Rewind 2011: The big social media trends and changes from the last 12 months

What were the most important social media trends and changes in 2011?

It’s a very subjective question, but it is worth some thought because it makes tackling 2012 a more manageable proposition.

Here are some of the things I observed in 2011…in no particular order…

  1. (Content) Promotion is Prince – While the world seems to agree that ‘content is king’ and that ‘engagement is queen’, a third element of the new media eco-system rose to prominence in 2011. What do I mean by content promotion? It’s very simple. Great content contains little value if no-one knows about it. Generating ‘eyeballs’ through multi-channel promotion (paid, earned and owned) gives your content the chance to ‘go viral’ but it won’t happen without a coordinated push.
  2. Online video is still massively undervalued and misused – Online video viewing penetrated more than 50% of the US population in 2011 but (most) brands and organisations still haven’t grasped this opportunity properly. Online video channels like YouTube need to be treated like regular television channels, punctuated by regular programming as opposed to the ad hoc publishing and interaction.
  3. The pace of change to key platforms continues to increase – It seems a new update or upgrade to Facebook is announced everyday as Mark Zuckerberg and his team continue to refine the social network to make it a better place for advertisers. This constant refinement (noticeable across all the major platforms) creates challenges for brands and organisations who have to adapt ‘on the fly’.
  4. The evolution of Google from search engine to recommendations engine – Search as we knew it is dead. When you begin a search journey now, the recommendations of your friends play a huge role in the choices you are given and the decisions you make. This means encouraging and facilitating recommendations from your customers is paramount in 2012.
  5. Ticking the social media boxes causes more harm than good – 2011 saw more brands and organisations get the basics right in relation to the management of their ‘owned’ social media channels. However, just going through the motions and being available isn’t enough for the increasingly social-savvy consumer. Quality content plans need to be in place for all ‘owned’ channels based around the subjects relevant to the organisation in question. Ad hoc activity is more damaging than no activity at all to the prospective long-term relationships you are trying to foster.
  6. The rise of the Mini-Influencer – Influence will always be a hot topic but 2011 saw the emergence of a new type of player. The second-tier or mini influencer is not someone who tops the list of your most important industry voices, but their passion and enthusiasm (if channeled correctly) can create a groundswell of positive sentiment for your organisation. In 2012, aim to collaborate with these guys instead of the bigger names as you can both create mutually beneficial situations in a more efficient way.


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