The advent of 2010 seems to have brought with it more "top ten 2010 predictions" than I care to count so we thought we would f...

11 Social Media Resolutions for 2010


The advent of 2010 seems to have brought with it more "top ten 2010 predictions" than I care to count so we thought we would focus on what this means for brands for 2010 including some strategies for how to take advantage of the opportunities and counter the “watch outs” - please feel free to plus or challenge

1) LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN: The scholar William Arthur Ward once wrote "before you speak listen, before you write, think.." and never has this been more relevant than this year. With the plethora of open source tools available from blog search tools to buzz tracking and message board and Twitter search tools to social bookmarking, feed aggregators and search data there is no excuse for brand managers and their agencies not to have even a rooftop view of how their brand or service is viewed online. This, coupled with the developments in social search that Google and Microsoft are planning meaning that the results can often be viewed in real time (and most especially using Twitter) and the increasingly sophisticated and informative means of understanding a landscape for your brand or service means if there is one resolution that you make this year make this the one. Incidentally we have now completed 9 “Social Media Landscape Reports” for different Clients who have been so engaged by the results that we are now working with them to develop strategies based on these learnings. I think Brian Solis sums it up “Everything starts with listening and observing in order to maintain relevance to the very conversation we wish to reach, learn from and inspire”

2) THE YEAR OF MOBILE: After a number of false starts this year really will present a threefold perfect storm for Mobile: a) Handsets: the relentless rise of the smartphone pioneered by Blackberry and driven by iPhone coupled with the rise in use of netbooks and more recently the recent launch of Nexus One 3 billion downloads from the iPhone App store and it is predicted that there will be over 300k iPhone apps available by the end of 2011. The applications give the phones a whole new World outside of calling, texting and surfing making them used in everyday life - this makes them a prime opportunity for brand and services to get in front of people in a useful and engaging manner. Some brands are already all over this – just look at Stella Artois’s use of Augmented Reality and mobile in Le Bar Guide . So if mobile doesn’t feature in your 2010 brand plans then I suggest that you add it in quick.

3) SOCIAL MEDIA PERVASIVENESS: My 2 last blog posts of 2009 "When social media attacks" referred to how companies like Eurostar, media tycoons like Simon Cowell and celebrities like Tiger Woods can be bitten by social media - this concluded " brand can afford to ignore the power of social media, and that goes through the entire organisation not just the marketing department..". This will become increasingly the case as joined up thinking and authenticity become necessary when all the marketing in the World can be undermined by simple HR, customer service or just bad luck. In 2010 all companies need a long hard look at themselves to honestly check if there are any grounds for complaint or potential issues and develop a crisis plan for the elements that they can't control or foresee. Conversely think about all the touchpoints that you have with your consumer and how these can be used to make yourself more accessible and use social media to not only start but continue the conversation.

4) CONTENT IS KING: As the "Attention Economy" tightens its grip brands will increasingly have to become useful, interesting, entertaining or just simple in their communications and interactions with people (see the Stella example in the Mobile point above). Social Media provides the perfect opportunity to address this as it becomes the place where most people are spending an increasing amount of time - according to Imedia "Facebook is the fourth largest website in the world in terms of unique monthly visitors. However, it blows all the others out of the water when it comes to time spent on the website - apparently an average of 5 hours and 12 mins per month. Users on second place Yahoo averaged three hours and 23 minutes”. HOWEVER brands beware - simply adding a Facebook fan page or Twitter account is not enough - the presence has be considered and planned - we use the Forrester POST principle to ensure the solution is not coat tailing these social spaces but instead uses them with consideration of the need of the user and the brand.

5) COMMUNITY MATTERS: Back in June 2008 we blogged (Enjoy Salsa? Live in Brighton? Check out Anderstand) about the weird and wonderful variety of social networks and since then the increase has continued - Wikipedia features a list of over 150 of the major active social networking site, Ning now have 1.9 million Ning Networks and over 40 million registered users and LinkediN has over 55m users - it seems communities are now here to stay. This of course offers a perfect opportunity for brands to infiltrate and use the relevant communities to reach their consumers but as Seth Godin says “What I don’t like online is the superficial networking. It doesn’t count for anything”. Remember it is a marathon not a sprint and YOU WILL BE FOUND OUT if you try and short cut this. 2010 is the year when brands should be pinpointing the relevant communities and forums for their brands and developing a strategy for how they can get involved, add value and ultimately become a valued and respected member. From there huge opportunities exist for reaching out to these valuable consumers to interact, engage and learn…and vicariously sell to them!

