2011 Predictions: Maturing Innovation

It’s hard to believe (at least for me), but 2010 is wrapping up. The year has been full of surprises, innovation and changes that will impact marketing in the social space in 2011. What can we expect? I think the biggest change will be marketers' approach to social media, maturing as they learn what it is capable of and what it isn't, while consumers adopt and adapt to the social media world.

It's impossible to predict for sure, but with November already here, it's not too difficult to look back at 2010 to look forward to 2011. So, here’s my start to a list of 2011 predictions:

Facebook Pages Step Up Even More. In 2010 Facebook hit 500 million users. It’s massive and very active user base have rightfully earned it the attention of marketers. 

Facebook Pages are going to be how brands move into interacting with consumers in 2011. Micro-sites will become Facebook tabs (not stand-alone sites), in conjunction with the Wall to generate ongoing engagement.

Listening to Learn and Listening to Engage. There’s a ton of conversation out there, and if it’s not about your brand specifically, there’s certainly conversation about your competitors or category that can lead to incredible insights. 

2011 will continue 2010’s trend of marketers listening to online conversation to learn who is talking, what they’re saying, where they’re saying  it and how they’re communicating to extract insights.

More marketers will see that the real-time nature of social media allows them to monitor for crises, identify advocates and build relationships, while making it one of the first and primary methods for consumer communication.

Shopping Goes Social and Mobile. Consumers will continue to make shopping a social experience in 2011. Whether it’s making a purchase on Facebook, reading and writing online product reviews or working together for a deal on Groupon, consumers will continue to work together to make purchases.

In addition, as phones continue to cost less, they will become a primary mechanism for making purchases of physical goods. Right now, people have no problem paying for digital goods, such as apps, from their mobile devices, but soon services like Square will make payments card-free.

Deeper Social Integration. Marketers will continue to direct customers to their social platforms through their various touchpoints, but 2011 will bring an increase in brands that integrate content from their social platforms, including adding open-graph functionality to Web sites, adding real-time Twitter feeds and sharing content via YouTube.

Location, Location, Location Matters. 2010 made checking-in common terminology, and 2011 will make it mainstream behavior. Marketers will continue to look at Foursquare, Facebook Places, Gowalla and other geo-location services to deliver contextually-relevant marketing.

Blogging Grows and Becomes Easier. Twitter, Tumblr and Posterous are a few of the platforms that make sharing interesting information with some context incredibly easy. Blogging no longer has to be time-intensive with these mini-blog platforms. 2011 will continue to be a year of sharing information created by others with original contextual commentary by the poster.

Reputation Matters. How you come across online will matter more than ever in 2011 and consumers will behave as such. LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, as well as Twitter accounts, will grow in importance to both job recruiters and job applicants. Up-to-date profiles that reflect a positive lifestyle will grow in importance to maintaining positive offline reputations.

Social Gaming. Xbox LIVE, the PlayStation Network and…. Facebook? That’s right, gaming is no longer limited to the common household names. Zynga has brought Farmville to 62 million active users on Facebook, and more social games are hitting Facebook as well as mobile devices where consumers spend real money on virtual goods.

With all of the users spending money, social games will continue to garner interest from marketers.

Innovation Refinement. The landscape has changed dramatically, but no one has figured out the magic formula. 2011 will bring refinement to what is already out there as platforms and tools start to mature a bit more. Industry standards and processes will be established for 2010’s creations, while new innovations will raise more questions (I can’t wait).

What Else? That’s my list so far, but it certainly doesn’t encapsulate everything. What do you think 2011 will bring?