are like a conversation with Rain Man — you get what you asked for along with every possible variation, hundreds of thousands of pages of rubbish with the stuff you want lost amongst it. What you;d expect from a bot, a database and a query tool in fact. But the Social Web is human powered — you ask for a recommendation of an accountant or restuarant and you may only get one response, but in context and with the power of endorsement attached.

    I’m not saying people won’t look for or find UGC through search, but why sift through thousands of results to read reviews from people you don’t know (I know my view of certain restaurants is a million miles away from some other folks view of the same place) when you can just reach out to your network of followers or friends and ask what they think?

    I’d trust a friend over a stranger every time.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ

  3. Definitely agree Sam. Lots of exciting things happening in retail due to mobile — I’m writing a post on it as we speak.

    Thanks for commenting!

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