6) PRIVACY: When Eric Schmidt infamously said "If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." he managed to not only irk whole swathes of the online community with responses in blogs, sites and forums but also entirely miss the point about people’s concerns about privacy. This has not been helped by Facebook’s announcement late last year re: privacy the sentiment of which was “We want to earn your trust by being transparent about how Facebook works” but the reality was far more divisive to many resulting in posts such as this . The fact is people want all the benefits that social media brings in terms of sharing and discovering but none of the downsides in terms of disclosure and this needs to be considered by every brand entering this space. So it is essential to ensure that every company has a defined and transparent privacy policy in place.

7) LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION: The beauty of social networking has been based on the ability of creating a virtual connection between people with similar beliefs, hobbies, backgrounds etc. in the words of but as says Techcrunch says “location has the power to bridge the gap between social networking and actual social interaction….and services such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Brightkite, and Google Latitude are leading the way”. With Twitter about to launch a new feature that makes it location aware and other services not far behind there is huge opportunity for brands to focus their messages to those they really want to reach be that by country, city or even street!

8) INFORMATION OVERLOAD: I tweeted this week about theWeb 2.0 suicide machine - which apparently has since been blocked by Facebook – the sentiment of which was that the benefit of disconnecting from “so many people you don’t really care about” and “Unplugging from your social life online will leave you more time for your real life, which you’ve probably been neglecting”. Obviously this was a bit of fun but it does underline a bigger more sinister point – people are being overloaded and 2010 will only see this increase to the point where there will be a backlash. Linking to the other points about privacy and community brands need to carefully consider if they are part of the problem or part of the solution. This means thinking holistically about all communications ensuring there is a consistency (see point below on “making it personal”) and you are no bombarding your consumers with messaging.

9) MAKE IT PERSONAL: From Google announcing its developments in personalized search to the BBC
letting users personalise their experience across the entire site 2009 and Forrester predicting that “The future of The Social Web” will be portable identities that will transform “marketing, eCommerce, CRM, and advertising” personalisation will be a hot topic in 2010. Brands should be looking to consolidate their data and investigate taking advantage of the increasingly sophisticated software systems that exist to really understand their consumers and deliver personalised solutions across all their communications and activities.

10) SOCIAL GAMING: Farmville, the popular casual game on Facebook boasts a current 69 million monthly active players, making it the largest Facebook application by a factor of more than two to one over the next highest competitor. Their daily active players count is now up to 26.5 million, which apparently is bigger than Twitter is big business with people happy to pay up to $100 of cold hard cash for virtual currency – indeed Playfish, the London startup behind Word Challenge and other online games that EA have just bought for $300m, generates more than $75 million a year in revenues, mainly on virtual goods. This demonstrates how popular social gaming has become and the inexorable rise in popularity of social gaming is something that brands should consider in development of their social media activities in 2010.

11) MEASUREMENT MYOPIA: The last point is perhaps the most important – that is ensure that everything you do is not only measured but monitored throughout the campaign not just once it is all over. There have been huge debates this year about whether social media is measurable with factors such as return on invested time, return on objective, return on participation, share of voice and so on all being touted and the debate will continue through 2010 and beyond. I would recommend that brands ignore the majority of these debates and approach investment in social media as they would any other marketing or indeed business activity. As detailed above the Forrester POST acronym is a good starting point – namely understand the People you are hoping to reach, set an Objective, plan and develop a Strategy and choose the relevant Technology(ies) – I would add Measurement and Evolve to this – ensure with any social media activity that you undertake this year that KPI’s are set at the start and that the principle of evolution is applied as opposed to always worrying about ROI. After all the beauty of social media is that you can change it as you go along indeed you have to!

So there they are - “light the touch paper and retire” as they say – there is no doubt 2010 is going to be a very exciting year in the World of social media best summed up by Charlene Li of Altimeter “Social media in 2010 will cease being the shiny new object and instead become part of the everyday lexicon of business”. We strongly advise you to select at least 5 of the points above, consider them carefully and develop a plan, (and if you need any help I am sure we can help) if you don't just remember the quote from Cluetrain Manifesto attributed to a “Veteran of a firm now freefalling out of the Fortune 500” who famously said "The clue train stopped there four times a day for ten years and they never took delivery."

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